Posted 19 hours ago

Salvation Shakes the Earth

Psalm 114 is weird. It’s weird because the Psalmist has a conversation with a Sea, a river and mountains. The Psalm recounts Israel’s deliverance from Egypt in a unique way and asks questions of the Earthly elements that made way for God’s people now saved.

Psalm 114:3–6 (NLT) The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way! The water of the Jordan River turned away. 4 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs! 5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way? What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away? 6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams? Why, hills, like lambs?

The Psalmist personifies these things to make a point: A sea hurries out of the way. The Jordan made a turn for them. What’s the point?

It’s a reminder that when God does a work in someone’s life, obstacles have to move!

The opening verses give this away:
Psalm 114:1–2 (NLT) When the Israelites escaped from Egypt— when the family of Jacob left that foreign land— 2 the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary, and Israel became his kingdom.

"Judah became God’s sanctuary…"
That’s a powerful truth.

But something equally powerful happens to you when you come to Christ! You are now the TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit and God lives IN you and will be WITH you forever!

1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT) Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,

This means you should be totally confident that His promises will be fulfilled no matter what needs to relocate to help make it happen.

 Jesus said “If we have faith the size of a mustard seed, mountains can be moved!” Why? Because nothing can stop the work of God in your life. Not rivers, mountains, seas or armies. God’s purpose for God’s people prevails! That’s the power of your salvation. 

Think about where you are right now. Perhaps stuck in the wilderness? Between a rock and a hard place? Maybe you feel hunted down by your old life of sin (Egypt) as Pharaoh’s army tracked down the recently delivered slaves. They thought it was over. God simply made a way through a sea! It happened because they needed it to get them from where they were to where God was bringing them. 

So whatever it is, know that if God needs it out of your way to bring you out, He will move it! Nothing can stop God’s work for you. 

Don’t let the troubles derail your faith! Don’t let the obstacles overwhelm your confidence that God is still working and God is still able. 

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Posted 2 days ago

You Can’t Make God What You Want

A lot of people want God to be…
- less judgmental.
- more loving.
- less concerned with sin and righteousness.
- more like a grandpa who loves and hugs.

Many Christians want God to be…
- more condemning to “others”
- harsher toward those who sin unlike us.
- faster in delivering justice.

The reality is you can’t make God want you want Him to be. The moment you do, God has become subject to your imaginations. This is a problem. It makes you God. And no matter what you think, you’re not fit to be Him.

Psalm 113 is a chiastic Psalm. That means it centers on a particular verse. Find the center and you find the point of the Psalm. This is a common technique in Hebrew poetry. In this case, the 5th verse:

Psalm 113:5 (ESV) Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,

That’s the point of this beautiful Psalm. Miss that and you don’t catch what’s being said. There is no one who is like God.

He is eternal and timeless.
Psalm 113:3 (ESV) From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!

He is above all:

Psalm 113:4 (ESV) The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!

He cares for those cast down.
Psalm 113:7–9 (ESV) He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!

No one is like God. That’s why we see humans typically not recognizing Him when He shows up in the Bible.

Moses didn’t get it at first though he was intrigued (Exodus 3).
Joshua wondered who’s side He was on (Joshua 5).
Isaiah realized He was way more holy than himself (Isaiah 6).

And when Jesus arrived, those most religious didn’t recognize Him and hated Him.

We do a bad job with God’s job description. Because He is like NONE of us. So stop trying to expect Him to be something you want. Instead, come to know Who He is. It’s far different from what you may expect, and far far better!

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Posted 3 days ago

How to Work His World

Do you want to be unafraid in life? Do what God says.

I love psalm 112. It’s a continuation from Psalm 111 which shows us the God who creates and sustains the ordered universe. He made it to function a certain way. By implication, He made all of US to function a certain way.

The Psalm responds to Psalm 111 with a commendation to those who trust God:
Psalm 112:1 (ESV) Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

The delight of His commandments is what’s important here. Fear is about trust. To fear God is to trust and love His commands because they work. The same God who created the world that works (Psalm 112), has given us laws to keep us operating in the world with blessing. consider the absence of God’s law for generations from the fall to Noah. Man’s wicked heart was only consumed with evil all the time. The message of God for 4 chapters in the Bible is left to our own devises, we destroy ourselves.

The commandments of God are a blessing! We must never treat them like a curse. If we do, we are the ones who suffer for it. Think of it, what does God get out of our obedience? He needs nothing! His World is for us and His Word is for us! What a bounty of Divine benefits!

