Monthly Archives: December 2013
Psalms 49 gives us a very comprehensive picture of the message of Christianity, and we find that it doesn’t really matter who you are.
Psa 49:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world:
Psa 49:2 Both low and high, rich and poor, together.
The message we are about to hear cuts across socioeconomic class. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor; the message is for all.
We might as well continue to see what message is about to be shared.
Psa 49:11 Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names.
Psa 49:12 Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not: he is like the beasts that perish.
Psa 49:13 This their way is their folly: yet their posterity approve their sayings. Selah.
The message is that earthly things fade away. People who feel secure in their possessions are foolish. Even trusting in your own life is foolish because you will die just like an animal. Your time is limited and it will end.
What is the implication then?
If trusting in temporal things of earth is foolish, then I would presume that it is meaning that trusting in eternal things is wise. Those are the two options and if one is being differentiated as foolish, then it seems like the other is presumably wise.
Do we want to be wise? If we are following the Biblical definition of wisdom, then putting our trust in the eternal God seems like a good first step.
Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Psalms 48 is a pretty interesting chapter because most of it sets out to talk about how great the city of Jerusalem is. However, the reason that the city is great is because it is the city of God. We can see that established right from the first verse.
Psa 48:1 A Song and Psalm for the sons of Korah. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.
Notice that this city is viewed as a possession of God. It is not described as a city where God is allowed into the Temple or the churches (I realize that churches are anachronisms). It is a city that is entirely described as belonging to God.
I pointed this out because I think it is a healthy perspective. There are things that seem like they don’t really belong to God. I personally don’t happen to own a city. As a result, I seem to think about how maybe things directly involved with me can and should belong to God, but I don’t always think about everything belonging to God. I sometimes think that things that belong to people who are not Christians might not be possessions of God. I think about churches belonging to God for obvious reasons, but I don’t necessarily think about restaurants or supermarkets belonging to God especially if people who are not Christians are running them. I have thought that mainly, if things are run by the people of God, then they belong to God, but if they are not managed by those people, then they don’t.
All of that thinking is wrong. I don’t know why, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around this kind of absolute control. Maybe I have a hard time with this because I think that some things are more “worldly” and don’t really receive that kind of attention from God. However, the Bible is clear that absolutely everything belongs to God.
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Psa 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
Deu 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
Everything on earth belongs to God. He has given us so much, and we need to remember to be grateful for that. Remember that churches are special houses of worship for God and it is great that businesses or organizations run by Christians dedicate everything they do to time people about Jesus, but also keep in mind that everything else belongs to God as well. The entire city or by extension world belongs to God whether or not His name is literally written on the sign in front of it.
Psalms 47 is another Messianic Psalm, and I find it very interesting that this is one of those that could probably be taken out of context by the priests around the time of Jesus when they were looking for the Messiah who would come and deliver them militarily.
Psa 47:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.
Psa 47:2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.
Psa 47:3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet.
Psa 47:4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.
On one hand, God already did that when He provided Israel with the Promised Land. He subdued the nations under them, and they pretty much walked right through Canaan when they were doing what God wanted them to do.
Also, this one seems like another Psalm of David, and as you will remember, David had quite a bit of military success. He was a skilled commander, and when he followed what God wanted him to do, he was blessed with a lot of success. Again, the nations were subdued.
However, verse three is written in the future tense which implies that it is prophetic. It will happen in the future. The nation will be subdued when God is a great King over the earth. The nation of Israel, as the children of God, would witness their King overrunning the earth.
We know that it didn’t quite work out that way. The kingdom of God did indeed come to subdue all the world, but it wasn’t by the sword. It also wasn’t just a kingdom for Israel; Gentiles were allowed into the kingdom as well.
Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
The kingdom of God would not be a physical kingdom with borders and palaces. It was in the kingdom of the heart, and ultimately, every heart will need to surrender and acknowledge that fact. They will all be subdued.
Rom 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
I think that we need to be very careful about what we do with Biblical interpretation. I have to assume that this was an important passage for the Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus. They wanted someone to come in and overthrow Rome, and this passage from Psalms really does sound very militaristic. However, they ended up missing what Jesus Himself was actually saying. They were blind to what was right before them because they were looking for something else that they wanted.
That is what I am taking away from this one. We need to be careful about not imposing what we want to see on the Bible. Instead, we need to make sure that we are open to read what is actually there and are allowing God to speak through the text.
Psalms 46 makes me think about fear. It makes me think about all of the things that happen around here on earth. However, if God is our strength, we have a reason to hope. That reason is God.
Psa 46:1 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Psa 46:2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Psa 46:3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
We need to break this one down. First, we hear about God being our refuge and our strength. He helps us when we are having problems. Notice that this is the assumption being made about God. The purpose of this chapter is not dealing with whether or not God does exist. Based on the personal experience of the writer, it is evident that God does exist.
