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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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Psalms of Grateful Praise

There are various kinds of Psalms.  1 Chronicles 16:4 gives insight into a possible three-fold identification of the Psalms (and definitely a three-fold job description for ministers).

 

Then he appointed some of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel.

Hymns of Praise

  1. Hymns of Praise: General Praise  –    Celebrating the attributes of God
  2. Hymns of Praise: Grateful Praise –    Thanksgiving for what God has done for us

 

Bruce Waltke understands the Psalms of Grateful Praise to flow through a three-component motif (a recurrent thematic element).

 

  1. Introductory call to praise                     match that ignites the fire
  • Because it is fitting and right
  • In the imperative mood
  • Spirit of enthusiasm
  1. The cause for praise                                Fuel that is lit up
  2. Renewed call to praise Hallelujah

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=psalms+lecture+7+waltke&&view=detail&mid=C7425236FA2192713C0CC7425236FA2192713C0C&&FORM=VRDGAR

 

Psalm 117  (The shortest Psalm)

 

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
The Call to Praise
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
The Cause for Praise
Praise the Lord! Renewed Call to Praise:  The Hallelujah

 

Psalm 95

 

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

 

The Call to Praise

For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
The Cause for Praise
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
The Call to Praise
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

 

The Cause of Praise

 

Psalm 100

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing.
The Call to Praise
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 

The Cause of Praise
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

 

The Call to Praise
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

 

The Cause of Praise

 

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The Call to Praise
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings[b] and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

The Cause of Praise
O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The Renewed Call to Praise

 

 

Posted on 14th August 2019 in Psalms, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalms: Windows and Mirrors

The Psalms:  Window and Mirrors

In the Psalter we have both windows and mirrors.

  • Through them we observe humans in interconnectivity with the Creator and His creation.
  • By them we see deeply into our own humanity.

Immersing ourselves in the Psalms we begin to ask, “Am I reading the Psalms or are the Psalms reading me?”

All the realities of human life are embraced in the Psalms.

To understand the Psalms, one must be interacting in real time with God, God’s creation, humans and the self.

The effectiveness of the Psalms is directly correlated to Biblical self-awareness.

Frederick Buechner accurately states, “The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
― Frederick Buechner, Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

In listening to the lives of others and our own, we might see a synthesis of Paul Ricoeur’s work as presented by Walter Brueggemann.

“Our life of faith consists in moving with God in terms of:

  1. Being securely oriented;
  2. Being painfully disoriented; and
  3. Being surprisingly reoriented.”

Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

 

Being securely oriented Being painfully disoriented Being surprisingly reoriented
Psalms of Praise Psalms of Protest Psalms of Thanksgiving
Psalm 145 Psalm 22 Psalm 103

 

“But there are those (and this is our primary concern here) who have regular access to the psalms of high celebration but have been so numbed to their own experience that the words of the psalm have no counterpart in their own life experience.”  Praying the Psalms, Walter Brueggemann, page 2

The Psalter is a window into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of others.

The Psalter is a mirror into the orientation, disorientation and reorientation of our selves.

Thus we shake off any and all numbness to our own lives and fully embrace our own psalms of praise, protest and thanksgiving.

Posted on 1st May 2019 in Psalms, Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Devotion and Betrayal: Life Shaping Choices

Mathew 26:6-16

A prayer as we consider the personal decisions of Mary and Judas Iscariot.

“Dear God,

Reveal to me through stories something of what it is like to walk around in someone else’s shoes.


Show me something about myself in the stories I read, something that needs changing, a thought, a feeling or attitude.

Deliver me from myself, O God, and from the parochial and sometimes prejudiced views I have of other people, other nations, other races, other religions.

Enlarge my heart with a story and change me by the characters I meet there.

May some of the light from their lives spill over into mine, giving me illumination where there was once ignorance, compassion where there was once contempt.” Ken Gire

Personal decisions, choices and determinations are windows into one’s soul.

