Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Twenty Eight

image Fear is rooted in judgment. We fear being judged inadequate or our lives being judged not worthy of continuing. We fear the criticism of man. Fear paralyzes us and causes us to seek refuge in hidden places.

We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.

You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.” (Psalm 75:1-2)

The Cross grows bigger day by day as we walk toward Easter. What have you to fear? God has overcome all and made you an heir. What can man do?


Grace and peace to you

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Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Twenty Five


It’s easy to say ‘don’t be afraid’ and an entirely different thing not to be afraid, isn’t it? We trust in our unseen Father and in the grace that he extends to us. We’re challenged when something that can be seen and touched offers an alternative confidence. Which path will we follow; the one that leads to Cross or the path of our own making?

God knows our mind, he knows when we’re considering the alternative. Despite our outward appearances, where we try to make the world believe we have not doubts, God knows our heart. Can we embed it in our hearts such that we can walk fearlessly into the darkness that surrounds the Cross?

But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge. (Psalm 94:22)

We can process that statement, even repeat it to others but can we get rid of our doubt? Confidence replaces doubt as we grow closer in our relationship with God. The more time we spend with Him, the more we hide His word in our hearts, the more we see His truths in action, the more we will know that,

"For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. (v 14)

We will walk toward the Cross He ordains for us without fear..

When I said, “My foot is slipping, your love, O Lord, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (vv 18-19)


Grace and peace to you.


image rejik

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Eighteen

imageMy steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped. (Psalm 17:5)

We contemplated our trust in the Shepherd yesterday, knowing that even when He leads us through dangerous territory we are ultimately secure. Fear dissolves as we follow hard on the steps of the Shepherd, our steps are secure. To wander is to face the world on our own.

The Lent season is a period set aside by the church for focused meditation on the cost of Salvation. Have you taken the time to check your commitment to the undeserved righteousness you’ve received? The Shepherd leads us but paid an enormous cost. He didn’t turn away and nor should we. Our commitment to a life of holiness must be equal to the price lest we cheapen the Cross.

Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. (v 3)

Stay close to the path.


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Psalm 60 With God We Will Gain the Victory

imageYou have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry – now restore us!

You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. (vv 1-2)

Those who read the Psalms devotionally or at random often fail to notice exactly how much of the Psalter is composed of pleas for restoration and paeans to God’s faithfulness in doing so, ‘one more time.’ In verse after verse the psalmist is hemmed in by his enemies and threatened with destruction. He raises his eyes and voice to the heavens and asks God where he is in this time of travail. In every instance, the same answer comes back: “I am here.”

Our lessons in coming to this observation are twofold. The most difficult of the two is to come to the realization that God will turn away from us during different seasons of our lives. The duration may be brief or endure for a long time but the scriptures clearly demonstrate that we risk the the turning of His Face.

You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger. (v3)

Whether the purpose be our redemption through repentance and the subsequent restoration or to enable a larger purpose in His plan, God may cause us to suffer. Do we trust Him in this struggle? Are we willing to be sacrificed for the larger purpose of an eternal plan. To God, our lifetime is but a second; to us it is an eternity of testing. Surely He knows this but can we learn this lesson and shift our perspective into eternity, lifting our eyes from the rocky ground in front of our feet?

The second of the lessons enables us to endure the first. We can trust in God completely. We can dismiss worry and erase our doubts knowing that He is perfectly good and that whatever state we find ourselves in perfectly aligns with His eternal course for history.

But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. (v4)

We can unfurl the banner of the gospel, swath ourselves in the good news, and march forward. If our rejection is brought about our own behaviors we can turn from them and seek the restoration that God willingly extends. If our separation is a part of the larger purpose we can be faithful, knowing the ultimate good will come of it. As the Psalmist shouts,

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (v12)

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Lent 2009 – 16 Steps to the Cross


Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:17-21)

Do we live in fear of God today or has His grace become our license to live a less than holy existence. Grace is funny that way. To many, the God of Fear was only existent in the Old Testament. That was a God of wrath, smiting this, flooding that, opening up the earth to swallow sinners and striking others with blindness. The loving Jesus supplanted that God didn’t he?

Fearing God has nothing to do with His immediate judgments and everything to do with his perfect justice. He does not pass judgment capriciously or indiscriminately but with perfect judicial fairness. His judgment is not colored by human discrimination or favoritism and His judgment,

cost the life of our Savior.

Fear is not meant to inspire anxiety or dread, rather, it is intended to drive us to a respectful love for the justice of God and the redemption by His Son. Fear of God makes us aware of our own corruption and, though saved by grace, our personal indebtedness to the Father. As Peter says, Jesus was sacrificed and returned to life for your sake.

How is your fear today?

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Psalm 12 ~ Purified Seven Times

Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. (v1)

Looking around in our modern day can reveal in us a similar sense of resignation. Our culture constantly pushes the boundaries of truth, ethics, and morality and proclaims each to be their own god who devises the appropriate framework for their lives. As we read the lament of Psalm 12 we find that not much has changed through the centuries.

