Category Archives: Psalms

The Ideal Day

2048px-Smiley_svgYesterday was a great day!  We found out that our oldest daughter, Christina, was accepted into the University of North Carolina for next year.  This was something that she had wanted and worked hard for many years and something her mother and I also wanted for her since we both are UNC alums ourselves.  It is always nice to have a day to celebrate good news.

In my devotion that morning, I read Psalm 92 which talks about having a great day as well.  Only this great day can happen regardless of whether you have some good news to celebrate or not.  In fact, your day can be great even in the midst of much difficulty if you follow the psalmist’s prescription.  Here are verses 1-3:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
 to the music of the lute and the harp,
    to the melody of the lyre.

How can we have the ideal day?  First, we are to declare God’s steadfast love (lovingkindness) in the morning.  We look forward to the things our generous God has in store for us as we face a new day.  Second, we sing praise and give thanks to God during the day as we experience even little blessings.  Get in the habit of looking for the reasons you can praise God daily.  Finally, as the day comes to an end and we go to sleep, we can think back to how faithful our God is to provide for us and bless us.  That’s a great day!

Of course, I love the fact that the psalmist encourages us to do these things to music.  As an aside, when I read these words I remember a fragment of a choir anthem I have sung at some point in the past that contained these verses as lyrics.  I couldn’t tell you the name of the song, but I do remember the tune.  One of the songs I’ve written for my upcoming album is called “Faithful” and it is closely based on the great hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  The chorus says this:

I trust You; You will never let me down.
I believe You;  for Your Word is always true.
I thank You; You keep all your promises.
O my Father, faithful are You.

Isn’t it great how music can help us to praise and thank God?  Have a great day!

Quit Complaining (Psalm 4)

As we move past Thanksgiving, you no doubt have heard the sentiment that we should be thankful year-round instead of saving it up for the fourth Thursday of November.  I’m struck as I read God’s word (especially the Old Testament) with the sense of how much God despises our grumbling and complaining.  In fact, many of his harshest words for the Israelites He was leading to the promised land dealt with their complaining attitudes.  I need to be more thankful for all of God’s blessings in my life, but even more importantly, I need to rid myself of the ungratefulness in my heart that often manifests itself in complaining and grumbling.

In Psalm 4, David says that there are many complainers – those who ask “Who will show us some good?” (vs. 6)  But David realized that the attitude inside of him was much more important than the circumstances around him – he affirmed that God had “enlarged him” or “relieved him” when he was in distress.  (vs. 1)  God does “enlarge” us or cause us to grow in our troubles, if we allow Him to work in us.

That’s only one of the blessings that God brings in the midst of trials.  He also encourages us through them (vv. 2-3); enables us to endure through giving us peace (vv. 4-5); and gives us the blessing of enlightenment and enjoyment (vv. 6-8) allowing us to enjoy that peace and even sleep in the midst of the storm.  So get your eyes off your trial and back on to God.  Allow him to use the pressure on the outside to enlarge you on the inside.

What the Church Is For

“Nobody knows what we’re for, only what we’re against, when we judge the wounded.” (Jesus, Friend of Sinners, Casting Crowns)

I recently started an in-depth study of the book of Psalms.  In addition to daily readings in Psalms, I’m reading a fabulous devotional called “Prayer, Praise & Promises: A Daily Walk Through The Psalms” by Warren Wiersbe.  I didn’t want my study to take all year, so I’m reading four days worth of Wiersbe’s book at a time.  I tell you all this because you will probably see more posts based on Psalms in the coming weeks.

Recently, I studied Psalm 9, a great victory Psalm written by David.  There is a lot of great truth in this Psalm: we should praise God for who He is with our whole heart; when we are in God’s will, God is on our side, ruling from His throne.  But there is an undercurrent in this Psalm that really struck me, especially since we’ve just ended another nasty election season.  God will take care of judging the evil in the world in His time.  This is not my battle, it is God’s, and one of the worst things I can do is take that judgment into my own hands.  David asks for God to “let not man prevail.”  God tells us that He is the one who will repay (“Vengeance is mine”) in Deuteronomy 32:35.

That Word is in tension with the tendency of Christians to trumpet “the duty to stand up for our rights” and “fight for the faith.”  This sounds good and is based on the biblical instruction to be a light to the world and not hide our light under a bushel (Matt. 5:15).  There are certainly times where we must be speak out about our faith, but many tend to be vocal only in denouncing sin and sinners.  Eventually this idea is taken to a non-Christian and unbiblical extreme in the form of picketers at military funerals or similar disgusting displays.  I often feel like “the church” (referring to the body of genuine Christians nationwide) needs a PR person because I get the impression that the unchurched more closely associate us with hate-filled picketers at a funeral than with people lovingly serving at a soup kitchen in the name of Jesus.

And that’s too bad, especially because I’m probably part of the problem.  I do a whole lot less “fixing” of sin and injustice than I do worrying about it and talking about it while doing nothing.  But God doesn’t need me to fight His battle.  He is going to take care of the wickedness of the world.  What He has clearly commanded me to do is to go and make disciples, teach them about God (Matt. 28:16-20) and to love one another.  (John 13:34)  It is illuminating that during Jesus’ earthly ministry as recorded in the gospels, the only sin and sinners he railed against were the religious leaders who had distorted the faith.  When given the opportunity, he spoke gently to both the woman caught in adultery and the woman at the well who was living with a man she wasn’t married to, and he went to feasts and parties with those the religious folks shunned as “sinners and tax collectors.” (Luke 15:2)  Jesus also spent no time speaking out against the pagan and oppressive Roman government of the day, but harshly criticized those in charge of the Jewish temple.

I am not in the slightest advocating that sin be coddled or tolerated or ignored, although I better start with the guy in mirror.  I think I had better deal with the sins in my own life before I start making sure others know about their sins.  What I am trying to say is that when the shouts of what the church is against drown out the gospel message that tells a lost world that God sent His Son to die for them because He loved us while we were yet sinners, (Rom. 5:8) we become stumbling blocks for those that God is calling to Himself because we are trying to complete a mission that is His alone. (Matt. 23:13)

So for everyone’s benefit, here are just a few reminders of what the church is for:

John 3:16-17:   “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Matt. 11:28-30: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 6:35-37: “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

It’s time the church was known less for judging other people’s sin and more for demonstrating love.