Mary and Judas’ decisions reveal very different human beings at life’s deepest levels.

Analysis of the Biblical texts indicate Jesus was anointed by a woman on two different occasions.

Anointed in Bethany

Matthew 26:1-13

Mark 14:1-8

John 11:1-2, 12:1-8

Anointed in Nain

Luke 7:11, 36-48

Matthew, from my perspective, intentionally shows the disparity between Mary and Judas’ internal motivations and purity/impurity of heart.

In alignment with the above Ken Gire prayer, we may see traces of Mary and Judas in our souls.

Matthew 26:6-16

While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew locates these two narratives next to each other in order to spotlight the differences between devotion and betrayal.

  • Devotion includes being ardently dedicated and loyal with religious fervor.
  • Betrayal includes to deliver to an enemy by treachery and to fail or desert in time of need.
  • (Home spun definition combinations from https://www.merriam-webster.com/

It is important to note that Mary is honored for her decisions and Judas is condemned for his.

Neither robotically or mindlessly functioned as puppets, but intentionally and personally activated their freedom of personal choice.

This is vital, from my perspective, to know I am personally responsible for choosing to be a person of deep and abiding devotion or of broad and significant betrayal.

Devotion gives the self to the other and both are enhanced.

Betrayal takes the self of the other and both are diminished.

 

Devotion values the other far more than material worth.

In betrayal, material worth for the self is far more important than the other.

 

Devotion has expansive impact beyond what the devoted could estimate.

Betrayal has expansive impact beyond what the betrayer could estimate.

 

Signs of Increasing Christian Devotion (Increasing in betrayal includes the opposites)

  1. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to that to which God is committed.
  2. I am increasing (decreasing) in personal commitment to God’s reward
  3. Pleasing (displeasing) God and knowing His approval (disapproval) brings me increasing (decreasing) peace, joy and contentment.
  4. I am increasing (decreasing) in “upon His law I meditate day and night.”
  5. I am increasing (decreasing) in my love for His church for which He gave His life.

 

 

Posted on 17th April 2019 in Holy Week, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Psalm 119:156

Personal Revival:  Psalm 119:156

The Psalmist brilliantly navigates the terrain of his heart and provides for us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, an example of personal revival.

Eleven times in Psalm 119 the author petitions God to “revive me and give me life.”

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The eleventh personal revival passage of the 119th Psalm is positioned with an abiding personal love of God’s word.

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The expression here, “O how love I thy law,” implies intense love – as if a man were astonished at the fervour of his own emotion. His love was so ardent that it was amazing and wonderful to himself – perhaps wonderful that he, a sinner, should love the law of God at all; wonderful that he should ever have been brought so to love a law which condemned himself. Any man who reflects on what his feelings are by nature in regard to religion, will be filled with wonder that he loves it at all; all who are truly religious ought to be so filled with love to it, that it will be difficult for them to find words to express the intensity of their affection.  Barnes Notes

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
The law is God’s law, and therefore it is our love. We love it for its holiness, and pine to be holy; we love it for its wisdom, and study to be wise; we love it for its perfection, and long to be perfect. Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His matin prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord.  Treasury of David

 

97 Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
When “thy law,” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God.  Treasury of David

 

98 Your commands are always with me
and make me wiser than my enemies.
Always with me, making me wiser than my enemies.

 

99 I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. More insight than all my teachers, because I meditate on God’s statutes.

 

100 I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. More understanding than the elders, because I obey your precepts.

 

101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have kept away from wrong paths so that I might obey God’s word.

 

102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
I have kept on God’s path, because God has taught me, Himself through His word.

 

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Observe, reader, there is such a thing as a spiritual taste, an inward savour and relish of divine things; such an evidence of them to ourselves, by experience, as we cannot give to others. To this taste the word of God is sweet; yea, sweeter than any of the gratifications of sense, even those that are most delicious.   Benson Commentary

 

104 I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.

 

Avoidance of sinful courses is both the effect and means of increasing in divine knowledge.  Jameison-Fawcett-Brown

 

 

Posted on 27th March 2019 in Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival in Psalm 119: God’s love, word and ways

Personal Revival in Psalm 119

God’s love, His Word and His Ways

Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.  119:149

The Psalmist knows of God’s steadfast love.

