Psalm 18… Deliverance

On Wednesday nights, for our Mid-Week Study, are looking through the Psalms.  Since Wednesday was the 18th day of the year, we looked at the 18th Psalm… and what a great psalm it is!

David wrote this psalm intended to be sung in public worship (and, by the way, 2 songs we sing in many of our churches today come from v.2,3,46!).  It is a general song celebrating God’s deliverance from one’s enemies… but, in David’s case, it meant King Saul in particular.  It was written on the occasion of King Saul’s death, after David had been named king of Israel.  Imagine the relief that David finally felt to know he would no longer be hounded by Saul… that God had sustained him throughout the long chase… and had proven Himself once again to be God.

As David looked back on those difficult years, what did he see?

I.  David’s Delight (v.1-3)

David wasn’t delighted at Saul’s death; I’m sure it was his hope that Saul would come to his senses… literally.  God saved David, protected David, and strengthened David when Saul and his men were out to kill him.

David was delighted in the Lord!

II.  David’s Distress (v.4-6)

David had been threatened with death and had cried out to God for help.

III.  David’s Deliverance  (v.7-49)

–  The Lord’s Arrival  (v.7-15)

Through poetic and majestic metaphors, David depicted the coming of                               God to rescue him.

*  His Appearance  (v.8-11)

*  His Actions  (v.7,12-15)

–  The Lord’s Assistance  (v.16-49)

*  God Rescued David  (v.16-19,43-49)

*  God Rewarded David  (v.20-28)

*  God Revived David  (v.29-42)

IV.  David’s Descendants (v.50)

 

APPLICATION:

Think back to a time in your life when you felt you were on the run.

Maybe it was a financial difficulty that was about to catch up with you.  Maybe it was a physical pain or sickness that was about to get you down.  Maybe it was an emotional situation that was overwhelming you.  Maybe it was a spiritual drought that had left you feeling God had abandoned you.

Now that you’ve made it through to the other side, how do you look back on those days?  I hope you can see that time as David saw that time… a time in which God was with you!

When the World Is Falling Apart…

This past Wednesday, our mid-week discussion stemmed from Psalm 11.

When David wrote this psalm, he felt he was in a tough spot.  Archers – whether figurative or literal – had him in their sights.  All around and under David, he felt the foundations of society were shaking… crumbling… falling apart.

You could probably cite some moral or cultural issues in our society today in which you feel are point to a world that is falling apart.

What should David do?  What do you and I do?

David was advised to flee in fear from the wickedness around him.  Was this sound advice?

I. The Security of a Believer  (v.1-3)

I’m not talking about the eternal security of a believer’s salvation (although every believer has that).  I’m talking about the security every believer should feel in everyday life!

David was advised to run… to escape… to hide out in some hidey-hole somewhere.  It is right to flee from temptation… but not from duty!  Instead of flying away like a frightened bird, we should trust God and “mount up with wings like eagles” (Is. 40:31).

II.  The Sovereignty of God  (v.4-7)

This is, after all, where a believer’s security comes from!

David referenced just 3 of God’s many attributes:

  • His Sovereignty  (v.4)
  • His Omniscience  (v.5)
  • His Justice/Righteousness  (v.6,7)

Those same attributes of God are still characteristic of God today.  He has not changed.

We find our security in His sovereignty.

Even on Friday the 13th… :o)

Community New Year Service

Tonight I attended and took part in the Lonoke Community New Year Service.  It is a time for the churches in our area to come together and worship together.  You shoulda been there!

Several churches took part in prayers and singing and instrumental music and benedictions and Scripture readings.  Bro. Byron Calhoun, pastor of St. John Baptist Church, brought a message from John 6:5-13… showing us some things from the occasion of Jesus feeding 5000+ from 5 loaves & 2 fish.  Here are a few notes I took from what Bro. Byron shared…

