Psalms of the Day

Psalm 42

psalmsoftheday

This in one of my favorite Psalms. I love the honesty, the roller coaster of emotion , the depths and the heights. Many is the day when I have to instruct myself more than once to “bless the Lord, O my soul!”

Psalm 42

S)  Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 ESV)

H) The Psalm is attributed to the Sons of Korah. Who was Korah? A great gandson of Levi, we read about him being put to death for his rebellion against Yahweh (Num. 16). His boys escaped the judgment (Num. 16:11) and later became doorkeepers and then leaders of worship in the sanctuary of God. It contains one of the most beloved (and most sung) passages of Scripture:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. (Ps 42:1 ESV)

This Psalm and Psalm 43 were separated but likely make up one song. Throughout the Psalm there is great distress. The singer is weeping, crying out for help, taunted and oppressed by adversaries. He wonders when he will ever be able to once again lead the throngs of worshipers into God’s house. Repeatedly, rather than let despair overtake him, he instructs his soul to bless the Lord. (Twice in this psalm, v.5, 11 and once in the companion Psalm 43:5)

A) As John Piper has remarked, “Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. Switchback after switchback.” Saints will always experience great heights of joy but, just as certain, great depths of suffering. I am so grateful that God knows our frame. He knows that we are but dust and He holds in His heart a Father’s pity for our weaknesses and our often faithless responses to trials. The psalmist is reminding himself of God’s faithfulness and everlasting promises. So often I have had to do this. My dark nights of the soul have not been as tortuous as many others have been but they are still mine and they are real. Thankfully, the Spirit has comforted me and prompted me again and again to count on the promises of the Father. I love this verse and chorus of a song we are singing in church:

When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
when the tempter would prevail,
He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
for my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
for my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

P) Father, I pray that I would know ever more deeply your keeping power in my life. You can surely be trusted and my heart is safe in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

E) He will hold you fast! 

 

The Psalms of the Day for 10/12 are: 12, 42, 72, 102, 132

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…)

The Nations are but Dust… and so am I. – Today’s Soap

S) “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.”

– Isaiah 40:15

O) Isaiah speaks here about the majesty and power of God much the same way that God speaks to Job in the last chapters of that book. The comparisons here are unimaginable here in human thinking and that is the point. The glory and power of God can only be glimpsed by our finite minds. The finite cannot understand the infinite! Our catagories fail us. Our words become empty. Isaiah is right. To whome will we liken God? To what can we compare him? We have no answers.

A) My musings on God must always be tempered by the knowledge that He is beyond my understanding. I can rejoice that he has revealed Himself in many ways – through nature, through His Word and, most importantly, through Jesus Christ – but familiarity is dangerous ground. Irreverance is the currency of fools. God deserves my awe without reservation.

P) Father, humilty is something I fear I know nothing of. How can I? When I consider my attitudes, my actions, my careless ways in your presence, how can I be anything other than proud? Forgive my arrogance. By your grace, help me to humble myself in true and meaningful ways. In Jesus name, Amen.

S.O.A.P. – Mark 6:48

Scripture

“And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them…”
(Mark 6:48 ESV)

Observation

“It’s hard to remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe, but rather to make us disciples, citizens of God’s new age, a kingdom of surprise.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

The compassion of Jesus is on magnificent display here in Mark 6. There’s the powerful statement that Jesus saw the multitudes, noted their lost condition and felt deep compassion for them. There is the amazing demonstration of power in the feeding of the five thousand. Then there is the statement “…and he intended to pass by them.”

Compassion? Jesus sees the struggle his disciples are experiencing, the fear as strong as the waves, the weariness of their arms giving way under the strain of rowing against the storm. The passage even states that he could see they were in “serious trouble!”

And he intended to pass by them.

That statement can get lost amidst the walk on the water, the invitation for Peter to step onto the waves (Matt.14) and the stilling of the storm. It’s a statement that, if you think about it, makes you wonder where in the world his compassion went.

Application

Could it be that there are times when the compassionate thing for Jesus to do is to keep an eye on us while we struggle?

“All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” – 1 Cor. 10:13 (The Message)

The inescapable inference is that 1) he will allow you to be pushed or tested and 2) there is a limit he will let you be pushed to. Why? As Stanley Hauerwas said above, God is outfitting us for something greater than our safety, something more profound than simply having a personal “storm sitter.” God is about the business of making us like his Son and turning us loose to partner with him in his activity in the world. Part of that preparation is the furnace of affliction, temptation, suffering and struggle. There is a facet of Christ-like strength that comes not from munching on manna but wrestling with the waves.

Compassion can be letting you struggle but know this, he never takes his eye off you, he knows the limits, and he is the Master of the waves.

Prayer

Lord, sometimes I wonder about Your compassion. I feel lost and forgotten. I think the waves might take me down. Remind me that in these times to You are not far from me and You even use these moments to chisel at that hardness of my heart and reveal Jesus in me. Thank you Lord. I will trust you. In Jesus name, Amen.