  • The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  Exodus 34:5-7
  • 11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
    12 You stretched out your right hand;
    the earth swallowed them. 13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.  Exodus 15:11-13
  • “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.
  • 12 “And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. 13 He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.16 And you shall consume all the peoples that the Lord your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.  Deuteronomy 7:6-16

Based upon God’s steadfast love, the Psalmist requests God to hear his voice.

  • O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch.  Psalm 5:3
  • In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6
  • Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.  Psalm 28:2
  • Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17
  • But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.  Psalm 66:19

Assured God hears his voice, David makes a twofold petition for personal revival (depending upon how you render the Hebrew word judgement/justice).

  • First, give me life based upon Who You are (What you have said – judgements).

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them[d] great and awesome things by driving out before your people,[e]whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God.25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken26 And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Second, give me life based upon What You do (How you have done in the past – justice).

O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.  Habakkuk 3:2

Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?  Psalm 85:6

10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 2 Corinthians 1:10

Posted on 6th February 2019 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Psalm 119:107

Psalm 119: Personal Revival

We are giving thorough study to each of the eleven occurrences of “revival” in the 119th Psalm.

The Hebrew word includes the following ideas:

Barnes Notes on the Bible

Cause me to live; give me vigor and strength to break away from this which binds me fast, and to rise above these low propensities.

Pulpit Commentary

Raise me up to life and health and vigor.

Psalm 119:107 is today’s text.

I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Verses 105-112 comprise this portion of this poetic Psalm.

  1. Before we celebrate the lamp and light, let’s remember the lamp and light are needed because it is extremely dark.
  2. It is so dark as to be called “extremely afflicted.” An interlinear reading is “very afflicted, very.”
  3. The Psalmist says, “I hold my life in my hand continually.”
    1. Exposed to perpetual and extreme danger, as any precious and frail thing is which a man carries openly in his hand, and which he may easily let fall, or be deprived of by violence.  Benson Commentary
    2. The idea in the original is that his soul – his life – was always in jeopardy. The expression seems to be proverbial. Anything taken in the hand is liable to be rudely snatched away. Thus a casket of jewels, or a purse of gold in the hand, may at any moment be seized by robbers. Barnes Notes on the Bible
  4. It is also extremely dark because “the wicked have laid a snare for me.”

There are two primary experiences for the Christian under the heavy weight of extreme affliction, 1. God infuses His strength into the Christian and/or, 2. God removes the extreme affliction and strength and vigor naturally return to the Christian.

The Treasury of David

According to the last verse he had been sworn in as a soldier of the Lord, and in this next verse he is called to suffer hardness in that capacity. Our service of the Lord does not screen us from trial, but rather secures it for us. The Psalmist was a consecrated man, and yet a chastened man; nor were his chastisements light; for it seemed as if the more he was obedient the more he was afflicted. He evidently felt the rod to be cutting deep, and this he pleads before the Lord. He speaks not by way of murmuring, but by way of pleading; from the very much affliction he argues for very much quickening.

Alfred John Morris, 1814-1869

We can recommend so persuasively the cheerful drinking of the cup of sorrow when in the hand of others, but what wry faces we make when it is put into our own.

Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney, 1786-1859

The Christian lives in the midst of crosses, as the fish lives in the sea.

Into this extreme darkness of affliction comes the most glorious lamp and light of God’s Word.

I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word! Psalm 119:105

Extreme affliction is met by an even more extreme life-giving word of God!

God’s word is more powerful than human words can adequately reveal.

Consider this paragraph from the Treasury of David by C. H. Spurgeon.

