Promises – Choose to Remember

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A devotion of Psalm 105:23-45

This wonderful section is the promise from God’s perspective and as he had planned it. We know very well that the reality on the ground was very different as we shall see in the summary at the end and in tomorrow’s reading.

Today, we see God’s hand of power in the grand scheme. He sent Joseph to Egypt. Then he sent a famine and Joseph delivered Egypt and the surrounding area from it. Then he sent Joseph’s father Israel and his family up to Egypt and a grand joyous reunion ensued. This story is one of the most riveting in the Bible and very special part of our spiritual heritage. Remembering is a grand theme. Remind yourself of this story often and tell it to your children and grandchildren!

23 Then Israel entered Egypt; Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.

24 The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes,

25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants.

26 He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen.

27 They performed his signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham.

Egypt is called the Land of Ham. Ham was the second of Noah’s sons. His name, Cham, prounounced Khawm means hot, burnt, or black. He is thus representative of the land of Africa, whose people are sometimes called Hamites.

28 He sent darkness and made the land dark— for had they not rebelled against his words?

29 He turned their waters into blood, causing their fish to die.

30 Their land teemed with frogs, which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers.

31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country.

32 He turned their rain into hail, with lightning throughout their land;

33 he struck down their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their country.

34 He spoke, and the locusts came, grasshoppers without number;

35 they ate up every green thing in their land, ate up the produce of their soil.

36 Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their manhood.

37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered.

38 Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them.

Commentator Guzik quotes theologian Boice: “In order to understand these plagues we need to understand that they were directed against the gods and goddesses of Egypt and were intended to show the superiority of the God of Israel to the Egyptian gods.”

· When God sent darkness, He showed Himself greater than Ra (the sun God) and Nut (the sky goddess).

· When God turned their waters into blood, He showed Himself greater than Osiris (god of the Nile) and Khnum (the guardian of the Nile).

· When God made their land abound with frogs, He showed Himself greater than the goddess Hekt (the frog-goddess of fertility).

· When God sent swarms of flies and lice, He showed Himself greater than the fly-god Uatchit.

· When God sent hail for rain, He showed Himself greater than Geb, the god of the earth; Nepri, the goddess of grain; and Anuibis, the guardian of the fields.

· When God sent locusts without number, He showed Himself greater than Shu, the god of the atmosphere, and Min, the deity of the harvest.”

Boice

39 He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night.

40 They asked, and he brought them quail; he fed them well with the bread of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert.

This brief section outlines God’s faithfulness in protection and provision over his people. He even saw to their comfort, providing warmth and ample nourishment. This is what he does for you and I every day, beloved! Water from the rock reminds me of Jesus giving water from the well and this glorious song:

42 For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.

43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;

44 he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—

45 that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.

Praise the Lord.

Yes, the reality on the ground was very different indeed. It was rife with grumbling and disbelief. They threatened mutiny and the bodies of many fell in the wilderness because of sin and disobedience. Will we choose to live out God’s promises from his perspective and in faith and obedience or will we buck him all the way to the Promised Land. The choice is ours, beloved. If we choose to remember, this will be our experience in life as we journey into our Promised Land, eternity in heaven. In the next chapter, we’ll see what things looked like on the ground. His promises will not be thwarted. Every last one will come true. But the reality on the ground may be very different indeed!

Choose to remember. Only then can you keep his precepts and obey his laws. Only then can you properly praise the Lord, remembering who you are and who God is and what he has done for you!

Promises – Yes & Amen

This psalm is a magnificent manifesto of our God’s capacity. It summarizes his feats on behalf of his beloved Israel. It is jam-packed with symbolism for the New Israel of God – the Christian. Journey with me.

Psalm 105

1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

4 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.

This section is a laundry list of what we are to do.

– Thank/praise, yadah, him

– Declare his wonderful act

– Glory, halal, (means to make a show, boast, celebrate or act like a mad man) in his name

– Let your heart rejoice

– Behold him and strive after following him, his strength, and his face.

-Call his faithfulness and track record to mind.

If you did this “simple” work every day, the hopelessness/depression/anxiety industry would crumple in a week. It is a powerful prescription for living life on fire for God.

