Psalm 112 ~ His Heart is Steadfast

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Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. Psalm 112:6

The psalter can be a challenge to understand in some cases. We must read with the eyes of those who first received the psalms while applying to our lives many centuries past, not always the easiest task. In other cases, the inspired phrasing of the Psalmist make his intent crystal clear. Such is the message of Psalm 112.

The Lord is praised by the life of a godly man. Praise without the need for words is lifted by the God-honoring life of those who fear the Lord and obey Him. Those who pay notice to their abundant lives see no other explanation except divine favor. The just and compassionate fear nothing of men, knowing that they live in the light.

Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor. (vv 8-9)

There is no place other than in the light of the Lord for man to be.

Grace and peace to your soul…

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Psalm 97–All The Peoples See His Glory

imageThe Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. (Ps 97:1)

The psalmist declares the fundamental tension in which God’s people exist. We recognize his sovereign rule over all but struggle to understand why He doesn’t exercise it to destroy the evil that is so prevalent. Is there reason for doubt?

Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. (v3)

Confidence is rooted in faith. Faith that one day, all will be restored to its proper condition. Fire will sweep away all that mars creation and out of the tempering flame will come the restored heavens and earth. Nothing, even the mountains, will stand before God in his sweeping restoration.

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful one and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. (vv 10-11)

Despite what surrounds us, we trust in the God whose sacrificial act demonstrated beyond question His love for us. Look through everything to see the goodness that will be the result of the change. Look to the skies and know that He is good and righteous.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness and all the peoples see His glory. (v6)

Grace and peace to you.

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Anticipation

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Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.

Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.  (Psalm 96:11-13)

 

The birth of the Savior brings with it the promise of restoration. For the believer in Christ, the restoration begins at once. Our hope is realized and still, yet to come. For the fields and the forests, the birds and the antelope, the oceans and ice fields, anticipation rules. Their anticipation of restoration must continue until our centuries long Advent is complete. We pray Lord that you don’t tarry.

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Antici..

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        “ ‘In those days and at that time
         I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
         he will do what is just and right in the land. 
        In those days Judah will be saved
         and Jerusalem will live in safety.
         This is the name by which it will be called:
         The LORD Our Righteousness.’  (Jeremiah 33:15-16)

Be the bearers of that righteousness in the world until the Lord returns. Judgment is not ours, but the call and ability to bring justice to the suffering is. Extend a hand, be the gospel message.

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Day 23 in the School of Prayer: Be Righteous!

imageThe prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Ask and it will given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13)

Saved is saved but saved is not always righteous. When salvation is graced upon us, we are recipients of the righteousness of Christ. This transfers places us in right standing before the Father, cleansed and released from our bondage to sin. A newborn in the world, weak and needing to mature. Many Christians never leave the cradle and then ponder aloud why their prayer seems to be weak and ineffectual.

The fact that their lives bear no fruit may have something to do with it.

Our Savior repeatedly teaches us that we are to be growing into a life of increased righteousness and piety. We are to be diligent about becoming better at keeping His commands and obeying all that He has taught us. Only with this obedience will come the power in prayer that we so earnestly desire. We cannot have one without the other. Christ must be first and foremost in our life before our prayer will have the depth and response that it was meant for. Anything else would cheapen the unfathomable price of the grace we receive.

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Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Eleven

imageThe Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment.

He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. (Psalm 9:7-8)

Easter is the antithesis of justice. We do not receive the punishment that is so obviously due us. Rather, God, in His infinite mercy, sacrificed that which was so precious to Him on our behalf. The righteousness of Christ becomes our righteousness. We are able to stand before His throne without guilt, a condition that we could never achieve otherwise.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (vv 9-10)

As recipients of the gift of Grace, our meditation becomes action. We identify those oppressed spiritually and by the injustice of the world and point them to the Forgiver. Knowing the location of the refuge, it is our responsibility as Saints to lead others to its safety. Look about today and find those looking for direction.

Grace and peace to you.

