Wednesday, August 30, 2006

God's certainty in uncertain times...

Psalm 3:1-8
A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me.
2 Many are saying of my soul, "There is no deliverance for him in God." Selah.
3 But Thou, O LORD, art a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.
4 I was crying to the LORD with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.
5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustains me.
6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about.
7 Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For Thou hast smitten all my enemies on the cheek; Thou hast shattered the teeth of the wicked.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; Thy blessing be upon Thy people! Selah.
what an amazing psalm! you can see that i have broken it down in basically four sections...
  • Section 1: (vv.1-2) - its what i call the 'realization' stage. the realization of oppostition & preceived abandonment. you've been there. ive been there. at times it appears that no-one understands, no-one stands alongside you, no-one comes to your aid... in fact, everyone is against you, and you are alone. perhaps its actual adversity... perhaps its perception. when you are there, it just doesn't matter. you walk with a sense of hopelessness and lonliness.
  • Section 2: (vv.3-4) - its what i call the 'remembrance' stage. so many times we enter these situations with our eyes on ourselves or the circumstances. its hard to notice anything else. and then... we look up. oh yeah! God is still there! listen to how the psalmist describes the presence of God: (a) a shield around me (b) my glory (c) the one who lifts my head (d) He answered me... in the midst of the chaos - God provides steadiness. not only does He protect (shield), but He comforts (lifts my head) and He listens (He answered me). what a sweet picture of God.
  • Section 3: (vv.5-6) - its what i call the 'rest' stage. when you get your eyes off of self & the circumstances that you are going through, and place them on our loving Savior... rest is sure. the psalmist states clearly that he laid down and slept, then awoke with the sure knowledge that it is the LORD that sustains him. a couple of things on this: (a) you don't sleep in the midst of chaos, unless you know its controlled chaos. the circumstances didnt change for the psalmist. he just knew, and remembered, that God was indeed still in control. (b) the rest is sure, and complete. the indication here is that the psalmist slept well because the LORD was watching over him. (c) did you notice that the word "LORD" remains in all caps? remember yesterday when i explained who that was? LORD is referring to YHWH (Yahweh) - the holiest, most sovereign name of God. in psalm 2 we are told to worship/serve Him in fear. in this passage this most awesome, mighty God is our protector, comforter and provider! isnt this encouraging?
  • Section 4: (vv.7-8): its what i call the 'rejoice' stage. awakened with renewed strength, the psalmist declares the victory that would be achieved through his reliance on God. he rejoices in the fact that his salvation from the adversity is certain. the passage is concluded with the statement that all people who have the LORD as their salvation are blessed.

think of this today:

in what areas are you facing adversity?

have you looked to God and called out to Him?

have you remembered the protection and goodness of God?

will you accept the sweet rest that is offered in our LORD?

will you rejoice and tell others of this goodness?

be blessed my friends,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Psalm 2

i started a new bible reading program on sunday (aug.27). it is in conjunction with our word of life youth group reading program. we started out in the psalms - and i must say that i am excited about getting back into this book!

last night i spent some time in psalm 2. i was struck with these phrases from vv.11-12:

...worship the LORD with reverance
and rejoice with trembling,
do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way,
for His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!...
(now i'm no hebrew scholar... and bible software can be dangerous things... you know, just a little knowledge is sometimes worse than ignorance... but anyway):
  • this word 'worship' has the idea of "to work, serve", even the idea of slavery sometimes.
  • the name of God in all caps, 'LORD', is the name YHWH - (Yahweh) - the unspeakable holy, sovereign, almighty name of God. it is His most holy name.
  • the word 'reverance' has the idea of fear or awe, extreme fear!

how many of us think of worship as 'working' or 'serving'? our praise and worship times in church have turned into something that is all about us! we want to feel, we need something, we want music our way, we don't feel like standing or sitting for soooo long of a time. STOP!!

its not about us! our worship is part of our duty to serve YHWH! Have you forgotten Who this is? The most mighty God... The most holy One... Purity to the extreme... So far above us... One to Whom we cannot even gaze upon without our sure destruction.

and we come haphazardly into His presence... how foolish!

yes, my friend, i understand all about grace - but free grace is not cheap grace. and we would do well to have more 'reverence' (fear, awe, extreme fear) when we come before our LORD.

this was such a challenging passage to me. see, as a pastor, you would assume that i have it altogether every sunday when we worship. but i don't. last sunday was the beginning of God getting my attention that i had grown apathetic in my worship. i am calloused. i am approaching His throne haphazardly. if it were not for His grace & mercy... i would be destroyed for my arrogance.

my challenge to you is one that i challenge myself with. work to serve our LORD in awe. worship our LORD in reverence.

the rest of these two verses say some interesting things, but they must wait till another time. i hope as you read the daily jolt, that you are jolted into a sense of reverential awe concerning this holy God we serve.

God bless,

Monday, August 28, 2006

on cats & coffee...

how many cat lovers are out there? thousands... millions? cats are unique animals and while i can appreciate their independent demeanor, i do not appreciate the fact that they absolutely bring no value to my household. our cat... is actually a kitten still i guess... but very much a cat with an attitude! just today it walked up to my antique rocker in which i am posting from, looked me square in the eyes, did that 'half-squint' and proceeded to try and sharpen its claws on my chair! absolutely incredulous!

this is mere minutes after hopping off the couch and hacking up a hairball... with a worm in it! that really stretched my limits of endurance. while fascinated by the worm, i knew it was a wise thing to clean up immediately and remove all traces of it before my wife got home. thank God for carpet cleaner, odor remover and hand soap.

now as for coffee... gevalia takes the cake. today is an extremely dreary day (rain intermittant & overcast). its a two pot of coffee day... and i am enjoying the mocha java tremendously. come to think of it, i think i'll have another cup...