Now, because this God exists who is our refuge and strength, we will not fear no matter what may happen here on earth. However, notice the items that are listed. These are things that are beyond human control. The earth might basically self-destruct, but we don’t need to worry because we have God with us.
If we don’t need to worry during these cataclysmic events, then we certainly don’t need to worry when the endless series of little things that go wrong during the day happen. If God is watching out for us when the whole world blows up, He would certainly be watching out for us every day as well.
We don’t need to live a life of fear. Even if bad things happen, we can have confidence that nothing is happening that is surprising God. He will be with us through it, and that is definitely better than having to face it alone. We have hope through the eternal promises of God rather than in our temporary state here on earth.
Psalms 45 emphasizes again many of the major themes that we have been hearing for most of this book and honestly most of the Bible that we have read so far.
Psa 45:6 Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre.
Psa 45:7 Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
We are again brought into contact with some other major attributes of God. For one thing, we find out that He is infinite in terms of time. I wrote an entire post on that concept about a week ago, but since He is infinite, He is capable of having control over our infinite future.
Then we find out that God is just. He uses His power rightly. We have definitely talked about that one before as well, but it is important that God is fair. If He wasn’t, how could He be the all-good God of the universe?
Then we find out that God loves righteousness. In other words, He loves when people have a relationship with Jesus Christ. We do not have any righteousness on our own, but we are imparted that righteousness through the work of Jesus on the cross. God loves to have us as part of His family.
Finally, God hates sin. We know that, have talked about that many times and understand the important distinction that God really does hate the sin but love the sinner. I know that that has become a cliché, but I don’t know how to phrase it any better. God sent Jesus to die while we were still sinners. At the same time, sin is what separates us from God, and we need to have a way to bridge that gap. Jesus is the way.
The Psalms have a way of bringing together many things that we have heard before. For this particular one, we are able to confirm several major traits of God. The cool part is that it is not like we have learned anything new. This passage works perfectly within the context of the Bible as a whole even though it is a collection of books written by several different authors over hundreds of years. They all have a consistent conception of who God was and is and what some of His attributes were and are still.
Psalms 44 helps us show a little bit of the difference between Christianity and other worldviews. At the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to what we actually place our trust in. We all trust something sometime.
Psa 44:5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
Psa 44:6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
Psa 44:7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
Psa 44:8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
Obviously, this applies to a lot more than the military example that we are provided with. We have things on earth that we use. We do these things by ourselves, and it is pretty easy to feel self-sufficient.
To use the example in the chapter, the world tells you that when you are out on the battlefield by yourself, all that you have left are your weapons and your own courage. You need to believe that you can fight your way out and survive the event. If your weapons break or become ineffective, then it is all over.
Christianity turns that on its head. Yes, if we are soldiers we know that we need to have good weapons. You prepare for battle, and you make sure that you are as well prepared as it can be. However, the main difference is that it doesn’t end there for us. We trust in the fact that God is in control of the situation.
That is significant for a few reasons. First, we know that God has a plan. It doesn’t end with me and my ability. Even if the situation seems impossible, God is capable of making anything happen. Think about Gideon. There is no way that he should have won that battle, but because that was what God wanted to happen, it came to be.
Second, this does show us something about being thankful and appreciative. In verses five and six, we hear all about how God helped them plow through their enemies and how the sword is not worth trusting in. Verses seven and eight bring the acknowledgment right to God. It is obvious that we are supposed to boast about all that God has done. We don’t boast about what we have done, but we are supposed to give all the credit where it belongs.
This was an interesting chapter. However, I think that the main point of this particular passage is how we need to trust that God has a plan in place. We probably don’t know all of the details, but we need to acknowledge that God has the power to do things that we could never dream about. Then, we need to remember that God deserves credit for everything. After all, if He has the plan, He deserves the credit. With these two items, we can keep everything in perspective.
Merry Christmas to all of you out there! I hope that you have a wonderful holiday and enjoy time with friends, family or whoever else you might be spending the day with. As you can obviously tell, we are not taking a holiday from reading a chapter per day, so today we are in Psalms 43.
We do not know the author, but in my opinion, it sounds a lot like what David had written in previous Psalms. The interesting part about this one is that he (or I guess possibly she) makes a very appropriate request considering today is Christmas.
Psa 43:3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
Psa 43:4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
The author is asking for the light and truth to come from God, and after that has happened, the author will be able to approach the altar of God.
How perfect is that?
Let’s talk about light and truth. Jesus was indeed both of those things for the world.
Joh 1:7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
Joh 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
Joh 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
As most of you probably already know, these verses are speaking about John the Baptist’s mission to tell people about Jesus. Jesus is indeed the true Light.
Joh 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Jesus being the Truth brings quite a few implications along with it. It implies absolute honesty, and it also implies omniscience. If Jesus is truth by nature, then it seems to me that He must be able to provide the true answer in every situation. The only way to do that is to be omniscient and understand all things about every situation.
