Sunday, August 29, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 113

Praise the LORD!
Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever.
From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised.
The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.
Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
To make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people.
He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.
Praise the LORD!

What is a good example of something high and mighty being humble and brought low? As we read this Psalm, we are given several aspects of why and how we should praise the Lord. We often focus so much on music as the best form of worship, but there is so much more. Here are somethings we find in this Psalm:

Lifestyle - Can you remember when you were in love? Maybe it never worked out, maybe is more one sided and a bit obsessive. Maybe it led to marriage and all the rest, but can you remember what it was like? I met Bonnie on January 7, 1999. She was far away, but there was something right at the very beginning that clicked for me. It seemed that every waking hour was taken up with Bonnie, what she was doing, what she was thinking, and so on. There was an all-encompassing focus that came to my life. All the other stuff in my life went dull compared to what was going on with Bonnie. From the rising of the sun, to the setting of the same, my thoughts, my words, my life was focussed on Bonnie. I was in love and it consumed me.

That is why the Psalmist talks about that here in this Psalm. He was in love with God, and was consumed by His focus on the Creator. His life revolved around not just conversing with God, but living out the character of God in His life. You read of people like that throughout the Scriptures. You read the stories of people down through the ages who had surrendered their lives because nothing else made sense but to follow Jesus with all they had. Are you in love with Jesus? Has it changed your life, or have you slipped back into that place where He is just a common piece of a busy life. After 30 years of marriage the love can turn into the “same old, same old”. The emotion can get squashed under the cares and responsibilities and concerns of the broader relationship and the family. God is calling us back to that first love, that exciting sunrise to sunset love.

Humility - We talk about our need to surrender and to love God with all our heart and soul and mind. Sometimes we don’t get it, though, because we don’t really “get” the Gospel. There are many people, even people who have been Christians for a long time, who don’t get grace. They “feel” or “insist” that they have to “do” something to help them be worthy of such love. They have somehow negated grace by their life, their experiences, when it really isn’t about them at all. What is it about? It is about humility. Not my or your humility, but God’s. The very heart of the Gospel is that God humbled Himself. He is high above all nations, enthroned above; but draws near to you and I.

There is a new trend in wedding photography that happens after the wedding and honeymoon. The bride puts on her multi-thousand dollar dress and jumps in a pool, plays in the mud, allows the once white and pristine dress to be muddied and ripped and trashed. There’s that sense of moving from the uptight and prim and proper wedding day to the relaxation and freedom of real life. The dress is humbled as much as a symbol of the unreality of the wedding day being humbled to the reality of day to day life. It’s not a bad thing, though a woman may not want to spend so much on her wedding dress to begin with. God humbled Himself, taking the form of a servant, temporarily giving up some of His divine rights voluntarily. This was done just so He could draw near to you and I.

Relationships - Politics is on every persons mind when every day is a struggle. You look at what is happening around the world and you see the truth of the power struggle. In Pakistan where some 20 million people (1/9 of the population) have been displaced by the recent flooding you see insurgents threatening aid agencies so they can control the population. The civilian government has been weakened greatly while the military has been looked at much more favourably. In war torn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq it is the innocent bystanders, the civilian population that gets stuck in between the warring factions and bear the brunt of the conflicts’ results. Children especially are vulnerable, and life seems to become so cheap. Out of power struggles and class struggles in the early 1000’s arose the communist ideal, of a classless society where the playing field was level for all. 100 years later we see how utterly a failure it turned out, in large part to the corruption of the heart. Man cannot be altruistic on his own. He can’t do it. This guy takes a photograph of him and his family on vacation, and in the background of the picture you can see a thief picking up the man’s camera bag and running off. Go almost anywhere and you can see people being taken advantaged of. Yes, there are many, many instances of people being the proverbial “good Samaritan” but there are struggles everywhere.

But when you take all that mess and lay it up against the grace of God, the love of God, you see the priorities that God has much more clearly. Jesus is about relationships. You have this great big indescribable God who in humility steps out of that awesomeness to come near to you and I. His presence isn’t about just watching, or gloating, or judgement. He comes close for relationship. “He raises the poor from the dust, the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes…” At the very beginning of creation you see that emphasis of relationship between God and man. Man, made in the image of God Himself; man who walked in the cool of the evening talking to God. And God long before this had the path of redemption laid out for man’s inevitable Fall - so that the relationship could be fully restored even though it was fully broken.

While God does care about your life and your very basic needs, He is firstly and vitally concerned about your relationship with Him, your spiritual health. If you follow Ken Rutherford’s journal you know that even though God can and does heal He is much more about what we are doing with Him today. It is appointed man once to die, and after that the judgement. The judgement is not just about sin - it is about what we did with Jesus Christ today, about our relationship with Him.