7 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

8 He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,

9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.

10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:

11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”

The basis of his goodness is that he spoke a word of promise and he remembers it. Do we? The reason we run around like chickens with our heads cut off is either because we don’t remember it or we don’t believe his promise of faithfulness for a thousand generations. You and I are safely tucked away within that parameter. No matter what happens on earth, we are safe in God’s promise.

12 When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it,

13 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.

14 He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings:

15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

As Jesus followers, we are few on earth. We are as confused and powerless as a stranger in a new land. I know what that’s like – been there, still doing it. His hand is a shield over you, his loved one, saying “Do not touch my anointed.”

16 He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food;

17 and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons,

19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.

20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free.

21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed,

22 to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.

Joseph was slapped around by life. But God’s promise and favor was declared over him. His destiny was sealed and his position of leadership and power was secure. He endured much personal pain and trauma for years upon end. It seemed God’s promise was thwarted. But never! Our promise Keeper comes through every time. Reread the list we started with. Adopt it. Internalize it. Print it or write it out and stick it on your mirror or fridge. You are in good hands! All his promises are yes and amen.

“For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore,

the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory,”

2 Cor. 1:20.

Creation Waits in Eager Expectation

A devotion of Psalm 104:19-35

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When God created the earth, he repeatedly said, “It is good.” What a great time he had envisioning and speaking galaxies into place. What a delight to have created Leviathan to play in the water and that little pudu – did you see the pudu?? Yesterday’s reading continues today with grand scenes of order and seasons. With rhythm and in cycles the earth inhales and exhales “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions,” v. 24.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down.

20 You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God.

22 When the sun rises, they gather together and lie down in their dens.

23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—

25 This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great.

26 There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there.

27 These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.

28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.

In all this grandeur, only one thing ever broke God’s heart. “And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart,” Genesis 6:6. All this spectacular creation must have stood still in horrified silence. For the first time, God was sad. Sin entered the world, and with it, death. Where wonderful life and vigor had been exploding everywhere, the cold hand of death breached the world and creation froze in dismay.

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Fortunately, God had foreseen this. So perhaps this wasn’t the first time he was sad. Scripture says, “the Lamb… was slaughtered before the world was made,” Rev. 13:8 NLT. What? God foresaw all this and he carried on with his plan anyway?

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all,” v. 24. God’s wisdom saw to all this. And he said it was good. Very good, (Genesis 1:31.) Though God takes “away their breath, they die and return to their dust,” v. 29b, David then says, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth,” v. 30. Hallelujah! There will be renewal. The old will be done away with and he will make a new heaven and a new earth.

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God,” Rom. 8:19. NASB calls it “anxious longing.” It reminds me of waiting for dad to come home from work. Whatever I was working on or enjoying, a significant part of my heart and brain kept causing me to look towards the driveway in eager expectation, anxious longing. Do you feel that way as you await Jesus soon return?

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies,” 2 Peter 3:10.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works.

32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.

35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!

You are VERY Great!

What a splendid psalm showcasing God’s magnificent work in creation. It is rich with imagery and highlights God’s pervasive power and invasive care over the work of his hands.

A devotion of Psalm 104

1Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty,

2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

Mulberry Silk

Honor, hod, means splendor, majesty, vigour, excellence, and beauty. It speaks of imposing form and appearance. God is in your face and in your business with his grandeur. Majesty, hadar, means to swell up with glory, favor, highness, and pride. And these are just his garments! Mostexpensivehub.com says that, “through the quality of fabric … personality and class [of the elite] get expressed.”

Image of mulberry silk

Leopard Fur

If God’s clothing is so amazing, how much more so is he? Celebrities wear Vicuna wool, mulberry silk, and leopard fur. My God wears hod and hadar. This is the God I am commanding my soul to bow down to. He is very great!

3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, who makes the clouds His chariot, who walks on the wings of the wind,

4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.

