Category Archives: Psalms

Getting wisdom elsewhere

I’ve been around for a while.  I know quite a bit.

BUT, am I wise?

The Bible is counter-intuitive when it comes to wisdom.

“Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.”  Ezekiel 28:17

“How can men be wise?  The only way to begin is by reverence for God.  For growth in wisdom comes from obeying His laws.  Praise His name forever.”  Psalm 111:10

What I consider wise and what the world considers wise, often isn’t.

A commentary on Psalm 111:10 uses the example of a well-known painter to make a point.  The painter attracts the praise of many as he sketches the passing landscape on the way down the Niagara River to, and over, Niagara Falls.  What was important to him and to those who admired him?  Obviously not the MOST important thing.

God gives us every good thing we have, yet too often we are deceived into thinking we deserve it.  We have made it possible.  God gets relegated to Sunday morning.  We know best without His involvement.

We miss who God is!  We lose our respect and admiration.  Our wisdom becomes “corrupted.”

Reverence for God is a full-time activity.  God is special.  He’s the best.  He’s been there, done it.

Shouldn’t I have a passion to want to know Him better?

Photography interests me.  When I find an expert in an area of photography that interests me, I actively chase after him/her.  I read.  I watch.  I chase.  Why?  They are the expert.  I want to get from them what I have a passion for.

If I claim to love God, I will have a passion to know Him.

The second part of verse 10 above gives instruction in this area: I need to obey His laws.  Surely, this requires knowing what His laws are.  What He wants from me.

I pour over articles in camera magazines chasing knowledge of something that interests me.  I must approach the Bible similarly.  Therein are instructions on how to be wise in God’s eyes.

Will I chase wisdom in the Bible as I do in other areas?

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Where are the Godly?

“For the Lord says: ‘I am against you, Israel.  I will unsheathe my sword and destroy your people, good and bad alike – I will not spare even the righteous.”  Ezekiel 21:3-4

“Who but God can give me strength to conquer these fortified cities?  Who else can lead me into Edom?  Lord, have you thrown us away?  Have you deserted our army?  Oh, help us fight against our enemies, for men are useless allies.”  Psalm 108:10-12

“The One Year Bible” have put Ezekiel 21-22 together with Psalm 108.  They are good fit.

If you want to get discouraged, read Ezekiel 21 & 22!  Things are bad and going to get worse.

Take note that even the so-called “righteous” will not be spared.

I wonder if these folks were “righteous” in their own eyes or were they righteous but not doing what God wanted?  I don’t know.  I do know that God is including them in the punishments to come.

Maybe “righteous” refers to the priests because God goes after them in Ezekiel 22:26: “Your priests have violated my laws and defiled my Temple and my holiness.  To them the things of God are no more important than any daily task.”

At the end of Ezekiel 22, God admits that He has looked for someone (anyone) who actually lives righteously and has the Godly sense to ask Him for help.  Sadly, no one is found!

BUT along comes prayerful David in Psalm 108.  He is well aware of the size of the enemy but He is also aware that God is not overwhelmed by any enemy.  Men are overwhelmed but God isn’t.  David sees that relying on men, and not God, is useless.

What a lesson!  Evil is formidable for sure.  God is more formidable.  My trust must be in Him not in other things such as the police, the government, my health insurance etc…

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Eternal life insurance

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” Psalm 90:12

I learned this morning that some grandparents in my church had lost their grandson to a car accident recently.

That’s not the way it’s “supposed” to be!  He was only twenty-three.  All those years we assume will come, sometimes don’t.

When I was in my late twenties, we had someone come to our home to talk about life insurance.  I will admit that it wasn’t my idea.  I dug in as the salesman tried to convince us of the necessity of a life insurance policy. I refused to wrap my brain around the need for life insurance, despite his (accurate) information to the contrary.

Realizing that I have no certainty of tomorrow is a necessity if I am going to approach each today in a Godly way.

How will I navigate today?  I quickly gravitate to the Martha/Mary story.  Will I see the Big Picture, or will I settle my attention on lesser things?

In a way, I am now that young salesman I referred to earlier.  I have a view of the future that some choose not to have. How will I persuade the “uninsured” of their need?

We will have to make a next-life decision before we get to that next life.  We will either have eternal life insurance or we won’t.  There will be no “policies” sold on Judgment Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I can’t do it

“My heart is not proud, Lord.  My eyes are not haughty.  I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Psalm 131:1.

