Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Psalm 44 - Why Have You Left Us?

Psalm 44 by the Sons of Korah - What it means to me.

You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.

I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;

you covered us over with deep darkness.  
Verses 13-19

Commentators don't agree on when this Psalm was written. Some say it could have been during the time of Eli the priest. Most agree it is not speaking of the deportation to Babylon. Some say it was during David's reign. They all agree it was written during a time of persecution towards Israel and that God had allowed their enemies to triumph over them.

This Psalm brings up the question of why God allows his children to suffer persecution when they have been following God and not doing any great wrong. Of course, this happened in the early church when there arose persecution, first from the Jews and then by the Roman Empire.

I just read about a woman who was in an F4 tornado. She had been a Christian since she was ten and loved the Lord. During the tornado, her baby was torn from her arms and was killed. She was angry at God at first. She could not understand why this happened to her. But, eventually she accepted what happened and turned to God for comfort which he gave to her.

God has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 We may feel he has left us but that is not true. He is there right beside us always. We may never understand our suffering in this world but will know why it happened later when we are in heaven. Suffering does make us more compassionate. We can then understand those who have suffered and comfort them. Suffering comes to every human being; it only differs when and how. God will give us strength to bear it.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. "Don't be afraid," he said. "Take courage. I am here!"  Matthew 14:27

"Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:20

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Psalm 42 - I Long to be Like Jesus.

Psalm 42 - What it means to me.

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?  Verses 1,2

These verses always remind me of what Jesus said. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.  Verse 5

When we are downcast, when we are disturbed, our only help is to hope in God. 

I was downcast and disturbed this last week. I was thinking of all the troubles my family is going through. It seemed like God told me to stop looking at my family and look at him. I am doing that as much as I can. I think of Jesus' life and teaching and his death on the cross and his kingdom in heaven. This does give me peace and hope. It is a daily struggle for me and I know I am a slow learner.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Psalm 41 - False Friends.

Psalm 41 - What it means to me.

Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.  Verse 9

I have had friends turn against me. It hurts a lot when that happens.  We know it happened to Jesus, not just once but twice. Judas betrayed him after following him for three years. He tented with Jesus, ate with him and listened to his teachings. But Judas' heart was not changed - he had an evil heart that he never let Jesus touch.

The other time Jesus had people turn against him was the day after he fed the 5,000. Some of the people followed him to the other side of the lake and asked him to feed them always. They were talking of physical food. They were tired of being poor and having to work so hard. After Jesus said, "I am the bread of life," they understood he was offering a spiritual kingdom, not a physical one. Many turned away from him that day. Sometimes we may have friends like that; they are only friends for what they can get from you.

What does it do to the heart of God when we turn away from him? When speaking of having to give up on Israel, God says, "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.
 Hosea 11:8

Jeremiah 31:20 says, "Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him," declares the LORD."

Ephraim is the word for the 10 tribes of Israel who preferred idol worship to the worship of God. They were rebellious and practiced child sacrifice. God loves them and does not want to let them go but eventually he must. He must allow them the free will to choose whom they will serve.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Psalm 40 - God Gave Me a Place to Stand.

Psalm 40 - What it means to me.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand. Verse 2

These verses have always brought to mind my past life before I found God. I felt stuck in living a life I didn't like. When I was a teen, I would turn to God and pray for help but I didn't believe he liked me, never mind loved me. So, after my prayer I would feel as discouraged as ever.

Now I know he lifted me up out of the mud and mire of an empty life. He set my feet on the rock Jesus and gave me a firm place to stand. I feel like my life is enveloped by God and I love it. He is the one completely steady person in my life I can always count on.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Psalm 39 - Lord, I Want to Die.

Psalm 39 - What it means to me.

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.  Verses 4,5

I always thought this verse meant we should remember how short our life is here and concentrate on eternal things. According to Bible scholars though, this is not what it means. They say David is longing for death to put an end to his misery. Well, I have felt that way myself many times.

The psalmist is weary of life, expects nothing from it, feels that it is "altogether vanity." He asks, therefore, not exactly for death, but that it may be told him how long he will have to endure the wretched life that he is leading. He anticipates no relief except in death, and feels, at any rate for the time, that he would welcome death as a deliverer. 

David often starts his Psalms off being angry or despairing but he almost always ends with hoping in God.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.  Verse 7

I live the same way. I get angry, depressed and despairing; I feel life is too painful for me to bear. And it is too painful without God. But after awhile, I go to God for help and there I find strength and hope. 

Psalm 38 - I Have Sinned.

Psalm 38 - What it Means To Me.

This is a prayer confessing sin and asking for God's forgiveness. All of us have felt guilty for things we have done and God will hear our prayer and forgive as he forgave David for adultery and murder.

Your arrows have pierced me,
and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too heavy to bear.  Verses 2-4

"For thine arrows stick fat in me." By this he means both bodily and spiritual griefs, but we may suppose, especially the latter, for these are most piercing and stick the fastest. God's law applied by the Spirit to the conviction of the soul of sin, wounds deeply and rankles long; it is an arrow not lightly to be brushed out by careless mirthfulness, or to be extracted by the flattering hand of self-righteousness. The Lord knows how to shoot so that his bolts not only strike but stick. He can make convictions sink into the innermost spirit like arrows driven in up to the head. It seems strange that the Lord should shoot at his own beloved ones, but in truth he shoots at their sins rather than them, and those who feel his sin-killing shafts in this life, shall not be slain with his hot thunderbolts in the next world. "And your hand presses me sore." The Lord had come to close dealing with him, and pressed him down with the weight of his hand, so that he had no rest or strength left. By these two expressions we are taught that conviction of sin is a piercing and a pressing thing, sharp and sore, smarting and crushing.