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Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Seven

imageRestore us, O God Almighty; make you face shine upon us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:7)

From John’s cry at the Jordan river to dark day of the Cross, Jesus made it clear that everything was changing in relation to man and God. Repentance would no longer take the form of external sacrifice of a prescribed nature. True repentance would require allegiance to the One Ultimate Sacrifice. Though there would be momentary darkness at Calvary, Resurrection morning would shine a warm, sustained light upon us.

We can meditate on the grace extended to us through that sacrificial act and be thankful that we no longer must plea to the heavens as the Pslamist does in Psalm 80,

Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.

Awaken your might; come and save us. (vv 1-2)

God has extended salvation to all who will repent and name Him as Lord in their lives. The light shines on all and yet, some will continue to see the darkness. Let them see the effect the light has had on you and invite them out. God is good and His face shines upon us.

Grace and peace to you.

 

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Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Six

imageThe Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. (v20)

In a moment of blinding clarity, meditating on this verse from Psalm 18 jolts your heart and mind to the reality. We are blessed beyond our ability to express it that God has not dealt with us according to the cleanness of our hands. Walking toward the still distant cross of Easter, the reality of the resurrection casts a searing white glow on the dirt still in our lives, despite our professions of Christ and the fact that we follow hard behind Christ. Continued repentance scrubs the hands cleaner but there are still stubborn spots.

Only the grace of the Lord will finally succeed in scrubbing these last final imperfections from our hands. Loyal discipleship will mature us in cooperation with the Spirit to rid ourselves of the barriers that separate us from our Father. We recognize that we will not be perfected in this life, that our enemy as well as our own brokenness will forever conspire to ensnare us to our final days. This is why we stay close to our Shepherd, despite our propensity to wander.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Grace and peace to you.

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Psalm 36 – Your Faithfulness Reaches to the Skies

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An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked;

There is no fear of God before his eyes.

For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. (vv 1-2)

The psalmist appears to have appended the introductory verses of this psalm onto the glorious praise that follows as a sudden flash of inspiration into knowing the hearts of the wicked. He clearly understands the root of the problem with the God haters. It’s not that there is anger with God, it’s simply that they love themselves more.

The more you investigate the beliefs and practices of the atheists, the more one discovers that their God hatred is rooted in their self love. Their denial of any evidence presented to them empowers their lordship over the world. They of course deny this and overtly proclaim their happiness, satisfaction with life, the greatness of their existence. They flatter themselves into continuing their false belief, labeling themselves ‘free thinkers’ and better adjusted than the believer. Me think they doth protest too loudly.

The praise of the truth does not need to be forced.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.

O Lord you preserve both man and beast. How priceless is your unfailing love. (vv 5-7)

 

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Psalm 35 Vindicate Me in Your Righteousness

Vindication and Righteousness

Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.

Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid.

Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me.

Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” (vv 1 – 3)

New Testament Christians (those whose main reading is done in the NT) encounter a violent plea such as this from the psalmist much differently than those who spend equal time in both testaments. The psalmist—and the psalter—calls for violent retribution on a divine scale from Yahweh against those who would persecute him. Again, our modern ears trouble us. Is it right to call down fire and destruction on our enemies in the light of Christ’s instruction to love our enemies and to offer the other cheek to insults?

Perhaps we read the psalm too literally as an imprecatory piece. In the same way that we may use a journal or even our prayer life to ‘vent’ and release our personal frustration at whatever our current situation might be. The cry for justice softens a bit to seek vindication in the verses that follow.

May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay.

May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. (vv 4-6)

So maybe Yahweh, you don’t destroy them with the Javelin but just chase them away and shame them for their false accusations. David claims innocence to the charges that his enemies are bringing against him. He has done nothing to deserve the troubles that have come his way and asks that Yahweh resolve this. He promises praise in return,

may ruin overtake them by surprise—may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.

…then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.

My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, O Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” (vv 8-10)

The danger of schadenfreude leaps to mind. Shall I praise the Lord for the misfortune of others? They have fallen into their own trap after all. This is a psalm to consider carefully. It may not be one of our favorites because it raise such an uncomfortable quandary for us but those moments and hours of discomfort ultimately strengthen our bond with God. Take the psalm to Him in prayer and allow the Spirit to search your heart to discover both the right and wrong reasons that exist there.

Photo by Richard the Lyin’ Hearted

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