I Did It My Way

Psalm 59:13
And let them know that God rules in Jacob to the ends of the earth.”

In the early eighties, a well-known Christian band wrote a song called “God Rules.” In some ways, it became the anthem of many young Christians. I remember having a “God Rules” bumper sticker on my car, and proudly writing it on my school notebook. To me, that phrase was a slang term meaning little more than the fact God was best. I believe the Psalmist is saying much more than that, he is speaking of the sovereignty of God. The word sovereign means ‘to possess supreme power.’ David is declaring that God has supreme power over His people.

Throughout Scripture, we see evidence of God’s supreme power. We see nature bow to His authority when seas part, storms cease, and the sun stands still. Sickness, demons, and death are also at His beckoning, and obey His commands. It is clear, there is no power in heaven or on earth that is not subject to the sovereign rule of God. No power, that is, except the will of man.

In His sovereignty, God will not force you (at least not now) to bow to Him. He gives each of us a choice. We can choose to bow our will to Him in obedient surrender, or we can choose to resist His love and live our own way.

A modern song writer penned these words in contrast; “For what is a man, what has he got, If not himself, then he has not. To say the things he truly feels, And not the words of one who kneels. The record shows, I took the blows, and did it my way. Yes, it was my way”

David is boasting in the rule of God, while others boast in the fact that they have refused to submit to God’s ways. Again, Scripture makes it clear, one day all will bow to God. Paul declared, “. . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, . . . ” (Philippians 2:10). Even those who declare “I did it my way,” will bow before the One who sovereignly rules, and recognize that He truly is King and Lord. The problem is, only bowing then, is too late to reap the benefits of His rule. I would hope that as we age and come toward the end of our life’s journey, we would be singing, not that we ignored God, fought against Him and lived in rebellion, but that we had bowed to His supreme authority, and did it His way. The benefits are far-reaching. Paul said that godliness is profitable for all things having promise for this life and the one to come (1 Timothy 4:8).

Then and now, God still rules.

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 59

  1. Sometimes we are upset or in distress bringing our problems to the Lord. Notice the pattern that David has as he starts to pray about his challenges. He starts to change and focus on the Lord and his prayer turns to praise. Have your prayers turned to praise?
  2. As your read David bringing his problems to God, can you relate to him in any way?
  3. Verse 13 David is asking for God to consume them in wrath. There is another request like this in the New Testament to Jesus. Read Luke 9:52-56
  4. Does this now put verses 16-17 in perspective? The next chapter is great!

 

Old Testament:
Psalm 60- Help From Trouble
1 Kings 5- Expanding Your Portfolio
1 Kings 6- The Temple

Shelter

Psalm 57:1
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.”

No matter where we live, we are faced with the storms of life. Growing up in California, I was constantly reminded of the great earthquake that was looming on the horizon. We were told that because of the fault lines, one day California would fall into the sea. Upon moving to Florida, the new fear was the hurricane. A few years back, a particularly large hurricane had developed in the warm waters of the South Atlantic. The atmospheric conditions were such to allow this storm to grow larger and larger as it traveled north. All of the models had it making landfall just outside of my home town. Having never experienced a hurricane before, I was glued to the Weather Channel for information. A hurricane this large had never been tracked before; it was larger than the state of Texas, and had wind speeds over 140 mph. People up and down the coast of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina were heading west for safety. One news station reported that hotels, as far as Kentucky were filling up, as people searched for a safe place in the storm. I felt stuck. I did not know where to go. In a last-minute decision, we drove across the state and stayed with friends, figuring though we might not be avoiding the storm, at least we would have the comfort of going through it together. Fortunately, the storm moved north, missing Florida all together, and reducing in size drastically as it met cooler waters. I came to the realization,  no matter where we live, we are faced with the storms of life, and must determine where we will run for safety.

