Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Waited for the Lord my God

Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay. Psalm 40:17

There are seasons in our lives when the Lord calls us to wait. Waiting is hard. Waiting patiently is even harder. We are "programmed", at least in this day and age, to want things and answers right here and right now, this minute. The age of the internet and news 24/7, on demand, has taken away our sense of patience and waiting (at least for me personally).

I've been thinking a lot about some of the Old Testament stories and the waiting that had to be done by these pillars of our faith. Abraham was promised by God that he would be the father of nations. And then he waited many, many years until his only son was born. Moses and the Israelites were promised their own land, and they waited, and wandered, 40 years in the wilderness. Joseph prospered under the Lord's guidance, but he still had to wait out his time in prison (after he was wrongly put in prison!) for several years until the Lord rescued him.

As I think about these stories, I also think about what was accomplished in the waiting. God used these times to increase His people's faith, to test their obedience, to give them special gifts and opportunities to proclaim their devotion to the One True God. The waiting was not in vain.

What are you waiting for? Is there a prayer unanswered in your life? What are you learning during this time of waiting?

Most importantly, how can you use this time of waiting to bring glory to God? The Psalmist says,

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm 40:3

How can you praise God in the midst of this waiting? I know that in my situation, I want to bring all the glory to God, so that others will see and put their trust in the Lord. I want my waiting to be a demonstration to both unbelievers and believers of my unwavering faith in my Deliverer. I hope that living out this belief, especially in this time of waiting, will cause others to take notice, and ultimately, put their faith in the Lord, the One who will hear my cry and put my feet on solid ground!

I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

I Waited for the Lord my God
Words from the Psalter

I waited for the Lord my God,
Yea, patiently drew near,
And He at length inclined to me,
My pleading cry to hear.

He took me from destruction’s pit,
From out the miry clay;
He set my feet upon a rock,
And steadfast made my way.

A new and joyful song of praise
My thankful heart He taught,
A song of glory to our God
For all that He has wrought.

And many who behold how good
The Lord has been to me
Shall learn to fear, and in His Name
Their trust shall henceforth be.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

O Father, You are Sovereign

For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27

In this uncertain world, and these very uncertain times, it is so reassuring to know one thing for sure: God is in control. He, the King of the Universe, is sovereign over all His creation. He created the heavens and the earth with His VOICE, and the winds and seas still move in obedience to Him.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:19

God is sovereign over His creation - and that includes us! Nothing can thwart the plan that He has for each of us, and for this world as a whole.

Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. Psalm 135:6

We would be wise to daily acknowledge God's sovereignty and submit our will to His.

I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2

God's will and sovereign plan does transcend time and space, chance and change. We certainly do not have the capacity to understand it.

Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5

However, we do have the capacity to trust Him, knowing that His will is best.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10

I'm not saying trusting is always easy. Often it's not. When we suffer and walk through the wilderness, it is often an act of our will to trust. We must trust out of obedience to Him.

Even in our hurt and pain, we can rejoice that the Lord is sovereign over our situation! He is the Lord of human pain, and His sovereignty includes His plan for turning our pain into heavenly gain.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. I Peter 5:10

Your suffering is being worked to perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you! If your suffering is a result of your obedience to Christ, be strong and courageous in your obedience and in doing what is right. God, your faithful creator, can be trusted!

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
I Peter 4:19

And in your suffering, remember to keep rejoicing, because your Sovereign Creator has ordained this for you.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. I Peter 4:12-13

You can take heart that your suffering now, as awful as it seems, will be forgotten in a moment when compared with what is to come.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18

As we look forward to that glory that is to be revealed to us, we trust Him to bring that day quickly; when every knee will bow declaring Him Lord of heaven and earth.

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
Isaiah 45:22-23

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11

We have confidence that God is sovereign over all, including over Christ's triumphant return - and we trust Him to bring it about in His perfect time. Until then, we live our lives full of adoration and praise, worshiping our Sovereign Father; to Him be honor and eternal dominion!

I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
I Timothy 6:13-16

O Father, You are Sovereign
Words by Margaret Clarkson

O Father, You are sovereign in all the worlds you made;
Your mighty word was spoken and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons and bounds the ocean’s shore,
Sets stars within their courses and stills the tempest’s roar.

O Father, You are sovereign in all affairs of man;
No powers of death or darkness can thwart Your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending, supreme in time and space,
You hold Your trusting children secure in Your embrace.

O Father, You are sovereign, the Lord of human pain,
Transmitting earthly sorrows to gold of heavenly gain.
All evil overruling, as none but Conqueror could,
Your love pursues its purpose – our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, You are Sovereign! We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us our faith springs up anew;
Our Sovereign Lord and Savior, we trust and worship You!

Friday, June 5, 2009

We will Extol You

Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you. Deut. 32:7

When I was writing about remembering, I "remembered" that there was one key element that needed to be brought up: telling the next generation of God's faithfulness.

I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.
Psalm 45:17

We must be diligent to pass on the stories of God's faithfulness from one generation to the next. Our children should grow up hearing us tell of the daily graces flowing from the Mercy Seat and the hand of God at work in our lives, whether the events are large or small.

Over and over in the Psalms, we hear about the importance of sharing God's greatness with the next generation.

We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. Psalm 78:4

One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4

We must remember to TELL the stories of God's faithfulness to the next generation. Share your stories, and also your parents' stories, the ones you grew up hearing. Let's show these children that God's faithfulness really does flow from one generation to the next.

We'll pass on the endless song from age to age, telling all His wonders, secure in His love and faithfulness.

I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. Psalm 89:1

We Will Extol You
From Psalm 145, paraphrased by J. Nichol Grieve

We will extol You, ever blessed Lord;
Your holy name forever be adored;
Each day we live our psalm to You we raise;
You, God and King, are worthy of all praise,
Great and unsearchable in all Your ways.

Age shall to age pass on the endless song,
Telling the wonders which to You belong,
Your mighty acts with joy and fear relate;
Praise we Your glory while on You we wait;
Glad in the knowledge of Your love so great.

You, Lord, are gracious, merciful to all,
Close to Your children when on You they call;
And slow to anger, merciful and kind,
In Your compassion we Your blessings find.
We love You with our heart and strength and mind.

This is a Time to Remember

Remember His wonders which He has done; His marvels, and the judgments uttered by His mouth. Psalm 105:5

This hymn was written to commemorate special events in the life of a church - dedications, anniversaries, etc. But I think that it's important for us to DAILY remember the greatness of the Lord and His faithful leading.

Remember is a word commonly used in the Bible. God instructs His people throughout His word to remember certain things. These things are to be remembered as reminders of God's faithfulness to them and His covenant and promises.

Moses said to the people, "Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place And nothing leavened shall be eaten." Exodus 13:3

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

He also gave them physical reminders, such as the clothing they were to wear to remember the commandments.

"It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God." Numbers 15:39-40

When God gives His people the law in the Old Testament, He reminds them again and again about where they came from, and how He saved them. This verse is repeated over and over again.

But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing. Deut. 24:8

"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Deut. 8:2

Sometimes when I read these passages in the Old Testament, I think, "Man, these Israelites must have been really dense! They wandered in the desert for 40 years. Why did God have to keep telling them to remember this? Wouldn't they always have it in the back of their mind?"

But then I think about me, and my sinful self, and how quickly I forget God's faithfulness to me through saving me from an eternity separated from Him.

It is good to remember that this story started long ago. The Bible has a constant theme running through it from beginning to end: that God remembers His covenant. He reminds His people throughout the Old Testament that He remembers His covenant, and as people living under the NEW covenant, we know that He sent His son to earth to take our place on the cross - He provided a means by which our sin was paid for and we were reconciled to Him. Jesus was the fulfillment of that promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is good to remember; to remind ourselves of His grace that falls like rain, His Spirit that leads us and His son's pardoning blood.

This is a Time to Remember
Words by Bryan Jeffery Leach

This is a time to remember the greatness of the Lord.
He has so faithfully led us as promised in His Word;
He has so bountifully given His grace like freshening rain;
He has so lovingly pardoned and made us whole again.

This is a time to remember the glories that have been;
This is a time to press onward to vistas yet unseen;
For Christ is alive in His people, He meets us face to face;
He grants us the power of His Spirit to serve Him in this place.

This is a time to remember the church is His, not ours;
this is a time to surrender ourselves, our wealth, our powers;
this is a time to be servants - to give ourselves away,
Building the church of the future until the coming day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord

I've been meditating on Psalm 119 lately. That, combined with seeing all the plants and flowers bloom this spring, made me think of this gem of a hymn.

I really appreciate the way the writer compares God's word to the garden, a mine, a starry host, an armory. These are all very vivid word pictures as we think about the Scriptures, how we use them, and how to apply them in our lives.

You have ordained Your precepts, that we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes! Psalm 119:4-5

God's word has something for us, every single time we open it. Whether you have two minutes or two hours, the Holy Spirit will use that time to inspire, encourage, challenge and exhort you as you read and study the truth.

I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
Psalm 119:15-16

God's word was written for our instruction.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

The Scriptures provide a guidebook for our lives - instruction on how to live in obedience to Him so that we will bring Him glory, and be light to those around us who don't know the Savior. His word truly lights our way.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

His word also provides us with the weapons we need to face each day as we live as aliens on this earth. He has told us that our battle isn't a battle against other flesh, but against other-wordly forces.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

How fortunate it is that in this same passage, He gives us what we need to fight the battle!

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

The full armor of God includes the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (v. 17). Knowing His word gives us the knowledge, strength and ability to ward off the forces of darkness.

My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. Psalm 119:109-110

Oh, may each of us come to love the precious word of God! May we explore the mine, glean fragrant flowers and find our trusty armor there.

O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, because I have observed Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, for You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Psalm 119:97-104

Thy Word is Like a Garden, Lord
Words by Edwin Hodder

Thy Word is like a garden, Lord, with flowers bright and fair;
And every one who seeks may pluck a lovely cluster there.
Thy Word is like a deep, deep mine; and jewels rich and rare
Are hidden in its mighty depths for every searcher there.

Thy Word is like a starry host: a thousand rays of light
Are seen to guide the traveler and make his pathway bright.
Thy Word is like an armory, where soldiers may repair;
And find, for life’s long battle day, all needful weapons there.

O may I love Thy precious Word, may I explore the mine,
May I its fragrant flowers glean, may light upon me shine!
O may I find my armor there! Thy Word my trusty sword,
I’ll learn to fight with every foe the battle of the Lord.