Upper chambers speak of private quarters. While God is actively involved in creation, he is very separate from it. That is what holiness means. He is so separate and so different from all else that there is just nothing else like him. What exhilaration and elation surrounds him. He is a whirlwind of delight. Who else gets to be a Cloud Rider? Who else walks on the wings of the wind? There is almost a flair of playfulness too. Can you see him teeter-tottering on the wings of the wind? To make his angels spirits is to gift and animate them with his breath, ruach. His ministers, Sharath, are servants or wait staff. They attend to him as a menial or worshipper.

5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever,

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

8 They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them.

9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.

David here describes the seas and the boundaries that God set for them. They are like a trained dog that only goes so far and instantly stops.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches.

13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

The Little Santiam River, Oregon

Even the springs are like servants. At parties, my friend Laura loves to walk around with a jug of water and fill people’s glasses. The streams pictured here meander and happily fill up drinking glasses and troughs as needed. Service with a smile. As a result, exuberant life teems all around bearing succulent fruit for our bodies and our souls.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth,

15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.

Photo by Alena Darmel on Pexels.com

Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. (1 Cor. 6:7.) In his grace and providence, he gives man the raw materials needed to keep us busy and productive. We get to partake in the miracle of planting a seed and sowing fruit. Think of a tiny tomato seed. You get to stick that in the dirt he made. He provides water for it. A little green thing sprouts out of the darkness. Flowers bloom and attract glorious bees to it. Gorgeous, succulent fruit emerges. That is miraculous indeed!

He gives us the intellect to use the raw materials to meet our needs. And he gives us a spirit of gratitude to see his hand in every single detail so we can tell our souls to bless and praise him. Upon hard work, we get to relish the fruit of our labor with a sparkling glass of wine, luxurious oils, and sumptuous bread. He cares that our hearts are glad. He cares that our faces shine. He cares that our hearts are strengthened!

16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

17 Where the birds make their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.

18 The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.

Congo Rainforest
The Congo Rainforest in Africa

Verdant bounty is whisked up by the wind and balances on its wings to the lofty world of cedars and firs. No parched groves here, they are so full of life of life that it oozes out in sticky goodness. How many are the wild forests he planted all over the world. How mysteriously fabulous is that thought? In the precarious embankments and mountainsides he sowed life that persists to this day from the Tongass of North America, to the mangroves of the Sundarbans in Asia; from the Daintree tropical rainforest of Australia to the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest of South America.

Image result for Basilisk. Size: 274 x 160. Source: wall.alphacoders.com
Image result for pudú

Life there exists in words we have never heard:

Quetzals and basilisks, crested drongos

and cassowaries,

Pudú (you have GOT TO check this one out!!) and Kodkod,

Our God is very great indeed!

Seven-Year-Old at the Wheel

A devotion of Psalm 103.

Image result for kid at the wheel of a car

Your soul is the essence of who you are and comprises your Will, your Intellect, and your Emotions (WIE.) It drives the flesh or the body and can also be referred to as the heart. The general stance of the soul is not one of kneeling. It stands tall and proud in self-exaltation. It stands proudly upon the rotating display-pedestal of desire. The soul wants what it wants, when it wants it, and how it wants it. It’s like an overconfident seven-year-old behind the wheel.

This mysterious aspect of our lives needs to be subjugated by the Holy Spirit and to his Will, his Intellect, and his Emotions. It should kneel humbly upon the rotating pedestal of his desire. At salvation, Holy Spirit comes upon your spirit and you are made “a new man.” Your spirit man or woman, formerly dead, instantly sparks with new alive. This new spirit man or woman needs to bump the soul to the passenger seat and drive the car (the body or flesh.) That is the ultimate participation in the divine nature.

The soul does not give up the driver’s seat easily. It likes the control it has been used to. For the rest of your life, the soul plans a mutiny to take back the steering wheel. Your job is to train it to will what the spirit wills; to think like the spirit thinks; and to feel what the spirit feels. We are to recalibrate our desires and match them to the new man’s or woman’s.

