Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Journey Through The Psalms: Psalm 3

I am starting to get the idea that David was either constantly under attack, or simply paranoid. It seems as though those who are against David are great and number, and he is feeling overwhelmed. No matter whether David is paranoid, or the threat is real, it is safe to say we have all had the feelings he is expressing. There are times when we feel like the world is conspiring against us, and at every turn there is someone who is out to get us. Interestingly enough the times in my life when I feel this are the times when I am growing in my relationship with Christ the most.

Maybe its chance, or perhaps it is dumb luck but I do not think so. When I am allowing God to be more active in my life, the challenges seem to get greater. I wonder if anyone else is going through that kind of experience right now? Every step forward seems to be met with great opposition, whether in our relationship with Jesus, in our earthly relationships. David offers great comfort and hope in this Psalm.

Verse 5 states, "I lay down and slept. I woke up in safety for the Lord was watching over me." There is not promise of things being easy, and there is not promise there will not be enemies and difficult times. The promise is the Lord is watching over us. We have safety and refuge from what might try to do us harm. We must remember the strength and victory are not ours but the Lord's. If we try in our own strength we will get defeated every time. When we run to the Lord for refuge, we find safety and victory.

So, keep running to the Lord. Trust in the protection offered by God. Live with your eyes focused on the King. Trouble will come, do not fear the victory is in the Lord.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Journey Through The Psalms: Psalm 2

Turn on the news and there is no shortage of stories about war throughout our world. The staggering reality is we are only told selectively about the war which is being wagged throughout creation. Everyday people are dying for the sake of earthly wars. I find it completely fascinating the Psalmist who penned Psalm 2 would speak to the situations of today even writing several thousands of years ago. Reading verse one is enough to stop and ponder, "Why do nations rage? Why do people waste their time with futile plans?" The violence in our world, war or otherwise, is a result of humanity pursuing their own plan rather than submitting to God.

Often the claim against the Old Testament is it shows a God which is too violent and seems to condone violence. This Psalm reveals a little of where the responsibility truly lies. Whenever I read the Scriptures where humanity has a choice to make between obedience to God, or human wisdom, if the people choose human wisdom violence is the result. War and violence which the writer of the Psalm calls futile. All of it traces back to our human longing to live life on our own terms. When we live for ourselves alone there is bound to be conflict with another person who is living the same way. At some point my self interest and yours are going to clash, then what?

Another way to journey is to trust God and follow the path God has set before us. Not everyone has the same path, and not everyone is gifted in the same way, yet we all journey with the same leader, Jesus Christ. God is more than willing to direct our paths if we are willing to allow it. It should not be thought this will mean things will be easy and there will never be conflict. The difference is when we submit to the Lord, the conflict finds even ground more quickly as we together seek the Lord, not our own interest.

So as much as it depends on you, focus on God not one your own interest. Let God be the one who leads and you who follows. Invite the son of God to walk step by step with you through this life, that we may all join together at the Heavenly Banquet table celebrating the feast of the Lamb. There seems to be nothing violent about that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Journey Through The Psalms: Psalm 1

The collection of songs, poems and sayings we call Psalms starts out reminding the reader the delight which comes from follow God rather than all the other influences pulling on us. I love the image of the tree planted by the river which bears fruit without fail. Trees are a wonderful gift of God, which I often take for granted. While in Haiti last year I was struck by the lack of trees on the hillsides and almost everywhere. Yet at the church we were working at there was a huge Mango tree which provided physical fruit, it also provided a place for the fruit of relationship to blossom as it was a refuge from the scorching heat. When we focus on the work and teachings of God the result is bearing fruit in our lives. When we focus on other things in life we find we wither and no longer bear fruit. We must find ways to plant our hearts in the heart of God.

Another interesting note in this Psalm is how the judgement of God works. In our current culture we judge people based on many things, Their gender, sexual orientation, age, race, socioeconomics and many other things. When we look at Psalm 1 we find a picture of judgement based on one thing, and one thing alone, the path we follow. Verse 6 reminds us "For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction." I wonder how often I think I am on the godly path based on the before mentioned qualifications instead of asking whether I am trusting the Lord more than anything else. Not simply trust, also obedience to the guidance of the Lord. The reality is I have a great ability to misjudge my own actions much less the action of others. Further my role is not to judge the path of others, I must be certain to do the what I must to be on the path of the Lord.

An amazing thing happens when we do the work of ensuring our path, we become the tree planted by the river, and many gather to receive the fruit offered. Our challenge today is to delight in everything the Lord wants. This speaks of conforming our hearts, mind, soul and strength to God and not ourselves.

May we journey together to be a tree planted by the river which never fails to produce fruit.