David, facing the calamities of a wicked king seeking to destroy his life, fled to the Caves of Adullum. However, it was not the security of this hidden cave that comforted him. Instead, he writes, “And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge.” True peace will only come when we make the Lord our hiding place. Scripture is filled with invitations to come to Him, no matter what storms we are facing, and find safety, rest, peace and even guidance.

“. . . casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”  Psalm 55:22

Will you make the shadow of His wings your hiding place today?

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 57
This Psalm is entitled “Prayer for Safety”

  1. Verse 2, “I will cry out to God Most High. To God who performs all things for me.” God performing all things for you, do you understand what David means? Verse 3 puts this in perspective. How can this change your perspective?
  2. Verse 5 & 11 should not only be read but be put into practice in our lives. What in your life need to be replaced by God being exalted?

    Old Testament:
    Psalm 58- Respond In Love
    1 Kings 3- Divided Heart
    1 Kings 4- Wisdom

Wings Like A Dove

Psalms 55:6-7
“So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
And remain in the wilderness.”
Selah

Dove.jpgDavid was facing an extremely difficult season in life. The more things began to unfold the more he desired to run away and hide. He writes of his desire to flee to the wilderness far away from the problems and the people that surrounded him. He writes of desiring to have wings that could carry him far from his problems. I don’t think the psalmist is alone in this. I know I have felt this way and have met many believers who long for a way to escape the difficulties of life. I wonder how many of us have wished for our own private get away far from the problems and issues of life? While there is no island or mountain hideaway where we can be saved from the issues of life, there is a place the child of God can run for refuge.

Psalms 55:17
“Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.”

David made the Lord his hiding place. Rather than fleeing from his problems he brought them to the Lord and encourages us to do the same.

Psalms 55:22
“Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Whatever trials you are facing that make you want to hide under the covers, flee to the mountains or even long for heaven take them to the Lord. Take them daily until the Power of God is provided to set you free or bring you through.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 55

  1. In verses 1-5, David expresses great distress.  Why is he feeling this way?   Note verse 3.
  2. Read verses 6-8.  What does he wish he could do in the middle of all his problems?  Have you ever felt this way?
  3. In the midst of all of the wickedness around him, there is one thing that is especially grieving to David.  Read verses 12-14.  What happened?
  4. What is David’s way of handling all of these difficulties?  Read verses 16-18 and 22.

    Old Testament:
    Psalm 56- Book Of Tears
    1 Kings 1- One Man Army
    1 Kings 2- Man Up

 

Don’t Be A Fool

Psalms 53:1
“The fool has said in his heart,
‘There is no God.’
They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity;
There is none who does good.”

cedc808b82ed3e3a8df1c3a0d5c64767.jpgBiblically speaking atheism is considered folly because God has gone to great lengths to reveal himself to mankind. Paul, when writing to the Roman church divided God’s revelation of himself into two categories; he spoke of things being manifested “to us and in us.”

The things of God are revealed to man through creation. Paul wrote that the invisible attributes of God are visible through His creation. This revelation has a wealth of empirical data to support its effectiveness since all over the world and throughout time people have believed in God. With all the research done by social archaeologists they have never uncovered a single atheistic society. People even in the most difficult surroundings have come to the realization that there is a God and that He deserves their worship.

The things of God are revealed in man through conscience. There seems to be a pattern that develops within cultures. When one generation attempts to suppress belief in God the next generation cries out with a greater desire. When the “Iron Curtain” collapsed in Eastern Europe it did not take long for missionaries to leave their homes and families to bring the gospel to regions that had previously been closed. What they found was that young people who had been raised to believe there was not a God were the first to respond to the message of Christ and surrender their lives to Him.

