Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

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Psalm 100

Monday, February 24, 2020

Psalm 100

Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving. It is a psalm of praise. It is said that Israel would sing psalms such as this one as they traveled to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. Isn’t that a great thought – worshipping on their way to worship! Rather than coming into the courts of the Lord (the place of worship) with complaints and criticism, with bitterness and resentment, with yawns and boredom, they enter into the courts with thanksgiving in their hearts and praise on their lips! 

Worship is important. It is a gift we give to God. The Old Testament language is “offering” or “sacrifice.” We offer our words, our hearts, our focused attention, our sincere admiration to God. We express the joy, the thanksgiving, the glory and importance of God in our lives. Worship exalts the King. Worship reorients our thinking. Worship helps us stay focused on the things that matter the most. Worship helps us magnify the Lord – to see Him more clearly, more greatly, than before. 

Psalm 100 is all about expressing thanks to the Lord. He reminds us that God is our Creator, our Shepherd, the giver of every good thing, our faithful and merciful Lord. Ephesians 5:20 says we should give thanks always, and for everything. Thankfulness stems from the attitude of gratitude. Some may say, “Saying thanks, well, it goes without being said.” Sadly that’s true. When was the last time I stopped and expressed my thankfulness – that I verbalized the words, “Lord…thank You.” 

Thankfulness is being able to answer this statement, “Because of God…”. How would you finish that statement? How long would your list be of what God has done for you? It would be a good exercise for today – take a moment and finish the statement above in prayer. Lord I give You thanks because… 

Entering His courts… entering into a new week, into a new day, with thanksgiving in our hearts! 

Lord of all the Earth, everlasting Creator, merciful Shepherd – all the paper in the world couldn’t contain the list of reasons I am thankful for You, for who You are and what You have done. Because of You I live and exist, I was fearfully and wonderfully made – You had me in Your mind before my time began. You have filled my life with blessings abundant – the greatest being Your Son – His life, His death, His resurrection. Words fail to express what His love and sacrifice means to me. O Lord, You are good, and with all my heart I give you thanks. 

Not Forgotten

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Not Forgotten

Psalms 71 contemplates getting old. I once was told that the sin of the young man is lust and the challenge of the old man is apathy.  Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lust, but he never says flee apathy.  This Psalm tells us that even as we grow older there is no time to grow apathetic. 

Notice the Psalm says, “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.” Also, “Now when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me. Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone is to come.” (vs. 9,18).

The Psalmist did not have an easy life (vs. 20).  Yet, the same God that allowed his trials had revived him to an even deeper faith and grit.  After all the lamentation, he ends by praising God. “My tongue will utter Your righteousness all day long.” He is saying there is no place to quit.

Maybe it is because I see my parents aging and the challenges that age poses for them. Maybe it is that I am getting a little bit older. Our culture, even when I was young, is in love with youth. I appreciate young people. I really do, but I adore older people.  Those who are older offer something young people cannot offer. They have a perspective of life that is important for the younger to know.  They have a wisdom that is the by-product not only from many years of learning but many years of living. They have earned the right to be respected.  They have earned the right to be heard.  We who are younger must give them much deference. We do not know all we think we know. 

“O God you have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works.” Only one of age can do that. 

“You who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again, and bring me up again from the depths of the earth.” No young person can appreciate that.  It is only having been in the depths of despair that we can realize God has delivered us. 

I challenge us to raise a voice of respect and gratitude to those among us who are older. The Psalmist said, “I have been old, and I have been young…” Is there a generation gap? The older have been young and now are old. The younger have only been young. Age and experience give a perspective of life that is valuable. 

Oh, to be young again. Yes, but I would not trade it for the age I am. Nor, would I trade it for watching my parents and learning from them as they have aged. 

Actions items:

  1. Do something special for an older person (a gift basket, a gift card with a thank you card, etc.).
  2. Take the time to sit with an older person and ask them to tell you about their life.

Psalm 45

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Psalm 45

Today’s Psalm is a song of love, a royal song dedicated to the king and his bride. When you read v. 11-15 it’s as if we’re reading the description of a wedding. Verses 1-9 are addressed to the king, verses 10-17 are addressed to the queen. 

Who is the king addressed in this psalm? The king had praises coming out of ivory palaces (v. 8) – king Ahab built a house of ivory (1 Kings 22:39). The queen is a foreigner (v. 10) – king Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the king of the Sidonians (1 Kings 16:31). Solomon also married pharaoh’s daughter, and perhaps other foreigners (1 Kings 11:1). Historically it’s not clear who this song could be sung/written about. 

However v. 6 helps identify who this King truly represents. This verse is quoted in Hebrews 1:8-9. The writer of Hebrews is illustrating how Jesus is greater than the angels, even those who brought forth the words of God. Without a doubt the king in this psalm is pointing to Jesus. The King: 

  • Rides on victoriously for the cause of truth, righteousness and meekness (v. 4)  – meekness seems to be a strange characteristic for a king’s pursuit, and yet Jesus is described as meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29). He came to earth as a human, as a child (Phil. 2:5-10), and offered Himself as a servant of others (Matt. 20:28). 
  • His throne is forever and ever (v. 6) – prophesied of David’s descendant (2 Sam. 7:13, 16 – see Rev. 11:15). 
  • He was anointed, with garments of sweet fragrance (v. 7-8) – Those anointed were the kings of God (1 Sam. 16:13). The word for “anointed one” in Hebrew is “Messiah”, translated in Greek it is “Christ.” The special fragrance he is wearing is seen elsewhere. The High Priest was anointed with this very oil (Exodus 30:22-31). Jesus our King is also our High Priest. We also see this same fragrance used for Jesus after His death (John 19:39). 

If Jesus is the King, then we – His people – are the bride (Rev. 21:2; Eph. 5:32). Notice how the bride is described: 

  • Forget your people, your father’s house (v. 10) – it is a call to forsake where she came from, certainly pointing to an aspect of marriage, of leaving and cleaving (Gen. 2:24). There’s also a connection to Deut. 21:10-13 – Christ has left His ivory palace and come to a destitute land and saw us, not as beautiful princess, but as slaves to sin (John 8:24, Rom. 6:17). Yet He pursues us in marriage, to bring us back to His place of royalty. This certainly points to a practical application – to pursue Christ one must leave the world behind (Luke 9:61-62, 2 Cor. 6:17, Eph. 4:17). 
  • The Queen is glorious (v. 13) – this is what we find described in Eph. 5:25-27. Christ is the One who cleanses us, washes away our sin, to present the bride in all her glory. We become more and more like our King, and leave the world we came from behind. 

We sing the song in our hymn book, “Out of the ivory palaces….” That’s our King. That’s our Jesus. He left Heaven for us. He gave His life for us. He pursues us to be His bride, until the day He welcomes us home. What a glorious day that will be! 

King of Kings, what an amazing thought that You left the comforts and brilliance of Heaven to come to Earth for me. You took on flesh, suffered and endured great pain, even willingly faced the cross, for me. You are the King, and we – Your church – are Your bride. Help us each day to become more and more like You, less and less like the world. We long for the day to be united with You in glory. 

The Cry Of The One Who Is Contrite

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Cry Of The One Who Is Contrite

Psalm 51 is David’s cry for help as a result of his tremendous sin with Bathsheba. This is written after Nathan comes to him and confronts him concerning his sin with her.  It is a moving Psalm from a man who is described to be after God’s own heart. It reminds me of the cry from Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” 

What does David do following his sin?

He asks God for mercy (vs. 1). There was only one thing for him to do. He had no basis to stand before God. He can only cry for mercy.

He admitted his sin (vs. 2-4). At this point in his life, there was nothing to hide. There was no need to try and offer excuse. There was no need to blame others. He admits his guilt and accepts all that he has done is sin and evil.

He tells the truth (vs. 6). He had lied and gave consent to the murder of Uriah.  Lie upon lie left him so wretched. David was tired of lying to himself and to God. 

He had to clean up his act (vs. 7). He was unclean. His guilt was real and only God could cleanse that guilty conscience.

He sang the song of cleansing (vs. 12).  As long as David hid, his song was only about mourning and grief. He can only sing again when his is clean. Sin stops songs. Cleansing brings back the song in his heart.

He offered a broken and contrite spirit (vs. 16-17).  At this point, there was no need to offer more sacrifices. More sacrifices were not going to change his heart. He had to come broken. He needs not to just feel sorry but feel godly sorrow that would lead him to repent.

He stands as an example to others that we can learn from (vs. 13-15).  Sin hurts. Sin is destructive. Sin is self-inflicted. But it does not have to be the final word. Not only did he come broken, but now he wants to teach others to learn from what he did. He wants to tell others what he did and what God has done for him.

As horrendous the sin of David was, he was forgiven. There should be encouragement in that for us. When we sin, we need to have the heart of David to find joy again. There can be a fulfilling life after sin. 

