Posts

Showing posts from February, 2011

It's Between God and Me

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine” —Psalm 50:9-11, NIV.
These verses come in the middle of a psalm by Asaph. He writes as though the parties were being called to court to stand before the Judge of the universe to give account of how they have carried out the covenant that they made with the Lord, a covenant they renew constantly through their sacrifices (vss. 4-6).
As the accused stand before the court, the Lord reminds them that the issue is not their sacrifices (vss. 7, 8). The Almighty, through Asaph, reminds those who stand in the dock that they are not doing him a favour by making those sacrifices. He doesn’t need their bulls or goats since everything in creation belongs to him (vss. 9-13).
He reminds His people that it is important that they keep the vows they have made to follow the Lord wholehea…

The Weight of the World

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” —Psalm 46:10, NIV.
Sometimes we feel as though the weight of the world rests on our shoulders. This expression comes from Greek mythology, which said that Zeus punished Atlas by forcing him to carry the world on his shoulders forever. It is also said that Atlas tricked Hercules into carrying the weight, but Hercules returned the favour and Atlas ended up right back where he started.
When we feel that everything depends on us (ergo: the weight of the world resting on our shoulders) it’s time to step out from under the burden. Will it drop to the floor and break into a million pieces as, supposedly, the world would have if Atlas had just dropped it?
Instead of having to clean up the mess and sweep up the broken pieces we might find something quite surprising. Some bits might fall to the ground of our lives, but the important stuff, the “God” stuff will be just fine. You know why? The th…

The Most Powerful Three Words on the Planet

I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever” —Psalm 45:17, NIV
Many years ago I heard a preacher share this story about his wife. This couple had had a fruitful ministry in several churches over decades but in the latter years the wife had slowly been lost to the foggy world of Alzheimers. The preacher, though he was retired from church ministry, was still much in demand as a conference speaker. He accepted some invitations, but preferred to stay close to the bedside of his wife. She didn’t know him—or anyone else. She couldn’t remember who she was and was totally dependent on others to meet her needs. She had even forgotten how to communicate. Her husband had been asked if he every prayed for God to release her and take her home. As he told the story, the man smiled, “No,” he replied. “I never ask God that. The only thing my dear wife remembers, and constantly says, is ‘Jesus loves me’ and as long as she is a witness …

Behind the Cloud

Image
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, but I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” —Psalm 42:11, NIV.
Do you remember the Charlie Brown character who always walks around with a cloud over his head? It’s dust, because he’s a dirty kid. But he reminds me, well, of me.
There are times when no matter how well things are going, how blessed I might be, there always seems to be a cloud lingering overhead. It often goes nameless, not appearing to have an origin or a reason for being. It’s just there.
Perhaps it’s the state of the world: evil run rampant, earthquakes, and friends going through hard times. Perhaps it’s an unfulfilled desire or a blocked path. Perhaps, I’m just tired and in need of some physical and emotional relief from the “day-to-day.” Sometimes, I’m sure, it’s an issue about which I need to get right with God.
The psalmist turns his focus away from the cloud and directs it elsewhere. He tells his listeners to “hope.” One defini…

God Behind the Scenes

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their wicked ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes” —Psalm 37:7, NIV.
Ahhh, patience, what I have so little of.
I was intrigued by a piece of a verse I read recently that reminded me of how limited my knowledge is about God’s working. The Lord was explaining to Abraham what would happen to the nation that God was going to form from Abraham’s descendents. He told his servant that this people would end up in Egypt, be held there for four hundred years and then be brought back to the land of Canaan when the “sin of the Amorites” had gone as far as God was willing to allow it to go (Genesis 15:12-16).
While the Hebrews were literally slaving away in Egypt, things were happening in Canaan of which they were unaware. We don’t know all the history, but God was there among the Amorites.
The Amorites were descendents of Canaan, Noah’s grandson. At some point in their history they had been God-consciou…

My Heart's Delight

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” —Psalm 37:4, NIV
I’d like to rewrite this verse just a little. I know that sounds presumptuous, but I think my rewrite is what’s written underneath the letters that we spell out in our minds as we read these well-used words. So here goes:
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of his heart.”
My reasoning is simple. When I am so delighted with the Lord, so full of him, so concentrated on him, so dedicated to him, I can’t help but want what he wants for my life. My desires become what his desires always were for me.
Then, immersed in what he knows will bring me the greatest satisfaction—himself—God can withhold what he knows is not good for me, or give what he knows will benefit me, and whatever he withholds or gives will be just fine.
What he takes is my desire, what he gives is my desire, because my real delight will never go away—HIM—and that’s all that matters.

The Gift that Keeps Giving and Giving and Giving and …

His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” —Psalm 30:5, NIV.
parallelism |ˈparəlelˌizəm| noun the state of being parallel or of corresponding in some way. • the use of successive verbal constructions in poetry or prose that correspond in grammatical structure, sound, meter, meaning, etc.
This verse from Psalm 30 is one of those many biblical examples of parallelism. The difference lies in the perspective from which each phrase is written. “His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime” refers to God. The second phrase: “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing in the morning” refers to us.
They are connected—they are parallel. They are the same statement from two different perspectives, though we don’t always apply them with that in mind. Our trouble often lies in separating the two phrases with more than a semi-colon. For example, we often use the second phrase when we are comfort…

Bubbles

Image
The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” —Psalm 27:1, NIV.
Who hasn’t been afraid of something? And though we might wish that fear were just an occasional phenomenon, we most often exchange one fear for another, or simply accumulate them until they cripple us.
For the psalmist, the fear was a “whom” not a “what” and David certainly had lots of people in his life who were a threat to him. The verses immediately following describe evil men and armies coming up against him to destroy him.
Then David makes an unusual request of God. He asks the Lord for the privilege of sheltering in His house. Traditionally, the church was often regarded as a place where people could seek sanctuary and be protected against anyone looking to harm them. But long before church buildings came into being and were used for those purposes, David knew the meaning of sanctuary.
It’s unlikely that David is speaking of a physical bui

Embracing It All

Image
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” —Psalm 24:1, NIV.
Love it all, care for it all, respect it all, admire it all, appreciate it all, because it all belongs to Him.

Love them all, care for them all, respect them all, admire them all, appreciate them all, because they all belong to Him.

At times our vision gets clouded by the obvious, what we see—and perhaps dislike—at first glance.. But when we look "behind the scenes" so to speak, and realize the Source of all that we see, our perspective and our attitude may need to change.

Grace Covers Everything

May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” —Psalm 19:14, NIV.
The verse is a “grace” verse.
Many of us have been trained since childhood to say a blessing before eating our meals. We often call it “saying grace.” I’m not quite sure where the name came from, since “grace” means “undeserved favor.” Of course, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the freedoms we enjoy, are all undeserved. Why should we be so blessed when others aren’t? So perhaps there is god reason to call it “grace.”
But the food we eat is only a small part of life that needs to be “graced.” “Bless this food that we are about to receive and make us truly thankful” stands shoulder to shoulder with: “Bless everything I say today. I thank you for the ability to communicate. Sprinkle my words with kindness, understanding, courage and wisdom. May every word come from you.” If you are like me, that kind of prayer is usually reserved for those moments when,…