Monthly Archives: July 2010

Psalm 119:81-88 That Day and This Day

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
Psalm 119:81

Dear Father,

In a moment, even a sliver of a moment, in which I am not consumed with thinking of you, sin is whispering in my ear.  I thank you, Father, that it can only torment me from outside the gate that you have formed around me in Christ – that it has no real power over me and cannot carry me away.  But how gross am I to give into it within your Holy city of love that is my real life, Christ Jesus.

My soul does faint longing for the future salvation from this body of sin (Romans 7:24-25).  But I thank you so much for your word that confirms that you have me in your hands and nobody can snatch me away (John 10:28-29) and that one day you will disrobe me from this body of death and clothe me in the new, eternal and holy body (Philippians 3:20-21).  As for today Father, transform this weak body and mind to conform to the holy life of Christ within me that you will be able to receive glory from the dust of my life. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

I love you, Jesus.

Psalm 119:25-32: Freedom from Dust

I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.
Psalm 119:25,28,32 

When I sin, the shame of it drags me down to the dust that I am made of – like Paul says to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 3:3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

But even if I sin and feel this way – the psalmist boldly asks God to preserve his life according to your word.  It is God’s decree – not our worth – that I cling to because I have no worth in myself – it all derives from Him.   Even if I am weary with the sorrow of my sin, I can say I know I can be strengthened because God has told me I am forgiven and that he will provide for all my needs.

So I can run to him, even after my sin – not because I am worthy but because despite my worth, His word says He has forgiven me.  He promised to make me whole and I can trust Him. So I do not run in the path of his commands out of fear that He will not forgive me if I don’t;  I run in this path because He has forgiven me when I wasn’t running in it even those things that I will sin against Him as I do run in the path. And this forgiveness has completely set my heart free.  I run to Him because I am free to do so and that freedom is most appealing.

Father, thank you so much for freeing me from sin based on your love rather than my worthiness.  Thank you for strengthening me.  Thank you for freeing me from the dust that makes me up and lift me to place that I can love you no matter what and no beyond a shadow of a doubt that you love me.  Glory to you, Lord.

Psalm 117: Nothing but Praise for Eternal Love

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.

Psalm 117 

This short Psalm says a great deal in the brief focus it gives us.  Always, we have no reason to do anything but praise God FOR His love is great toward us and that is eternally true – from eternity past to eternity future – even if we don’t feel that or see it at a given moment.

Some days we are happy with our lives – praise the Lord for his great eternal love toward you.
Some days we are disappointed with our lives – praise the Lord for his great eternal love toward you.

Getting our minds to focus on the eternal always great love of God toward us rather than our temporary situation – our light and momentary troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17) – is what it means to have faith.  Faith that God is Lord of our lives in all things and that he works all things to the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28)

When we can do this, we are free even in the difficult moments to look confidently for God’s blessing and glory to emerge.  When we do this in the midst of the people of the world – who are running around with their hands waving in fear, they are amazed at our confidence and want to know the great God of ours whose love is eternal. (1 Peter 2:12)

Father, this day, help me to live in the constant moment of your eternal love toward me and all men.  Give me right orientation in all the tasks of the day to see your love transforming each moment and to praise you for it.

Psalm 116: Free to serve God

Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
Psalm 116:16 MSG

Even though God saves us and we are now Hischildren serving in the family business magnifying His glory, we must continue daily to get our minds free to this reality so as to serve Him well.  To be a faithful servant is to daily come back to Him, even moment-to-moment and surrender everything and ask His help to see from His perspective (renew our minds Romans 12:1-2) and therefore be made free for His service.

Even at the moment of choice of following God or running to self and sin, we can surrender it.  Even if we don’t and we fail Him, we can reconcile and pickup with fellowship the very moment after.  This is so foreign to us.  We think we need to stay away from Him for awhile – grounded in our room, punished.  But that time is just wasted time or time which we become resentful.  If we run back into His grace right away, our enemies tell us that we are just taking advantage of Him – just taking His grace for granted.  We can answer to that – Yes, we are taking advantage of the grace He provided but No, we are not taking it for granted, just accepting in faith that IT IS.

Don’t let Satan trick you into further rebellion.  It is a sin to not let the grace of God prevent sin in you but it is also a sin to not accept God’s grace afterwards – why sin twice? Grace gives us strength to overcome sin – both in prevention (1 Corinthians 10:13) and in reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

The sooner we get back to Him, the sooner we really believe the power of His grace, the sooner the power of it keeps us from that sin forever. 

Father, please forgive my rebellion of you – thank you for the grace that encompasses and devours all my sin (Psalm 103:12).  Father, transform me by the power of your love so that I not only do not sin but that I become your faithful child – set free for your service.

Psalm 114: Becoming God's Sanctuary

When Israel came out of Egypt, 
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
Psalm 114:1-2

Leaving Egypt is a key to becoming God’s sanctuary.  God does miracles to free us but we still must believe him and leave.  God, help me give not anything, but everything to you. The earth trembles before you – let me also always continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) – neither by way of platitudes and policies nor by empty ritual – but in the real, magnificent, uncontainable presence of the Lion of Judah. 