I believe only the broken heart is big enough for God to dwell in.  David and Nehemiah model for us the importance of coming before God in our brokenness.  Because, you see, only when we’re broken will we face the truth about ourselves.  I’m sure that David felt twinges of guilt for months after his adultery with Bathsheba, and his murder of Uriah must have brought him a great deal of remorse.  But take note that there is a difference between feeling guilty and being broken.  I’m sure there have been times in our life where we’ve felt bad about some things we’ve done. I have. But that is so much different than being broken about my sins, of having a contrite (Middle English meaning- crush or to grind) heart.  I’m sure David had twinges of guilt, but he was not broken until he was confronted by the prophet Nathan’s rebuke.  And then, for the first time, he had to face the cancer that was deep in his soul.  Only when David was broken by the truth, did he face the fact that he had an impure heart.  You don’t face the truth about yourself until you’re broken.  

Action items:

  1. Sin that is ignored never gets better. It is better to repent and be restored.
  2. Sin and guilt will eat the heart out of our soul. A contrite heart turns to God.
  3. No matter the magnitude of the sin, God forgives. Seek His forgiveness and be whole.

Psalm 57

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Psalm 57

There’s a painful truth to life – you will encounter difficult people on your journey from Earth to Home. You’ll encounter people who are rude, mean, disrespectful, hurtful – it will happen. It could be coworkers, family members, even brethren. 

For David it was the king. King Saul was overcome with intense jealousy and suspicion against David. The large part of 1 Samuel is focused on Saul’s attempt to kill David. David went from being the hero – the giant slayer, to the nations #1 most wanted. Saul sought him every day (1 Samuel 23:14) – no rest – running, hiding, sleeping with one eye open. This all comes to a head in 1 Samuel 24. David and his men are hiding in a cave in Engedi, and by coincidence Saul enters that same cave for a moment of rest. David had everything he needed to seek revenge against Saul, to end this senseless manhunt. He had the opportunity to kill Saul. Instead he cuts off a piece of his robe, knowing that it was not his place to kill the Lord’s anointed. 

Psalm 57 was written during this event in the cave. In this psalm we find 4 things to remember when facing difficult people (Saul’s) in your life: 

Seek God’s protection (v. 1). David found his refuge from the storm in the wings of God. There is comfort in knowing that God’s love never fails (v. 3, 10). Though others will fail me, disappoint me, turn against me – God’s love will not. His love endures. When I remember how God sees me (reading passages like Psalm 8, Romans 5, 1 Peter 2), the feelings of insecurity and anger will melt away. 

Seek God’s Will (v. 2). “God who fulfills His purpose for me.” When I face a difficult person, I should consider “perhaps our paths crossed on purpose.” Maybe I can help them. Through David’s patience and instruction, he not only spared the king but brought him to repentance (for a moment). Maybe the difficult people in our lives are there for us to help. When most would write them off or sling evil back, in us they find someone who returns good for evil, and curses for blessings (1 Pet. 3:9). And thus maybe God is allowing this person in my life, not just for me to help them, but for this person to help me grow to become more and more like Christ – more merciful, more peaceful, more loving and gracious. 

Seek God’s Justice (v. 3). Yes, God has established governments in the nations, purposed to upholding what is right and preserving justice, but the ultimate judge, the ultimate source of judgment is God. When you’ve been hurt by another, don’t operate on their level. Don’t hurt in return. Don’t further evil. Don’t do Satan’s work. We overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). Don’t take justice into your own hands. Let God be God and trust in His timing.

Seek God’s Glory (v. 4-5). Ask this question, ‘In this harm, in this situation, how can God be glorified? How can I respond in a way tat will not dishonor my God – rather how can I suffer in a way that glorifies Him? Don’t let Saul’s steal your song (v. 6-7). Don’t quit on God because others have treated you wrong. Even in hardships – I’ll praise the Lord. Even in pain – I’ll praise the Lord. Because even in hardships God is good. Even in difficulties I have much to give thanks for. 

A lesser man would have killed the king without hesitation. But not David. He sought what was best for his enemy, a man who was ruining his life. And God calls David a man after His own heart. That’s the heart we ought to aim for – a heart like David’s – a heart like Christ’s. 

Holy Lord, merciful God, there are times I’ve been hurt by the words and actions of another. I know I am not alone in facing such situations, but the pain is real. Help me to respond like Your servant David. Help me to respond like Christ. Help me to place my trust in You. Help me not to become jaded towards others, but to love my neighbors, and to love even my enemies. Help me to return curses with blessings, to return harm with healing. Help me to seek what is good for others. Let me learn through these moments. Let me grow to be more like Christ – let my heart be soft and teachable. I’ll never turn my back on You. You are always with me. In good or in pain, in peace or in strife, Father my aim is glorify You. Use my life to show the world how truly great You are. 

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