Barrenness was a huge deal in ancient times as it was the children that look after the old, not the government. Community was important then, because it became your social net. If you were kicked out of the synagogue, it could be devastating. While my closest family is in Ontario, and my older brother Paul recently took a trip out to Banff and stopped by our place last Monday on his way back. It struck me that it had been some 5 years ago that we had the last recent visit from my family, when my dad flew in to Alberta to pick up a car in Lethbridge. While I have had the privilege of visiting my family several times out east, I was reminded of the family that is so important. When we moved here we left Bonnie’s parents in the town we moved from, and so our kids are growing up with very little experience of their grandparents. But when you read this Psalm you see God’s priority is about family, about community. The Psalmist writes that God “makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.” You and I are in the same family. That is what our church is meant to be. Regardless of my physical family, you are the grandparents and aunts and uncles and even brothers and sisters of Ben and Heather. I suppose if one of you really wanted to you could be the “mother-in-law”, but the point is we are a family united by the Spirit of God. Does that change how you relate to one another? Does that change what you feel is your responsibility to those sitting in the chairs beside you?

If God is so big on relationships, how about you? Are you doing whatever it takes to not just know God, but to build relationships with those around you? If relationships that build people up are such a high priority with God, shouldn’t they be for us? If we are called to walk like Jesus walked, if we say we are His follower, we have to make relationships our priority. This may mean you need to let go of the small stuff. It may mean you need to let go of the big stuff. I was talking with another pastor this week about the challenges of following Jesus, of discipleship. He made the observation that many people follow Jesus as long as they don’t have to change how they live. He reminded me that we are not living for ourselves, for the typical Canadian materialistic lifestyle. We are called to be sold out to Jesus, and don’t you think that will be life changing?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

What are some of the best things people have given you?

Many of us have been through the whole job searching process. Rick has just finished that, and it starts by looking for that opening. You look through the paper, you scan online sites, you can even go through a third party that does the looking for you. You craft the most up to date resume with all the relevant information. Then you find it - the job that would be a great fit. It has great hours and even better fringe benefits. You feel a bit under qualified, but you never know. You go through the application and do the waiting, then you get the call for the interview. You enter the office somewhat nervous, because it really is a “killer” job. You shake hands and sit and the interviewer starts up and easy conversation with you. “The process is really rather simple,” she says. “We have this check list, so I will simply go through and see if you match up.” You have applied for job 3x9-777, that’s the one for Supreme Sovereign.” She does that thing where she glances at you over her glasses and gives you a dubious look. She turns to Psalm 103 and begins to go through the list:

  1. Ability to pardon sins
  2. Ability to heal diseases
  3. Redeems life, giving an individual true worth
  4. Loves all: in all, through all, in spite of all
  5. Ability to refresh and revitalize a person’s life experience
  6. Delivers the oppressed
  7. Comes close to people: imminence with eminence

She looks at you again, then picks up your resume. You suddenly realize that not only does your bakery supervisor position not have much relevance, but the strained relationship with your neighbour and the looseness of your tongue is a big issue. You are not surprised when she  gives a brief sigh and says, “You know, Mr Smith. While you have some good stuff here, I don’t really think you have what it takes for this position. It wouldn’t be out of line for me to say, ”I don’t think you are cut out for deity!” I’d set your sights a little lower.

So you go home and check out the Psalm itself. Indeed, as you look through the first 7 verses you see all of those job requirements. Your heart begins to echo the Psalmist when he says, “Bless the Lord, O My soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name.” It really is a good thing you or I are not deity. He really is above all and beyond all. When you look at what He does you can’t help but echo the song that says, “For He has done great things.” So, you continue reading the Psalm and discover that aside from the checklist of the things God does, you see a few other major themes.

In verses 8-10 you see God’s grace. What was the price of grace, that unmerited favour that God shows towards us? While the Psalmist did not know it then, he was pointing ahead a thousand years to the point where the incarnate God died for you and I on the cross. We had this huge, massive debt. The root of that debt was sin. We were born with it - it is that thing that resides within us that causes us to be selfish, to be angry and nasty. Picture that debt as if it was the South Saskatchewan. You are given a child’s pail and told to empty it. When you empty it the debt is done. So you go down to the end of Taylor Street into Buena Vista and down to that park on the river and start dipping. Your task is impossible. Even if you were able to scoop fast enough to keep ahead of the flow of the water, where are you putting it? You throw it on the beach and then the “emptied” water just flows back into the River. Grace is that thing given to you that you could never get on your own. The cross of Jesus stopped that River of Debt far better than the Diefenbaker ever could, for our earthly dams aren’t meant to stop rivers, just harness their power. So even though you and I were drowning in the debt of sin, God did not pass the judgement due those sins. That grace is ever present today. As you go through your day to day stuff and you realize it with a careless word or a thoughtless deed you have blown it again, you have fallen short of the ideal, God reaches down and offers His love and instruction and correction and righteousness. It is all yours, because of the grace of a great and awesome God.

