Psalms of the Day

Psalm 135

psalmsoftheday
Idolatry is the act of trusting in anything or anyone to bring satisfaction to the deepest desire of our longing hearts. Our God speaks to that deep desire. The idols of any age “have no breath within them.” God offers to breathe life into our hearts with a vision of His glory. If we insist on our idols, we risk becoming like them: deaf, blind, mute and lifeless. Jesus offers so much more!

Psalm 135

S)  “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.” (Psalm 135:15-18 ESV)

H) In this Psalm, God is celebrated as the Creator and the Lord of all history. The Psalm consists of 4 sections:

V.1-4 All of God’s servants are urged to give Him great praise

V. 5-14 Reasons to give God praise. Focus is on His creative power and His acts of redemption toward Israel

V. 15-18 The uselessness of idols and the danger of becoming like them.

V. 19-21 A return to the call to praise. Blessing the Lord is exhorted 5 times.

Are you familiar with cover bands? They are music groups that “cover” the songs of popular artists. They may put their own spin on them but the lyrics remain the same. Sometimes they will do a medley, covering  pieces of several songs and presenting them as one piece. The unknown author of this Psalm has done just that. He has his own take on things but the psalm is largely the content of other scriptures woven into a new piece.

A) The characteristics of idols in the OT is that they are deaf, dumb and blind. The main idea was that they were dead. “…nor is there any breath in their mouths.” The idols of any age are only empty dead ends.  The scriptures tell me that Jesus is a living “life-giver.” (John 5:21; John 6:33; John 6:39-40; John 6:54; John 6:57; Romans 8:2; Romans 8:10) My instinct for self-preservation is not simply a desire to not die but is rooted in my deepest desire to be fully alive and united to Jesus in His eternal life. So why do I so often trust in things that cannot give me life? I feel the tension that is always with me – “this will satisfy you more than prayer…this is more vital than your Bible…this will give you immediate pleasure, why wait for some pie in the sky?” Variations of these fiery darts seem to always be assaulting my shield of faith in one form or another.  I am reminded in this Psalm of two things. 1) God’s reputation is good. He has a track record. He will deliver those who trust Him. 2) Praise is a means to keeping my heart anchored to God’s faithfulness. When I drift from the cross, when my praise turns to complaining and I begin to doubt God’s faithfulness, I am ripe for idolatry. The more I bow before whatever that idol may be I will become more like it. Deaf to God’s voice, blind to God’s truth, muted instead of giving thanks, and ultimately courting death. I want to choose daily to direct my affections toward God and trust in His faithfulness.

P)  O God, you are my life! I bless You for are true and faithful. You are the great creator of all things and the sovereign over all of life. There is nothing in this world that can breathe life into me other than you. Keep me alert to the snares of death. Help me to cooperate with Your Spirit’s promptings and set my heart continually upon You. Give me an ever growing desire to feast on Your truth so that my shield of  faith may stand strong against the lies of the enemy of my soul. In Jesus name, Amen!

E) God’s reputation is good! He is worthy of your trust and praise.

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 15th are: 15, 45, 75, 105, 135

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

 

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 73

psalmsoftheday

To draw near to thee, my God,
Shall be my sweet employ;
My tongue shall sound thy works abroad,
And tell the world my joy.

Isaac Watts, Hymn:”God our Portion Here and Hereafter.”

Psalm 73

S) But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 73:28)

H) This Psalm is in three parts. Each part is introduced by the word “Surely” (v. 1, 13, 18 – NASB;NIV). It is attributed to Asaph and it’s refreshingly honest. Asaph admits his great envy of the godless who increase in riches and appear to have an easy life. It seems that all of his efforts to walk righteously have been a waste of time! Why is it that the ungodly prosper while the righteous suffer trials and persecution? What benefit is there in denying one’s self the sinful pleasures of the world? Where is the justice and equity of God? I have to sadly admit that these questions have crossed my mind. The psalmist feels like an idiot when he finally steps back and reflects. (v.21-22) Asaph reminds us of two things:

1) Keep the big picture in mind. There is an end to the temporary happiness of the wicked. (v.16-20)
2) God is our refuge and our hope. It is good to stay near to God. (v.23-28)

A) Jesus tells me that I can do nothing apart from Him. My goal then is to do as He says and “abide in the vine” (John 15). Jesus made a way through His shed blood for me to “draw near to God” (James 4:8, Hebrews 10:22) and it is by staying near to Him that I maintain His perspective on my sufferings, my joys, my temptations and my true and eternal hope. It isn’t complicated. I stay close through prayer, Bible meditation, worship, fellowship, hearing the preached Word and attending to the table of the Lord. As I draw close and abide in Christ, my eyes are filled with the treasure He truly is. I can say with Asaph:

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:25-26 ESV)

 

P) Father in heaven, I am often confused and dismayed as I look around this world. So often it seems that those who have no heart for you are richly rewarded. They cater to their flesh by their riches and I find myself with seeds of resentment in my heart. O God! You are my everlasting joy! This life is but a vapor and those who perish without Your grace will see an eternal end of all happiness but for those who trust in You there are pleasures forevermore. Our heartaches are for a moment, our joy is everlasting. Thank you Father. Prompt me day by day to draw close to You, make You my refuge and tell others of Your works. In Jesus name. Amen

 

E) Draw near to Jesus today!

 

The Psalms of the Day for the 13th are: 13, 43, 73, 103, 133

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 98

psalmsoftheday

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her king.” The well familiar carol “Joy to the World” was penned by Isaac Watts and based upon Psalm 98. That the Psalm should be associated with the Incarnation makes perfect sense. Psalm 98 has a messianic theme that envisions the day when all the earth shall see the salvation of God.

Psalm 98

S) Psalms 98:3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

H) The psalm is in three parts.

1) Praise for God’s mighty work of salvation (v. 1-3)
2) A call for all people to respond to God with joyful praise (4-6)
3) A call to the creation to erupt in praise for God’s just rule in the earth (v. 7-9)

The idea that all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God is limited in one sense because David’s knowledge of the size and scope of the planet only went so far. However, the Holy Spirit speaking through David was and is in full command of the galaxies not to mention the planet! The vision is a Messianic future in which the Messiah rules over all. We do not yet see that. The writer to Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 2:8b-9
“Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.”

(Everything is under subjection to Jesus but we do not yet see that. Jesus the Messiah is about the business of patiently populating the new heaven and earth.)

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

When the Bride is fully prepared, when the living stones have all been gathered, when the ends of the earth have heard the glorious gospel, when souls from every tribe, nation and tongue have bowed the knee to Jesus – then! – all things will be made new, every wrong will be put right, the earth will make a joyful noise, rivers will applaud His glory, the seas will roar His praise and the hills will sing for joy. Grace will reign far as the curse is found.

A)  I’m reminded that while Hebrews says we don’t yet see all things subject to Christ, we do see Him and in Hebrews 12:2 we are urged to “fix our eyes” (NIV)  upon Him. I want to keep my gaze on the risen, rescuing, redeeming, ruling Jesus. These are dark days in many ways but He is the light that will light my path. He is the light the darkness will never extinguish.

P) Father in heaven, my heart is often troubled when my gaze drifts across the landscape of this world’s suffering and sin. How I long for you to come and make it right! Help me by your grace and power to fix my eyes on Jesus, to rejoice in Him and to walk in hope that a day will soon arrive when all the earth will acknowledge His sovereign reign! In Jesus name, Amen

E) Fix your eyes on Jesus and run the race with endurance.

The Psalms today were 8, 38, 68, 98, 128

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here. Learn about the S.H.A.P.E. Method of engaging with scripture here.

 

 

The SHAPE Bible Study Method

A simple way to get more out of the Scriptures

Years ago I began using a method for engaging the scriptures called SOAP. The method was crafted by Wayne Coderio and made popular through his book The Divine Mentor which I heartily recommend to you. The acronym, SOAP, stood for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer.

The basic idea was to ask the Holy Spirit to highlight one or two verses in your Bible reading and then apply the 4 parts. 1) Write out the Scripture. 2) Make notes of observations – who, what, where, why? 3)  Write down an application of how you want to respond to God’s word. 4) Write out a prayer based on the passage and your application.

Over time, as I used this method personally and with a group of men, I needed to add one component: Exhortation. The reason for this was due to God’s speaking to our church about the need to “speak truth to one another.”  Often when we read that verse (Eph. 4:15) we assume it means to be frank with others about their failings! While it’s true that we need to be honest with one another (Eph.4:25), verse 15 is speaking of not being carried away by false doctrine. We should speak to one another edifying truth from God’s Word to encourage faithfulness. As a church, we memorize scripture to help us with just that. In order to add the “Exhortation” component to SOAP, I needed to change the acronym to incorporate the E. So we changed it to SHAPE.  The “O” which stood for “observation” was changed to “H” for “hermeneutic”. If you’re familiar with the word, it’s basically the same idea of who, what, where and why.

So expanding the idea to include exhortation we have:

S) Scripture – write down the passage.

H) Hermeneutic – make observational notes about the passage – Who is speaking? Where are they? What is the occasion? Why is this being said?

A) Application – What is your response to the passage? What is God speaking to your heart?

P) Prayer – Write out a prayer of response to God’s word to you.

E) Exhortation – Speak a word of truth to others. (Call, text, social media, etc…)

Psalms of the Day

Psalm 36

psalmsoftheday

Reading the Psalms of the Day is a very helpful way to energize and broaden your prayers. You can learn more about praying the psalms here. You can download a chart of the daily readings here.

Psalm 36

S)  How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. (Psalm 36:7-8 ESV)

H) Fairly clear chiastic pattern in this Psalm of David.
A) The treachery of the wicked (v 1-4)
B) The steadfast love of the Lord (v 5-9)
B) Prayer for the steadfast love of the Lord to continue (v 10)
A) The end of the wicked (v 11-12)

The psalmist mentions God’s steadfast love three times
1) Your steadfast love extends to the heavens (v 5) – It is immeasurable.
2) How precious is your steadfast love (v 7) – It is valuable, to be treasured.
3) Oh, continue your steadfast love (v 10) – Not to be taken for granted.

A) As I take refuge (abide) in the shadow of His wings, I will feast on (be nourished and refreshed by) the steadfast love of the Lord. His love will become more precious to me, satisfying my heart’s true longing and I will receive greater light (understanding) of His righteousness.

P)  Father your steadfast, faithful love is a wonder to me. I so often find myself wandering within the borders of sinful deception. Prompt me I pray to return daily to the shadow of your wings. Help me to abide more constantly within your love. I want to drink deeply from the abundance of your glory – so deeply that the light of your glory eclipses every competitor for my soul’s affections. In Jesus name, Amen.

E) Take refuge in Jesus. Drink deeply of His steadfast love today.

For more info on the SHAPE method of Bible Study, check out this post.

 

67493Having become with us the Son of Man, He has made us with Himself sons of God. By His own descent to the earth He has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, He has bestowed on us His immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, He has made us strong in His strength. Having submitted to our poverty, He has transferred to us His riches. Having taken upon Himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, He has clothed us with His righteousness.

John Calvin; Institutes of the Christian Religion

Ballad of the Goodly Fere

Ezra Pound's Captivating Portrait of Jesus

The Ballad of the Goodly Fere

by Ezra Pound
Simon Peter speaking after the Crucifixion.

Ezra Pound. Ballad of the Goodly Fere

Ezra Pound. Circa 1967: portrait of american poet, editor and critic Ezra Pound (1885-1972) sitting at a restaurant table. (Photo by Horst Tappe/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.) Ezra pound

(Fere=Mate, Companion.)

Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.

When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see,
“First let these go!” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Or I’ll see ye damned,” says he.

Aye he sent us out through the crossed high spears
And the scorn of his laugh rang free,
“Why took ye not me when I walked about
Alone in the town?” says he.

Oh we drank his “Hale” in the good red wine
When we last made company,
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere
But a man o’ men was he.

I ha’ seen him drive a hundred men
Wi’ a bundle o’ cords swung free,
That they took the high and holy house
For their pawn and treasury.

They’ll no’ get him a’ in a book I think
Though they write it cunningly;
No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly Fere
But aye loved the open sea.

If they think they ha’ snared our Goodly Fere
They are fools to the last degree.
“I’ll go to the feast,” quo’ our Goodly Fere,
“Though I go to the gallows tree.”

“Ye ha’ seen me heal the lame and blind,
And wake the dead,” says he,
“Ye shall see one thing to master all:
‘Tis how a brave man dies on the tree.”

A son of God was the Goodly Fere
That bade us his brothers be.
I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men.
I have seen him upon the tree.

He cried no cry when they drave the nails
And the blood gushed hot and free,
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue
But never a cry cried he.

I ha’ seen him cow a thousand men
On the hills o’ Galilee,
They whined as he walked out calm between,
Wi’ his eyes like the grey o’ the sea,

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging
With the winds unleashed and free,
Like the sea that he cowed at Genseret
Wi’ twey words spoke’ suddently.

A master of men was the Goodly Fere,
A mate of the wind and sea,
If they think they ha’ slain our Goodly Fere
They are fools eternally.

I ha’ seen him eat o’ the honey-comb
Sin’ they nailed him to the tree.

(For those who don’t know Pound’s work, he was quite the controversial figure – a giant in his art and a lighting rod politically. I remain amazed that some of the most touching pictures can emerge from the most conflicted hearts and imaginations – Jeff)

David VanDrunen on Soli Deo Gloria

God’s glory alone, and that of no creature, is the supreme end of all things.

God's Glory Alone - Vandrunen soli deo gloria

The following is from David Vandrunen’s  God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters, part of Zondervan’s Five Solas series.

Protestants commonly speak of the “five solas of the Reformation,” but we often forget that the Reformers themselves never sat down and adopted these five slogans— sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria— as the official mottos of the Reformation movement. At first, this sounds a little disappointing. We like to think we’re adopting the very same set of phrases that Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their colleagues bequeathed to their spiritual posterity.

It really shouldn’t disappoint us at all. People may have begun speaking of the “five solas of the Reformation” only long after the Reformation itself, but each of these five themes does in fact probe the heart of Reformation faith and life in its own way. The Reformers may not have spoken explicitly of “the five solas,” but the magnification of Christ, grace, faith, Scripture, and God’s glory— and these alone— suffused their theology and ethics, their worship and piety. Christ alone, and no other redeemer, is the mediator of our salvation. Grace alone, and not any human contribution, saves us. Faith alone, and no other human action, is the instrument by which we’re saved. Scripture, and no merely human word, is our ultimate standard of authority. God’s glory alone, and that of no creature, is the supreme end of all things.

How we like to think that there’s something for us to add to the satisfaction and obedience of Christ or to the inspired word of the prophets and apostles, and even that God is wonderfully honored by our contribution. But the Reformers perceived that the perfect word and work of Christ— precisely because they are perfect— need nothing to supplement them. Anything that tries to supplement them, in fact, challenges their perfection and thus dishonors God’s word and work in Christ. If the Roman Catholic doctrine of authority and doctrine of salvation are true, all glory thus does not belong to God alone. And God, Scripture tells us, will share his glory with no other (Isa 42: 8).

We might think of it in another way. By holding forth soli Deo gloria as the lifeblood of the solas, we remind ourselves that the biblical religion recaptured by the Reformation is not ultimately about ourselves, but about God. Our focus so easily becomes self-centered, even when we ask the same important questions that occupied the Reformers: Where can I find God’s authoritative revelation? How can I escape the wrath of God? What must I do to be saved? The other four solas provide necessary and life-changing answers to such questions, but soli Deo gloria puts them in proper perspective: the highest purpose of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, made known in Scripture, is not our own beatitude, wonderful as that is. The highest purpose is God’s own glory. God glorifies himself through the abundant blessings he bestows upon us.

VanDrunen, David (2015-12-01). God’s Glory Alone—The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life: What the Reformers Taught…and Why It Still Matters (The Five Solas Series) (p.13-16). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

 

Delay and Disappointment, Counsel from John Newton

wisecounsel

Wise Counsel, published by Banner of Truth, is a collection of letters written by John Newton to John Ryland Jr. Ryland met Newton when he was 15 and Newton was 43. It was a mentoring relationship that would enrich Ryland’s own pastoral ministry in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. On this occasion, Ryland was disappointed in the delay of finding a wife and establishing a family. He was on his third prospect and things were moving slowly. Newton responds here to his complaint.

 
Poor dear Lad,

I must refer the long delay, and every other possible grievance, to the scriptures of truth. If we were not creatures we might have a right to choose, if we were not sinners we might perhaps venture to complain of sufferings. If the Lord were not wise he might mistake our case; if He were not good he might deal hardly with us. If this life were our all, delays and crossings for one, two or three years would be of great importance. But reverse all these suppositions, say that we are creatures, sinful pardoned creatures, bought with the blood of Jesus, that our Saviour is our shepherd, that He is infinitely wise and good in himself, and has engaged his wisdom and goodness in our behalf; that He suffered for us, and calls us by grace that we may sufler for him (Acts 9:16); say further that every event we are concerned in is under his immediate direction, and all to work for good, that what we call heavy is light and the long and tedious but momentary, as to our true existence and when compared with the weight of glory, and the length of eternity to which they lead. Let all these truths be planted like so many cannon in your defence and see whether self will and unbelief will dare to look them in the face.

John Newton Delay and Disappoinment

John Newton

When Demosthenes’ was asked, ‘What is the first, second, and third qualification of an Orator?’, he is reported to have given the same answer to each, ‘Action’. I may say the same of submission to the will of God in a Christian; it is the chief ornament of his profession, and it includes the whole of it. It is the fairest fruit, and the surest criterion of true faith. In how many books and sermons is faith so confined to the business of acceptance with God, as if it had little else to do. But surely faith owns his hand, trusts his management, and yields to his . disposal.

If the Lord had called us to dungeons or flames for his sake, we know we ought not to refuse, and we hope his grace would have been with us according to our day. But we are not appointed to these hard services. He gives us health, liberty and many comforts, especially the comfort and honour of preaching his gospel. But in a few things he crosses or delays our inclinations, telling us at the same time that it is for our benefit, that we shall find his season the best, and that he will withhold nothing that is truly good. He gives us so to speak 96 or 97 blessings in hand, 3 or 4 he bids us wait for, but because we have not the whole hundred and all at once, we forget the value of the rest, we grieve and despond; the sun shines upon us in vain. Alas, what wayward, perverse, unreasonable children are we.

John Ryland Jr. Delay and Disappoinment

John Ryland Jr.

We talk of a cross but we would have a cross of our own choosing. So a child would consent to take physic* that is if he might choose something not disagreeable to his palate, and be allowed to call it physic, he would take it and say, ‘Now am not I a good boy to take physic so readily?’ But it happens that most of the medicines both for bodily and spiritual maladies are bitter.

After all I trust the Lord will support and carry you through all. These things will humble your spirit, and give a mellowness to your preaching. It is in this way of service, that the Lord bestows the tongue of the learned to speak a word in season to weary souls. The Lord be with you. Cheer up, and all shall be well.

(*Physic – Medicine)