Read this chapter as a powerful example of the conversation the new man is having with the grouchy, ousted co-driver.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Image result for kid at the wheel of a car

Bless, barak, means to kneel, by implication it is to adore or praise. (Conversely, it can also mean to curse.) Left to its own devices, the soul kneels to no one – it is the boss. Our desires employ our wills, intellect, and emotions to drive the body to sin. One of the great benefits of the Lord is to forgive our sin state and behavior. All of it. He then deals with the flesh which is prone to disease, wear, and tear. He heals that too. All of it. When our lives are headed for the cliff, he places guardrails and sends us down a different path.  Then he richly tops all that with lovingkindness and tender mercies. The soul, formerly used to its fill of junk food, is now satiated with ‘good things, and invigorated.

6 The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

The soul, like the seven-year-old at the wheel, needs frequent lessons on God’s dealings with mankind historically. It needs to be reminded that God’s dealings are way better than the soul’s plans.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Not only does the Father oust the seven-year-old from the wheel for his own protection, but he absolutely adores the seven-year-old. He doesn’t hold his childish antics against him. He totally understands and cherishes seven-year-olds. He laughs at his fabulous jokes and holds him close when life doesn’t make sense.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.

17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children,

18 To such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

22 Bless the Lord, all His works, In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

God’s dominion is seen clearly in all creation. He is firmly planted in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all. Even hosts of mighty angels which number in the millions subject themselves to him and to his will and thinking. May I, a weakling, emulate those formidable beings and “do his word and heed the voice of his word.” May I, self-confident with no basis, as a fellow minister of the grand hosts, do his pleasure. Only then can I truly bless the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

A Sparrow Alone on the Housetop

A devotion of Psalm 102.

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee.

 2 Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me. In the day when I call, answer me speedily.

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth.

4 My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.

5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

Have you ever been so distressed that you forgot to eat? That means all life lost meaning or pleasure. After many years of caring for the elderly, I realized that so many losses have transpired in their lives that food and mealtimes are a few of life’s joys left for them. On quiet days that aren’t packed with activities or tasks, well before meal time, they start to gather around the table or the kitchen. When one is not driven to eat, that would be an indicator to me that all is not well.

This passage paints a sorry state of mind and body due to distress. Sure enough it dries up the heart, the groaning throat, and the bones.

 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert.

7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.

Image result for loneliness

Distress directly affects the body negatively and slowly but surely isolates one. It leaves us vulnerable, unprotected by the power of the herd. Not only are we alone in a wilderness, a barren desert, an exposed housetop – we are alone! Not to be confused with being alone, loneliness is a brutal state that leaves many in despair.

8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day, and them that are mad against me are sworn against me.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping,

10 because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath; for Thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.

11 My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.

Image result for verbal assault

It is hard enough to be lonely, but to have sworn enemies would leave you truly forlorn. The psalmist identifies God as he who allows this to happen. King David was under the rabid attack of a man named Shimei. Shimei, “came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”

And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.  And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. Now the king and all the people who were with him became weary; so they refreshed themselves there,” 2 Sam. 6:5, 6, 9-14.

This is the ultimate in hate and harassment. The law clearly stated, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Exodus 22:28. Yet David chose to view this assault as from the hand of God and though he could have silenced him and put an end to the harassment, he actually protected it. Such was his fear of God. He declared that nothing would happen to him that God not only allows, but actually orders. Imagine the ire of his servants who were all trained famous men of war!

Shimei later came and apologized to David for this horrific transgression. Again, David spared his life and even gave him refuge. However, David, while blessing his son Solomon did not forget Shimei’s offense and admonished Solomon, “And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious (vehement) curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood,” 1 Kings 2:1, 8-9.

How are we to respond to abuse? Don’t engage it. David refused to be baited by Shimei. We would do well to learn how to do that. Don’t sit around for it. David did not stand around and take the abuse. He continued on his way. To tolerate abuse is to reinforce and condone it. Trust God to heal the abuser, even (sometimes, especially) in your absence.

If you are a Shimei, God tells you to stop your abusive behavior now! “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8. This is not how you treat his children of any age or status. Stop!

12 But Thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever, and Thy remembrance unto all generations.

13 Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time has come.

14 For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.

15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.

16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.

17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18 This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

19 For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth,

20 to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to death,

21 to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem,

22 when people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

23 He weakened my strength on the way; He shortened my days.

24 I said, “O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days; Thy years are throughout all generations.

25 Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.