As you read verses 11-12 in this Psalm you continue to be amazed at not just the grace of God, but His forgiveness. So you have this impossible river debt, and in grace God has stepped in and stopped the flow. There has been too much water under the bridge so to speak. You are unworthy, God could never love you for what you have done, for what you are. The Psalmist say, “You don’t get it. Let me give you a picture.” And so he takes this globe. No, understand that even though David’s view of the world wasn’t this big, this complete, he was inspired to write a significant truth about just how big God is and how much He loves you and I. David said our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. Notice he didn’t say as far as the north is from the south. If you stand on the North Pole and go South, you can only go 20,004 km before you hit the South Pole and start going north. You can’t ever go any further than 20,004 km south. There’s a cap, a limit. But if you start going east, how far can you go before you have reached the end of “eastnest” and start going west? You don’t. You can keep going east until the cows come home. You can go east around the world 1,000 times and still be no closer to going west. There is no end to going east because we live on a sphere. So how much forgiveness does God have? It is limitless.

In verses 13-17 you read of God’s compassion. The picture is of a loving father to his children, and we can all relate to that even if it wasn’t our personal experience. We know how a father should act and behave. We know the ideal of a father giving up all to protect his wife and children. The Psalmist goes beyond this and asks how long do you think compassion would last? How long is a long time? How long do you think the Supreme Sovereign would consider a long time? The Hebrews made it easy to understand for us. If they wanted something emphasized or intensified, they would just repeat the word. Something could be red, or if it was really really red they would say it was the red of reds, the red of all reds. Take all the reds you could find, then the reddest of those would be what I am talking about. It is like the Chuck Norris jokes, which refer to him as the ultimate guy. When He does push-ups, it is the earth that moves, not him. Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. Chuck Norris doesn't breathe, he holds air hostage. When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. So when the Psalm speaks of everlasting to everlasting, you know it is beyond forever and a day.

Do you understand why the Psalmist opens and ends the Psalm with six “Bless the Lords.” Do you get disappointed and think God isn’t watching out for you? Be patient and rest assured that God is working on your behalf, and has been since long before you acknowledged Him as your Lord and Savior. Trust Him, rest in Him, listen to Him, seek Him. Just stop and wait on Him - you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 101

I will sing of lovingkindness and justice,
To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
I will give heed to the blameless way
When will You come to me?
I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart.
I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not fasten its grip on me.
A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will know no evil.
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.

Have you ever seen a manifesto? Down through the years individuals or groups have drawn up papers that make their statement about where they are at, what they believe. Luther’s 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences nailed to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517 is widely regarded as the primarily catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. The United States’ Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has a Statement of Faith, which summarizes the basic beliefs needed to be ascribed to by member churches and denominations. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Charter guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens and civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of all levels of government. It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights. The Charter was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II of Canada on April 17, 1982.

In order to become a member of the Church of the Nazarene you need to sit down with me for a couple classes where we talk about the church and its statement of faith and statement of membership.   This helps us all get on the same page, and contains in part our manifesto as a church.

As you look at this Psalm, you also see a manifesto of sorts. Some scholars will suggest that this is also a royal Psalm, used at the coronation of Solomon. As you look closely at the text we see David writing ethical and spiritual standards for both the personal life as well as the throne. It really is a remarkable document. Listen to the kinds of things the Psalmist has made the commitment to:

Verse 1: Praise God
Verse 2: Following God - choice
Verse 2: Personal integrity - even in the privacy of his home
Verse 3: Be choosey about what he watches
Verse 3: Learn from others’ mistakes
Verse 4: Avoid bad friends (especially those who gossip behind people’s backs)
Verse 5: Stand up for others, and for humility
Verse 6: Look for good friends - in the faith
Verse 7: Not put up with liars
Verse8: Believe they can change the world

We have talked a lot about commitment and surrender to God. This kind of commitment to God is exactly what I understand the New Testament concept of salvation to be. The modern church has made the Gospel too simplistic with an emphasis on heaven so that our message becomes “Pray the prayer and you will be saved.” The problem is that is not what Jesus said. He said blessed are the meek, the pure in heart and the persecuted. He said to seek first the kingdom of God and all the “stuff of life” will be provided. Jesus said one must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Jesus if He was to see God. What Jesus was talking about was making the kind of commitment that this Psalmist had, that they would be a champion of the Kingdom of God, that they would pursue holiness. So some 1,000 years before Jesus lived and died, and some 2,000 years since then, we still have the message that God is calling for us to surrender ourselves to Him, and this is what it looks like. This manifesto tells me a couple things.

