Sunday, March 27, 2011

Psalm 16 Part Two

Continuing from last week's post...

b. - Relationship
David also tells us that God provides relationship.  The entire psalm here speaks to the relationship that exists between David and God.  But it also sheds light on the potential for our relationships with God.

Read Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."

There is joy in serving Jesus.  The prayer of verses 1-3 is that the joy and happiness which David has found will continue.  He delights in other believers as they together trust God. Notice the phrase, “You are my Lord,” in verse 2.  This shows there was a choice made on the part of the one who is speaking.  David chose God as his own God.  We do not automatically become Christians just because we are born in a Christian nation, a Christian family, or were brought up in a church.  God gave us wills of our own and the ability to make choices for ourselves.  We must decide for ourselves to put our trust in God.  We must choose for ourselves to have God be our God.  

We live in a world that offers numerous choices.  

God is not a guaranteed winner of our choices.  

But those who choose God are guaranteed winners in Him. 

The enemy places numerous obstacles and distractions in our way.  There are enough other "feel-good" things out there in the world that entice people away from God.  He could guarantee himself to win, but in doing so, we would not be coming to Him of our own free will in love.  With choosing God to be our God we gain the riches of heaven.  We are free. 

Read John 8:36 - So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Read John 8:32 - Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free

We have talked in the past about choices. If you want freedom, you have to choose.  You have to choose that relationship with God.  He has already chosen you.  But God is a gentleman.  He will not go where he is not welcome.  You have to make the next step, because God has already made the first thousand steps.

Read Psalm 63:1-8

1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Read Psalm16:3 -  As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

I like the way the NIV translates this verse a little better – As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.  Who are the holy ones, the glorious ones?  We know that God alone is perfect in holiness; he alone is the King of Glory.  But those who believe in him and accept him as Lord become holy and glorious as well, because they belong to the Glorious One.  So there’s that relationship again.  But David also says, in these – the glorious ones – is all my delight.

c. Sustenance

Read Psalm 16:5 - The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.

What else does David’s God provide?  My portion, my cup – kind of makes me think about food.  And food tends to make us think about our body and our daily needs – what it takes to keep us going.  David declares that God provides his sustenance. And I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to interpret this in both physical and spiritual terms.  The God who provides all the things that can be produced for eating also provides food for the human soul.

Another way to state this is “You, Lord, are all I have.” Roll that around a couple of times.  All in this world is fleeting.  

The U.S. Department of Labor says that the average worker changes careers 3-5 times.  Some experts say that number is much higher.  Personally, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  And I’ve changed jobs more times than I can count.  My point is that many define themselves by what they do.  Yet what we do is fleeting.

How about homes?  The average number of times a person moves in their lifetime is 16 times.  And I would be willing to bet that number has drastically increased in our current economic crisis.

Marriages and relationships.  More than 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.  How many of you have friends from high school?  How many have more than 10 friends from that time?  The Lord is our portion.  All else is fleeting.

When the Lord is our portion, our thoughts are occupied with thoughts of Him as we meditate on Him and the truths we know about Him.  Do men and women who do not think about God from Monday morning to Saturday night really possess Him?  When someone you love is away from home, or you are away from them, you still have them in your mind and thoughts.  When you have God in your mind and thoughts, you continually turn your heart to Him in love and communion.  This results in obedience in thought and reaction.

“And You give me all I need” is the second part of this verse.  God gives spiritual blessings innumerable.  No one can keep us from receiving these blessings but ourselves.  God will help us so that no temptation will make us rob ourselves of our treasures.  But, we are our own worst enemies.  We are weak and surrounded by temptation, but God has told us he will be our strength in our weakness.

Read II Corinthians 12:9  But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

“My future is in Your hands” is the third part of this verse.  God is my guardian.  What security that fact provides!  With God as our guardian, we live above fear of loss of things.  God’s power surrounds the one who chooses (notice the phrasing) God for his heritage; nothing can take it from him.  Material things we possess can be taken away, so even though the world says “keep up with the Jones’” “boy, want what they have”: We don’t want that, we don’t want those material possessions.  But the spiritual blessings of God are ours forever.  There may be storms, conflicts, and battles all around us, but silence and peace are in us for we are the possession of God.  We belong to another kingdom.  Our roots and foundations are in God.