26 They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed.

27 But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.

28 The children of Thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before Thee.”

What a fabulous passage of hope. Our times are truly secure in God’s hands. He is our Ethan and endures forever in might. He hears our prayers and does not take us away in the midst of our days. We get to live out all our days. There is no such thing a life cut too short. Each person gets to live out their full life. Even little babies. Because God is our stability and our eternal power our seed will be established before him.

A Saint Abroad & A Devil at Home

A devotion of Psalm 101.

1 I will sing of mercy and justice; to You, O Lord, I will sing praises.

Yesterday I confessed to a friend that sometimes I am not very responsive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He’ll bring a “haphazard” matter to mind that needs my attention, normally a person or a matter of conviction. I have been learning to stop, grab it, and then attend to it but it doesn’t always register on the importance scale. In his kindness and patience, he’ll bring it up again, usually in a different format, as a confirmation.

David does not have to be tapped several times to attend to what God is asking. The last few psalms have been asking us to sing. David says, “I will sing!” Where would my life be if whenever God prompted me to act I immediately turned around and said, “I will do that”? It would greatly bolster my participation in the divine nature.

When we think of the various metaphors that God uses for our relationship with him, the primary ones that come to mind are marriage and parenting. Can you imagine the frustration of being with someone who you express important instructions and requests to and they constantly ignore or second guess you? They run off to consult someone else to validate or, more often, invalidate what you said.

What if I asked Justin to do something that was near to my heart or that needs to happen in our marriage and he repeatedly ignores me or, worse, comes back with “Marcos said that’s not a good idea.” This marriage would be up a stream without a paddle. Or think of the child who has to be asked repeatedly to get to a task. I’m not even talking here about one who responds rudely or is disobedient – imagine one with a gentle heart that has to be asked repeatedly to get to the task…

2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

BEGIN WITH ME

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David may have written this psalm as he was about to ascend the throne. While this colossal calling loomed over him, he turned the focus to the primacy of his personal conduct. How far would our homes, our cities, our nation, or our world be if leaders vowed, “I will behave wisely in a perfect way”? What a standard to hold oneself to. Many don’t even consider that. Many think, ‘I’m in control now, it’s party time!” But not this man after God’s own heart. Though he failed repeatedly, at least this was his standard. He didn’t have zero expectations of his accountability and grand ones for others.

He holds himself to wisdom – to thinking things through, to constantly reevaluating himself, to paying close attention to what’s important, to having insight and understanding.

THE HOME-LIFE

Moreover, David sets the highest standard – the home standard. Commentator Guzik quotes some great men to this end: Morgan says, “The first thing for every public man to do who would serve his city for God, is to see to it that his private life is ordered aright before Him.” He quotes Spurgeon, “Reader, how fares it with your family? Do you sing in the choir and sin in the chamber? Are you a saint abroad and a devil at home? For shame! What we are at home, that we are indeed;” and Meyer, “If you would resolve to walk in your house with a perfect heart, you would discover how far from perfect you are, and how you are the least of His saints.”

How are you behaving at home, believer? We all have some serious work to do if we are to have those around us say, “so and so walks within our house with a perfect heart.” What a challenge. Let’s get to it. And remember nothing will bring us closer to this reputation than stating the goal and then frequently confessing our failures and recommitting to the goal.

3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.

4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.

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Our senses are the gateway to our attention, and therefore to our conduct, and therefore to our reputation. We have to guard these portals, particularly the eyes because with them, we may be invited into worlds we have no business being in. We must be on guard. These tempters that want our attention are like seeds on a plant by a walkway that attach themselves to any passerby. Send all perversity away like a bad dog. Want nothing to do with its company.

5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, him I will not endure.

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How do you deal with gossip? We know that the words of a gossip go down like a choice morsel. We can swiftly gain an appetite for it. Something about our hearts leaps at the thought of being in the know or being a confidante of someone with some juicy gossip.

David sets a different standard for us: If you come to secretly slander a neighbor to me, I will destroy you! Wow. That seems a little extreme. But that should inform us of how insidious this matter is. You are coming to me to destroy someone else. I will destroy you. Carry those powerful words in our heart and ask Holy Spirit to show you how to apply them with grace and finality. Earn a reputation as one who does not abide tongue-waggers.

What about those with proud hearts? Abide not those either. Do not contribute to their being puffed up and self-obsessed by tolerating their pride. Associate with and emulate humble people of all walks of life.

6 My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

Who do you surround yourself with? Look deliberately for faithful friends of Jehovah to dwell with you. Guard carefully who you let into your inner circles. I am not saying we are only to have believers as companions. I am saying we must exercise great discretion in who you regularly expose yourself to, especially when your guard is down as it would be in your home and in your workplace. I’m hearing this verse teach us that if you have a choice, chose aman. That beautiful word for ‘faithful’ means one who supports, upholds, nourishes; a pillar; established, verified, trusted – in other words, an Ethan.

7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.

8 Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the Lord.

David is intent on cleaning house – starting with himself but not stopping there. How keen are we do this in this ‘live and let live’ culture? Of course, if we were to follow verse 8 to the letter, the land would be desolate.

I am hearing an intolerance to flagrant wickedness. I love that he starts verse 8 with the word “early.” Too frequently something in an interaction has bothered me and I’ve let it go, only to have it get worse and worse and then surprise the person when I bring it up down the road. They wonder, “I’ve been doing this all along, why are you now jumping on me?”’

May I respond to Holy Spirit nudges in my life promptly so I can take care of things early.   Is something bothering you? Is that a Holy Spirit nudge? Bring it up early. You don’t even have to be asking for a change in the situation. Just express how it’s sitting with you. The longer you wait, the harder it will get, especially in new relationships.

Music That Causes Earthquakes

A devotion of Psalm 100.

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1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!

The command for our business of the day is to make a joyful shout to the Lord. No matter what you’re going through, your first order of business is to make a joyful shout. He has been commanding us this for the last few days.

There was a man named Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram. He had leprosy. With much pomp, he went to see Elisha, a Israelite prophet renowned as a healer. Elisha told him to bath in the Jordan river seven times and he would be healed. Friend, look at this river. It’s an actual photo of the Jordan. Does it invite you to take off your clothes and jump in? Your sentiments might echo Naaman’s.

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“But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage,” 2 Kings 5:11, 12.

A lot of us are going through a hard time. Many are asking for prayer to overcome a spirit of heaviness that hangs over the land as anxiety, depression, and incredible stress from one source or another takes its toll. God claims to have a cure – go bathe in the Jordan river of joyful song.

You might read that and think, “Clearly you don’t understand, Hannah. If you knew how I was feeling, you’d have a more complex and reasonable answer for me.” So you read your devotion for the day, maybe hit like, and check it off the to-do list, no less unburdened than when we first arrived.

We want to see a doctor and get a prescription. We want to sit in counselling for a year. We want to sit and commiserate with someone who understands. We want a procedure. We want the pastor to come out and pray over us. We want to change jobs. We want to find a spouse; or find another spouse. We want our children to stop carousing. These cures are clinically proven with efficacy studies.

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Abana River

Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” Now there’s a river that invites me to jump in and swim!

How are the Abana and Pharpar rivers working for you? We have the best beds and the softest sheets on earth but we can’t sleep. We have the most comfortable cars, and shoes, and ergonomic seats at work yet have the most back pain. We have the best doctors and hospitals and consume the most drugs but we are the sickest. We have the most money and the greatest resources but we are ailing.

2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy,” 2 Kings 3:13-14.

Beloved, I have a PhD in Christian counselling and I do not understand God! I don’t understand his ways and I do not understand his workings. What I do know is that he is God and I am not.

In our scientific brilliance and thinking, his ways seem ridiculous. But friends, they work. They work! Do you want to be restored? Try the prescription of joyful singing twice every hour for the next week and then come back and tell me you don’t feel better. We may need to adjust the dose (see the scale at the bottom of this post to determine dosing.)

Note that he doesn’t say listen to a song or have Christian music playing in the background. He says you sing. You make music. Now make it joyful music. Now shout it. I beg you to try it.