For I am about to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
I confess my iniquity;
I am troubled by my sin.  Verses 17, 18

Lord, do not forsake me;
do not be far from me, my God.
Come quickly to help me,
my Lord and my Savior. Verses 21,22

"Forsake me not, O Lord." Now is the time I need you most. When sickness, slander, and sin, all beset a saint, he requires the especial aid of heaven, and he shall have it too. He is afraid of nothing while God is with him, and God is with him evermore.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Psalm 37 In Times of Disaster.

Psalm 37 What it means to me.

"Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;

for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous."  Verses 16, 17

The Lord tells us here that it is better to be poor and a good person than have all the toys, bells and whistles and be a bad person. It is easier also to stay with God when we are poor, for we learn to depend on God to help us. When David and Solomon became kings with money galore, they left God and did great evil. God knows better than all of us how much better poverty is than riches.
"The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.
In times of disaster they will not wither;
in days of famine they will enjoy plenty."
"But the wicked will perish:
Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field,
they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke."  Verses 18-20

God promises us he will be with us through disaster and famine. Seeing how the world is falling apart right now through tsunamis, drought, and earthquakes we need this promise. 

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."  
Habakkuk 3:17, 18

No matter what happens in the future, we can rejoice in our eternal salvation. We can look at life through an eternal perspective instead of a temporal one and not be afraid.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Psalm 37:5-8 - Our attitude.

Psalm 37 - What it means to me.

"Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil."  Psalm 37: 5-8

Commit, trust, be still, wait patiently, refrain from anger, do not fret... This should be our attitude when we bring something to God. Perhaps something in life is bothering us a great deal. Someone may be harassing or harming us. Maybe it seems like the world around us is full of evil. 

But God does not want us to be filled with negative thoughts. We can look up towards God and leave things with him. We can give our thoughts and feelings to him and ask for help to think in the right way. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Psalm 37 - Trust and Do Good.

"Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Verses 3,4

The Treasury of David
 "Delight thyself also in the Lord." Make Jehovah the joy and rejoicing of thy spirit. Bad men delight in carnal objects; do not envy them if they are allowed to take their fill in such vain idols; look to your better delight, and fill yourself to the full with thy sublimer portion. In a certain sense imitate the wicked; they delight in their portion - take care to delight in yours, and so far from envying you will pity them."

"A pleasant duty is here rewarded with another pleasure. Men who delight in God desire or ask for nothing but what will please God.; hence it is safe to give them carte blanche. Their will is subdued to God's will, and now they may have what they will. Our innermost desires are here meant, not our casual wishes; there are many things which nature might desire which grace would never permit us to ask for; these deep, prayerful, asking desires are those to which the promise is made." 

The greatest desire of my heart has been to have a loving family. The Lord has given me that in abundance. My husband, daughters and grandchildren all love each other. There is no one holding a grudge or not speaking to someone. I thank God for that. I guess an even greater desire is for us all to be saved and live in heaven together forever. I believe that God will also fulfill this desire of mine.

Other desires he has given me: enough food, a house to live in and a job for my husband. He has healed; he has saved; he has strengthened. I pray we will all trust and delight ourselves in the Lord.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Psalm37 - Don't Sweat It.

Psalm 37 - What it means to me.

"Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away."  Verses 1,2

We see evil rulers all over our world who do evil deeds continually. They usually have billions of dollars while their people are in deep poverty. God tells us not to fret because of these people. Their life is like a house plant in my home - it soon withers away! This life is all they have and also they will be punished for the harm they caused others. They will not burn in hell forever and ever, as some people say. But they will receive the same punishment that they gave to others.

"The day of the LORD is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head." Obadiah 1:15

After fretting, God tells us not to envy those who do wrong. Why would we do this? I think we would envy the money, power and freedom these people seem to have. We look at a billionaire and think, "Oh, how I wish I could have a mansion and a yacht. It would be wonderful to never worry about money again." I don't think we know how fortunate we are not to be rich. For Jesus said, "How hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Luke 18:24

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."  Hebrews s13:5

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Psalm 36 - God is This Big.

Psalm 36 - What it teaches me:

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals."

Love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. Beautiful and majestic words for a beautiful God.

"How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights."

God's love is priceless. It is a treasure of pure gold hidden in the ground that someone finds and sells all he has to buy that piece of ground. That is what Jesus said. God's love and friendship is worth more than all we have and all we are.

For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.  Verses 6-9

Life eternal can only be found in God. He is a fountain of life that spilled over on to the world when Jesus was here. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.

In the Bible, darkness represents evil. It is only by the light that comes from God we can see good and be good. In His light, we see light. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Psalm 35 - Rescue Me God.

Psalm 35 - What it means to me.

Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor;
arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”  Verses 1-3

If there is someone who is harassing you, stalking you and intent on harming you - you can read this Psalm out loud and call upon the Lord to save you. No one can harm you without God's permission. Cry out to him for protection.

We know God does not always save the life of those who follow him. Peter, Paul, James and many others have died for God. But usually, we are not called to die for God. We can plead for rescue and he will hear us.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Psalm 34 - Taste and See.

Psalm 34 - What it means to me.

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them."  Verses 4-7

Many times God has delivered me from my fears. Actually, without God's help I am filled with fear. I fear the future - what will happen to my family? Will anyone die? Will their marriage last? Will he get off drugs?

People have different problems - mine is fear. Thank God he understands and gives me strength and peace.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Verse 8

I have always loved this verse. It says, "Give God a chance and see what happens."

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Verses 17,18

Is your heart broken? God is near you and will help you. Is your spirit crushed? He will lift you up.