Archive for May, 2012


Wait For The Lord

“I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing. Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me. O Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my life from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.”Psalm 35:14-17
The entire chapter of Psalm 35 is a yearning for help and justice from the Lord. The author of this passage, David, tells over and over about how he has been slandered and treated unfairly. Yet, at the time of this writing, God had not intervened to rescue him or to clear his name. In multiple instances in this chapter, we see David crying out for the Lord’s justice. “O Lord, how long will you look on?”
Sometimes, it seems we have to wait for God’s justice to arrive. Though we may tell ourselves that God needs to act, right away, to clear our name, He does not always do this on our time schedule. Why would He wait, if His people are being mistreated? Because God sees the long-term view, and because our suffering for a time might serve His purpose in some unseen, future way. This is a hard thing to endure, this waiting for justice. But the passage reminds us of this – God knows what you are suffering, so be patient, and wait for His timing. Recall that He withheld His justice for a time while His only Son was hanging in agony on the cross – all because He had a larger purpose than an immediate rescue from injustice.

Hating The Good

“Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.”Psalm 34:21
The opening of this verse stood out to me today when I read it. “Evil will slay the wicked.” What does that mean? Does it mean that a wicked man’s deeds will overwhelm him and drag him into an eternity of damnation? Or does it mean that some dark spiritual entity, such as a demon, is responsible for “slaying” all those who refuse to follow the Lord? I’m really not sure.
In looking up alternate translations, I found a very interesting version from The Message (a Bible version that I find interesting, but not always correct in actual translation) – “The wicked commit slow suicide; they waste their lives hating the good.” That second part is so evident in the world today. People who don’t agree with God’s principles on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and righteous family living seem to be consumed with hate for those of us who wish to honor God’s teaching. Yet, isn’t it interesting that our side of the issue often gets labeled as the “hate group”? This is never more evident than the labeling that goes on during high political season, such as the runup to a presidential election. Fear not – this verse tells us that justice is coming.

Lacking Nothing

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” — Psalm 34:8-10
One of my favorite worship songs borrows words from this passage – “I taste and see that you are good, I hide myself within your hands. In your presence I lack nothing. You’re all I want and you are here with me.”
I want to put some emphasis on the portions of the verse which describe how those who fear Him will lack nothing. Some will interpret this to mean that true believers will be blessed by God with wealth, health, and happiness – guaranteed. That is a tempting message. But I believe the passage means that we will be satisfied with whatever God grants – as long as we seek Him. If we have God’s attention, His grace, and His Word, what else could we really need in this life? While it is true that we have many distractions in this life that try to take the place of God (modern technology comes to mind as a common replacement), nothing can really substitute for what God has planned for us in the long term. We will “lack no good thing”.

He Is Watching

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.”Psalm 33:13-15
All mankind. Every single human being ever conceived is seen by God. And by “conceived”, I believe that the Lord looks down on the unborn as well. How He must grieve over seeing their lives ended by abortion.
There are many things to consider in these three verses. Not only does God look down and see mankind, He also “considers everything they do”. And it is revealed to us that the Lord forms the hearts of ALL men. I can think of no better analogy to this than that of a father and his children. A father endeavors to raise his children, forming their hearts and attitudes about certain truths along the way. He observes them as they grow up, and continues to do so after they move away. He is greatly interested in how his children pass on these characteristics to their children. And like God, he cares deeply, offering forgiveness and guidance along the way. If an earthly father is unable to deny his own children, how much more does our Glorious Father extend help, love and grace to us!
I wonder – if we set aside a day to constantly remind ourselves that God is watching us, and caring about every single thing we do – would it change the way we see things that day? Would we live differently?

Blessings Upon Nations

“The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”Psalm 33:10-12
It seems that God not only sees things from an individual perspective, treating us all as individual souls, but He also views things in terms of whole nations. His actions of blessing and of withholding blessing apply to entire countries, pivoting on their choice of God. Indeed, the treatment of Israel by the Lord in the Old Testament is proof that God will shower forgiveness and blessing on His chosen people, even when they don’t deserve it.
I believe our own United States falls under a special blessing, because of the choices made by our founding fathers. We have long lived under a special blessing of prosperity and grace, which is nearly unrivaled in all of history. But as the Old Testament teaches us, while God may extend grace to His chosen people even when they don’t deserve it, He can also choose to withdraw that blessing for a time, in order to teach us humility and turn our hearts back to Him. How long will the blessing over our nation last, as long as our leaders continue to embrace sin and corruption? God is watching, and He chooses when to bless and when to withdraw.
Pray for our nation, that we might turn back fully to the Lord, and revere Him for His awesomeness.

Forgiveness of Sin…and Guilt

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:2-5
I note one major characteristic for the man who gains forgiveness from the Lord. He admits his sin to God. He does not live his life in denial of his failings and shortcomings, but is open and honest with God about where he has fallen short. “And in whose spirit is no deceit” implies that we can try to deceive God, and even ourselves about right and wrong and where we stand in relation to God’s instructions. The truth is that we ALL sin and fall short of the mark (Romans 3:23), but blessed is the man who admits this directly to God and who seeks forgiveness.
Finally, I want to point out the last phrase in these verses. We know that God forgives the sin itself, but those last words above also tell us that He can remove the guilt of our sins, as well. That is an important distinction, because the Lord does not want us to be burdened by guilt, after He has forgiven us. We see this remarkable lack of guilt in David’s words throughout the psalms.

Worship – Despair Into Joy

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”Psalm 30:11-12
Here is another great verse to contemplate before bringing worship to our God. God turns our despair into joy, and this should be so moving that we cannot keep silent.
Do we have this feeling when we worship? Does our worry turn to joy when we pause for a few minutes each week to sing and bring praise to the Lord? If we do not, I think it best to bring this matter before a brother or sister in Christ and confess it. What might be hindering you from experiencing the joy that David describes in this psalm? God wants us to to have this passion in our worship, and to be free of the weight of sin. This requires a deeper understanding of His grace and forgiveness. And, like David, we can begin preparing to give thanks to the Lord…..forever.

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