He is not safe, but he is oh so good.

Psalm 114: Becoming God’s Sanctuary

When Israel came out of Egypt, 
the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
Psalm 114:1-2

Leaving Egypt is a key to becoming God’s sanctuary.  God does miracles to free us but we still must believe him and leave.  God, help me give not anything, but everything to you. The earth trembles before you – let me also always continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) – neither by way of platitudes and policies nor by empty ritual – but in the real, magnificent, uncontainable presence of the Lion of Judah. 

He is not safe, but he is oh so good.

Ps 119:33-40: Surrendering Choice

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.

Ps 119:36-37

Bob Segar pines in his song, Roll Me Away:

Stood alone on a mountain top,
starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east, I could go west,
it was all up to me to decide

In this case, his song is about escapism from the complexity, pain, and frustration of life and his freedom is riding off into the sunset on a motorcycle alone – escaping responsibility and abandoning any relationship that would tie him down. 

I like the picture of standing above the noise of the day – looking east and west and choosing.  That is God’s gift and power to mankind – to choose.  The psalmist here continues to focus on that choice but instead of leaving it to himself to decide – he continues to cry out to God to turn his eyes to God’s purpose – away from the worthless things.

Segar wants to escape from responsibility – the typical passivity of man, that which is displayed by Adam in the garden when he fails to step between Eve and the serpent.  One of the techniques used in sales closes is choice – do you want A or B – focusing the customer on only two choices when the available ones are more infinite and the ones he is offering may not even be the crucial ones.  In Segar’s song, there is simply oppression to the East and freedom to the West – but the Apostle Paul says in Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  He exercises freedom from this decision – “do I follow Christ or not” and translates them to “do I follow Christ by serving in this world or by serving him in the next”  – he does not offer the choice of not following. 

As a Christian, we have Christ – period.  So our choices are simple.  How will we serve him and honor him today?  We can turn away from him, but we can’t lose him.  So we are free to get beyond this escapism and serve him wholeheartedly because he is our life.

I like this image of climbing above the noise of it all and being able to decide – our quiet times with God are a great way to do that.  When we come before God in his word and look up and see from his perspective – we gain clarity over the thousands of noisy choices below.  There is all type of talk now days about the choice overload that people must swim in each day – and the insufficiency of training to enable us to deal with that.  But most of those choices are marketing lies – “do you want 42″ or a 46″ HDTV?”  When we have been up on the mountain with God and have seen Jesus transfigured as our very life and heard God’s voice – the choices of selfish worldly gain become less. 

Still, we have to be careful even here.  We have the tendency to immediately translate this experience into the creation of an alter just as the disciples wanted to do for Jesus.  This doesn’t mean we should avoid serving, just avoid needless alters or traditions as substitutes for the true Christ.  God is trying to show us we can relax and be his children – that he has done this – that Christ IS. He is revealing him in us, as us – so we can simply worship in all things and overcome the tyranny of self. 

There is another picture on a mountain that I like – that of our Lord as Satan tempts him.  In Matthew 4, Satan tempts Jesus from a mountain top offering him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would worship him.   Jesus in his response surrenders choice to the will of God.  He does not consider “do I or don’t I” because “it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” 

Segar muses that he will find freedom but his choice of escapism will only find a meaningless and wasted life.  Our Lord surrenders his choice to God’s will knowing there is the freedom in worshipping God and serving him.

Paul says in Phil 3:8-9, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”  When we surrender our choice for God’s will, we become free of worthless things and gain Christ.

Father, set my eyes on you – make me single-minded on you.  Amen.

Ps 113: Remembering God Each Moment

Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!

Ps 113:2-3 MSG

We are certainly commanded to remember the Lord and to praise him but The Message version of this scripture adds a dimension that this is a blessing – and I think that can be assumed toward God from us as well as toward us from God.

To remember is to recall to mind that which we know but has slipped from our conscious mind. Where repent means to Think Again – remember means to Think OF Again. In that sense, the two are closely linked in our experience. If I think again about my plight of sin – I’ve taken a fork in the road that lead me far away from God and I think I should have taken the other fork – this then makes me Think OF God again. This interaction is clearly displayed in the story of the prodigal son.

But remember can also mean to retain in conscious memory – so as to not have to recall. It may seem impossible to constantly keep God in conscious memory but this is possible when we see all things as his, and as coming from him, and as being about his purpose. It is what we are called to grow to believe – being transformed by the renewing our minds that we will then know God’s good, holy, and perfect will. This is not something that happens once then we go about our merry way. Rather, it is available to happen every moment of every day. If we will think of God again, it can renew our mind and transform our life in that moment. Clearly east to west and dawn to dusk encompass this idea.

Finally, we can remember God to others. This use of the word remember means to commend. If this moment is God soaked in our memory – consciously – it is easy to commend him to those involved in the situation with us by what he does in and through us and by our expression of that. This is naturally letting our moment-to-moment experience share God with others in both word and deed. Clearly, this is a blessing to God, to us, to others.