  1. Quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word. This is the best remedy for tribulation;
  2. the soul is raised above the thought of present distress,
  3. and is filled with that holy joy which attends all vigorous spiritual life,
  4. and so the affliction grows light.
  5. Jehovah alone can quicken:
  6. he has life in himself, and therefore can communicate it readily;
  7. he can give us life at any moment, yea, at this present instant;
  8. for it is of the nature of quickening to be quick in its operation.
  9. The Lord has promised, prepared, and provided this blessing of renewed life for all his waiting servants:
  10. it is a covenant blessing, and it is as obtainable as it is needful.
  11. Frequently the affliction is made the means of the quickening, even as the stirring of a fire promotes the heat of the flame. In their affliction some desire death, let us pray for life. Our foreboding under trial are often very gloomy, let us entreat the Lord to deal with us, not according to our fears, but according to his own word.
  12. David had but few promises to quote, and probably these were in his own psalms, yet he pleads the word of the Lord;
  13. how much more should we do so, since to us so many holy men have spoken by the Spirit of the Lord in that wonderful library which is now our Bible.
  14. Seeing we have more promises, let us offer more prayers.

The challenge?

  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lorddelivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:19
  • In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials. 1 Peter 1:6

The Overcoming Victory?

  • God revives the soul through His word!

Paul’s call to the Romans is his call to us. (12:12-13)

  1. Rejoice in hope,
  2. be patient in tribulation,
  3. be constant in prayer.
  4. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

May God grant to you a deep and abiding personal revival.

Posted on 30th January 2019 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival and Memory

Psalm 119: Personal Revival

Eleven times the Psalmist prays for personal revival.

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The Hebrew word includes the idea of “revive, the people of God by God Himself with fulness of life in His favor.”  https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2421.htm

Barnes Notes on the Bible

Cause me to live; give me vigor and strength to break away from this which binds me fast, and to rise above these low propensities.

Pulpit Commentary

Raise me up to life and health and vigor.

The personal reviving of Psalm 119 flows from an experience with God through His written Word.

In both the Old and New Testament, an Agent of experience with God is the Holy Spirit.

King David knows the presence of the Holy Spirit is with him and pleads with God to not take the Holy Spirit away from him as a response to his great sin.  Psalm 51:11

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Today, we too have God’s written Word with the added delight of the outpoured Holy Spirit.  May we experience the personal revival of Psalm 119 through the Agency of the Holy Spirit applying God’s written Word and through the Personal presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s text, Psalm 119:93, connects revival to remembering what God has said.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Notice the action of God in our personal remembrance.  Psalm 111:4

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.

Memorials can be created to help us remember.  Joshua 4:1-7

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

In the ways of God, remembrance holds a very special grace for the believer.

“The question arises, When believers remember the deeds of God and when God remembers his relation to Israel what kind of remembering is in view? Is it merely recollection of information about the past? Or is it remembering the past in such a way that the facts remembered have some impact on the present? As a minimum, this remembering within the Old Covenant would seem to imply that the God who performed the past mighty deeds, which are remembered, is the God who is present with his people as he or they remember those deeds. And he is present as the same, living God, bound to them in election and covenant as he was to their ancestors in days past, for he is Yahweh, “I am who I am.””

“…he who is remembered is very much present at the memorial/remembrance.”  Biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers

Psalm 119:93 declares, “I will never forget” and in the never forgetting there is deep personal revival.

Undoubtedly, the theology of remembrance is experienced in highest form at the Lord’s table.  Luke 22:17-20

17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

“…he who is remembered is very much present at the memorial/remembrance.”  

 

Posted on 23rd January 2019 in Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival and God’s Steadfast Love

In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.  Psalm 119:88

In our pursuit of personal revival as revealed in Psalm 119, we discover the keeping of “the testimonies of your mouth” requires the loving revival action of God.

