Sunday, January 31, 2016

Forsaking All, I Trust Him

Psalm 31

January 31

Is there someone you really trust? Trust is a precious gift, given out with discretion. Trust, hope, faith and belief are common themes throughout the Bible. It is God’s gold standard, His benchmark by which all other things should be measured against. Few psalms speak more about trust than Psalm 31 and several psalms following this one.
We should be cautious on giving our trust but the person we should be the most leery of is the person we see in the mirror. We don’t want to let down our guard around others but how often have we let our own selves down?

A better place to anchor our hope is not with others and not within and but above. Be sure, others will let you down and you will let your own self down. And in all honesty, there are times when we feel God has let us down.
So what do we do? Go back to trusting yourself or your health or your wealth? Anchor all of your faith in your loved ones or your philosophy or your political party? How’s that working for you? Even if that works for a while, eventually everything EXCEPT the Lord will fade away.  David saw that self-reliance was futile, his body was weakening; his soul was tiring; those around him were falling. “But as for me I trust in You O Lord.”

This Psalm begins with trusting God, uses two different Hebrew words four different times to convey trust (verses 1 and 19 convey "protection"; verses 6 and 14 emphasize "confidence"). And it ends with a close cousin to trust: hope. A good way to remember in whom we should trust is to spell out the word FAITH this way: Forsaking All, I Trust Him.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Are you happy?

Psalm 30

January 30

When believers are down, it is so comforting to know God is there. But God is not only the God of the down and out. There are times of great elations for the believer and David had been through some tough times and now was at a point of jubilation: the prayerful dedication of his new home.

If unbelievers can rejoice at joyful times, what is the difference for believers? Much in every way, as David shows. While others at times of celebration can point to perhaps their own good fortune or to the results of their own hard work, or even in praise to others who help get them achieve success, a believer can do these but ultimately must direct the attention to God (see Psalm 30:1).

We remember from where we have come. Even the child of a millionaire who has perhaps never faced adversity or failure, if they truly have come to God, must acknowledge that our Lord has forgiven our sins and thus has lifted us up. Being saved by grace alone evaporates pride and "self-elevating bootstraps." A child of God knows that joy especially in the midst of prosperity (Psalm 30:6) is never external only but internally placed by divine implantation.

My good mentor, Pastor and Missionary Dwight Hendrick, would always say that as wonderful as going to heaven will be, there is something marvelous that we cannot do in heaven that we can do here on earth: Tell unbelievers of the amazing grace of God (see Ps. 30:9). He now has gone on to heaven, but in a sense, he is still telling the story…through me, through others whom he impacted.

James says, “Is there anyone among you cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13). Don’t be like the pessimist who says light at the end of the tunnel is only an approaching train. Praise God for his blessings.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Voice of the Lord

Psalm 29

January 29

Have you had silent times from the Lord? I have. There are times when God seemingly cannot be found. See Job: “I cry to you for help and you do ...not answer me; I stand, and you only look at me.” (Job 30:20).
Just a few chapters earlier than today's reading of Psalm 29, Psalm 22 shows David crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.”

Interestingly, Jesus also had times of “silences from God,” even though He was God in the flesh. Certainly when John the Baptist was beheaded, Jesus felt the thunderous silence of God. When he was alone in the desert and being tempted of the devil, there is no evidence that God was speaking. When He was on the cross, we even read that He quoted Psalm 22, questioning why God would have forsaken Him.

Yet, there were also times when He also heard the Voice of the Lord. At His baptism, as well as on the mount of transfiguration. Even when the Greeks came to Him, the voice of the Lord thundered. There also were times when He heard His Father's voice but not with physical ears, but the ears of the spirit. Both the silence of the Lord and the voice of the Lord are needed for our spiritual growth. Both should be expected. And both should be welcomed.

Is God near? Listen to His voice! 

Does seem distant? He promises that He is not (Ps 37:28, Heb. 13:5).

His silences quiet us so we can then hear the voice of the Lord.

It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God

It'll shake a man's timbers when he loses his heart
When he has to remember what broke him apart
This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they've got
When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
Cause we all get lost sometimes...

There's a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And He's kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He's weeping all alone
And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
The aching may remain but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

--Andrew Peterson


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Some things are just foolish

Psalm 14
January 14
         Someone told me once that April 1 was “National Atheist Day,” and it wasn’t until later that I got the connection between that and this psalm.
     I have never been able to track down this quote to be directly attributable to Abraham Lincoln, but if he didn’t say it, he should have. “I can see how a person can look down at humanity and be an atheist, but how can one lift up his eyes to the heavens and declare ‘There is no God.’”

     If you haven’t noticed, atheism is gaining traction. There are a number of books out proclaiming that there is no deity. Which as the psalmist says is actually quite foolish.

     Consider:     Can you categorically state that there is no person in all of the world whose name is John-Jacob-Jinkleheimer Schmidt? As ridiculous of a name as it is, of course you cannot. Not even Google has the search capacity of telling us the names of seven billion people in the world. Even more foolish is to categorically state that there is no God simply because a person thinks such an idea is preposterous.

    Creation needs a creator. For a finite human to not be able to comprehend an infinite God is actually quite reasonable. Of course we cannot explain or understand “who made God?” because only God could truly understand the fact that no one had to make an uncreated deity who has always existed. And the fact that God is infinite and we are finite also demands that there are some things that we simply will not understand.

     But for finite human to believe with absolute assurance that there is nowhere in all of the universe (and even beyond our universe) an entity who created the universe. Well, that’s simply …  foolish.