The first thing it tells me is that we can partner with God in holiness. There are those who say we cannot participate in this. They are afraid that when we say we have a choice, what I know as free will, that we are saying we are adding to the work Jesus has already finished at the cross and the grave. They are wrong, and sell short their understanding of what it meant to be created in the image of God. God created us with choice, because that is part of His nature. As children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, we were predestined to be conformed to Jesus’ image. That is the work of holiness, of the Holy Spirit working in our life, which only happens as we surrender our lives to God. That is the partnership - the obedience, the surrender. It is not a “work” that adds anything to what Jesus has done, but a reception of the grace of God in our life. I keep getting inappropriate gifts for Ben. He’s nine, but I think he is capable of stuff that I experienced in my adolescence. A couple years ago I gave him a little model tank. He is only nine now, so you can imagine how successful that gift was. His hand/eye coordination isn’t there to deal with something about the size of a fly’s wing, let alone try to glue that to some other tiny piece without getting that plastic model cement all over everything else. And of course he gets into it when I am not around - just to look - and just enough to lose a few small but important pieces. In our partnership, I don’t always do a good job of getting what he needs. In your partnership with God, though, He will never let you down. He knows what you need and don’t need, and as long as you follow His lead, your life will be a living testimony to God’s redeeming grace. God invites your participation in this thing called life.

This manifest also tells me we can choose how much power we give to others regarding our life. You don’t have to listen to someone gossiping or beaking. You can tell them that that is not who you are in Jesus; that Jesus speaks of love and building people up, not tearing them down. You give power in your life to whomever you listen to, and you choose whom you will hear. Do their words match up with what Jesus said? This isn’t an issue of loving or not loving them;  but rather it is about having people in your life that speak words pleasing to God. Seek those people out - pursue those who encourage your faith, not just an institution.

This manifest also speaks to me about moving with the movers. Jesus sent His disciples out with instructions that if a town didn’t accept their teaching, to kick off the dust and move on.  Jesus was telling his disciples to work with those who were interested with the Gospel rather than sit there and argue with stubborn people set in their ways. Do you have movers in your life or “immovables”? Do you have people actively growing in their faith in your life, or just people who are stalled and back-slidden, and only talk about what is wrong?

Today is the day to choose. Today is the day you can renew your commitment as a follower of Jesus to make a statement about just how important following Jesus is to you. Have you ever made a memorial of your commitment to God? The Old Testament people were always piling stones and naming things so they would remember those kind of events. Here is a piece of paper with this Psalm written out. As you leave today, I want you to sign your name to this manifesto if that is truly your desire and place of dedication. This is not an “I should do it because others are doing it”, or “I think the church or pastor wants me to do it” thing. I only want you to sign this if it is your desire to be all you can be in Jesus. You are covenanting with others who have signed this that together we are making our stand and saying, “Today Jesus is my all in all, He is all I need, and I am pursuing Him with all my heart, soul and might.” This church, this community stands for something, and we are all in it together.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 84

How lovely are Your dwelling places, O LORD of hosts!
My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah.
How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion!
Passing through the valley of Baca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength, every one of them appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah.
Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. 
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD gives grace and glory;
No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!

This is a Psalm of the Pilgrim. You are a pilgrim. How are you doing on the road you are on in life?

The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and published in February, 1678. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print. Bunyan began his work while in the Bedfordshire county jail for violations of the Conventicle Act, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England.

The book is written in two parts. Christian, an everyman character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centers itself in his journey from his hometown, the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the "Celestial City" ("that which is to come": Heaven) atop Mt. Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden, the knowledge of his sin, which he believed came from his reading "the book in his hand," (the Bible). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Tophet (hell), is so unbearable that Christian must seek deliverance. The story continues with Christian meeting several  people along the way including Help, Faithful, and Hopeful, finally achieving entrance to the Celestial City.

