Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Psalms

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.     Psalm 104:34

     “Sweet!” That’s what we say when something nice happens to us like a free ice cream at the local soft serve when they open for the season. The psalmist said “Sweet!” When he thought of the LORD.  “Just thinking of Him makes me glad.”
     As Christians this is one of the Old Testament qualities we want to emulate. We want to draw close to God through prayer and scripture readings so that as we think of Him, and who He is, and all He’s done, and what He will do in the future, and what He's doing in our lives right now, our hearts will well up within us with a deep, spiritual “Sweet!”
     I find in my personal devotions that God’s word speaks to the situations of my life. And His word is true and right and pure. That I draw closer to Him by reading His word and prayer. That His word translates into my life and ministry. That it gives me comfort. It encourages me. It energizes me. My meditation of Him makes me smile and be joyful.

     The psalmist is right: personal devotions with God are sweet!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Devotional Though From Psalms
For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;              Psalm 102:19,20
          90 – 150 Christian men, women, and children were captured and abducted by ISIS in Syria this week. 21 Egyptian Christians were beheaded in Libya, Japanese, British and American hostages have been brutally killed and their deaths used as video propaganda, little children have been crucified, all in the name of religious terrorism making the middle east the hot spot of world persecution and horror. We are not the only ones who see it, God is looking on this inhumanity of man to man. Why doesn’t He start throwing lightning bolts, He can, you know? But as I think about it I am reminded of a child’s reply to an adult, when she was asked why God didn’t send her help in her trouble: “He did, Sir. He sent you.” God has ordained governments to restrain evil. Speaking of those governments He says:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Romans 13:4).
          God sees the wickedness perpetrated by ISIS, other terrorist groups, and individual terrorists, and He also sees, what those He has given legitimate power for good, do to stop it.

          I urge my nation, and the other legitimate governments of the world to stop the terror. Work together and do what it takes to defeat the terrorists of all sorts. Do what it takes. Stop the evil.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Psalms

Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.     Psalm 96:3

God is glorious, and His glory can be seen in everything He does from creating the earth to the promise of the new heavens and earth that will one day be the reality of the universe. His glory is seen in the fact that He is a loving God, who loves all the peoples of the earth. As the children’s hymn has it, “red and yellow black and white they are precious in the sight.” This glorious God offers forgiveness and salvation to anyone who desires to know Him and have that salvation. He has made that salvation a reality by sending His own Son Jesus Christ to the cross of Calvary where Christ died for our sins carrying them away once for all. Anyone: male or female; of any ethnic group or religion; old or young; rich or poor; empowered or powerless; blind, death and, dumb or completely healthy; here, there, and everywhere; anyone who desires to know this glorious God and receive His love revealed and given in Jesus Christ, who calls upon the Lord to be saved will be saved. Many other glorious things of Him are spoken, but for today let our attention be upon this glory, the Lord is the God of salvation. The Lord is the God of new life. The Lord is the glorious God above all things Who came to earth to save human kind. I declare His glory, He has given me salvation.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Psalms

Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O LORD.     Psalms 86:16

     In the midst of this “imprecatory” song (that’s a fancy word for, at best, an angry, vengeance filled, retaliatory statement) by the Psalm writer Asaph, likely a priest or Levite, he reaches what I consider a high point of the prayer against the enemies of God’s people in verse 16. Fill their faces with shame... Oh, how we wish God would do that to the purveyors of “modern” terrorism (modern in quotes because terrorist behavior throughout all of mankind’s history has been brutal and bloody, selfish and rotten). Shame them for the bloodletting, and persecution, and war they are consciously and callously bringing upon the world. It is not necessary to repeat the gory details here, they are readily available on TV news and to the users of the Internet. Oh that God would bring shame to their faces, and their hearts and souls, so they can repent of the wrong that they are doing, and so that they might seek the LORD; find Him, love Him, be born again by Him, and, they themselves become a blessing not a curse to the world.

     I pray that God will bring an evangelical movement of the Holy Spirit amongst the terrorists of Isis, Boko Haram, and all other terrorist organizations and individuals around the world so that we will see immediate change in them because they find the truth in the One who said, I am the way, the truth, and the life… Jesus, and they will give up terrorism for the glory of Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Devotional Though From Psalms

Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.     Psalm 69:6

This verse speaks to me. I do not want the people of the churches I have pastored, or those of the churches I now attend, to be ashamed or confounded because of my sins. I do not want churches across this country or Christians around the world to be embarrassed or hurt because of offenses in my life. I want observers of Christians to see consistent living according to God’s Word that will encourage them, not cause them to be mystified by our failures.

That is the attitude of all committed Christians, we want to be good Christians, good parents and grandparents, good brothers and sisters, good citizens, good workers, good neighbors. We want to have a strong witness of our faith that is backed up by a life which flees sin and is filled with goodness and righteousness, trustworthiness and honest faith in Jesus. We want our lives to be faithful, and pure examples of the abundant, kind, and joyful life Jesus brings to us when we believe in Him. We want, I want, anyone who might put our lives under a microscope to find that we "talk the talk, and walk the walk." We want others, who seek after God, to know that we who claim His salvation have really experienced the thing they seek after. That Jesus has really given us new life, and can give it to them and that all of us become one people in Him. They don’t have to be ashamed of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Psalms

God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations. Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah. Let the people praise thee, O God: let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.     Psalm 67

The Psalms were meant to be sung in the worship of God’s people, and the strange word Selah which appears frequently in these worship songs represents a  “dramatic” musical note played at the spot it appears in the song. For an instant it stops the singer and the hearer and gives them a moment to think about what they have just sung or heard.  In the first verse David is asking God to be merciful, to bless, and to cause his face to shine upon his people, and as it turns out the people of the whole world. So stop and think about that, he says (Selah, v. 1). As we proceed through the song you notice that David is desirous that God’s way may be known upon the earth and His saving health among all nations (v. 2), and I think that health here speaks to physical and spiritual and emotional health that would make human society a virtual heaven on earth. Verse 4 gives the indication that if God does this the nations of all the world will be glad and sing for joy because God will be judging the people of the whole world righteously and He will actually be the leader and governor of the nations of the world, and certainly with Him in charge the nations will be able to get along and live peacefully and prosperously. Within that peace the prosperity will come from the fact that the earth will yield her increase and God will bring blessing (v. 6). Think of the biggest produce department you have ever seen in a grocery store and multiply it by a hundred to get an idea of what it may mean for the earth to bring forth its increase all over the world:  bumper crops in the usual farming belts, deserts blooming like the rose, mountains yielding up high atmosphere crops, sea farms bringing forth edible sea weeds and fish of all sorts. This all feeds into a world without warring conflicts, violence in the streets, dread and deadly diseases, or hungry children at a table with no food.

This is possible through the true God, the God of the Bible, and He alone can bring it to pass. One day all the peoples of the earth will praise Him. The more people who praise Him now the better world we will live in now.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Devotional Thought From Psalms

Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment.     Psalm 60:3

     When David wrote this song tradition tells us his armies had just returned from a successful campaign against numerous nations, among them the Moabites who were defeated in a battle where his general of the army, Joab, had killed 12,000 of the enemy. Why David should write such a gloomy verse in the midst of successful battle campaigns escapes us. We can only speculate. Perhaps, he was thinking, despite the victories, of the many loyal soldiers of his army who might have given their lives in battle: cut down by the sword; run through with the spear; punctured by arrows; bashed and broken by blunt objects; or other men blinded, or who had lost a limb, or become paralyzed with a broken back never to be the same again. It was as hard and heartbreaking for the ancients to welcome home and care for their wounded warriors as it is for us today. The tragedy of war and evil is astonishing. The reality of death and destruction is hard on the soldiers who fight as well as those who wait at home.
     The world today is watching hard things and drinking the wine of astonishment as we look at the butchery of violent extremist Islamic radicals who in their quest for world domination are committing atrocities that the modern world, rehabilitated in part by the love of God revealed in Christ, cannot fathom. Though we recognize that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that among those who sin are people who have the poison of asps in their lips, and do not do righteousness, no, not one, those of us who have been changed in our hearts to love one another, and all the little children of the world, are still shocked by the monstrous deeds of these evil people. How could they behead reporters and aid workers for the simple reason that they are Americans, or take captive until she died an aid worker who was bringing help to embattled Syrians just because she was an American, not to mention the numerous other international hostages currently held or previously executed?  How can they crucify and bury alive little children? How can they target and shoot down Jews shopping in a delicatessen in Paris for no other reason than that they are Jews? How can they burn to death a captive Jordanian pilot? As we watch such evil it is hard to believe that whatever religion they use to excuse or give cover to their despicable, disgraceful, vile, appalling actions is anything other than devilish. We are astonished that they, or anyone, could do such things. It is a hard thing to know that humanity is capable of such malicious wickedness.