In a similar passage the writer of Hebrews declared that while God had used many methods to reveal Himself to mankind the pinnacle of His self revelation was the incarnation of Christ. Inner testimony and creation screams that God exists, but it is in Christ that we learn who God is and what He is like. No contemplation about God will be complete without considering Christ. If we want to know God we should start by reading the Gospel according to  John. His purpose in writing was to reveal God to us.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 53

  1. One aspect of this psalm is the frustration of David over the iniquity of the world.  He longs for the time when God will rescue His people from the wickedness of this world and the captivity of sin.  Read verse 1-3 what is the end result of the person who says “there is no God”, or who simply says “no” to God?
  2. According to verse 2 and 3, among the children of men, how many do good?  How many seek after God?
  3. We see a richer sense of this psalm when it is quoted in Romans 3:10-12.  Read Romans chapter 3
  4. Note verses 9 and 23 of Romans 3, comparing them with the verse of this Psalm.  What does this say about our need for forgiveness and for a Saviour?
  5. Note verses 22 and 26.  How is it that we receive this forgiveness?  Have you done this?

Born Into Sin

Psalms 51:5
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.”

Unknown-1.jpegDavid makes reference to the fact that he was born into sin. He realizes that his sin is not just a mistake that he made but a consequence of his very nature. The bible teaches that sin was passed down to us from Adam and has affected all of us making all of us sinners. Reforms are good and necessary both individually and nationally but these reforms cannot change our nature. We can become better husbands, fathers, neighbors and citizens but until we are born again we still have a nature that is unredeemed and we will be forbidden access to heaven.

Jesus came not to reform us but to transform us. He took our sins on the cross and offers us his perfect nature when we place our trust in Him. Because of our spiritual condition we must be born again in order to have a new nature and be fit for eternity.

I find it interesting that while David understood his sin nature he did not use it as an excuse for his sinful behavior. He realized that he was guilty before God for his actions and responsible to make amends for how he wronged others. Today it is very popular to blame our actions on everyone or anything. If I misbehave it is not my fault and I shouldn’t be held responsible because I am Irish, I had a bad night sleep, didn’t get my coffee, have an unreasonable boss, didn’t have a father figure in my life… It seems like the excuses today are getting stranger and stranger while the way we wrong each other is getting worse and worse. As a believer in Christ it is important to realize that we sin because it is in our nature, but that does not excuse our behavior. We must take responsibility for our mistakes, seek the forgiveness found in Christ and seek to to make amends with those whom we have wronged.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 51

  1. Verse 1 gives us some background of what was going on in David’s life before this Psalm was written.  Read 2Samuel chapters 11 and 12 for the context of this prayer.
  2. Psalm 51 is known as one of the “repentance” psalms.  The whole tone is of one who is aware of his own sinfulness and is pleading for mercy.  Count the number of times that David mentions the words sin, iniquity, transgression, or guilt (or any variations of these words).  Are you aware of your own sin before God?
  3. Count how many things David asks God to do for him.  Does David tell God that he will change or does he ask God to change Him?
  4. According to verse 4, ultimately who does our sin hurt?
  5. Read verse 12-15.  When God begins to work change in David’s heart, what does David believe will happen in his life?
  6. According to verses 16 and 17, what is God looking for from us?

Old Testament:
Psalm 52- Good And Evil
2 Samuel 21- Giant Killers
2 Samuel 22- Battle Plan

Eternal Perspective

Psalms 49:17
“For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him.”

earth-heaven-streetsign.jpegHave you ever heard the phrase “You can’t take it with you”? It seems like this sentiment might be as old as time itself. Thousands of years ago the sons of Korah used it as a lyric in one of their most famous songs. The basic thought is that when this life comes to an end all that we have accomplished will be left behind. In recent years I heard a similar phrase that carries the same thought, “You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.”