  • Jesus asked Philip, one of His apostles, where a crowd that size might go to find food to eat.  He asked Philip because Philip was from that area… he was expected to know things about the place he lived.  APP:  How would you respond if Jesus were to ask you about your city?  Jesus expects you to know what’s going on in the community around you!
  • John is the only Gospel writer to mention where the 5 loaves & 2 fish came from… a boy in the crowd.  Out of a crowd that large, that small boy was noticed.  Why?  Because he was willing to give what he had.  APP:  Giving people get noticed, even in a crowd.  And you may be where you may be because that’s where God needs you to be!
  • Jesus took that boy’s lunch, 5 loaves & 2 fish, and turned into a buffet for 5,000+ people.  APP: God can take a little and make a lot.
  • John mentions where Jesus got the starter snack… and mentions what it turned into.  But he doesn’t mention how it happened.  How did that snack multiply?  The other 3 gospels – Matthew, Mark & Luke – tell us Jesus “looked up”, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it.  APP:  Just because you are in God’s hands doesn’t mean you won’t sometimes have to be broken in order to be used.
  • A little snack became an all-you-can-eat buffet.  In fact, there were 12 baskets of food left over!  APP:  We serve a God of “more than enough”.  You may see what you have as “fragments”, “scraps” or “broken pieces” (depending on which version you may be reading from), but it still results in a full basket.  Rather than focusing on each small broken piece, let’s instead focus on the basket of blessing we hold in our hands!

See?  You shoulda been there!

46 Reasons to Love Snow

For the first 12 years of my life I grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan, a city that sits on the shore of Lake Michigan.  I have nothing but fond memories of snow, because I was too young to have to work in the snow, warm up a car in the snow, clean iced-over windshields in the snow, or drive in the snow.  I was fortunate enough to simply enjoy snow.

Since then, I have lived mostly in southern climates (Arkansas & Texas), and snow sometimes comes only once a winter.  Anyone can endure some of the frustrating effects of snow when weighed against the many benefits of snow…

Here are some reasons you should love snow as I do:

  1. It’s beautiful. Breathtaking. Serene.
  2. There’s something about waking up and knowing it has snowed in the night simply by the way the light is reflected into a room through the window blinds.
  3. It’s cold. This is great because you can always put on more clothes to keep warm. Summer heat? Eh, you can only take off so many clothes in public. Just sayin’.
  4. God made it. On purpose.
  5. God makes each and every snowflake unique.  he made each one of us people unique, too!
  6. Snow forces people to stay home and get in touch with their inner introvert.  Read a book or watch a movie.  Or read a movie and watch a book.  Or work a puzzle.
  7. Snowmen (or women)
  8. Snow Angels.
  9. Sledding downhill.
  10. Sledding downhill with friends.
  11. Tubing downhill.
  12. Tubing downhill with friends.
  13. Being pulled on a sled or a tube behind a 4-wheeler or a jeep.
  14. Riding snowmobiles.
  15. Snow makes even the most ugly and dirty cities look great.  And clean.
  16. Watching puppies play in snow is an instant mood booster.
  17. Watching toddlers waddle in snowsuits warms the heart.
  18.  Killing lions on snowy days! “Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.” (2Samuel 23:20)
  19. Jesus can make us white as… SNOW. So, snow must be pretty pure and awesome and such. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
  20. One of the more memorable hymns I’ve sung is “Whiter than Snow”.  And EVERYTIME is snows, this hymn comes to mind.
  21. Movies like “White Christmas” would be pointless without snow.
  22. Half a dozen epic scenes in the Lord of the Rings films wouldn’t be nearly as cool without snow.
  23. The Shining wouldn’t have happened had there not been a snowstorm!
  24. Snow Dogs!  The movie… and real sled dogs.
  25. Ice Age movies (#1, #2, #3, #4, & #5)
  26. The Empire Strikes Back! Sure, Han Solo shoving Luke inside a Taun-Taun carcass for a sleeping bag was gross, but it was pretty innovative of him (and it saved Luke’s life!).
  27. We wouldn’t have that lovely song “Let it Snow”… sung best by Dean Martin.
  28. We wouldn’t have that slightly creepy song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. But come on, it was originally written by a husband who liked to sing it with his wife at parties!
  29. We learn to appreciate how good bread and milk taste together.
  30. Chili always tastes better when there’s snow on the ground outside.
  31. Homemade snow ice cream.
  32. Quick-made snow cream (basically just sweetened snow slush, but kids always love it!)
  33. Donuts made by great friends on the first night of winter’s first snow.
  34. Shoveling. A 150 lb person can burn almost 400 calories per hour.
  35. Snowball fights.
  36. Snowforts.  When I was a kid, my dad plowed snow as a side job; he plowed our driveway and many other driveways and parking lots.  So, in the winter, our driveway kept a pile of plowed-up snow through the winter.  My brother and I would dig a cave hole into the snow piles and make snow forts out of them.  There’s something about having a place of your own just to sit in and be quiet… or to have pretend battles with pretend bad guys from.
  37. The ability to write your name in snow by shuffling your feet, making tracks in the shape of letters.
  38. The ability to walk in the footsteps of your dad.  When I was a kid, there was often snow as deep as 2-3 feet; the only way a kid can walk in snow like that is for an adult to make tracks for him to step into.
  39. Snow’s danger.  Because snow can be so slippery, one often gets to witness the beauty of snow up close!
  40. Snowdays.  Nothing excites a kid like the possibility of a snow day from school.
  41. Freshly fallen snow is 90-95 percent air. This means it’s a good thermal insulator. Which is awesome and super good for plants during the winter chill.  It also provides moisture to plants during winter.
  42. Guinness says that the largest snowflake ever recorded was 15 inches wide!
  43. Snow purifies the air.
  44. Taking a deep breath of fresh air on the morning after a nighttime snow.  People take deeper breaths more often when there’s snow on the ground…
  45. Snow reduces tick populations.
  46.  It makes people who love snow (like me) happy. And the world could use more happy people.

I know I said this was a list of 45 reasons, and I’ve listed 46.  I have allowed some of you who are less-inclined toward snow the opportunity to choose 1 you could do without…

So there!  Love snow for goodness sake!!!

Tossin’and Turnin’

In 1961, Bobby Lewis recorded the song “Tossin’ and Turnin'” that went to #1 on the Billboard music charts.  In the song, he described how sleepless he was because he couldn’t get a girl off of his mind.

You’ve probably had nights when sleep was hard to find because you were thinking… or feeling… too much.  Maybe it was a financial thing… or a physical thing… or a an emotional/relational thing… or a spiritual thing… and you couldn’t turn your mind off.

David wrote Psalm 4 as he was about to lay down to sleep at night.  But, his mind and heart were going a thousand different directions; he wanted to solve a problem he could solve, and sleep would not come.  He did not want to lie in bed and worry, so he committed himself and his situation to God.

I.  He Asked  (v.1-3)

“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!  You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

How long, O you sons of men, will you turn my glory to shame?  How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood?  SELAH (pause and consider)

“But know that the LORD has set apart for Himself him who is godly; the LORD will hear when I call to Him.”

APP:  Asking God to help is still a good way to deal with inner turmoil.  See Philippians 4:6,7.

 

II.  He Believed  (v.4,5)

“Be angry, and do not sin.  Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.  SELAH

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.”

APP:  Instead of lying in bed and stewing over your problems, meditate on the Lord and offer Him sacrifices of praise.

 

III.  He Received  (v.6-8)

“There are many who say, ‘Who will show us any good?’  Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.

You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

APP:  Nothing in David’s circumstances had changed… but David had changed.  While still in darkness, David felt God.  While still in sorrow, David found gladness.  While still in outer turmoil, David found inner peace.  God did not immediately change the situation, but He did change David.  He can do the same for you!

Let’s Talk Reproduction

I’m reading a book entitled, A Field Guide for Everyday Mission, written by Ben Connelly & Bob Roberts.  It has caused me to think more about my discipleship…

Disciples are intended to reproduce.  Christianity is an outward-focused faith.

If we were to look at the creation account in Genesis, God designed every healthy, living organism to multiply: “plants… trees… winged birds… livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth… (and) man” all “bear fruit…. according to its kind“.  Healthy trees make healthy trees.  Healthy armadillos make healthy armadillos.  Healthy humans make healthy humans.  Healthy Christians make healthy Christians.

God intended His church to be a living organism: multiplication and reproduction are intended to be a part of church life.  If we’re not reproducing, we aren’t healthy Christians.

Journalism & Discipleship

I have become increasingly frustrated with journalism in America today.  It seems more and more “journalists” are merely commentators sharing their opinions… and it is difficult to discern what the truth really is and what the facts really are.

Journalism schools originally taught journalism students basic questions to ask when gathering facts for a news story.  Most of us have known these questions since elementary school.  We ask them everyday, whether we attended journalism school or not.  These questions consist of 5 “Ws” and 1 “H”: “Who?”, “What?”, When?”, “Where?”, “Why?” and “How?”

When I begin putting a sermon or Bible study together, I ask these 6 questions of the text I’m studying.

What do these 6 questions have to do with discipleship?  These 6 questions should be asked by every believer… and every church… when we consider what it means to be a disciple.  These questions MUST be answered by every believer and every church!

  • Who is my everyday mission field?
  • What would an everyday missionary do?
  • When does everyday mission happen?
  • Where does everyday mission happen?
  • Why should a believer even care about everyday mission?
  • How can I share the gospel?

