Posted 5 hours ago

Make God Happy!

Psalm 103:1–5 (ESV) Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I love these four verses. You could read them again and again. They are our Divine benefits. And they are the reason to bless the Lord. 

Notice that the Psalmist here is speaking to himself. He needs to remind himself of the benefits he has in His God. Don’t we all need to do that? We need to remember the benefits so we turn our mouths toward blessing!

Notice as well, the Psalmist calls himself FULLY into worship: "all that is within me."
This is not a second-rate offering of praise! You have to push yourself fully into worship! Sadly, many Christians are improperly satisfied with letting someone else do it. This is what made David a man after God’s heart. He was always calling himself into full engagement with the Lord’s goodness and it always led to praise!

He calls himself to “bless the Lord” - the word “bless” means to make one happy. When we remember what God has done for us - it delights His heart and opens His hands of abundance! Perhaps the reason you’re not experiencing the goodness of God is that you’ve grown cold and stale in regard to what He’s done! Start listing the benefits He’s given and see what happens!

Notice the “alls” of the Psalm: All our soul should praise Him for ALL His benefits:
- He forgives ALL iniquity. 
- He heals ALL your diseases.

Some of us don’t worship because we don’t feel forgiven. This is our GREATEST blessing! Sins past present and future atoned for and forgotten! “Iniquity” is not simply transgression but the guilt caused by sin. It’s not just what we do, it’s what we feel. If you feel shame in Christ, it does not come from Him! Romans 8:1 (ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Even later the Psalmist exclaims: Psalm 103:12 (ESV) as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Some of us don’t worship because we have physical ailments. It is very discouraging when your body doesn’t function as it should. But your body gets healed. Either miraculously, or methodically through itself, or eventually at the resurrection. Whatever the time frame, God is the one who promised it and causes it!

Some of us don’t worship because we don’t realize how alive we truly are in Christ! He redeems us from the pit - the place of near or certain death. Every child of God is a walking talking redemption story - someone purchased of God and cherished by Him! You praise Him when you know He loves you enough to buy you back from the death that held you. Psalm 103:14 (ESV) For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. God knows our weakness and saves us!

The bottom line of Psalm 103 is that each of us can and must stir our hearts toward Him! He has done so much for us. Life inundates us with new deadlines, fears, and stresses. But our Father has done and will do so much for us! Bless Him, make Him happy that you know HE’s good! That’s the way to come into His presence and experience His joy!

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Posted 3 days ago

You Can’t Live Forever, So What Are You Going To Do About It?

We grow up thinking we are going to live forever. We are fools. Eventually life starts coming to a clearer and clearer realization that no one gets out of this life alive. We are winding down. This is the Psalmist’s realization in Psalm 102.

Psalm 102:23–24 (ESV) He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. 24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— you whose years endure throughout all generations!”

I have to confess, I feel like this Psalm is speaking straight to me. I’m experiencing more physical ailments than I ever have. My body is showing signs of wear and tear. I haven’t exercised cardio in a long time as my knee heals from something I cannot explain. My strength is broken. It starts to hit you - life is short. Your body reminds you that eventually you have to slow down and eventually you will stop. 

Though this Psalmist realizes his life will end, he has great perspective”
Psalm 102:12 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations.

Psalm 102:15 (ESV) Nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.

Psalm 102:16 (ESV) For the Lord builds up Zion; he appears in his glory;

The Psalmist has come to a very important realization. Though he will not live forever in this world, God is still doing something in this world. The Psalmist is aware that he is a part of God’s work, not the end of it.

This is living in the light of who we are before our God.

Psalm 102:18–22 (ESV) Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: 19 that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

The purpose of our lives is to live for His glory in our generation so that subsequent generations may praise Him. Notice the long-term vision the Psalmist has in verse 18. "So that a people YET to be created may praise the Lord." He’s not thinking simply of the generation behind him, but one yet to be born. This is long range vision for the affect of your life. Not just hoping that your kids will know the Lord, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren as well. 

I’m reminded of the account of David’s life so eloquently stated by Paul before his persecutors:

Acts 13:36–37 (ESV) For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.

David did what God wanted and then was laid to rest. Powerful words for us all. They remind us to use our time well, to invest in those we will leave behind. We are here for His purpose in our generation so that future generations will call upon the Lord.

This Psalmist has it right. And he can embrace his end with faith.

Psalm 102:25–28 (ESV) Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you. 