Read Ephesians 3:17  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.

Our true wealth and possessions, which cannot be stolen, damaged, or decayed, are “in Him”.
There is joy for the believer when he has faith in God.  Here the poet’s cup of happiness is overflowing because God has given him a choice possession.  Of course, our heritage as Christians is much greater than the heritage David was talking about.  We have many spiritual blessings as Christians.

Read Acts 20:32 Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Read Ephesians 1:18-20  18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

Read James 2:5  Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

These are our spiritual blessings.  These make our cup run over.  These things, these blessings, these gifts from God fulfill our every need and sustain us.

Our next part of Psalm 16 will lead us about God's direction.  

I pray from many blessings upon each and every one of you this day.  Know that God loves you and desires to see you have an abundant life and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Psalm 16 Part One

There’s a scene from a humorous science fiction story I like that goes something like this…  A hyper-intelligent race of beings decided they would, once and for all, find out the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. To do so they designed and built a computer unlike anything ever before conceived.  The computer was known as Great Thought.  Once complete, Great Thought admitted that it could, in fact, calculate the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, but that it would take seven and a half million years.  The race of beings was not deterred – what did seven and half million years matter if THE ULTIMATE answer would at last be known?  At the end of this seven and a half million years, the descendants of the original Great Thought builders approach the computer with an almost reverent anticipation.  Great Thought confirms it has indeed calculated THE answer.  As you might imagine, it’s a tense moment, ripe with expectation… and just when you think you can’t stand the wait any longer, Great Thought announces that THE Answer, to Life, the Universe, and Everything is… 42.

Now as crazy as that story may seem, I think it hints at something that is common to every one of us – answering the question, How do I make sense of life?  It’s something that’s been asked by every generation, with probably more answers than we’d even want to consider.  Some answers are as nonsensical as “42”, but far worse are ideas like the one suggested in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, that life is a tale, told by an idiot - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

So if answers such as those don’t appeal, how does one go about figuring out this purpose of my existence stuff?  How do I find meaning for my life?  Today we’ve read one answer to that question.  The psalmist finds meaning for life in the God he’s chosen to serve – a God who provides, directs, and inspires.

Psalm 16 is generally attributed to David.  David is a favorite Bible character of many, and we can recount some of the familiar aspects of his story: David, the young shepherd who became a great king; David, the boy who slew a giant with a single stone; David, the line through which was born the Messiah.  But in light of these accomplishments it’s easy to relegate David to hero status – a great man of God but someone to whom I really can’t relate.

So let’s also remember that he was David, who had to flee and go into hiding out of fear for his life, first under the time of King Saul and then later due to an attempted overthrow by his son, Absalom; David, who committed adultery and murder.  Granted, these specifics may still be outside the realm of our personal experience, but now he’s sounding more like the kind of people we know, now he’s even beginning to sound a little bit more like me.  Because don’t we all, at different times in life, have to deal with enemies, or with family strife, and certainly with the consequences of our own sin?  So David isn’t so unlike us after all.  He’s someone we can understand and to whom we can relate.  So let’s take a closer look at what he has to say.

1. GOD PROVIDES (a-refuge, b-relationship, c-sustenance)
First David tells us about the God who provides.  In telling us about the God who provides, David goes even further to tell us what he provides.

(Read Psalm 16 verse 1 - Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

a. Refuge – what comes to mind when you hear that word?  Do you think of safety, comfort or relief, particularly in a time of trouble?  As we’ve already pointed out, David experienced difficult times.  But he knew who provided his protection, and David sought his refuge there.  What does the Bible say about those who trust Him?

Read Psalm 31:19
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.

Read Psalm 34:7, 8

7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
8Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him

Read Psalm 37:3-5

3Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Read Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.

And a promise from the New Testament for those that take refuge in Him

Read II Timothy 4:18

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

God is the answers to your prayers.  He is your refuge.  His answers may not come in the manner that you seek them to, but they will come none the less.  It is in this blessing of refuge, the promise of our God that we are able to find peace in a land where peace can be a difficult commodity to come by.