Now, with these two characteristics, we then read about approaching the altar of God. In the Old Testament, you had to be a priest if you wanted to do that. As I understand it, the altar was generally the territory of the priests as they needed to handle sacrificing and other things.
Notice then that because of this Light and Truth, this author is going to be able to approach the altar. Perhaps the author was a priest, but we don’t know that for sure. If the author was not a priest, then we are talking about a game changer. We are talking about someone who is capable of giving all people direct access to the God of the universe. It sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?
Jesus came, lived, died and rose again. He provided the perfect sacrifice that covers over the sins of anyone who will receive that forgiveness. That is really the most miraculous part of Christmas. It was the first step in a process that provided salvation for you and me. It is the best gift you could ever receive.
I have heard that some people fall away from Christianity because they feel like God must have abandoned them or really doesn’t care about them. They feel like if there really was a God in heaven, surely He wouldn’t allow these bad things to happen.
In Psalms 42, it is obvious that David (he is assumed to be the writer) could relate to having difficult times.
Psa 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
This is an interesting verse. David does indeed feel like God has forgotten them. I don’t know exactly when he wrote this chapter, but if you remember when we walked through the story of his life, he had plenty of difficulties along the way. I know that he certainly did make bad decisions along the way, and there is no way that he was perfect, but he also was very concerned with following God as well. He was called a man after God’s own heart.
He did wonder where God was, and he apparently did feel like he was abandoned at times.
That’s not the end of the story for David though. He did not give up on God even though he felt like God was pretty far away. Look at what happens a few verses later.
Psa 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Even though he isn’t exactly happy at the moment, and even though he feels like God has forgotten him, he reminds himself that he still does believe in God.
You might say that this is simply wishful thinking, or you might say that he is simply brainwashed. However, I think that we can learn something from people who hold to their faith even when times get difficult. There is some reason that they don’t feel abandoned by God, and even if they don’t understand what is going on, they continue to trust in God.
Like I said above, you can write this off if you want to, but it just might be possible that there is something else going on here besides outright delusion. Perhaps these people have found something that perhaps is hard to explain and is not physical but is still comforting. They had found a reason to continue believing even though the world might wonder how on earth they could still believe. They have found something real and true.
I think that this post will probably resonate a lot more with my Christian friends, but I hope that we all can think about this question a little bit more. Why is it that many people are able to continue believing in God even though times are incredibly difficult? Read some of their testimonies and see what they say.
When you’re reading the Beatitudes, we hear about the poor being blessed. When you read Psalms 41, you hear about those who help the poor being blessed.
Psa 41:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.
Psa 41:2 The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Psa 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
Personally, this connection seems a little bit loose at first glance. If you help the poor, God will help you especially when you are sick or in pain. What is the connection between these two?
I think that has a lot to do with being comforted. When you help those who are poor, you’re helping them add something that makes their lives more comfortable. If they need food and you provide food, you are obviously filling a very basic need that will make them more comfortable. Sometimes, you can’t change everything to improve someone’s situation, but you can help make them more comfortable in these difficult times.
God is a little bit different, but there are definite similarities here. For one thing, God can make people healthy. He does have the power to change our entire situation even though it is not always His will to do that. What He does promise is that He will be there to comfort us like we are there to comfort other people. Even if you are in bed sick, you have the peace that comes from God. God will be there with you, and He will help you persevere even though your life circumstances might be incredibly difficult or painful.
We want God to be there with us, and we want God to be our comforter. We also have the responsibility though to help those who need comfort all the time. Remember how Jesus always cared about those who needed help, and that should help guide our outlook.
Psalms 40 provides an interesting warning for all of us.
Psa 40:4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
It sounds like proverb, and there are three things that David, through the inspiration of God, wanted us to learn out of this one. If we have all three of them, we will be blessed.
First, we are blessed when we put our trust in God. That really should not be much of a surprise. Becoming part of God’s family is a good place to start if we want to receive blessings from God.
Second, we are not to respect the proud. Keep in mind that this is in KJV English. When it talks about not respecting the proud, we are actually talking about not following them. In other words, if someone is starting to put him or herself in the place of the God, we need to be sure we keep our eyes were they need to be. We don’t want to go off following someone who is not moving in the right direction whatsoever. If we stay focused on God, we will be blessed.
Finally, we don’t want to turn to start following an outright lie. These lies can come from inside the church or outside the church. Think about it. Churches have wandered away from God before, and you want to make sure that you are so focused on the Truth. Beyond that, there are plenty of competing ideologies and religions in the world today that you can definitely find another one to follow if you want to. The Bible warns you not to follow those either if you want to be blessed by God.
I think that we want to be blessed by God. If He is indeed the God of the entire universe, He would certainly be a good one to receive blessings from. The three steps will help us draw closer to God and