An impossibility!

My culture is infested with self-worship.  I want to be the best.  I want to get ahead.  I want to be recognized for my accomplishments.

This verse goes in the other direction.  I am not to look for credit.  I am not to consider myself better than someone else.

My mind is to be on “lesser” things.

My mind needs to be filled with a persistent search to please God.  I must do what He wants within the framework of being His servant.  Just doing His Will must be my driving influence.

My reward is eternal.  I have better than His praise; I have His assurance.  I will be with Him in the after-life.  I can’t help but want to work full-time for Him because of His grace in my direction.

He’s in charge.  I have no advantages over others.  We are all in this world together.  I don’t try to please Him to get Him to love me because He already does.  I please Him to show Him that I love Him because I do.

My willingness to please Him must not wane.  Circumstances must not change my desire to please Him.

Conclusion: I must take my hands off the controls of my life and give them to Him or I will fail miserably.

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I need help

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  Psalm 121:1-2.

There is an ultimate place to look to for help.

I often turn to “alternatives” when needs press in.

But this psalmist tells me to seek help from God.

I am currently reading “The Case For The Psalms” by NT Wright to get a clearer view of the psalms.  I have learned that there are many variables within the Psalms, but God is not one of them.

There is a beginning (God promises to bless) and there is an ending (Paradise will come).  We live in between and are to be light in a dark place. We try, in His strength, to establish God’s kingdom here on earth in the meantime.

Psalms fluctuates between those three sections sometimes within the same chapter or verse. Psalm 121 states in verse 7 that, “The Lord will keep you from ALL harm.”  That’s future talk and I can be thankful as I envision that time.  In today’s verse I’m told to look to God for help……that’s present talk.

I am thankful that the One Who made heaven and earth is mindful of me today.  When I sense a need for help (my son-in-law is getting a checkup) I’m choosing the heaven/earth maker to ask for it.

Conclusion: The best help I will ever get comes from God.  I need to live accordingly.

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Only the breathing should praise Him

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord.”  Psalm 150:6.

I guess that covers all of us!

I am alive because God has willed it.

I enjoy old windup clocks.  I have more than enough of them, according to my wife!

Those clocks are dependent on me.  If I forget to wind them, they stop.  Therefore, I try to wind them regularly.  Some will go for longer times than others.  Some will go just a day.

I have noticed also that the clocks need to be in the right setting to work.  In an older house, there is slant.  Clocks don’t like slant, so I must get them level to get them to work.

Bottom line? The clocks work because of me.  Just like me needing God to survive.  Every breath I take is God letting me live a breath longer.

Praising Him must be a bigger part of my life.  There is nothing contrived when praising God.  From within the office, I see changing leaves.  Their colors are amazing.  A visual feast.  God has given me eye candy!

I have a wife in my midst.  A caring, super-organized lifelong companion.  What a blessing.

Conclusion: I must use my breathing as a reminder of God’s ongoing blessings.

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Unless the Lord

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” Psalm 127:1.

If I am mindful of God, I put Him with me in all areas of my life.

If I leave God out, I will suffer the consequences that come with godlessness.

How much of my efforts have been wasted because I have gone off without Him?

I am not guaranteed safety and serenity.  But with Him, I can face whatever comes along.  Without Him, there is no “safety” net.

If I have Him when trouble comes, I can face it knowing that He is there with me.

Lately, I have been concentrating on the word, “mindful.”  I want my mind to be filled with God.  Therefore, I am constantly stopping myself from ignoring Him.  It is no once-and-done scenario!  This came about as I realized how much time I was spending ignoring Him.  Forgetting Who He is.  Forgetting that we are related.  Forgetting what He has done for me and my family.

Conclusion: I must be mindful of God at all times and in all things.

 

 

 

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The agony of being away from God

“How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?”  Psalm 138:4.

My proximity to God is important.

When I claim to belong to Him, I will behave as He wants me to behave.

When my behavior is off, my relationship to Him has become messed up.

The Jews couldn’t be happy away from their beloved Jerusalem.  Their temple of worship was far away from Babylon.

I have no excuse.  God, through the Holy Spirit, is always nearby.  I don’t have to travel anywhere to find Him.

If I’m not able to be glad in God, it is because I have damaged my connection to Him.

It seems so simple.  If I will just examine my behavior, I can gauge my relationship to God.