He has worked to leave behind a legacy for those yet to come. With that in mind, he will truly rest in peace.

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Posted 4 days ago

The Private Life of a Leader

Psalm 101 is a Royal Psalm of David as he contemplates his office as King and ruler of the land. It’s a powerful presentation of personal and private decisions leading to proper execution of his office. This Psalm is very important for us today. Many falsely believe that as long as a Public figure does his job well it doesn’t matter what he does behind closed doors. This Psalm begs to differ.

The first stanza is filled with personal standards already set:

Psalm 101:1–4 (ESV) I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will make music. 2 I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; 3 I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall be far from me; I will know nothing of evil.

He will guard his eyes.
He will protect his associations.
He will not experiment with evil. 

This leader wants to carefully guard his private life and his heart. He guards it because he knows his life flows from his heart.

Stanza two is about who this King will elevate and position:

Psalm 101:5–7 (ESV) Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. 6 I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. 7 No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes.

He wants people of upright character and humility. 
He wants people who are faithful in their lives.
He wants people who pursue personal righteousness.
He wants people who are true and trustworthy.

Leaders need to protect who they elevate and establish. Many people want to be in charge, not many want to carry out the activities of this list.

Stanza three is a commitment to justice:

Psalm 101:8 (ESV) Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked in the land, cutting off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

The universal cry of mankind is for justice. This king wants justice in his city and he will work for it every day. 

What a beautiful Psalm for our leaders to know and follow. 
Personal piety.
Relational integrity.
Social justice.

Jesus has them all.

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Posted 6 days ago

We Aren’t But He Is

Psalm 100 calls us to joyfully sing to God for who HE is! It is fitting that the 100th Psalm be centered on God.

Psalm 100:1–2 (ESV) Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

The call to worship is a call to joyful shouting, singing and serving. How miserable some churches are. Dead and dry like the dessert. No life, no passion, no celebration. Why would anyone want to attend? Yes, there are times for solemn reflection and awe-inspired quietness. But there are also times for jubilant and noisy celebration! Make a NOISE! AMEN!

We are admonished to come into His presence with singing. Isn’t God everywhere? Sure. But singing to Him brings His presence to fuller reality. It just does. Singing is opening our heart in a way standing and watching others never could. You bear your soul in the singing moment and God’s presence is made real.

Psalm 100:3 (ESV) Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

The Psalm then reminds us to know some important facts. He is God, not you. He is the creator, you are the creation. He is the shepherd we are the sheep. No one is self-made and no one is self-directed. As much as we want to prove ourselves, all of us are His creation!

We don’t like God telling us what to do. But He has every right. Just this one verse gives us two simple reasons: He is God. He is creator. That’s enough. It’s like the strong-willed child who doesn’t want his parents telling him what to do. It doesn’t matter. They made you and they are in charge of you. 

We are defined as His possession. That is, we are owned by Him! He takes care of His possessions! Wake up every day and know that you are not doing life alone. You are the possession of a loving Father who cares and guides and sustains! The first sin was based on a failure to believe these foundational facts.

Secondly we are defined as sheep. Sheep are very dumb animals. They need constant attention. They need direction and guidance. A simple perusal of any News Paper article will remind us of how stupid humans can be. We need a shepherd. We need to remember that we have a shepherd.

Psalm 100:4 (ESV) Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

We are called to come to Him thankfully. We don’t have to shy away from this God. He is enjoyable. He blesses and so deserves our thanks! To thank someone is to confess they gave you what you needed. When we praise and thank our God we are making a declaration we need Him.

Psalm 100:5 (ESV) For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

What is the last thing we need to know? His goodness, love and faithfulness. He never changes the fact that He loves and provides goodness for His creation.


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Posted 1 week ago

God is Love… Or…

The most common description of God from people in America? Love.
The most common description of God in the Bible? Holy.

Psalm 99:5 (ESV) Exalt the Lord our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
Three times this Psalm calls the King of glory Holy!

In the Scriptures, God is called holy more than He is called loving, just or kind. The Bible uses the word, “holy” or “holiness” over 900 times. He is absolutely Holy. In the Hebrew language, you didn’t emphasize words by capitalizing or italicizing them. And words like “very” or “really” were not around to provide emphasis. So the Hebrews repeated the word for emphasis. That gives us greater understanding of Isaiah’s experience in the Temple as he watched the angels cry to one another:

Isaiah 6:3 (ESV) And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Here in Psalm 99, we see the scene set again in the throne room of God:
Psalm 99:1 (ESV) The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

His holiness is awesome.

But do not make the mistake that this word, “holy” is about personal righteousness. God is perfectly righteous AND holy. They are different attributes. Holiness has to do with His transcendence. The word “holy” comes from the word meaning “to separate.” So God’s “otherness” that we cannot fathom. The whole of the Universe is not able to contain Him for He made it with His speech!

The word can also be “sanctify” or to “set apart.” Which is what the Lord is doing right now.

Ephesians 5:25 (ESV) Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

There are two things the Lord has done in this verse:
1. He has cleansed - that is removed from us the sin and stains of our past.
2. He has washed - the word refers to ceremonial washing of items to prepare for special use.

Child of God, you are not simply washed of the bad things you’ve done, you have been set apart for the good things God has for you to do:
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You’re not just clean, you are consecrated. But that means more than you think. Back to Psalm 99. Four implications arise for God’s holy ones:

Psalm 99:7–8 (ESV) In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. 8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

Speaking of Moses, Aaron and Samuel who spoke for God and were set apart for His purposes, the Psalmist makes clear the stipulations of their relation to Him as His “holy” ones:
1. He spoke to them - being a Christian is about hearing God’s voice.
2. They obeyed His laws - being a Christian means you seek to obey His Word.
3. He forgave them - God holds no record of wrongs against His chosen
4. He avenged their wrongs - God holds His chosen in high accountability, disciplining those He loves and chastising all whom He calls “son.”

God is holy.
We are made holy.

Exalt the Lord our God.

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Posted 1 week ago

Savior, King & Judge

What many people do when they come to faith is believe Jesus saved them from their sins. That is right. But He is much more than simply Savior. He is King and Judge.

This is the message of Psalm 98. The first stanza reminds us the Lord is Savior:
Psalm 98:1 (ESV) 1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

The Second stanza presents Him as King:
Psalm 98:6 (ESV) With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Finally, stanza three proclaims Him as Judge:

Psalm 98:8–9 (ESV) Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

He is all three. 
Thankfully, He saves us first. He extends down to us and lifts us up from the miry pit of our own failure. But that’s not where it ends. He is also made King of our lives. The reason we don’t like some of our Christian growth program is because it’s not our choice! He is King! He is in charge! Every Kingdom has a King and we are part of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ! Finally, He is our judge. 2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

It’s wonderful to be forgiven. That’s what God does for us in Christ when Jesus comes in.
It’s challenging to be forged. That’s what He does as King from the inside out.
It’s humbling to remember we will be judged.

Yet our Psalm doesn’t stop singing throughout all three stanzas. It is a joyful song of praise to the fact that our Lord is our Savior, King and Judge. Why is there such cause for joy?

Because it means other people are not your savior, king or judge! You do not live or die by what others think of you. Your king also died for you and comes to receive you and reward you. You do not have to fear man! He is the faithful and true Judge of pure and holy righteousness. He is right, not everyone else.

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Posted 1 week ago

God is Awesome

Psalm 97:1–5 (ESV) The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! 2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. 4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.

We often pray for God to show up. Have we read the opening of this Psalm? The awesome presence of God is described as clouds and thick darkness as at the time when God descended on the mountain and the people drew back in Exodus. His righteousness is untouchable to us. He is totally just and that should throw a bit of tension in our minds. The earth trembles, the mountains melt, his enemies get fried in His presence.

God’s reign is awesome (in the frightful sense).

And yet the Psalmist commands us:

Psalm 97:12 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

This is the God that shook Isaiah to his core.
He caused Peter to despair of sin.
John fell prostrate at his feet in Revelation.

Never forget, God is awesome. He is AWEsome.

Hebrews 12:29 (ESV) says, "our God is a consuming fire."

You must never forget His love… but never take Him lightly.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Sing a New Song

Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. (Psalms 96:1-2 NLT)

Psalm 96 call us to sing a new song to The Lord. But what does that mean? Does that mean we are to always buy the latest worship album, learn the chords and sing the new tunes? That would make this command about the latest Christian worship album and not about God. I’m sure the Christian music artist is happy with that interpretation. But there’s much more here.

The context of this Psalm is the moment the Ark of God finally entered it’s resting place in Jerusalem from the house of Obed Edom. This is the famous incident in which David disrobes in front of a disapproving wife in wild celebration that Gods presence was coming to the city. 

David penned these words in response to the NEW THING God was doing. David instructs us to sing a new song when God does something new! This makes our worship what it is supposed to be about… GOD and His rule and reign. 

O nations of the world, recognize the LORD; recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong. Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts. (Psalms 96:7-8 NLT)

The Ark coming to Jerusalem was a foretaste of God’s reign coming to the Earth. Of course the true Ark Jesus came to Jerusalem to a new song and palm trees being waved. Finally in Revelation 5, when the Lamb takes the scroll and begins to rule, the people from every nation sing a new song again! Why? Because Gods reign was becoming more real with every new occasion for Joy among His people.

We sing a new song for every new sign of the reign of God, that’s what this Psalm is calling us to do. Remember that Jesus told us all heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. Why? Because the reign of God is becoming more certain by the soul!

Sometimes we look at our lives and wonder what’s new? What’s really there to sing about? But here’s the truth: God is doing something new. He renews your mind by the Word. He makes all things new in creation through redemption. He renews your youth like the Eagles. He saves the lost and lonely.

Because of the new thing God is doing we always have reason to sing.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

How to Worship

There’s a lot said about worship in the Christian church. What is it? What does it look like? What’s the difference between true and false worship? What kind of music is most worshipful?

But have we gone to God’s Word?
Psalm 95 is about HOW the people of God are to worship God according to God.

Psalm 95:1–5 (ESV) Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

First we see that worship is not about us. Its not about how it makes us feel, what it does for our senses, or where we are at when we are called to do it. Let us sing joyfully because of WHO HE IS not what we feel. We are joyful because the King is our King! He has made Himself known to us.

Psalm 95:6–7a (ESV) Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! 7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. 

Secondly we bow down, we kneel, it’s the universal sign of honor and respect. In other words, we don’t “just stand there”remaining still and motionless. Our God is just that great - reverence is called for. We express worship with our whole body, not simply our heads, eyes and hands.

Notice the final section

Psalm 95:7b–11 (ESV) Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”

Worship is meant to open our hearts. Worship is meant to soften our hearts. When we open our mouths, our hearts are opened. Think of it, when you are mad at someone you often refuse to speak to them. Why? Because you want to express the hardness of your heart. 

It has been said the speech part of our brains are the most dominant part of our brains. What we do with our mouth has a profound affect on everything else about us. James confirms this telling us one’s whole life can be set on fire by the tongue (James 3:6). Worship is meant to open our hearts.

The people in the wilderness tested God by complaining about their conditions. They never were satisfied or glad in God. Such a heart is closed to Him and experiences His wrath. Worship is joyful expression where we are… not to “get something” from Him. Be joyful in God today, no matter what happens, that is worship at its best!

So then…
Worship is not about us.
Worship is respect and honor toward God.
Worship is meant to open us up to God and His will. 
Worship is about right now, where we are, enjoy our God.

That is how God wants us to worship.

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Posted 2 weeks ago

God’s Vengeance is Better than Revenge

Hurst will happen. We cannot avoid them.
Psalm 94 is a call for the God of vengeance to do something about the harm being done to His people:

Psalm 94:1–2 (ESV) 1 O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!

Psalm 94:5–7 (ESV) 5 They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage. 6 They kill the widow and the sojourner, and murder the fatherless; 7 and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”

Some people are awful. We see them in the middle east and on the streets of America’s cities. People who don’t give a care about God and act like His rule is a myth. They can drive us crazy if we let them. Psalm 94 is a better response. Instead of getting mad at those who do wrong, pray for the Lord of vengeance to shine forth, rise up and judge.

There’s a reason why God’s vengeance is called for. Because we tend toward REvenge. And revenge usually ends up being more about my feelings and anger than what is just and right. You remember when Cain is marked with God so that whoever KILLS Cain will be paid back 7 fold? Just a few generations, his descendent Lamech announces his own system of Justice: He says someone hurt him and for they he is to be paid 77 fold!

Genesis 4:24 (ESV) If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

The problem with our idea of justice is we get personal and overreact. 
God’s judgment and God’s vengeance are two things:

1. Gods judgment and vengeance is perfect.

Psalm 94:9–11 (ESV) He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? 10 He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— 11 the Lord—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

He sees what we don’t see. He sees thoughts. He sees what men think. He doesn’t simply judge actions, he judges thoughts!

2. God’s judgment and vengeance is just.
This is the Psalmist’s confidence:

Psalm 94:14–15 (ESV) For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Paul picks this up in Romans…

Romans 12:18–19 (ESV) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”… 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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