3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;

We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

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I thank God for all the amazing technological advances made in science. But science didn’t make you. Medicine didn’t make you. Psychology didn’t make you. Chemistry didn’t make you. God, who is all those sciences, did. The creator of your amazing brain knows the power of music to release serotonin and endorphins and dopamine. He knows that music induces movement. He knows that music is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to replace your dismal thoughts with delightful, praise and gratitude-filled ones. He is God. He made us. He knows.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him and bless His name.

Allow me to be your servant Naaman and lend me your ear. I beg you to try this cure for your leprosy.

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16.

He tells us we are to be “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Eph. 5:19.

“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” Ps. 50:23.

5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting,

And His truth endures to all generations.

This is my story. This is my song. All I know is it works.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them, suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.” Acts 16:25, 26.

Please post your favorite hymn or song. Would you share one you have composed? We’d love to hear it and even sing it with you.

How is your singing measuring on the Richter scale?

Richter MagnitudesDescriptionEarthquake EffectsFrequency of Occurrence
Less than 2.0MicroMicroearthquakes, not felt.About 8,000 per day
2.0-2.9MinorGenerally not felt, but recorded.About 1,000 per day
3.0-3.9MinorOften felt, but rarely causes damage.49,000 per year (est.)
4.0-4.9LightNoticeable shaking of indoor items, rattling noises. Significant damage unlikely.6,200 per year (est.)
5.0-5.9ModerateCan cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At most slight damage to well-designed buildings.800 per year
6.0-6.9StrongCan be destructive in areas up to about 160 kilometres (100 mi) across in populated areas.120 per year
7.0-7.9MajorCan cause serious damage over larger areas.18 per year
8.0-8.9GreatCan cause serious damage in areas several hundred miles across.1 per year
9.0-9.9GreatDevastating in areas several thousand miles across.1 per 20 years
10.0+EpicNever recorded; see below for equivalent seismic energy yield.Extremely rare (Unknown)

(Based on U.S. Geological Survey documents.)

Of Cherubs & Priests

A devotion of Psalm 99.

1 The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble;

he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

THE CHERUBIM: What are these prodigious creatures called cherubim. I’ll tell you right now that they are certainly not the chubby little angels flitting about or resting cutely on clouds that our culture portrays them as. Scripture frequently describes them and/or their roles.

Wikipedia summarizes cherubim well, their “faces peer out from the center of an array of four wings; these wings are joined to each other, two of these are stretched upward, and the other two cover their bodies. Under their wings are human hands; their legs are described as straight, and their feet like those of a calf, shining like polished brass. Between the creatures glowing coals that moved between them could be seen, their fire “went up and down”, and lightning burst forth from it. The cherubs also moved like flashes of lightning.” Their bodies are covered with eyes throughout.

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The monumental cherubim overshadow the Mercy Seat, God’s very presence and attend to him. Wherever he and they are, frightful flashes of lightning and peals of thunder tear up the atmosphere. We first meet them guarding the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword. The Ark of the Covenant, a manifestation of God’s physical presence among the Israelites on the way to Canaan, was overshadowed by two of them. There, the priest offered incense and sacrificial blood.

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Ps. 18:10 and in our passage today portray God as enthroned between the cherubim. The prophet Ezekiel saw four of them bolstering God’s throne. God is repeatedly described as “riding on the cherubim” atop a cloud. It seems that clouds are the exhaust of this portable throne. In Psalm 18 we found him parting the heavens to come down to earth on a deliverance mission. He mounts the cherubim and flies, he soars on the wings of the wind.

2 Great is the Lord in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name— he is holy.

The term holy, quadosh, refers to something separate. God is like nothing else in creation. No one and no thing can even begin to compare to him. He is bigger, grander, wiser, more loving, more light, more inexplicable than anything our brilliant minds can conceive or imagine.

4 The King is mighty, he loves justice— you have established equity;

in Jacob you have done what is just and right.

In studying Proverbs earlier this year, we learned that it purposed to teach us to do what is right, and just, and fair. The verse above declares God as qualified to be the grand author of that amazing book.