The worst times are when I pretend to be close to God, but I am not.  Sunday rolls around and I’m in church “praising” Him in song.  What a fraud!  To rightly praise Him I need to deal with what has been separating me from Him.

In the New Testament, there is Scripture warning those about to take communion that they must first get right with God.  Could be confession.  Could be a phone call or a visit.  Faking a Godly relationship is folly.

I also know, according to 1 Peter, that if I am not treating my wife with respect and consideration, my prayers will be hindered.  God is not mocked.  He sees through me.  I am blessed when He pricks my conscience and motivates me to make things right so that my connection to Him is restored.

Conclusion: If I am not close to God, I will not be able to authentically worship Him.

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Rejoice and be glad!

“May those who seek you, rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’”  Psalm 70:4.

I’ve been sliding along in a bit of a rut the last couple of days.

That seems to happen when things don’t go the way I want them to.

This verse is an “awakener” for me.

If I am not rejoicing and glad, then something is amiss in my life.

I am told to weep with those who weep.  Otherwise, I have no reason to be glum.  And that’s what I’ve been lately.

I have God in my life.  I belong to Him, yet I’m glum.  How can those two things possibly go together?  They can’t!

If I have God in charge, then I know that ALL things work together for good.  Not some.

I was thinking about the common phrase; God has never failed me yet.  Of course He has!  Say what?  When I set up standards FOR God, I will be disappointed.  What I want, and what He knows is best, can easily be two different things.

I want Photoshop Elements 13 to work perfectly.  It hasn’t been.  That bothers me, and I reflect that discontent in other ways.  Wait a minute.  If I’m letting God run my life and something doesn’t work, I must not surrender the rejoicing and being glad part of my life.  I still have Him.  I can call on Him and rejoice and be glad knowing He is with me.

How can God get my attention?  Do I need lightning!  If something doesn’t work, there is much to rejoice and be glad in.  Huh?  Maybe God wants to move me away from what I was spending so much time doing.  Maybe He wants me to practice patience.  Maybe He wants me to appreciate His Presence in all seasons.  Maybe He wants me to seek help.

However, when I started out reacting poorly, the other possibilities were lost……….until I “ran” across Psalm 70:4.  “May all who seek You (that’s me) rejoice and be glad (no matter what the circumstances) in You.”

God is in charge.  Will I behave accordingly in all seasons?  That is a good question for me.

Conclusion: I must live as if God is in charge…..because He is.  Rejoicing (in Him) and being glad (because of Him) must impact all my behavior.

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How big is God to me?

“Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary.”  Psalm 74:3.

“The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.”  Psalm 74:16.

The same psalm with two different attitudes about God.

In verse 3, the writer tries to alert God of something that has happened.  Maybe God was on vacation and missed it?

In verse 16, the writer is caught up in Who God is.  It is safe to assume that the earlier (in the psalm) concern has waned.

The Bible is living.  It never stops being applicable.

How often am I caught up in the magnitude of a problem before realizing that God does not have magnitude limitations?

I mentioned two unbelieving relatives yesterday.  It is easy for me to write them off as beyond God’s sphere of influence.  To do that is completely wrong on my part!  The God that made day and night doesn’t cringe at the size of anything.

How often I see the problem but don’t consider the Problem Solver.  God knows of my two relatives and He can bring them to Him.  End of story!  I must thank God for what He will do with them.

I was at a meeting yesterday regarding high school sports in New Hampshire.  God had me there, I suspect, to hear the prevailing attitude about transgenders.  This was the approach that I heard: If a boy thinks he’s a girl, he can play on a girls’ team.  If a boy thinks he’s a boy, he must play on a boys’ team.  As a Godly person, I was trying to wrap my brain around the confusion/conflict this thinking represents.  The accommodations are being made for a lifestyle that defies Scriptural logic.

At the same meeting, efforts were described for getting into high schools in the state to help kids dealing with drugs and depression.  These are behaviors that are considered to need help.  No question they do, but what about “help” for the other behavior mentioned above?  Is that settled science!

Troubling, to say the least.  But that’s where today’s verses kick in for me.  These things look like overwhelmingly destructive behaviors.  They look like out-of-control cultural curses BUT not to God.  He knows about them.  He has solutions.  And those solutions may involve me.  Am I in the ready-and-willing mode? I had better be.

Conclusion: There is evil in my midst.  God, however, is not overwhelmed by it.  I must trust Him.  I must be ready to be part of His solution if needed.

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