That I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

  • There is personal responsibility and delight that flows from the longing of David’s soul. “That I.”
    • The corporate or national we is important, but David’s priority is upon himself.
    • Apparent is an intimacy between “your steadfast love” and “that I may keep.”
  • “Keep” seems a more relational term than “obey.”
  • David’s interest is in keeping the particulars from “God’s mouth.”
    • Hearing the voice of God, as seen in the written the code of law, is a bit more intimate than “may I obey your law.”
    • The emphasis upon God’s mouth” implies a close ear to hear. Maybe a heart to heart idea.
  • This is a prequel to Jesus’ words in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
  • It seems this wording is more than “may I obey what you once said,” but “may I hear and respond appropriately to what you are currently saying.”

For the keeping of the testimonies from God’s mouth to occur, the Psalmist recognizes he needs an abiding personal revival.

  • Quicken me.
  • Cause me to live.
  • God’s action is requested for such a noble “Keeping of the testimonies from his mouth.”

Why would God even consider doing this reviving?

The Psalmist appeals to God’s great, enduring mercy and grace wrapped up “In your steadfast love.”

“Respond to me according to Who you are,” the Psalmist requests.

There are more ways than one can estimate that hinder us from “Keeping the testimonies of God’s mouth.”

Fear of failure and fear of others send us to a direct awareness of our need of God’s unfailing love.

Posted on 12th December 2018 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Comfort in Affliction

With our strong longing for God, we are studying personal revival as seen in Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 features at least eight prayers of deep longing for revival.

Today’s text is perfectly timed by the Lord for our post-earthquake reality.

Vs. 50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

• The difficulty is affliction.
• The grace is comfort and life.
• The source is God’s promise.

An affliction is a “cause of persistent pain or distress.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/affliction

• The author does not minimalize the pain or distress.
• Nor does he deny pain and distress.

Notice Abraham’s total resistance to denial. Romans 4:19-21

19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

The Psalmist makes it clear, “in my affliction.”

Yet David has a far greater experience to unfold for his readers: “This is my comfort.”

David’s personal experience was “consolation in time of trouble or worry.”

Yes, in David’s affliction he experienced God’s comfort and life through God’s promises.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare[a] is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries:[b] “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
The Word of God Stands Forever
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,[c] “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty[d] is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the LORD blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The Greatness of God
9 Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;[e] lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;[f] lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
“Behold your God!”
10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
and his arm rules for him;
behold, his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.
11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd;
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who has measured[g] the Spirit of the LORD,
or what man shows him his counsel?
14 Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
18 To whom then will you liken God,
or what likeness compare with him?
19 An idol! A craftsman casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and casts for it silver chains.
20 He who is too impoverished for an offering
chooses wood[h] that will not rot;
he seeks out a skillful craftsman
to set up an idol that will not move.
21 Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
23 who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.
25 To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
and because he is strong in power,
not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
God’s promise is the source of HUGE comfort.

God is tender with His people.

War is ended.
Iniquity is pardoned.

The wilderness is to be prepared for the Lord. The LORD is entering the wilderness.

Build a straight highway – God is coming to town!

Every obstacle to smooth travel will be removed.

God’s glory will be revealed.

All flesh shall see it together.

FOR THE MOUTH OF THE LORD HAS SPOKEN.

So much in creation and life is temporary.

BUT THE WORD OF OUR GOD WLL STAND FOREVER!

Get on every communication platform and declare with strength, “The might and power of God.”

He will mightily tend his flock like a shepherd.

Haven’t you heard? God isn’t confined to creation as a mere created being.

He sits above creation.

God is so amazing there is nothing to compare with Him.

Haven’t you heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary. What God understands is unsearchable.
He gives POWER to the faint and to the weak He increases strength.

All humans get weary, faint and can fall exhausted.

 

Posted on 5th December 2018 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Psalm 119:40: Longings and Personal Revival

We are pursuing, with all our mind and might, soul and heart, the Person whom we Love.

The One whose loving kindness is better than life.  He who animates the universe.  Brightens the Alaskan skies with the northern lights.  Who says, “Let there be” and be it is.