5 Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name;

they called on the Lord and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

PRIESTS: Priests, kohen, mediate between God and man. They represent God to the people and the people to God as reconcilers. They were actively involved in teaching the scriptures, in offering sacrifices, in officiating religious ceremonies including health-related ones and other important roles. It is a wonder to me that the King calls us priests:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. “1 Peter 2:9.

Peter got that wonderful idea from the Old Testament: “

And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites,” Exodus 19:6. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His prized possession out of all peoples on the face of the earth,” Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2.

You are a priest, beloved, in the service of the Most High. You are among those that call upon the name of the Lord and invoke his power to act on behalf of men, women, and children he has entrusted to you. You are I serve under Jesus Christ, the ultimate High Priest. His intercession and your prayers are the incense, the sweet aroma that rises to God’s nostrils. His blood was presented and accepted “once for all” on the Mercy Seat and the curtain (his body) was torn so that all mankind can have immediate and direct access to God’s presence at any time without a priest.

When God created the Ark of the Covenant (not be confused with Noah’s Ark) and the Temple, he carefully gave instructions because these were prototypes of what was going on in heaven, as Paul teaches us. “For Christ did not enter into a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one. Rather, He entered into heaven itself, so as to present Himself before God [the Father] on our behalf,” Hebrews 9:24. God entrusted the Temple plans to faithful men like Moses and David because it was imperative that the image of Christ as our priest not be lost in translation. Jesus is the culmination of a plan made and played out over millennia.

“Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the … temple. He gave him the plans of ALL that the Spirit had put in his mind… He also gave him the plan for the chariot, that is, the cherubim of gold that spread their wings and overshadow the ark of the covenant of the Lord,” 1 Chron. 28:11-18. “

8 Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.

9 Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.

In our office as chosen kings and priests, we call, he answers. We call, he answers. We call, he answers. I love the point that verse 8 makes, though the Christian culture tends to downplay it. He may forgive our sins but the good father he is, he punishes our misdeeds. We have a narrow window of time, Beloved. For a limited time, we have this ministry: “In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation,” 2 Cor. 5:19. How are you doing as king and priest?

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With a Mighty Hand & an Outstretched Arm

A devotion of Psalm 98

1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things;

his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.

2 The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel;

all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Scripture has much to say about God’s right hand and arm. Commentator Guzik teaches, “These are the instruments of God’s victory, the expressions of His skill and strength. As in Isaiah 52:10, the idea of His holy arm is that God has rolled up His sleeve to do His mighty work.” He quotes theologian Morgan adding, “these were the only instruments available for, or capable of working deliverance.”

The right side is indicative of a dominant hand and therefore of skill, strength, and power. To be someone’s right hand man is to be in a position of privilege, access, trust, and authority. From a young age, I have seen one prominent politician or another leaning over to the person on their right hand to whisper something. It could be a funny comment or a matter of national security.

Any promise God makes or action he takes by his right hand is an Ethan – mighty and rock-solid (https://tribalminded.com/2021/09/21/ethan-1/). The book of Deuteronomy is peppered with this wonderful phrase.  

“For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard. Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him,”

Deuteronomy 4:32-35.

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Mighty miracles that are impossible without God’s intervention are wrought by his mighty right hand and outstretched arm. Unlike bulked up body builders who flex shiny, rippling muscles they spend all day in the gym for, God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm are for show and for work. He uses them to save or deliver his children from their enemies. “If I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me from the anger of my foes; You extend Your hand, and Your right hand saves me,” Psalm 138:7. “Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered,” Ps. 60:5.

Jesus is seated at God’s right hand, the ultimate place of favor, power, and authority. He has a front row seat to our lives as he did with Steven. It was there that he stood to cheer and welcome this first martyr home. It is from that place that he intercedes for us.

What is a fitting response to all this power? Because it is coupled with love and on a mission to set us free, joyful praise is the fitting response. He has done it before in our lives, over and over again. And he will do it again. He will continue to be our Way Maker, Promise Keeper, and the Light in the Darkness. Incorporate that wonderful phrase into your thinking and your prayer life. If we truly understood God’s mighty right hand and outstretched arm, our lives would erupt like the verses below:

4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

8 Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;

9 let them sing before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.