In the next couple of days, I will add subsequent portions to this study on Psalm 16.  Blessings to each of you this day.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ode to a Great Lady

This week has been both great and difficult.  As you may or may not know, I began to feel a call to ministry several years ago.  I had difficulty getting my life in order and in reality had difficulty accepting that God could use me in order to spread His message.  I'm not sure I've gotten my life in order so to speak, but I have accepted that I can be used to spread the message of God.  A few months ago, I began Get Out of the Boat Ministries as a vehicle to begin to reach others with God's message.  However, I wanted to also try to verbally teach God's word as well.  I interviewed with my local church to learn how to join the Prison Fellowship.  The lady I met with was named Pat.

Pat was one of the most awesome people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  She cared immensely about the Prison Fellowship and the ladies at the prison that we are praying for everyday.  Pat believed that one of the ways to be truly effective in spreading God's word was to get in there and do it.  Pat was the most powerful prayer warrior that I have ever met.  I have been mesmerized by the power that emanated from such a frail body.

Pat gave me my opportunity to join the Prison Fellowship.  It has been one of the most rewarding opportunities that I have ever had.

Sadly, Pat lost a brave battle with several illnesses this past week.  A great gift from God has returned home and oh how I bet the angels are singing.  An angel has returned home.

So while I am sad at my loss and the loss of such a powerful leader for the Prison Fellowship, I rejoice in that she is with the Lord.

Please pray for those of us entering into the prison to bring the light of Jesus to the ladies there.  Please pray for strength for all of us as we enter back into the prison this Saturday without Pat.

I would like to leave you with a song that has truly helped me through some of my darkest times.  Many blessings to each of you this week.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Apology and Renewal

I want to start off by apologizing for my lack of postings these last few weeks.  I have been going through a spiritual battle like I have never seen before.  As I have drawn closer to God, the enemy has come with a great many attacks to dampen my spirit and the spirits of those around me.  But trusting in the Lord has helped clear my fog, and here I am to do God's bidding again.

For today, I want to share a passage that I recently read.  I hope that you find it at helpful and guiding as I have. This week we will be starting to explore more of the Psalms together as I prepare to teach in front of a live group on the 19th.  Please pray for strength and wisdom as the day approaches.

Pastor Jim


Be strong and courageous, and do the work.
Don't be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God,
my God, is with you.
He won't leave you or forsake you.
1 Chronicles 28:20

Courage builds character and vice versa.  So if you'd like a brief course in character-building, try this: the next time you face a choice between doing the right thing or the easy thing, summon the courage to do the right thing.  And while you are summoning that courage, ask God to help.

Billy Graham observed, "Down through the centuries, in times of trouble and trial, God has brought courage to the hearts of those who love Him.  The Bible is filled with assurances of God's help and comfort in every kind of trouble which might cause fears to arise in the human heart.  You can look ahead with promise, hope, and joy."  Dr. Graham's words apply to you.

The next time you find your courage tested by the inevitable challenges of life, remember that God is as near as your next breath.  He is your shield and your strength; His is your protector and your deliverer.  Call upon Him in your hour of need and then be comforted.  Whatever your challenge, whatever your trouble, God can handle it.  And will.

This brief passage helped restore my faith as the enemy attacked and attacked and attacked and attacked again.  But God reigns through in His mercy.  And even though the attacks have kept on coming, God has continued to prove himself faithful.

Two weeks ago my mother called out of the blue.  I have only spoken to her twice in the past two years.  God has given a healing to both of us that could not be achieved without His glory and intervention.

Three weeks ago I thought we had found our dream home.  Owning a home in and of itself has only been a pipe dream.  That sale fell through.  It was God's way of saying it was not right.  Now he has led us to a place where we can continue to reunite our families and be a beacon for God.  I even saw a vision of my mother coming to visit in this potential new house.

And finally, I've been feeling ill lately.  God has come in and interceded and already today my spirit is lifted and I feel better.  Things are not has horrible as I have portrayed them to be in my mind.  Remember, the enemy comes to kill, rob, and destroy.  He can do that in a variety of ways, but the easiest is to get you to turn on yourself and start consuming yourself with doubt, fear, and perceived failure.

Don't let him win.  Lean on the Lord God Almighty.  Let Him be your warrior when you can not go on.

This has become one of my favorite quotes:

Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God's plans for your life. 
R. A. Torrey

Let me leave you with one final thing.  God loves you.  He desires great things for you.  

Let Go......And LET GOD!!!

Many blessings to each of you this week.  Keep you compass focused towards God.  He loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim