Friday, December 8, 2017

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 113

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.

This psalm begins and ends with a call to "Praise the Lord".  This is where we get the word, "hallelujah".  Many of the psalms were used as praise songs and this one was too!  

But what do we actually praise God for?  What is the content of our praise?  

1. The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
God is above all else.  There is nothing bigger or higher than him.  God is the sovereign Lord over all things.  If something were bigger or higher than God then that thing would be God.
2. Who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
Despite the fact that God is above and over all things, he stoops down to earth to look.  God is interested in what is happening on earth. Since he created the earth, he also tends to it and watches over it.  
3. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.
Not only does God look down from heaven but he intervenes to help people in need.  So God is aware of what is happens, and cares about what happens especially to those He has made.  He takes the poor and needy and sits them with royalty.
Ultimately God stooped down to the earth by sending His Son to show that he is aware of our sin, and he cares for us.  He lifts us out of our spiritual poverty and puts us at the royal table with princes.
It is pretty amazing isn't it?  Praise the Lord!   



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Disobedience is Overrated!


Psalm 112
Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
    who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;
    the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
    and their righteousness endures forever.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
    for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice.
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

So often we misunderstand the use of the word "fear" in the bible, when used in the context of the phrase, "the fear of the Lord".  We often interpret the word "fear" as being afraid or scared.  But in the biblical sense it usually means something more like "respect" or "awe".  In this passage the word is linked to finding delight in God's commands.  Usually we don't associate "delight" with obeying God's commands.  

We might be prone to think being obedient because of fear is always a bad thing.  But a healthy fear of the Lord is a good thing. Why?  Because God is holy and mighty, and we believe everything around us came into being by His command.  And maybe this is the sense in which we can delight in his commands.  If we truly believe God wants the best for us, then his commands are good for us.

1 John 5:3 says, "And his commands are not burdensome." I think one of the great myths of our time is that following or obeying God is a "drag". But look at what the psalmist says comes to the person who delights in God's commands.

1. Their children will be mighty in the land.
2. Wealth and riches are in their houses.
3. Good will come to them who are generous and lend freely.
4. They will never be shaken and remembered forever. 
5. They will have no fear of bad news, but will trust in the Lord.

Sounds like a pretty good life huh?  Maybe disobedience is overrated!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Delightful Worship!


Psalm 111

Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

As many psalms do, Psalm 111 tells us what true worship of God looks like.  First of all, he says that worship is personal. It is intentional and involves all of us.  The psalmist says I will praise God with "ALL of my heart".  God looks at our hearts when we praise him. Are we just going through the motions? Or, is our worship genuine and sincere?

Second, he says worship is public. I.e. "in the assembly". Although we can worship privately, God tells us to worship in public, so we might testify to his goodness and greatness. There is a power in public worship, as those who are earnestly seeking God lift up their voices in praise of the One who made all things in heaven and on earth. It is more to be experienced then to be explained.  In heaven, we will all be worshipping God before his throne. Worship on earth is a foretaste of the feast to come. 

Finallly, he says worship is pleasurable.  The psalmist says to, "delight in the works of the Lord".  Though we can't necessarily see God, we can sure see the works of His hand.  All of Creation testifies to the greatness of the one, true God.  To gaze upon what He has made and to know who made it, is delightful and brings us true pleasure.  

With these qualities in mind, what does your worship life look like?  Is it personal? Is it public?  Does it bring you pleasure?  It is so easy to go through the motions in worship, but God invites into such a more meaningful relationship, as we worship him with all of our hearts!  



Monday, December 4, 2017

Jesus is Coming Soon!

Psalm 110

Of David. A psalm.

The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”
The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
    on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
    your young men will come to you
    like dew from the morning’s womb.
The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.
The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
    and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,[d]
    and so he will lift his head high.

As we have said before, there are many psalms that are prophetic in nature.  This one specifically is a prophecy about the Messiah, the coming of Jesus.  Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22 to show that David counted the Messiah as greater than himself.  Peter quotes the same verse at Pentecost pointing out Jesus is both God and the Messiah.  And Paul quotes it in 1 Corinthians explaining the rule and dominion of Jesus over all things. 

From a commentary "This remarkable Psalm is one of the Old Testament portions most quoted in the New Testament. James Montgomery Boice counted 27 direct quotations or indirect allusions to Psalm 110 in the New Testament."

As we enter the Advent (Advent means "coming or arrival") season, we anticipate the Messiah coming in a manger once again.  The coming of the Messiah was predicted many times in the Old Testament, but most people missed out because they were either too busy to notice, or didn't understand his true purpose.

Although Jesus has already come 2,000 years ago, Advent is a season to prepare for His coming again.  Just as people were not ready for him to come the first time as a baby, so it will be when he returns.  Take time this Advent season to prepare for His coming and we wait for His sure and certain return. 

I have written a daily Advent devotional for you and your family to read each day and have conversation together. I can send you a copy if you email me at mike@gslcirvine.org






Friday, December 1, 2017

How to Handle Betrayal!

Psalm 109

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

My God, whom I praise,
    do not remain silent,
for people who are wicked and deceitful
    have opened their mouths against me;
    they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
With words of hatred they surround me;
    they attack me without cause.
In return for my friendship they accuse me,
    but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
    and hatred for my friendship.

The context of this psalm is David is asking God to bring justice to his attackers who have accused him with lies.  Though David has tried to be a friend to them, they have betrayed him, which intimates that this was within the Jewish community.  If you read the rest of the psalm, David in no uncertain terms calls for God to curse his enemies.  Obviously David feels slighted in a very significant way.

It is important to note that David does not advocate that he should take vengeance into his own hands.  He trusts in God to avenge his foes. At the end of the psalm, you can see just how badly this has affected him. 

"For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees give way from fasting;
    my body is thin and gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they shake their heads."

Betrayal by a friend hurts deeply.  When others plot for your demise it is even worse.  It is natural for us to want to "hit" back.  David pours his heart out to God, and asks for God to right his cause.  David had fought many battles and was not afraid to slay a foe, but you can see his remarkable restraint in surrendering his thoughts of revenge to God.  He knows God will uphold his cause and he will continue to praise God for it.  

Where in your life do you feel like David?  Where do you feel tempted to return a wrong with another wrong?  Take David's lead and turn your anger toward this person(s) over to God!  Appropriatetly David closes with this prayer that would be good for us to pray.

26 Help me, Lord my God save me according to your unfailing love.
27 Let them know that it is your hand that you, Lord, have done it. Amen