He who shalom-ed a troubled teenage Mary’s heart upon her selection to be the mother of our Lord and entrusted her cross broken heart to John, “Woman, behold thy son.”  Or is it He entrusted His best friend into the care of the world’s greatest mother?

We’ve got to experience the One who sent the cloven tongues of fire from Mt. Sinai into Pentecost’s upper room and filled everyone present with the Spirit of the Living God.

Not another day without His strong hand upon our shoulder.  Not an hour without His living Word surging through our veins.  Not a minute absent His approval. Not a second without His aromatic anointing.

We pursue His fresh fire.  His wind of life.  His energetic oil.

We await His hovering, brooding, indwelling, moving, empowering Spirit.

Is it renewal?  Restoration?  Awakening?  Outpouring?  Revival?

Psalm 119 features at least eight prayers of deep longing for revival.

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Today we take up the Psalmist’s third outcry for revival.  Psalm 119:40

“Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!”

This awakening of revival for which we pray is related to our deepest longings.  “Behold, I long for your precepts.”

For some people, the identifiable deep longing is for happiness.  David K. Naugle, in his book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness states:

Roman philosopher Seneca (c. 5 B.C.-A. D. 65) reminded us: There is not anything in this world, perhaps, that is more talked of, and less understood, than the business of a happy life. It is every person’s wish and design; and yet not one of a thousand … knows wherein that happiness consists. We live, however, in a blind and eager pursuit of it; and the more haste we make in a wrong way, the further we are from our journey’s end.

Naugle calls this misguided longing for happiness as “the everlasting ideal.”

We are in search of the everlasting ideal in education, finances, work, technology, marriage, parenting, friendship, travel, adventure, health, entertainment, recreation, religion, food, drink, sex, and self. Not only is this pursuit exhausting; it also trivializes a once-noble concept, as we have moved from a concern with being and doing good to a fixation on feeling good.

Notice the author points to a movement from “being and doing good to a fixation on feeling good.”

Feelings are part of the image of God imparted to human beings at creation.  It is because God has emotions that we have emotions.  Feelings are a gift from God.

God’s feelings are on full display in Hosea 11:8.

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.

Jesus feels our feelings.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

To sympathize is to “have a fellow feeling with.”  https://biblehub.com/greek/4834.htm

We could restate this verse as follows:  For we have Jesus, our Great High Priest, who has fellow feelings with our weaknesses.  In every respect He has been tempted as we are yet is without sin.

When God created humans in His image He included the ability and desirability of feelings.

Longing for joy, peace, love and happiness can be pleasing to the Lord.

However, these longings are not truly the deepest human longing.

Every human being has always and will always discover their deepest longing is for God alone.

Psalm 62:5-8

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;

Hear the same deepest longing from Psalm 42:1-2

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?

See Jesus’ promised blessing upon those who embrace their deepest longings for God in Matthew 5.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

Psalm 119:40, reveals that revival is connected to our deepest longing for God as revealed in His precepts (guidance).

Consider God’s faithfulness to Isaac because of Abraham’s exceptional longing for obedience to God.

26 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Remember this is several hundred years PRIOR to God giving the written and oral Law to Moses.

Abraham’s knowledge of God’s charge, commandments, statutes and laws was 100% by hearing God’s voice.

“This variety of expression seems to be designed to show the universality and exactness of Abraham’s obedience, that he readily complied with every intimation of the divine will.”

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/genesis/26-5.htm

Abraham’s deepest longing for God fueled his obedience to every hint of God’s will.

As we pursue our deepest longing for God, Abraham’s example is a valuable model.

  1. Longing for God, we pre-commit to obey every hint of God’s will.
  2. Longing for God, we expect to hear His voice, both oral and written.
  3. Longing for God, we expect the next generation of our family members to walk in God’s promises to us.
  4. Longing for God, we expect Holy Spirit revival.
Posted on 28th November 2018 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post