Happy To Welcome You To The Hallelujah Chorus

I will exalt you my God, the King, I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and exalt your name forever and ever. Psalm 145:1-2

Monday, November 15, 2010

THIS SHOULD BE MY PRAYER TOO!

In what is thought to be the first letter written to the new Christian community, the Lord's brother, James, addressed in careful detail one of the single most difficult challenges we all face. He wrote, "NO MAN CAN TAME THE TONGUE...WITH THE TONGUE WE PRAISE OUR LORD AND FATHER, AND WITH IT WE CURSE MEN, WHO HAVE BEEN MADE IN GOD'S LIKENESS. OUT OF THE SAME MOUTH COME PRAISE AND CURSING. MY BROTHERS, THIS SHOULD NOT BE" James 3:8-10 NIV
David understood the pervasive and destructive nature of this tiny body part and made this request of God - "SET A GUARD OVER MY MOUTH, O LORD; KEEP WATCH OVER THE DOOR OF MY LIPS. LET NOT MY HEART BE DRAWN TO WHAT IS EVIL, TO TAKE PART IN THE WICKED DEEDS OF EVILDOERS; LET ME NOT EAT OF THEIR DELICACIES." Psalm 141:3-4 NIV
In this prayer, David makes two requests because he knew how they are interrelated:
1) "keep watch over my lips"
2) "let not my heart be drawn to what is evil".
Jesus said it is "OUT OF THE OVERFLOW OF THE HEART, THE MOUTH SPEAKS". Matthew 12:34
David's prayer should be mine too. Since I cannot tame my tongue, if there is no way for it to be brought under control, I am hopelessly mired in a persistent sin I can't change, real repentance is impossible. But hold on, there is hope for me yet.
If I take Jesus' words seriously, the real culprit here isn't my tongue but my heart. So, David's prayer makes sense when I recognize that only God can do what has to be done in my heart in order to take better control of my tongue.
So here is my best take on all this - my prayer should be "Cleanse my heart O God and help me recognize the power of my words before they are spoken. Fill my heart with your love and give me your heart that I may bless and not curse."
I praise you my Almighty Father for giving me your Holy Spirit to train me to be a righteous, if imperfect, testimony to your love in a hateful world. Help me too to not partake of the "delicacies/sweet talk (MSG)" of those who speak only evil.
HALLELUJAH!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Security - The Elusive Goal

The words "elusive" and "security" appear to be an oxymoron when used in the same sentence. Yet, for all of us, security is an always elusive goal we all seek. We do get there at times and feel secure until that new storm comes rolling through and our sense of security evaporates again. Its a roller coaster ride for sure.
Today, I feel more secure than at any time in my life. Well, at least I did until our national politicians began tinkering around with Medicare and Social Security, but that's my point here. Any sense of "security" can never be tied directly to any form of government because politicians who make policies and laws can change literally ANYTHING they please if they can get enough backing from their peers. But, that's how democracy works. Its mostly a messy process that somehow has worked very well so far despite the bickering and backroom bargaining.
In spite of it all I can honestly say that I feel a greater sense of "security" today than in my younger years. It has nothing to do with who sits in the White House or on the Congressional floor. They will probably always say and do things that can cause a feeling of insecurity in the those of us who aren't privy to the discussions and don't get to vote in the legislative process. No, my sense of security is the result of two crucial elements:
1) I no longer have the same challenges that I faced when I was a younger husband and father of three and worked hard to provide them with a reasonably comfortable and safe life. For those of you still in that place, hang tough it works out!
2) My knowledge of God's love has grown significantly beyond those younger years and has produced a deeper faith than I have known before.
David stated this same faith - "I know the Lord will surely help those who are persecuted; he will maintain the rights of the poor. Surely the godly are praising your name for they will live in your presence." PSALM 140:12-13 NLT
The NIV says, "the upright will live before you."
The MSG says, "that good people are secure in your presence."
When you look at the context of Psalm 140 in its entirety, you get the full picture of what David was facing even as he wrote those words. Life, of course, is always tenuous, everyone's life. But the "upright" are the "godly" who have heard God's words and have given him absolute permission to teach them how to live "securely".
I believe it's always true that ANYTHING can happen to ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. But, that isn't all the truth. ANYONE can also make the choice in any circumstance to trust the love of God to guide them to a better outcome than seems imminent. Its a carefully cultivated lifestyle that far supersedes any power that men have.
If you need to feel the secure love of God, find a quiet place, turn off your cell phone, open your Bible to ROMANS 8 and read it slowly for six consecutive days. Then write me how it turned out. God's love is FOREVER. HALLELUJAH!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

God Knows - Yes He Does!

Psalm 139 is one of David's most personal and intimate prayers to God. Every line contains a personal pronoun as he proclaims his absolute confidence in the loving care of the God he felt a close personal connection with.
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit down and when I rise. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord." Psalm 139:1-4 NIV
Jesus came to show us the very personal nature of God as a Father who is involved in the lives of his kids. He's always been involved, but until Jesus, men seem to have not felt God's daily, powerful presence. Many OT authors wrote similar testimonies about God, but they didn't really understand what it all meant. David seems to be very comfortable in the knowledge that God knew it all. He wrote out of a deep sense of gratitude rather than the fear that seems to always lie underneath what the prophets wrote.
Now that we have the broad outpouring of his Holy Spirit and the sure testimony of Jesus and his Apostles, we can see God and experience the daily presence of God as our Father, the ONE who loves us and whose grace is always greater than any of our mistakes and failures. So, we can live daily in the personal presence of God without being afraid to make a mistake. Of course if we live in the mistaken belief that God's grace gives us the green light to live a sinful life in rebellion against his words, we're right back in the rocky boat with God's OT family.
David continued, "You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139:5-6
I'm right there with David. I may not be able to totally grasp the significance of God's hand upon me but I sure can feel it in my spirit and that feeling is truly awesome. HALLELUJAH!