Come Into His Presence – written in 1999

COME INTO HIS PRESENCE                                                        written in 1999

The Story

While vacationing with his family in Sedona, Arizona, Lynn Baird (1952 – ) decided to take a walk on one of the hiking trails that wind their way through the resort area. The wild plant life, the mountains, and the little streams put a song in his heart. Before long, he began singing a melody… and then added some lyrics. He didn’t know where the song came from – God must have given it to him. He hoped he would be able to find his way back to civilization to write it down before he forgot the words and music.

After he wrote it down, he wasn’t sure the song was anything special, so he filed it away. About a year later, he played it for a friend. The friend liked the song so much it was introduced to his church. The congregation liked the song so much, they sang it almost every Sunday for the next 6 years!

Lynn thought only the people in his home church in Glendale, AZ, knew about the song… until he heard a praise and worship tape put out by Integrity Music. His song – this song – was on that tape, and before long many people in many churches were singing this song.

This song is Lynn’s only published song, but it is found in almost every hymnal and children’s song book published since 2000. Lynn continues to write songs for Abundant Life Community Church in Pasadena, California, where he now pastors.

The Song

Read this praise song, and – today – enter into God’s presence with thanksgiving!

Come into His presence with thanksgiving in your heart, and
give Him praise… give Him praise!

Come into His presence with thanksgiving in your heart,
your voices raised… your voices raised.

With glory and honor and power unto Him;
Jesus, the name above all names.

Shout To The Lord – written in 1993

SHOUT TO THE LORD                                                                   written in 1993

The Story

Darlene Zschech (1965 – ) of Sydney, Australia, had written this worship song, but she wasn’t sure it was any good.

Though Darlene is a talented woman, she was going through a dark time, a time of self-doubt. She wondered if God could use anything she did. Then she began reading Psalm 96. As she read it, her depression began to lift and this song was written.

When she mentioned this song to the music pastor of her church, he insisted on coming to her house to hear it. Now she was really nervous. Her music pastor came with a friend… so she was shakier than ever. Her hands were sweating. She didn’t even know if she would be able to play the piano, much less sing the words. So, she told the 2 men to face the wall… looking away from her. She didn’t want to see what she thought would be the pained expressions on their faces. But, when she finished, they said it was wonderful!  That was good to hear, but Darlene was sure they were just being polite.

It was until her pastor raved about the song that she realized it might have a life beyond her personal devotional time.

Darlene is now an Australian Pentecostal Christian worship leader and singer-songwriter who primarily writes praise and worship songs. Described as a “pioneer of the modern worship movement”, she is the former worship pastor of Hillsong Church.

The Song

            Read this praise song, and – today – shout to the Lord!

My Jesus, my Savior,
Lord, there is none like You;
all of my days I want to praise
the wonders of Your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength;
let every breath, all that I am
never cease to worship You.

CHORUS:
Shout to the Lord, all the earth; let us sing…
power and majesty, praise to the King;
mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands,
forever I’ll love You… forever I’ll stand;
nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

There Is None Like You – written in 1991

THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU                                                          written in 1991

The Story

Lenny LeBlanc (1951 – ) hadn’t been to church in 20 years. He figured he didn’t need religion. After all, he had signed a big contract with Capitol Records. As a pop artist, he was enjoying one success after another. Pop music was his life.

Then, late one night, in 1981, he got a phone call from a friend whom Lenny knew as a drug smuggler. That friend said, “Lenny, I got saved! Are you saved?” Lenny had no idea what that word “saved” meant. The friend sent Lenny a Bible and asked him to read it.

Lenny read it. He says that 2 weeks later, “I started crying out to God for forgiveness, and I became born again right there in my house.”

For a while, Lenny was in no-man’s land; he was still under contract to Capitol, but his heart wasn’t into writing pop music anymore. Finally, Capitol released him from the contract, and Lenny was free to write praise and worship songs for Jesus Christ. One day, as a tune and lyrics came to him, he began to cry. That song was this song.

He remembers that a few years later he went to Korea, at a concert where 60,000 young people had gathered. Lenny had planned to introduce this song to the Korean young people, but they already knew it! They sang this song in Korean, without his help. Afterwards, someone told him, “Didn’t you know your song is one of the most popular Christian songs throughout all of Asia?”

This song has beautiful harmony.

The Song

            Read this praise song, and – today – focus on the incomparable God.

There is none like You.
No one else can touch my heart like You do.
I could search for all eternity long… and find
there is none like You!