Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Please pray this over Restoring Hope and your life today!--And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested. I Chronicles 4:10

Monday, October 27, 2014

Heb 11:16

While I continue to recover from surgery Mike Lucas has agreed to do my devotional blog. Here is day 1's devotional


And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Ponder This a moment and ask yourself a question--"Do I believe in God?" Most of you probably are saying, "Yes, I believe in God." Next, do I believe He has all power? Most definitely! Now here comes the hard part. Do I believe He will do for me what you are asking? This is where Christians become shaky. We discount the eternal love of God and we also struggle with dealing with our past mistakes. We assume that our past deserves the right to control our future. However, your future belong to God and God alone! Your past has no claim over the blessing of God in your future!

As we look further into this scripture consider the words "...he rewards those who earnestly seek him." How can we focus on earnestly seeking Him daily? I pray, I go to church, am I earnestly seeking Him? When seeking after a relationship with someone how do you attempt to woo them? Regardless of the answer your base goal is to spend time with them. The time you spend is spent trying to please the other person you pursuit of them. In turn (ideally) the other person is enjoying "your company" and further hopefully they try and show you the best they have to offer. The fruit of this labor is the relationship that is built. Now, relationship with people return temporal rewards, but relationship with God yields blessing, promotion, protection, peace, love and much more. So seek God earnestly ( consistently, and with passion) and with an understanding He will do it for you because he loves you.

On a side note, when you pray keep in mind God answers all prayers. He knows what is best and may say no because He knows what we need and what is best for us. Also remember God honors His word more than anything else so check and reflect to yourself--Are my prayers in line with His will? We take a lot for granted, a lot of Old Testament prayer started by knowing the future is not promised. Instead of worrying about the future. Try starting " God willing, or If it is in your will bless me with ....." Always have faith, not just that He can, but that He will, and He will for you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Proverbs 2

Because of the severe pain in my neck I have not been doing my blog. I thought maybe for a few weeks while it heals I will just cut a paste the scripture that is speaking to me for the day. Sorry I am not adding more comments for a bit, but I am trying to keep my sitting time very small!

Proverbs 2:10-12

10 When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
11 Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
12 To deliver you from the way of evil,

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Psalm 41 on 9/11

Psalm 41 begins with an interesting note regarding those who are facing harm — whether they are in the World Trade Center, Benghazi, Iraq, or just in a classroom like Columbine.

Psalm 41

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them —
    they are counted among the blessed in the land —
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.

What does the above Scripture imply? Obviously, it does not mean we are always physically protected, though I know of many times we have been. It does not always mean evil people are forbidden to hurt the innocent, as we are especially aware of on 9/11. It does mean that God has a special place of blessing and protection for those who face persecution. "What?!!!", you may say. Well, I am not nuts, but I have learned that protection and blessing can come even during great pain and hurt — even death.

I have faced death on quite a number of occasions. Each time I have experienced a special touch or awareness of God's love. On several occasions, I figured I would not be alive long, but in each case I also felt a deep peace — almost joy! How could that be? Well, I am not sure I can explain it except to say I believe these verses because I have experienced them in "real time" and "real life."

Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-49: 

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I believe in a place called "Calvary." I believe in "eternity." I believe that with Christ hope always exists! I also believe that God is always on the side of good — even when we can't see it. No matter how dark a day, God's love is still present. Corrie Ten Boom, a famous Nazi concentration camp survivor, described the lesson she learned while being tortured and starved  in Germany as "No matter how deep the pit, God's love is deeper."

Today as we mourn the great loss in this world of the victims of 9/11 and Benghazi, as we consider people being killed in Iraq and Syria by ISIS as I write this, as we read of Saudi Arabia arresting all known Christians within its borders yesterday, as we look at North Korea with one concentration camp having over 100,000 residents — including children, as we consider school and theater shootings and bombs going off at the Boston Marathon and more, let us simply pray two prayers.

1. Pray for those facing great crisis in their lives today — survivors, friends and loved ones of the events described above, and our own fears and crisis. 
2. Pray that we will learn to accept the absolute power and hope of Christ as described in Psalm 41 and Romans 8:38-39.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Psalms 34:5

My neck is too sore to sit at the computer long so I am not writing my full devotional today, but I am posting a verse that has really speaking to me. Consider this verse and what it looks like to others when we look at Christ.

Psalms 34:5

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hebrews 1:14 --- What about Guardian Angels 

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
This verse above begs all kinds of questions. It is clear angels are on this earth and that they are specifically sent to minister to the saved. After that we know very little.
       Are angels assigned to specific people or churches, etc.? We don’t know. Traditions out of some churches describe “guardian angels” whom those churches believe are assigned to individuals. This thought does not contradict scripture, but it is extra-scriptural (not in the Bible). We do have some references of angels working with specific churches in the Bible. It seems logical that God probably does assign angels to individuals or groups because relationships are such a key part of the very nature of God, but we don’t know for sure.

       How do angels minister to us? Again, we are not sure and it probably varies on a case by case basis. We have instances in the Bible of angels appearing in human form to warn people of concerns (see Abraham). We even have a special promise in the Bible that those who serve the unfortunate. It states that as we give to people in need we have at times “served angels without knowing it”. Still, for the most part the Bible is pretty quiet about how these angels serve us. It just promises they do.

      So what do we do with this vague verse? Well, first let’s take it in context. The entire book of Hebrews is written to stop bad “theology.” People were worshiping angels and elevating them to great status. Essentially, by pointing out angels are sent to minister to mankind the author instantly places angels in a slightly different role—certainly not one of deity.  We don’t know a great deal about angels. We know they do exist to worship and serve God and we do know many have been assigned to minister to us. This implies that as Christians we have beings serving us that we don’t even know about. Do they keep us physically safe? Probably at times. Do they laugh and cry with us when good and bad things happen? Probably. Perhaps their greatest service is they know about spiritual battles going on around us that we are unaware of and fight for us.
      Though the most important “theological” point of Hebrews 1:14 is the clear attempt to make sure the reader would see angels as “ministering spirits” and not God,” for many of us today, the most exciting point, is simply knowing that we have someone God sent carrying for us today. Who know what arrows the evil one has already sent at us in the last moments that our angels have deflected. God loves us enough to send us a team of “ministering spirits.” He is good!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hebrews 1:10-11 The Loooooong Haul

Hebrews 1:10-11

Life is busy. Most of us work hard to build careers, raise families, maybe buy a car or a house. The sad part is much of our labor may be for not. Say, “What?” It is worth asking, “What in my life can stand the test of time? Read the following verses from Hebrews 1:10-11

10 He also says,
In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.

In truth even God's creation of the the earth according to scripture have a finite life expectancy, but God is eternal. That means anything we build on this earth will not last, but anything we store in heaven is forever. So what do I want to store in heaven? Well, my wife, kids, friends, neighbors—people. Are we living our lives for the eternal today?

Update News:
  1. This Sunday we have a breakfast for everyone at 10—come at 9:45 if you can. Our worship service this Sunday is a concert of prayer with no preaching. If you can bring a fruit dish or some pastry.
  2. Mike Lucas has agreed to start posting a Sat. devotional for me in a few weeks so the daily devotional is expanding to 6 days a week. I am trying to get him to wait a few weeks since he has badly hurt his back and should not be sitting for a few weeks—at the computer:).
  3. This coming Tuesday night we are going to have free “all-you-can-eat chili” at Wendy's by the church before Core time. If people want drinks or sandwiches that is on them, but we thought it would be a fun change up and you are invited!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hebrews 1:8-9 Ever worry about the future? Ever wish God would give you joy? Hebrews 1:8-9

Ever worry about the future? Ever wish God would give you joy? Read this passage: Hebrews 1:8-9 (shown below).

8 But about the Son he says,“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

To consider the above Scripture, realize that “the Son” was Jesus Christ. This Scripture serves to assure us that putting our trust in God means we have Jesus to trust for eternity and that no matter how tough the circumstances God will win!

Second, it is interesting to note that while He was on Earth, Jesus was a man. When describing Jesus’ time on Earth, this passage points out: “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” What a peculiar description of Jesus! Perhaps we take this for granted, but we also need to realize that Jesus served as an example to all of us. Notice that after this description, God the Father rewards Jesus by setting Him “above [His] companions by anointing [Him] with the oil of joy.” 

The implication of this scripture is two things. 

One, we can trust Jesus. 

Two, as we are like Jesus, we enjoy the same rewards when we serve God. Sometimes we are too good at setting Jesus aside as God, and we need to realize that He was human while He was on Earth and then ask, “What did He demonstrate for me?” In this case He demonstrated that God honors those who serve Him. What honor is God placing on you today? If you are serving Him, He is proud of you and He really does give us joy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

I am back -- Hebrews 1:1-4

After taking some time off to allow my neck to heal from a tough period of it hurting to sit I am back — plus the kids are back in school:)

Hebrews 1: 1-4 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.

This book offers some of the best insights into how to best understand a vast variety of Christian issues in a contemporary way. It is generally attributed to Paul, but we don't really know that since unlike Paul's epistles, it is not a clear letter from him to a group of people. Some claim it was either a sermon or collection of messages Paul spoke, but even that is not fact. The early church seems to have totally accepted this writing as a clear message from God, but seems to have shown little concession as to whom the author was. Sadly, the King James version added words that implied this Scripture was for sure from Paul. So who cares? Well, first, adding to the Bible or implying fact that is not certain is a dangerous pattern with Scripture as in the end it is God's words. The real concern is that this is a letter that was written to the church in Rome from someone who was, at the least, a close associate of Paul. 

Rome was a very remote small church at the time this letter was written. Key beliefs were not accurately making the voyage to Rome and the church seems to have been heavily influenced by other groups including the Jewish church, Roman beliefs, Hellenistic beliefs (Greek), and emerging cults from various groups including Christian offshoots such as the Gnostic movement. Hebrews clearly is written with the intention to say, "Wait a minute! These is the true teachings of God." That makes this a very important scripture for Christians to study as this document literally exists to teach us key beliefs of Christianity. Perhaps it would best be labeled a "systematic theology book."  Really, the church of Rome was much like the church today--it was under attack from all sides. 

So what does that have to do with today's Scripture? Well, the first four verses of the book simply seek to clarify that Jesus is God, above the angels, and is eternal. Most importantly it stresses we can trust Jesus.

Today, simply ask yourself one simple thought. Am I trusting anything besides Jesus with my life?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Psalm 19

I have not been doing my daily blog while we get my new office ready, but this verse really spoke to me today so I thought I would at least post it. God talks to us all the time in so many ways--are we listening today?

Psalm 19

      1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
         the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
      2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
         night after night they reveal knowledge.
      3 They have no speech, they use no words;
         no sound is heard from them.

The New International Version. 2011 (Ps 19:1–3). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Proverbs 12

After not writing for a week I feel so much better so I am back at it. Today's thought is not long, but it is powerful! It is from Proverbs 12.

      2 Good people obtain favor from the LORD,
         but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

When the Bible says, we gain "favor" it is an absolute truth! Favor, means God especially blesses, loves, and cares for those who serve him. Does it mean financial blessings? It can, but "favor" also means God loves us so much that he blesses us in the ways that best bless us and our children. Sometimes, that even means tough periods. Further, we can never forget the importance of the "big picture"--heaven is the ultimate favor! Still, I have learned that everyday I get to enjoy God's blessings in a supernatural way and I really do see his favor over and over.

Today, choose to serve the Lord because you love him, but also remember as you serve him he loves you and you are a child he loves to pour his favor on!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Malachi 6a--Obedience = love

Today, we look at another confusing verse in Malachi 1:6a. Read the verses below and ask yourself what in the world is the bible talking about slavery for? Don’t panic I have a commentary that follows the verses that I hope will clarify some of the questions that might come up.

Malachi 1:6a
The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi faced a nation that had grown indifferent toward God. He preached to stir their hearts, to turn them from apathy and renew their commitment to the Lord.

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty.

These verses have been used completely out of context or their intent to somehow justify slavery in some situations today regarding slavery. That is nonsense! This has nothing to do with endorsing slavery, etc. This is strictly being used as an example of a lifestyle choice of obedience.

So what is this implying about obedience ? Well, think of the verses as an examples. A slave obeys his master. Secondly, the example of us being children and God being a Father is used. Both are word pictures of our relationship with God. Essentially the passage is implying a key to relationship with God is understanding he is in charge and we are not!

If one looks back to verse 2 one sees God’s reminder that he “loves” us. Now in these verses he is clarifying that love of us does not make us in charge. A father loves his son, but the father is the authority. I am not too certain about a slave master loving his slaves, but I am sure the concept of who is in charge comes through. Malachi is a message from God and though the book will proceed with many other examples of obedience and love these two point are the trust of the book. God loves us and us obeying him is the second key to the book of Malachi.

Sometimes if our modern world the only time we feel inspired by God’s word is when we read something like “God’s blessing” or a “miracle,” etc. However, God says one way we show love is by obeying him. In other words, these two concepts of God loving us and us obeying him clarify our roles, but also confirm our love of God.

How much do you love God today? Are you willing to obey him in every instance? Could you make your act of worship of God today be your obeying him?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Malachi 1:2-4 I've read the back of the book and we win!

Today, we look at a really confusing set of verses in Malachi 1:2-5. Read the verses below and ask yourself what in the world is this aboutJ? Don’t panic I have a commentary that follows the verses that I hope will clarify some of the questions that might come up.

Malachi 1:2-4
The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi faced a nation that had grown indifferent toward God. He preached to stir their hearts, to turn them from apathy and renew their commitment to the Lord.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’ [1]

Ok, what is up with loving and hating twins?!!!!! Well, I am pretty sure based on many other scriptures God did not just “decide to hate someone.” I think this story needs to be seen as an example of two very different lifestyle choices these two sons made. The exact story of Jacob and Esau is actually found in Genesis. God prophesies the destiny of both twins. Sometimes we mistake God stating the future as God stating his plan. Knowing how someone will choose to behave does not mean it what we want for them. I am certain God would have preferred Esau and his descendants choose to serve him always.  I can promise you today that if I shake my dogs’ food dish the dogs will come running, but I am not the one deciding they will run to eat the food, but I do know the future or at least the 30 seconds after I shake the dog’s dishJ. In the Old Testament I believe we often assume when God states the future he is deciding the future. However, the Bible is full of other points about God that makes it clear we decide to accept or reject his plan—not God. In this case two twins choose very different destinies. God has the power to decide anything, but he gives us that choice.

So what are the two destinies of these twins and what do they mean? Jacob, the twin God loves, chose to serve God and he becomes the ancient ancestor of the Messiah, Jesus. God loves those who chose to serve him and in truth our destiny reveals to Messiah to future generations. Note: Jacob’s life was also full of moments of great sin, but God forgives when we come to him and in the end Jacob did just that!

On the other hand, Esau become a great leader like Jacob , but the father of a nation or group of people known for evil called the Edomites or Edom. Edom was a strong enemy of God and was known for many horrible atrocities including human sacrifice, sexual debauchery (particularly homosexuality), and they worshiped an idol who was in reality a front for satanic worship. God hated the evil.

With the above two descriptions of the two destinies of these twins and their descendants why do we care? Well, two key points come out.

1.      God loves and rewards those who choose to serve him. Most of us want to leave a heritage or something for our children. In another point, the promise of how God loved Jacob’s descendants is described in a more direct way for all who served God6, (extreme paraphrase) “God’s blessing sits our children’s children to the 50th generation.” What an incredible thing to realize that as we serve God he is so pleased he blesses our descendants because he loves our obedience so much!
2.      We live in a world that has evil. Sometimes it feels like evil wins too often. Well, that is how the fight with Edom seemed to the Hebrew people, but reread the following: Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.” But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord.

We waste so much time as Christians worrying about evil instead of just living in God’s blessing. Edom symbolized all evil—Relax—God’s got this—evil will lose—another way of putting it is this, “I’ve read the back of the book and we win!” You are under a sure plan to victory as your serve God and those who oppose God will lose eventually! You are a winner!

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Mal 1:2–5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Malachi--A message from God.

Today, we start a new book in our devotional series—Malachi. Why? Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. God put it there for a special reason—It is one of the most practical and easily applied books in the Old Testament! I believe this book summarizes most of the major challenges we face as Christians and it is especially applicable in today’s world. Ironically, Malachi is written to a group of people who were going through much of what we face today—casual faith, turning from obedience to God to self-rule, priest deciding the knew more than God, etc. It is a book of hope, warning, and a reminder that God loves us too much to just let us fail.

I believe it is very important to note that to really understand Malachi the first message from God in this book is the authors’ name. Malachi means “message from God.” Malachi’s major job was to give the people a special message or letter “from God.” Some scholars even have asked if Malachi was the prophet’s name or an assumed name to clarify the importance of what was being said. We don’t know the answer to that because the Bible does not tell us. We do know what the name meant. We know why it was important to the people of the past and why it is still important to us. Really, to put the title of the book into modern understanding the book should just be called—“A message from God.” Wow, that clarifies why this books is so important!

The first, message is the series of message from God in Malachi is found in the first two verses. Read verse one and two below and realize that all the messages God gives us through this book, must be seen in light of verse two.

The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi faced a nation that had grown indifferent toward God. He preached to stir their hearts, to turn them from apathy and renew their commitment to the Lord.
1 A prophecy: The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi.
Israel Doubts God’s Love
“I have loved you,” says the Lord. [1]

With verse two in mind I encourage you to try two things.

One: Try to remind yourself all day “That God has loved you, does love you, and will love you!”

Two: Consider reading the entire book of Malachi every day for seven days. It is a very short book and can be read easily in one setting. Always read it reminding yourself of verse twoe and that this book is a direct message from God!

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Mal). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pslam 139

Two things grab me in Psalm 139:

1.      I love verse 14b “I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. “ The world and especially the devil always want to discredit God’s creation. Don’t let life to that to you—it insults God who created you. Sure admit your failures, but don’t be afraid to say was I am wonderfully created and is why--it good as gives glory to God

       Verse 13 raises a perplexing and important theological question. The bible teaches that deliberately damaging or destroying God’s creation is insulting too him. It like spitting on a artist painting since God is the creator. Read verse 13 Verse  "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
      Think about what destroying what God is creating in the womb says about abortion. God’s rights as the creator, always trump our rights. This means we don’t have a legitimate case to say it is a “Woman’s right to choose!!!” Choosing against what God creates in the womb insults the creator.

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, e God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Psalm 136

No comment today. Just read this as a prayer and live in God's love!

Psalm 136

      1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
           His love endures forever.
      2 Give thanks to the God of gods.
           His love endures forever.
      3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
           His love endures forever.

      4 to him who alone does great wonders,
           His love endures forever.
      5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
           His love endures forever.
      6 who spread out the earth upon the waters,
           His love endures forever.
      7 who made the great lights—
           His love endures forever.
      8 the sun to govern the day,
           His love endures forever.
      9 the moon and stars to govern the night;
           His love endures forever.

      10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
           His love endures forever.
      11 and brought Israel out from among them
           His love endures forever.
      12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
           His love endures forever.

      13 to him who divided the Red Sea w asunder
           His love endures forever.
      14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
           His love endures forever.
      15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
           His love endures forever.

      16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
           His love endures forever.

      17 to him who struck down great kings,
           His love endures forever.
      18 and killed mighty kings—
           His love endures forever.
      19 Sihon king of the Amorites
           His love endures forever.
      20 and Og king of Bashan—
           His love endures forever.
      21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
           His love endures forever.
      22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
           His love endures forever.

      23 He remembered us in our low estate
           His love endures forever.
      24 and freed us from our enemies.
           His love endures forever.
      25 He gives food to every creature.
           His love endures forever.

      26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
           His love endures forever.

The New International Version. 2011 (Ps 136). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wow, Psalm 134 is short. Ever wonder why some Psalms are so short? Often it is the power of a single thought that can be carried best! Consider praying this Psalm, but ask God to help you consider this Psalm all day long. This one has two point—Read verse 1-2 as your promise to God and verse 3 separately. Remember with verse three the blessing was prayed by David for you as the reader. God does not put a time limit on prayers. This blessing is your blessing for today!

Psalm 134
A song of ascents.
Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth. [1]

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Ps 134). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Psalm 129

Psalm 129:

Psalm 129 raises all kinds of questions that we rarely explore. First, realize the writer is talking about a literal event, but the Psalm also has a spiritual side. For example, the Psalmist wrote, about being “oppressed from my youth.” We know David did endure oppression from others—primarily his brother. However, we all endure a spiritual oppression because from the moment we are born the devil desires to harm and destroy. Besides the devil we might as well be honest and say all of us have to deal with some people who are just jerks and seek to harm us, our name, etc. We all encounter oppression in life!

The Psalmist makes two key points in his response to evil.

1.  Victory has not been gained over him—God has delivered! 
2. The Psalmist begins to pronounce judgment on those who performed evil. Maybe instead of the word judgement we should just say the Psalmist is stating God’s will for those who attempt to harm those serving God. On a side note, consider the word “Zion” in this Psalm to not only represent the country of Israel, but those who are in God’s kingdom. The Psalmist also asks God to harm those who attempt to oppress "Zion" or God's kingdom.

Read Psalm 129 below and consider verse 4 and 5. Ask how we can use this prayer in our modern world.
Psalm 129
A song of ascents.
“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
May all who hate Zion
be turned back in shame.
May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.
May those who pass by not say to them,
“The blessing of the Lord be on you;
we bless you in the name of the Lord.” [1] 

The Psalmist began to pray two key prayers---deliverance and punishment. The Psalmist prayed he would be delivered from evil. We need to pray the same. However, he took it further and actually asked that God deal severely with those who desire to harm him (the Psalmist), or God’s kingdom. Sometimes, we need to recognize God’s power to impose justice and trust it. Sometimes, we are too quick to try to solve issues and too slow to say God, “Please stop this evil.”

Do we have points in our life that we need to ask for God’s protection?

Do we know of points of evil that we need to place in God’s care and ask his help in dealing them?

[1] The New International Version. 2011 (Ps 129). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.