Thursday, November 28, 2013

Letting people know why we are thankful. Psalm 105:1-9

Psalm 105

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever,
    the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
    the oath he swore to Isaac.
On this Thanksgiving there is so much to be thankful for but most of all we must be thankful for God's faithfulness to His promises and for his wonderful acts.   There are indeed many ways to say thanks and I hope that you will do this around your Thanksgiving tables but also out in the world in which we live.  When we proclaim God's goodness to the world  others will come to know him and this is the best way to say thanks to our Lord!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The best way

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

 Psalm 139:23,24

As Christians we know that God looks beyond our actions and sees our heart.   No one else can truly know our hearts.  No one can know our motives and anxieties but this is what David invites God to do.   In addition he ask God to point out his offensive ways and lead him in the way everlasting.  

 Our Bible verses for today would truly be a life changing prayer for all of us don't you agree?   Wouldn't it be amazing if every Christian opened his or her heart to God each morning for God to search and to test?  But more than that wouldn't it transform our lives if each person set their minds and their motives in alignment with God's everlasting ways?

We've all heard the saying "but at least his motives were good."  This is said when we mess up accidentally.   Like when we give money to a person who goes off and uses it for alcohol instead of food to feed his children. Yes sometimes our motives will be good and we will end up doing the wrong thing but if our mind is in tuned with pleasing God first these incidents will be much less.

Most of us however get in trouble with sin when our motives are not pure.

We yell at someone because we want revenge and we feel we have been violated. We venture onto a less than appropriate web site not because "oh.. I don't know how I got here...?"   The problem is our motives which lead to our actions.  

Behind all of these motives is selfishness.  This is the biggest battle of our heart.

Our daily moment by moment battle is whether God and serving others is first and foremost in our heart or if we are most important.  This is the real battle of life isn't it but who wins that battle is going to determine our smallest actions and ultimately our life.

David also asks God to know his anxious thoughts.   These are like our motives but a little different.  As a person we might really want to do the right thing but we are anxious and afraid.  These anxieties can easily effect our actions.   I think David wants to trust in God so much and to love God so much that he will act with integrity each and every moment.

God can be trusted.  God is all powerful and God loves us and God is our great protector.  So if we are praying and asking God to lead us and if we act with integrity and the fear of the Lord (which brings wisdom)  than we can act in full confidence.

To ponder:  Are your actions tainted by your anxieties and selfishness or are they inspired by your unselfish love and trust in God to care for you.  

If your not sure or if you waver back and forth, Perhaps our text for today would be a great prayer. Commit it to memory.  May our love and trust in the Lord rule all of our motives, comfort our fears and lead our actions.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You're only fooling yourself.....God knows Psalm 139:1-6

God knows everything...  We can't fool God... The Lord has searched us.  The Lord knows when we sit.  When we rise.  The Lord knows our thoughts.  He discerns our going out and our lying down.  God know everyone's thoughts, words and deeds.  If you think about that for just a second you might be tempted to tremble say,  "God knows that?  He saw me when I said those words and did those deeds?  What hope do I have to stand in his judgement.

In addition God knows our ways.  God knows our words before they are spoken?  How can this be?  And if this is true...  which is the greatest surprise that God is capable of doing such wonders or  that God still loves us?

Psalm 139: 5 says, "You hem me in behind and before, you have laid your hand upon me."  I read that passage to a woman of great faith this week and she spoke about the comfort it brought to her that God hems her in like a great big hug of love and protection.   As I read that passage over indeed I could not give a better interpretation of what that verse means.  No wonder David would proclaim in the following verse, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain."

Indeed these things are too lofty for us to understand.  It's like trying to comprehend the expanse of the universe We know that there can be no limits to the universe.  Could it be that there is no limits to God's understanding and to God's love?  Again like David this is beyond our understanding because all we can understand with our finite minds is what we see here on Earth.  We can only imagine incomplete and imperfect love because its all we have ever experienced in our relationships with others.  But could it be that there is a love far beyond our capacity to understand?  A love so great that it would go to no limit including a cruel Roman cross to both prove its love and take the barriers away from our capacity to know God personally, intimately and forever?

Indeed through faith we believe that God looks into the dirties places of our heart and says, "I love you and I will help to clean you up if you let me".  " But even if you don't let me in,  I won't stop pursuing you until we have the intimate relationship I created you for.  Isn't that the message of the gospel?

To ponder:  Is there places in your heart and life that you're trying to hide from God?  You're only fooling yourself.  Why don't you marvel at his grace and humbly accept God's loving arms that hem you in behind and before. So today don't turn away God's love embrace it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ascending into the presence of the Lord Psalm 121:1,2

Psalm 121 is one of the songs of ascents that we find from Psalm 120-134.  Many of these are written by David but our Psalm for today was written by that famous writer named anonymous.  The psalms of ascents were perhaps song or spoken as the faithful ascended the hill/mountain toward the City of Jerusalem for one of the three major festivals each year.  Perhaps it was song or repeated as the priest ascended up the 15 steps to minister in the temple of the Lord.  The songs of ascents were short memorable and poetic in nature which made them perfect for this purpose.

Most of the songs also had a positive uplifting mode to them and all of them have a note of hope associated with them as does our song of ascents for this week.

Though we don't worship God in the Temple,  today when we think about prayer or spending time with the Lord we can still have this attitude of ascending into the Lord's presence and our Songs of ascents serve as good models for us.  

The nation of Israel looked at Jerusalem and the Temple as the special place where God could be found.  Today many people look at their church as that special place.  However the New Testament teaches that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.   So we don't have to ascend anywhere to find God though many people find it helpful to have a special place set aside for prayer.

Perhaps as we pray today we can visualize approaching the Lord.  We can come with expectation and joy!  We can come with humility as one approaching a Holy God.  We can come with hopefulness knowing that God cares about us and will do whatever is necessary to draw us closer to himself.

Our Psalm proclaims in Psalm 121:1,2

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.

Our Jewish friends have ascend the hill leading up to Jerusalem for centuries with anticipation that they would encounter and find help from the Lord.   Though we don't have to go anywhere let us not take our special place and position before God for granted.  

Prayer:  Dear God in our hearts today we ascend  in your courts.  We humble ourselves before you for you as our holy and majestic Lord.  In this place we confess our sins and ask you to test our heart.  It is in this place that we give you thanks for your forgiveness and seek your wisdom.  Open our hearts and quiet our minds that we would find you.  In Jesus name Amen

Ponder: I'm so glad that I don't have to climb a mountain to find the Lord but perhaps setting side time and pushing away my cares so I can focus on God is an even more difficult mountain to climb.   But it is worth the climb.