Do you want financial stability? Do money God’s way:
Psalm 112:3 (ESV) Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Do what God says: (1 Timothy 6) Do not love money, do not be proud, (Proverbs 10:4) be diligent in your work, (Luke 6:38) be generous and (Psalm 112:5) lend freely.

Do you want to stand in times of great stress? Do what God says and establish your heart for harder times!

Psalm 112:7 (ESV) He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
Notice this verse doesn’t promise the END of bad news. But rather that this man hears it but does not fear it. Bad news cannot be stopped, but our hearts can be strong and ready to handle it when we do life God’s way.

These two Psalms sum up the benefits of God toward us! His work and His Word - let us enjoy them both - for they were meant to compliment each other.

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Posted 5 days ago

He Made the World to Work

Psalm 111 calls us to delight in the works of God. Five times the word, “work” appears in this brief Psalm.

God is a “working” God. He created and sat back and determined His work to be good. It’s intrinsic to our natural world that work makes it better and beautiful and functional. God created work, God works, God admonishes work to be honored.

Psalm 111:2 (ESV) Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.

Humans love to study His work. Science is not incompatible with God or religion. In fact, the Royal Society of London was started by theologians to expand our comprehension of the incredible WORKS of our God! Scientific thought has it’s roots in the Christian faith - contrary to what many people will tell you.

I love technology. I love the human mind being used to harness the healing and beneficial properties of creation. I love seeing our studies bring us farther and empowering us to do more than ever before. This is the full enjoyment of God’s work!

Today we communicate and travel in ways that would have been thought impossible 100 years ago. Where will we be in 100 years from now?

One of the things scientists will tell you enable their study is constants. The Psalm reminds us of that simple reality.
Psalm 111:7 (ESV) The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
We know the Earth is relatively stable and constant compared to the rest of creation. The axis is just right, the speed around and nearness to the sun is consistent for life and balance. The Earth declares the trustworthy nature of God.

However, the Earth is far from perfect. Floods, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, et al threaten our survival. Disease and death are unavoidable. Another subtle reminder that life is delicate and must follow sound principles for longevity. Perhaps that is the reason for the Psalm’s subtle reminder near the end:
Psalm 111:10 (ESV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

It is not enough to study the world. It is necessary to remember and fear the God of the world.

We delight ourselves in the discovery of our world.
We succeed in such discovery with His guidance and grace.

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Posted 1 week ago

The New Testament’s Favorite Psalm

Psalm 110 is the most often quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It should be for good reason. Jesus uses the first line to baffle the Pharisees who were waiting for Messiah while staring Him int he face.

Psalm 110:1 (ESV) The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

David here speaks of God (LORD in capitals) speaking to Jesus (Lord) about His divine rule at God’s right hand side. And since David calls this Messiah Lord, how can He also be David’s Son? Because He is both a man and God. He is both human nature and divine nature in one. No wonder the Apostles used this Psalm so much in their proclamation of the Gospel!

But I want to point out one interesting passage in verse 2:

Psalm 110:2 (ESV) The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!

"Rule in the midst of your enemies." 
This Divine rule of Christ happens through His Church in the midst of her enemies. This is huge! Because it describes what kind of work we are to do for Christ. We are not to subdue Christ’s enemies. We are to let the Lord rule our hearts in the midst of them! 

Matthew 5:13 (ESV) “You are the salt of the earth…”

Christians are not called to “Christianize any society.” We are called to live in and among them, working for peace and justice and leading lives that bring Christ glory. YES, we are called to EVANGELIZE our society by going out to the highways and byways and telling all who will to come! But it is never through legislation, pressure or human ingenuity that the Lord’s rule expands. Not everyone will follow Christ. We must accept it and embrace living for Him among them. 

Romans 12:18 (ESV) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Here is another important phrase:
Psalm 110:3 (ESV) Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

This King (Jesus), does not rule forcefully over us making us do what He wants! His subject willingly offer themselves because He willingly offered Himself in service to God.

John 4:34 (ESV) “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

It is true self-less love that we follow. Obedience for the Christian is willingness to do what Christ wants because He willingly did what God wanted for us. In the garden sweating drops of blood He said, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

This is the only King worthy of our service! He is the one who models it, He is the one God appointed to it. He is and always will be the Lord over all.

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Posted 1 week ago

The Lord Who is With You

Psalm 109:1–5 (ESV) Be not silent, O God of my praise! 2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues. 3 They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause. 4 In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer. 5 So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

The Lord WHO is with you is greater than those who come against you. That is the promise of Psalm 109. The Psalmist is in desperate circumstance, hated by people on all sides. He seeks the Lord’s help in prayer, praise and fasting. He is diligent to humble himself and call out to the God who saves.