The Second Part of The Pilgrim's Progress presents the pilgrimage of Christian's wife, Christiana; their sons; and the maiden, Mercy. They visit the same stopping places that Christian visited, with some additions; but they take a longer time in order to accommodate marriage and childbirth for the four sons and their wives. The hero of the story is Greatheart, the servant of the Interpreter, who is a pilgrim's guide to the Celestial City. He kills four giants and participates in the slaying of a monster that terrorizes the city of Vanity. It has been quite awhile since I have read it, and I challenge you to look it up and read it too.

The truth is that we are all pilgrims in this life. We are all on the same spiritual journey, trying to figure out truth from myth and fiction, reality from blind hope. We have found the truth, and so we continue steadfast in that direction, seeking to be all that we can be in Jesus. As we read this Psalm of the pilgrim we see four things that need to be part of our life.

Be where God is. Verses 1-4 speak of God’s presence, and the desire to be there where God is. Jesus said where 2 or 3 are gathered, the Spirit is there as well. It is not about being with the most people, but being with the right people. You need to be with others who are also seeking God in their life. There are many people in churches all over this city that are not really interested in meeting God - they are just doing the religion thing. I want the name Christian, but I don’t want it to change my life or lifestyle is their motto. What use is that? One of the things I love about where this church is, is that the people who come are coming to meet Jesus. I know you aren’t coming just for the music. You’re not coming just to get your “feel good” talk - you are coming because you want to be closer to Jesus. God knows, and He will continue to make Himself known to you.

Focused on God. Verses 5-7 speak of people whose life, whose heart, and whose strength is focussed on God. They have eternity in them, as we all do who are followers of Jesus. This Psalm says that everywhere the pilgrim goes he leaves blessing because Christ is in him. There used to be a commercial on TV set in the old west. A dusty old cowboy enters the saloon and walks to the bar. The sun is bright he is dusty and looks so dry. He goes to the bar, but instead of ordering a drink he says, “Give me a bag of potato chips.” If you thought he was dry before, you know he is as he eats the salty spuds. The commercial ends up being for Mountain Dew or some kind of pop - they want you to know it will solve the deepest thirst. In verse 6 the valley of Baca is a dry arid place. As the one passes through whose life is in Jesus, springs rise up and water that once barren place. The joy of your salvation can’t help but bring life to others around you.

Satisfied in God. Verses 8 - 10 speaks of the pilgrim who has found full satisfaction in Jesus. Of all the things you could have in life, from stuff to family and friends, to a relationship with Jesus, it is that relationship with Jesus that is the most fulfilling and satisfying. How do people live without Jesus? How does one go day in and day out with pressures and stress, without any hope in the future in this life or the next? When you get down to the barest minimum of life, don’t you want to know you were put here on earth for a purpose? Jesus is the answer for the world today; above Him there’s no other, jesus is the way.

Dependent upon God. Verses 11-12 speak to the pilgrim’s dependence upon God. Jesus said if we seek first His kingdom, all the stuff we need in life will be ours, because God is faithful and loved you enough to die for you. Who else has ever died for you? Maybe someone has made that ultimate sacrifice, but what are they doing for you now? God died for you and is alive today still working on your behalf. Throw yourself upon Him. Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Go to Him when you are heavy laden and He will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). He has promised rest for your weary soul. Take those promises and claim them in prayer. God will not fail you.

So what kind of pilgrim are you? Are you in danger of falling by the way side? Seek God’s presence. Be focused on and satisfied in Him. Surrender yourself to Him, make Jesus your Lord and Savior, and your feet will be steady on the path.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Psummer Psalm Pseries - Psalm 72

Psalm 72:1-14 Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king's son.
May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice.
Let the mountains bring peace to the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy and crush the oppressor.
Let them fear You while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace till the moon is no more.
May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Let the nomads of the desert bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust.
Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.
And let all kings bow down before him, all nations serve him.
For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper.
He will have compassion on the poor and needy, and the lives of the needy he will save.
He will rescue their life from oppression and violence, and their blood will be precious in his sight…

Here is one of 2 Psalms ascribed to Solomon. Solomon the Wise, one could say, for the Bible tells the story of his God-given brain power and how there was no one else like him. People from around the known world came to hear him speak wisdom. When I first read this Psalm I was reminded of that brain power Solomon had. It sounds like it was written by an academic, from the brain, not so much from the heart like David’s Psalms. Some scholars suggest this Psalm may have been used at his coronation ceremony, and as you read you can sense that proclamation, that sense of “officialness” if you will, in the words. Within this context you see a picture of the Gospel. The king was God’s representative to the people and his reign would reflect the character of God. As we consider that, we also consider that there is a Messianic component to this Psalm, as it ultimately reflects not the earthly king’s reign, but the heavenly King’s reign. So the student of hermeneutics would parse it like this: