Posted 1 day ago

Waiting for Forever

The Word “forever”is key to Psalm 89. Eight times it’s used to refer to the covenant between God and David.

Psalm 89:1–4 (ESV) 1 I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. 2 For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.” 3 You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have sworn to David my servant: 4 ‘I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.’ ” Selah

"Faithfulness" occurs 7 times.

Psalm 89:5–8 (ESV) Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! 6 For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, 7 a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? 8 O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you?

We know what this Psalm is about from those numbers alone. God has faithfully committed to His King forever. That commitment was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, the Son of David and our eternal Lord, King and God.

Our God is faithful forever.
He is faithful to cause creation to work properly (verses 9/11).
He is faithful to deliver His chosen ones (verse 10).
He is faithful to His covenant (verses 19-29).
And He is faithful to DISCIPLINE His chosen people (Verses 30-33).

But the Psalmist is hoping! He’s hoping the discipline of the Lord will not out live his life (Verse 47). He’s asking to see God’s faithfulness again in his day. Will he see it? Does he see it? We don’t know. But we know that while he waited, he praised…

Psalm 89:52 (ESV) Blessed be the LORD forever! Amen and Amen.

He lives between the now and not yet of God’s timing. This is where we find ourselves constantly. He speaks about how people mock him for holding out hope, how his enemies mock both him and His God.

Yet he praises!

We can feel like this Psalmist. We live between the now and not yet. We live in the faces of accusers and mockers. We live in a world rocked by sin and suffering. We live in a world of doubt. But like the Psalmist, we can look back on what has happened, remember God’s covenant faithfulness and anticipate His ultimate triumph!

Blessed be the Lord FOREVER!
Amen and amen.

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Posted 4 days ago

Adventures is Drearyland

The problem with much of Christian publishing is that it always has to be positive, uplifting, or come to a happy ending where the lost person is finally redeemed. It’s just not always true to life.

Psalm 88 is a Psalm of complete despair. From beginning to end, the Psalm offers no light at the end of the tunnel nor a happily ever after. Not a single note of hope or anticipation that things will work out in the end.

It begins:

Psalm 88:1–3 (ESV) 1 O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. 2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry! 3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol.

It ends…
Psalm 88:18 (ESV) You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me; my companions have become darkness.

But we need to be thankful this Psalm is in the Bible. It’s there to remind us that sometimes things in life doesn’t end the way we want, no matter what we do or hope. We can also be thankful, this is the only Psalm in the book like this! We do normally have hope and joy in the fulfillment of God’s plans and purpose, but sometimes, every once in a while, we’re going to see despair up close and personal.

If Christians want to relate to people who need hope, perhaps we need to be more open about the times when we don’t have it. Because we all do. Whether in a relationship, a job situation, a sickness or death, Christians will experience the gamut of human conditions. We rob our witness to pretend otherwise or manipulate art to promise something that life doesn’t 100% deliver.

Thankfully, we can approach God like this Psalmist does as well. He hears, and He listens and He’s there. Sure, you can deny God exists in the face of overwhelming circumstances and pain. But where doest that leave you? Your pain is still there and what’s worse, you have no one with WHOM to work it out! But this Psalmist has someone he can cry out to “day and night” without fear of retribution.

God listens to our pain… and through it as well.
And for that we can still be thankful.

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Posted 1 week ago
Posted 1 week ago

Born Citizens

The Psalms can be confusing. Number 87 is one that could appear so. It praises Jerusalem as a glorious place, a beautiful city adored by God over all others. In the Old Testament, this is true. No place housed the presence of God like Jerusalem. But under the New Covenant this Psalm becomes a prophetic look at the New City being established by the new birth experience.

The Psalmist calls us to behold the new city of Zion, the heavenly city that will come down to Earth.

Psalm 87:5 (ESV) And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.

They will be members of that city because they were “born there.” That is what Jesus talks about with Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5.

Who does it? The Lord Himself. Jesus is the one who brings us into the new city, establishes and protects us, brings us home to God. These are your promises in Christ, never let the enemy rob you of the security you have in Christ!

It’s wonderful to be home. You have to away for a while to realize it however. I remember traveling overseas for 3 weeks. By the end of week two I was completely miserable. I dreamed of arriving back in the States and when I finally did, I literally kissed the ground. There really is no place like home.

I remember the one thing I hated most was the inability to do many things.
I couldn’t drive as this country drove on the other side. I was out of sorts.
I couldn’t draw money from the ATM without a huge fee. 
I couldn’t call anyone because of the enormous cost it would incur to our hosts.
I was at the mercies of my exile.

One of the things this Psalm mentions is citizenship:

Psalm 87:6 (ESV) 6 The Lord records as he registers the peoples, “This one was born there.” Selah

With Christ comes citizenship and with citizenship comes privilege and rights! The power to do things. We have that power now in Him. Power to walk in Truth and see the wonders of God in our lives. Never discount who you are and what you can do in Christ! It’s a wonderful privilege to be God’s people, chosen and redeemed. A new nation!

And glorious things are said about you.

Ephesians 2:19 (ESV) you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

Philippians 3:20 (NLT) But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

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Posted 1 week ago

Basing Your Prayer on God’s Character

We usually only pray in frustration. When we are at wits end and don’t know what to do se offer prayers that amount to hopeful wish lists with unfounded reasons for an answer.

David prays very differently on Psalm 86.

Psalm 86:3–5 (ESV) Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

David knows God is good and forgiving. Instead of cowering in fear, he’s emboldened to come before God in times when he needs grace.

When David needs to know which way to turn, he acknowledges who he’s praying to:

Psalm 86:10–13 (ESV) For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

At the end, he prays for favor, based on the past situations in which he has found it…

Psalm 86:17 (ESV) Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

This kind of praying gladdens the heart of our Father. To know Him is to pray rightly toward Him. 

He is the Lord of all creation in the face of our enemies. 
He is the merciful gracious God in the times of our failings. 
He is ultimate Truth and wisdom when we are perplexed. 
He is above all the nations when we hear the nightly news.

Most important, He is our God.

To know Him is to pray rightly. Charles Spurgeon taught that we should learn to pray with arguments. That is, we should express to God why He should answer us. It is not that He needs reminding, but we do.

Such prayer narrows our prayers as well! Gone are the weak prayers separated from His character and truth. Gone are the self-centered prayers tossed half-heartedly toward heaven. Gone are the prayers that don’t line up with who He is and what He has already said He would do.

As this Psalm progresses, the reasons shift from David’s need to God’s character and faithfulness. You can mark each time by the word, “for” or “because.” David starts with his situation in the beginning but ends with God’s goodness in the end.

What a way to pray.
Perhaps it’s time you argued with God, told Him that you read about Him in His book, and see Him answer accordingly!

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Posted 1 week ago

What does revival look like?

What does revival look like?

Psalm 85:6 (ESV) Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?

Some believe this Psalm was written shortly after Israel’s return from exile. They had been commissioned to rebuild Jerusalem and their Temple but the process was hard and they met several obstacles along the way. One of which was their walls being burned shortly after having rebuilt them.

The task seemed impossible. How could they once again be the glorious nation of the past if they couldn’t build a wall?

The answer was prayer.

When we think about the Church in America, the task seems impossible. To stop the secularization of our nation and bring Christianity to bear in the public square once more seems like an improbability. More churches close per year than open and thousands of Pastors leave vocational ministry every month.

Will you not revive us again?

What is revival? Revival is three things:
1. When God’s Word is preached with absolute conviction.
Every move of God in the Bible and in the history of the Church started when God’s word was found, proclaimed and heard. From Hilkiah finding the record of Moses in the Temple under Josiah’s reign to Paul’s reasoning every Sabbath in the Synagogue to the Great Awakening preaching of Edwards, Whitfield and Wesley, you do not see God move without God’s Word proclaimed.

Social agendas are wonderful, let’s help the poor, but God’s WORD preached is the pathway to Revival.

2. When Sleepy Christians wake up.
Revival happens when people who though they were Christians because they went to church actually realize they aren’t Christians and come to faith! It sounds strange, but most times, this is how Revival happens. God’s people hear God’s voice and awake to their lost condition, repent and turn wholeheartedly to Him.

The Psalmist wrote:

Psalm 85:8 (ESV) Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly.

3. When those newborn Christians live out their faith and the world takes notice and wonders why.
This is revival’s greatest blessing. The pagans start seeing the good works of Christians now captured by the heart of God and turn to inquire why and what happened.

We need revival.
But it’s not going to happen without confident courageous preaching, new birth experiences from those within the Church, and transformed lives out side of it.

Will you not revive us again?

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Posted 2 weeks ago

The Song of the Janitors

God’s house is a place for the worthless and the restless.

Psalm 84 was written by the sons of Korah. One of the specific Levite families which were considered the janitors at the temple. In that light this Psalm becomes incredibly beautiful. For the janitors of God’s house are not doing what they do out of resentment or frustration, but are thoroughly in love with being in the presence of God doing the work of God.

What have they found?
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God. (Psalms 84:1-2 NLT)

I have learned that every church has people who would be there whether you paid them or not, whether you needed them or not, or asked them to be there or not. They just love to be in God’s house with God’s people. They have learned through experience the blessing of being in the presence of the Lord.

The sons of Korah are case in point.

Then this phrase:
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! (Psalms 84:3 NLT)

The two birds that are mentioned are interesting.
The Bible teaches us that the sparrow is a worthless bird. It’s incredibly cheap. It was known to be sold - four for a penny, as Jesus mentions.

God’s house in God’s presence are for those who feel worthless. The owner and creator of the universe wants to do well with those who feel unworthy. And the invitation is open, for Jesus said “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

The second bird is the swallow. Swallow is known for its restlessness. It was a bird that had weak feet which were unfit to walk or stand on for long periods of time. Therefore it learned to stay in the air constantly and flutter about. What a beautiful picture of God’s house – a place for those who can’t find comfort anywhere else. But more than comfort, the swallow finds a family. That’s the beauty of this faith, people who can’t find family anywhere else, find it in the house of God.

Are you restless? Do you feel worthless? God’s house is open to you.

But don’t for one minute think that it’s all about coming to church. The Psalmist has much more in mind, and the Psalm has a larger picture beyond some building where Christians gather on the weekends. It’s looking forward to heaven, the eternal city for God’s presence will do well with man in perfection forever.

That’s who heaven is open for… You, me, the janitors… And everyone in between.


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Posted 2 weeks ago

How to Pray for Someone’s Downfall

Psalm 83 reminds us that enemies of God’s people always abound. The opening verses mention 10 nations gathered around Israel to attack and destory them. These are their enemies.

Child of God, we will always have enemies…
1 John 3:13 (ESV) Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.

The world throughout history has hated this ancient family of the Jews. God’s chosen people have been the rejected ones in society down through the ages, from Egypt to Nazi Germany. Yet God’s blessing has been upon them to this day.

For Christians it will be no different. Men will hate us. Yet we are to regard this as blessing!
Luke 6:22–23 (ESV) “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

The Psalmist readily acknowledges the adversary. He then prays for their downfall. He recounts the enemies of Israel in the time of the Judges and how often God took them out, saving His people. If you know your Bible, you know the time of the Judges was not a stellar time of obedience and faithfulness in Israel’s history! No! It was a time of distress, disorientation and disobedience for Israel. Yet no matter how many times their sin brought them to the brink of destruction, God raised up a deliverer like Barak, Samson, Gideon etc…

We can have confidence too that though the world surround us with hostility and the stupid choices we make may jeopardize our lives, God is for us! He has chosen us and will not abandon us. What a promise of protection! Nothing can separate us from His love!

But though the Psalm calls for their downfall, the Psalm ends with a clear intent in mind:
Psalm 83:18 (ESV) that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

The Psalmist wants to evangelize in the midst of their demise! He wants the nations to know who the Lord really is! That is the point. Not to simply hope they go away, but that they may know who God is.

He says earlier Psalm 83:16 (ESV) Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O LORD.

He prays for their downfall… but that their fall might actually lead to them looking up and seeking the saving redeeming God they serve.

That’s how you pray for someone’s downfall.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

God Desires Good Government

It’s very easy to misread Psalm 82. The opening line sounds like the Psalmist is going to lament to God… but that’s not the case….

Psalm 82:1–2 God stands in the divine assembly; he administers judgment in the midst of the gods. 2 “How long will you judge unjustly and show favoritism to the wicked? Selah

The key to understanding this passage is the understanding of “gods” in verse 1. Who are the “gods?” other divine beings? No. God wouldn’t sit with them because they don’t exist. He alone is the GOD of all. God is addressing the “gods” and speaking to them about their unjust favoritism.

Jesus uses this Psalm when confronted with the leaders of His day. It was subtle way of pointing them to this Psalm and further the exposure of their sins. The “gods” of this verse are the rulers of nations and peoples, those who run the government, the church, the civic organizations that are supposed to help protect and serve people.

And God stands in their assembly and confronts their unjust governing!

God is all about authority. But He expects it to be good. What does He require of our leaders?

Psalm 82:3–8 (ESV) Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. 

God wants leaders to look after those who cannot look after themselves. And when we don’t, the earth is shaken. America may have a lot of problems, but Americans do a great deal for the poor and powerless. I believe that is why God continues to bless us.

Is that changing? In many ways, it seems to be. We are becoming more self obsessed and celebrity obsessed. Everyone is after their own good. Psalm 82 is good recalibration for us all. James will speak of favoritism in James 2.

James 2:1 (ESV) My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

God hates partiality. And when it happens in a nation among its leaders, He will not tolerate it for long. He will replace those who look after only themselves. For leadership is not about being important. It’s about protecting and caring those who seem unimportant.

In the case of this generation addressed in Psalm 82, God’s verdict is handed down in Verse 6:
I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” 

Finally, the Psalmist calls for God’s perfect justice… and not only that… He looks forward to Christ. Yes, Christ is coming for an inheritance of all nations:
VERSE 8 Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!

How does Christ inherit the nations? By arising on the Cross, and arising from the grave and arising into heaven. He passed the temptation of the devil and was given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Christians seek that kingdom now and it’s ultimate consummation to come!

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Worshipping AND Doing

I grew up in the Charismatic Church. We were really into worship. It was everything. And by worship, we meant the singing and emotional feel of the service before the preaching. In fact, on some occasions, if we “felt the Spirit” just right, the preaching would be sidelined for more singing and emotion. It was very feeling oriented. And I read Psalm 81 thinking about how often the feeling of worship and the form of worship can be a shady cover for hearts that aren’t actually listening to God or doing what He says.

The Psalmist opens:

Psalm 81:1–3 (ESV) 1 Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! 2 Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp. 3 Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.

The idea in the first three verses is that of orderly, well structured, planned and perfected worship. Everything is going just as the Levitical prescription is laid out in the Pentateuch. But when the Word of the Lord comes, it is a strong word of warning.

Psalm 81:8–10 (ESV) Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! 9 There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. 10 I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

God says listen and hear several times in the remaining verses. He doesn’t just want us singing to Him looking for that “feeling” of His presence. He IS with us whether we feel Him or not, therefore walk in His ways all the time.

It’s so easy and natural to segregate our lives. But this was never God’s intention. He made all things and gave us all things for His purposes and glory. We don’t do our “God stuff” on Sunday and business Monday through Saturday. We are always worshipping… it’s just not always the ONE LORD and ONE GOD. 

It’s funny, the culture at large is perfectly fine with Christians who segregate themselves and cordon off their worship into a time slot on the weekend. What the world has a problem with is that Christian who carries their convictions from the church house into the public sector of life and lives according to a sure Word from God. 

Notice the problem God has: It’s that His people will not listen… not the world:
Psalm 81:11 (ESV) “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me.

God isn’t looking to the lost to shine the light and live right, He’s looking to those He chose and called. We are the people called to bear witness as to what life with the One True King is like. However many Churches look to the lost to listen to God and do what He says. That’s not their job! That’s ours. The goodness of the Lord is only experienced and seen when the people of the Lord are walking in the light of His truth day by day.

This is what God is looking for. People who worship Him in daily life! That’s the salt and light Jesus talked about. Radical commitment to Christ in everyday doings are the makings of true worship that others see, some hate, and many will appreciate.  

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