Psalm 109 is one of the Imprecatory Psalms wherein the Psalmist calls down curses on his enemies. It is the longest and most intense of those particular Psalms. Notice…

Psalm 109:8–10 (ESV) May his days be few; may another take his office! 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! 10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!

As christians we have a hard time with cursing at all, never mind asking God to do it. But you must remember all the imprecatory Psalms were written by King David. He was not an citizen, he was ruler of God’s people and He was entrusted to lead and do what was right.

We need to also remember that David was God’s instrument of judgment on foreign nations. He killed Goliath who defied the Lord. He slew the Philistines who hated the God of Israel. He also brought justice to many of the adversaries of Israel from ages past. God uses kings and governments to enact His righteous judgment. Not every wicked city is burned like Sodom and Gomorrah.

Finally, remember that David also leaves vengeance in the hands of the Lord. Even when enemies came against David, David sought the face of God every time about whether or not to respond (see 1 Chronicles 14:8-7 where even at the height of his power, David is not so arrogant to pray continually every step of the way about military intervention.)

The point of the Psalm is to remind God’s people that the Lord is with You and he’s greater than those who attack you. You can know His peace in the midst of adverse circumstances. Prayer, praise, fasting, time with the Lord - these are the source of your strength. David was a mighty warrior because David was a man after God’s own heart.

Do you want to be strong in the fierces battles of life? Get with the Lord. Cry out to Him. It may be time for a fast, a time of prayer, an extended time of seeking God. He’s there. He’s greater.

Psalm 109:26–31 (NLT) Help me, O Lord my God! Save me because of your unfailing love. 27 Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, Lord. 28 Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing! 29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak. 30 But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. 31 For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.

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Posted 1 week ago

Desperate for Personal Victory

Psalm 108 is a warrior’s morning prayer for victory. David who had a long fight with the Edomites has awoken up early to seek God’s deliverance from them once and for all.

Psalm 108:1–4 (ESV) 1 My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

The state of David’s heart is strong. He is steadfast. But why? Because God’s love is steadfast. God is faithful to David in love. In fact, David’s name means, “beloved.” It is interesting that David is the only “David” in the Bible! No one else carries that name. Perhaps this was the reason behind John’s reference to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” People who know they are loved by God last a long time, like David and John.

David needs help for victory of Edom (See verse 10). He’s looking for help because Edom was a tremendously fortified nation with narrow passage ways that gave natural defense to even the strongest of armies. Only two horses could come through these passages giving any defensive unit a strong advantage. It was at the Rock of Petra where they filmed the final scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

How to pray for victory when you are desperate:

First, David will praise God! He will worship and sing first even when he is in desperate need. He’s not going to fight the battles of the Lord without first extolling the Lord.

Psalm 108:5–6 (ESV) Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! 6 That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me!

Second,  David knows he needs help. He needs God. But he’s not after personal glory here. No, David has started his petition with God’s glory in mind. God’s glory is David’s aim in battle. That’s first! In our own battles through life, do we make that the priority? Or are we simply looking for relief so that we can get on “on our own?”

Third, David recalls God’s promises.

Psalm 108:7–9 (ESV) 7 God has promised in his holiness: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth…upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

David knows God’s Word and is acting on it. He knows God’s promise came to Jacob and not Esau or his descendants, the people of Edom. There’s faith in what God has said and there action accordingly.

Finally David presents his requests with deep reliance on God.

Psalm 108:12–13 (NLT) Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless. 13 With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.

What a terrific formula for prayer when we need victory:
Praise God.
Prioritize God’s Glory.
Recall God’s Promises.
Present your requests.

That’ll preach.


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Posted 1 week ago

God Helps All Kinds of People

If you read Psalm 107 you find a repeated phrase:

Psalm 107:6 (NLT) Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress.  
Psalm 107:13 (NLT) Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

Psalm 107:19 (NLT) Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

Psalm 107:28 (NLT) Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

The Psalm is a beautiful telling of God’s help for all kinds of people with all kinds of problems. 
Some wandered in darkness (verses 4-9).
Some sat in darkness because of their rebellion (verses 10-16).
Some were foolish and sinned - suffering for their own problems (verses 17-22).
Finally, some sought business ventures and ended up drunks (verses 23-32).

What this Psalm really reminds me of is that God is always ready to help any and all who cry out to Him! No matter what the issue or cause of your trouble, God is ready to listen and respond. Don’t let the devil tell you that you’re not worthy, or that you’ve done something God cannot respond to. That’s just not the truth.

Secondly, He will respond differently. As in all four sections of this Psalm make clear, God deals with each group individually and not mechanically. He’s personal… and He responds personably. That is a wonderful promise of God! He does not cookie cutter your life. He responds to your need.

But what we also learn of this Psalm is how each response of God is not what each group would have perhaps preferred…

The first group was wandering and lost and God gave them a city.
The second group was in darkness, and God freed them and led them out.
The third foolish and sinful group were suffering, and God sent His word and healed them!
The fourth group were stressed and struggling, and God calmed their storm to a whisper.

No wonder the Psalm opens with this call to testimony:

Psalm 107:1–2 (NLT) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. 2 Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

You have one. It will be different from anyone else, and yet it brings people to a great understanding of God’s vast array of goodness to His people. What a powerful Psalm and what a glorious God!

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Posted 2 weeks ago

Worship Must be Introspective

Psalm 106:1–2 (ESV) Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?

So Psalms 105 and 106 go together. The first extols the Lord for His mighty acts and goodness exhibited to His people. It tells us to recount the wonderful deeds of the Lord. Psalm 106 also calls us to recount His deeds, but a different set of deeds altogether. In this Psalm, the call to worship God is based on His consistent mercy and grace to a stubborn and obstinate people. 

The first recollection starts with Egypt:

Psalm 106:7–8 (ESV) Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. 8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.

It talks about the up and down nature of the people’s faith and trust in God from there. When He delivered them, they trusted Him. But soon they forgot and were once again in bondage.

Psalm 106:13 (ESV) But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.

I’m very aware that most of us live in this Psalm. Our relationship with God, whether we like to admit it or not, is often on again off again depending on the conditions of our lives. Perhaps this is the reason for the Psalm in the first place. It ends with a call for God’s salvation and a plea of agreement for the people with a verbal “Amen.”

Psalm 106:47–48 (ESV) Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

Its as if the Psalmist is writing and calling the people to sing this song so that they snap out of their topsy turvy faith. We need songs like this, confessing that we often fail and desperately need God’s grace. If we don’t take time to remember the many ways God has saved us from ourselves we will begin to trust only in ourselves. 

Worship must be introspective. Worship must be a heart check wherein we take time to recount that God’s greatest deed was His mercy when we deserved so much worse. Many times God did bring His just judgment upon them. But He never forsook His people. You can be sure that God will never forsake you. Yes, we will bear the consequences of our sin. And yet, God punishes everyone He receives as a son (Hebrews 12). But we do not loose heart. We remind ourselves that He got us this far and He will take us home.


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Posted 2 weeks ago

Worship MUST be Evangelistic

Psalm 105:1 (ESV) Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

This Psalm recounts the entire history of Abraham’s children in the Old Testament. It’s a song about the deeds of the Lord on their behalf and the first part of a two-part hymn with Psalm 106. Here in 105, the song is positive, recalling the deeds of the Lord, remembering and declaring His goodness to the people of Israel, calling them into thankful praise.

We need to do this in our worship. I’m not a big fan of the me-central worship that is going on in a lot of churches. Songs that talk about my personal intimacy with God. Yes, there are some Psalms like that, David’s in particular, but most of them extol the Lord’s works over the world and His people. This kind of worship is evangelistic. 

Psalm 105:2 (ESV) Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!

When the Church gathers to sing, we sing TO Him for the sake of others. I once had a conversation with a worship leader who really believed it was not proper for Christian worship to happen with unbelievers present. I was taken aback. I wondered if he should expect us to enact a survey on the way in to every Sunday morning to make certain every person in the audience was saved. How ludicrous. He eventually left the church. I was glad.

Worship is meant for God’s glory in the presence of those who do not yet know Him. It builds the reputation of our God to those around us.This is a wonderful way to share about our Lord! What an opportunity we have every time we gather to express our thanks and praise for His wonderful deeds.

The problem is most churches need to pull teeth to get some Christians to sing. Worship for many is the pre-game show where spectators watch and performers sing. This must not be. We have an obligation to sing! To share in song the goodness of our God. If you go to a rock concert, they are usually singing about someone far less worthy than God! Yet the people raise hands, tear up and experience ecstatic “worship” to someone they will never know or meet personally. My wife attended a concert with my daughter this year for a famous “boy band.” She recounted how the girls behind them were literally in tears and shaking during the singing!

How silly to sing for someone who takes your money first!

God has GIVEN us HIMSELF, freely and graciously! That’s why the first three words of this song are, “Oh give thanks!” Yes! Thank Him! He’s worthy.

Psalm 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Sing to God! Sing with thanks! Sing with joy! Sing with your whole heart. When we make His praise glorious people who do not know Him grow curious!

Worship is a witness. Let’s make it count.

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