The reality we all must face is that life will one day come to an end and everything we have accomplished here will be left behind for the generations that come behind us. Solomon, because of his extensive worldly possessions struggled with this. He spoke of the folly of working hard to gain wealth only to leave it to those who did not work for it and would not see the value of it. Jesus spoke of the folly of a man who lived to store up earthly possessions without ever taking time to make eternal investments. Jesus commented on his actions and said,

Luke 12:21
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

While it is true that we cannot take earthly possessions beyond the grave, that does not mean that we cannot make investments in eternity. Jesus spoke of storing up treasures in heaven. This reveals something wonderful about the economy of God. He has established a system where eternal rewards are given for everyday actions. What we do with our time, talents and treasures can have eternal benefits. While we could never bring an earthly item beyond the grave we can send things ahead. We can store up eternal rewards by making investments in the kingdom of God. This is done whenever we serve the Lord in any capacity. Eternity will reveal the vast and elaborate reward system God has established for those who live their lives in light of eternity.

But there is another important truth we might want to consider. When this life comes to an end we will all leave things behind. Whatever possessions we have acquired will become the inheritance of those who we have loved the most. For many the inheritance will be nothing more that an itemized spread sheet with a list of possessions and their earthly value. But for others they will leave behind a heritage worth far more than any piece of property or lump of cash. They are the ones who chose to live for Christ and have made a rut in life’s road so deep that the generation behind them feels almost compelled to keep following Christ.

No matter what your age or how you have lived up until today, it is time to start making eternal investments that will outlast your life and will set a good pattern for the generations behind you.

Pastor Jim

Psalm 49

  1. This Psalm begins with a call to attention; the Psalmist sees the entire world as his audience.
  2. Look carefully at verse 5, what do you think he is warning against?
  3. Verse 8 declares that “The redemption of their souls is costly.”
    1. What did it cost God to redeem your soul?
    2. How much value do you place on your own soul?
    3. How much value do you place upon the souls of others?
  4. Verse 13 says, “This is the way of those who are foolish.” Read carefully verses 6-12 and examine what the foolish way is.
  5. How does the truth of verse 17 affect the way you will live today?

Old Testament:
Psalm 50- Promises
2 Samuel 19- It’s Not Free
2 Samuel 20- Dissenter

Worship Him

Psalm 45:11b
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

IMG_3314.jpg
This is a Messianic Psalm, meaning that it is speaking prophetically of Israel’s coming Messiah. In it, the Psalmist is describing the glory of Jesus, our King, and the beauty of His Bride, the church. After describing Jesus as the King of Glory, girded with a sword, overthrowing wickedness, ruling in righteousness and reigning in glory, he speaks of the proper response from His people.

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

The word “worship” is a translation of the Hebrew word “shachah”, which means to “bow down before and to give homage to.” It is a word that would be used of a person who was entering the presence of royalty and giving the proper honor. The Psalmist is declaring that the child of God is expected to enter the presence of King Jesus bowing and expressing worship.

Sometimes, it is surprising to me how some people misuse a time of corporate worship. Some treat it like the previews at the movie theater. For them, the real show does not start until the Bible study. So they regularly wander in missing most of the worship time. Others, look at worship as a concert. If the rendition of the song was done in a style they like (the volume was not too loud or too quiet, the performance did not drag on too long) then it was good worship. Still others treat worship like watching their favorite sport. If their team is doing well, their emotions rise up, and they express it with cheers. If their team is losing they are slumped over, sad and quiet. In other words, worship for some is based completely upon emotion. If they view their current circumstances as positive, then they are filled with expressive praise, but if things are not going the way they want, worship stops. The psalmist has an entirely different view of worship.

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

To him, worship has a lot more to do who God is, than with us. He calls us to worship because of the glory of our Lord. I think we need to place less importance on musical style, and personal experience, and more upon the nature and character of our God. Regardless of what struggles you are facing today, the proper response is,

“Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”

Pastor Jim

Questions for Psalm 45

  1. How beautiful are the words of the Psalmist in verse 1?
  2. Look through the Psalm and describe what God is like.

Old Testament:
Psalm 46- Help In Trouble
2 Samuel 15- Memory Lane
2 Samuel 16- Love, Mercy and Grace