The psalmist was not alone is lamenting the decadence of his society. The prophets spoke as boldly to these dangers in their time. Micah echoes the sentiments:

What misery is mine!

   I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard;

there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave.

   The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains.

All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net.

   Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts,

the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire— they all conspire together.

   The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.

The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you.  Now is the time of their confusion.

   Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend.

Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words.

   For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies are the members of his own household.

  But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior;

my God will hear me. (Micah 7:1-7)

King David expressed the same trust – that God would restore the right balance, no matter how far the society tipped.

O Lord, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever,

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men. (vv 7-8)

Our trust requires a long term perspective, an eternal kingdom perspective. How do you develop such a perspective? By learning and making your own the whole of scripture. A kingdom perspective is not formed from promise books and joyful passages alone, it must be refined in the furnace of reality. We may never escape the persecutors and deceivers that cross our path in this life but we can look forward to a new heaven and new earth in which they will not ‘strut about.’

Psalm 11 – Flee Like a Bird?

Where else, the psalmist asks, can I place my trust? “In the Lord I take refuge.” (v1a) So many of the entries in the psalter echo this same theme. Though life may be an uphill struggle in which we are pursued by our enemies. Though it may seem that evil has free run in our world and that the wicked are victorious. Although our calling may be one of persecution and even death, in who else can we trust? No one but the Lord.

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.

He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.

The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. (vv 4-5)

The promise that we rest in is not in the ease and comfort of our lives, the promise is in knowing that through eternity we will be the recipients of the Lord’s unfailing justice. His grace has given us the path to redemption and removes our fear.

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. (v7)

Psalm 3 – I Wake Because You Wake Me

The first titled psalm in the psalter gives us an idea of the imminent threat that will influence many of the writings to come. There is danger all around and yet, the psalmist speaks from assurance and faith. His cry, O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him” (v1-2) appears at first to be a challenge but reading quickly into the following verse shows that it was a just a set up so that he could proclaim his trust.

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. (vv3-4)

Perhaps the depth of his trust is expressed in the next two verses. One who is facing death alone must be constantly vigilant lest the enemy descend in a moment of inattention. So great is his trust in the Lord that he sleeps soundly, knowing that he will be sustained through the night and awoken in the morning if his protector so deems it. In this trust, the psalmist has nothing to worry about or fear because anything that befalls him is a part of the Lord’s greater purpose.

We can know this peace despite the turmoil of our lives. It’s all rooted in trust and the one in whom we place that trust. Where’s yours?

Gideon the Diplomat

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image Fresh from living out his purpose in routing the warriors of Midian, Gideon is thrust into the position of diplomat. An intertribal argument awaits him before he has even rested:

Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have your treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” (Judges 8:1)

The Ephraimites are upset at missing an opportunity to increase their personal glory, indicating perhaps that the troubles that had separated Israel from God in the first place were still in need of attention in this Judges cycle. They had not only lost their perceived glory but a portion of the spoils of war as well. Sharp criticism draws a diplomatic response from Gideon. He placates their anger by alluding to their superior status in the tribal standings. They accept this as an apology and are quieted. We expect the familiar construct “and the land had peace for x years” but God is not finished yet.

Do people who look in on the internecine battles within God’s church see a similar situation? Does denomination A proclaim their superiority over church B, not in God’s glory but in their body count or the size of their fortress? Has God’s hand been forgotten in all things?

Gideon Sounds the Horns

Gideon does the only appropriate thing upon receiving the revelation and assurance of his victory over the Midianites from the mouth of a frightened Midian soldier,

When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God. (Judges 7:15)

image This easily overlooked vignette reminds us of our proper priorities. How often we put off the worship of the Father in response to his revelation or leading. Instead, we are only too eager to jump to action now that we are confident of His assurance of our success but there is a good reason for pausing to worship. You see, if we act immediately we are susceptible to taking the credit for any coming success rather than placing it in the proper perspective. Worship first humbles us, helping us to recognize that the assurance comes from God.

The small force that surrounds Gideon serves a similar purpose. He is humbled as his army is reduced and reduced through the methods that Yahweh pronounces until Gideon must be totally reliant on God’s power for any victory. Yahweh’s power is displayed through the small army; the strategy that Gideon employs makes his force look much, much larger than it really is. In a panic, the Midianites turn upon themselves and flee in fear.

We look to the Bible for life lessons and sometimes, they are more subtle than we would like. Its easy here to lose the truths in the action but there are profound ideals that we can apply. First, as we diminish our own power in trust to God’s power we can count on His strength making itself known in ways we cannot imagine. The second truth that the Midianites learned the hard way is that battling or opposing this power is self-destructive, a guaranteed loser. Are we cautious enough not to step into the shoes of the Midianites?