Psalm 92 – Give Thanks

Psalm 107:1 and 136:1 both say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” Giving thanks is more than being thankful. It is something you do. Action is involved. Paul said to “give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). So often we are not what we ought to be because we forget who we are in God. Giving thanks to God helps us remember how good He has been to us and helps keep our focus on Him.

 

The Beauty of Thanksgiving

In Psalm 92, we see various aspects of Thanksgiving. Verses 1 and 2 remind us to be thankful not just for what God does for us, but first and foremost for who He is. He is the Lord. His name is above every name. He is the Most High. He is faithful. He is loving. Worship always begins with God. It focuses on His name and His nature. How should you start your day? Looking forward in faith. How should you end your day? Looking back on His faithfulness. The Psalms teach us to thank God for His lovingkindness and faithfulness. His lovingkindness is better than life. His love endures forever.

 

The Band of Thanksgiving

Psalm 92 is called a Sabbath Song. It was used for public worship on the Sabbath, but it carries over to private worship daily, day and night. Reading verses 1-3 together we learn that worship focuses on God for who He is, and it also involves singing and instruments. Worshiping God with instruments is good and biblical. Four times in this Psalm we read the word “works.” Worshipping God involves singing, but it also includes service. Serving is an act of worship! Worship is vertical, verbal, visible, and volitional.

 

The Battles of Thanksgiving

Verse 9 talks of the Lord’s enemies perishing. Verse 11 reads, “My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes” (NIV). Thanksgiving and praise are not only instruments of worship, but they are weapons of war. Note from this verse that we see and hear. The fall of our adversaries is all God’s doing. It is His work on our behalf. The battle is the Lord’s. What the Psalmist anticipates is the ultimate defeat of all our enemies: sin, Satan, this evil world, death, hell, and the grave, because of Jesus who crushes the enemies of God and His people. Before going to the cross, Jesus took the bread, broke it and gave thanks. Because of the cross and resurrection, we have victory.

 

The Blessings of Thanksgiving

There are so many blessings that come when we give thanks! Verse 10 says, “You have lifted up my horn like that of a wild ox; I have been anointed with the finest oil.” Oil in scripture is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We need to regularly be filled with the Holy Spirit. So many people burn out. They lose the joy of their salvation. The joy of Lord is our strength. When your strength is small and you are feeling run down spiritually, ask God to give you fresh oil. Not only will God give us strength, but He also gives stability to the righteous. Verses 12-14 talk about palm and cedar trees that are thriving and bearing fruit. The palm trees in this passage are date palms, which not only produced fruit, but the leaves were used for fences and roofs. The cedar tree grows as high as 120 feet, and its branches extend out to a circumference of 30 feet. They are truly a majestic sight that symbolize great strength. Sometimes we forget how long it takes for a tree to sprout out of the ground. You may work a long time before you see results. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You will reap if you faint not. The tree first grows downward before it grows upward. It is a picture of stability. In addition to growing roots, we are also to grow upward and outward. We are called to rise above the people around us, our circumstances and obstacles, and long to be with and spend time with God. Just like a tree’s branches grow outward, providing shade for others, we do not exist for ourselves. God has called us to branch out and be a blessing. Our faithful God gives us fresh oil, makes us like a flourishing tree, and makes our years fruitful. Plant your life in the house of God. There is no greater cause than the cause of Christ and His church.

 

 

 

Psalm 37 – Moving from Aggravation to Appreciation

Do you ever get frustrated, irritated, or agitated? For all those getting ready for family gatherings this week, this message may help! Psalm 37 teaches us how to move from grumbling to gratitude. Verse 1 begins saying, “Do not be agitated….” As we look at this chapter, we’ll see that moving from aggravation to appreciation is a choice. There is a definite progression in this passage. One virtue births another.

 

Trust

“Trust in the Lord and do what is good…” (v.3). You can’t fret and trust, grumble then say, “But Lord I am trusting you.” You either choose to grumble or you choose to trust God. If you know God, you know you can trust Him. God said do not fret, do not get agitated. We have to choose to refuse. Faith and fretting are mutually exclusive. Where there is fretting, there is no faith, and vice versa.  Faith isn’t passive. We also have to do good. Doing good is just as important as trusting in the Lord. Trusting God means leaving God with the things that are beyond your control. The things that you can do, do good. Do right!

 

Delight

Trust brings delight. Verse 4 says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” To delight yourself in the Lord means to delight in His word, His will, and His work. The reason why many Christians don’t delight in God, is because they do not know Him very well. They don’t spend time with Him. That word “delight” literally means “to take pleasure in.” What do you take pleasure in? Your career, health, spouse, etc. will pass away. The Lord and His work will not! When you delight in the Lord, your desire will be His desire. Live to please Him and it will set you free from fretting over other people.

 

Commit

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act…” (v.5). Look at the progression! If you trust, you will delight. If you delight, you will commit. The Hebrew word “commit” literally means, “to roll over.”  Some problems only God can solve. When we commit to God, we take the burden off of our own shoulders and roll it over onto Him. When we commit all of our works and all of our ways to the Lord, we are told “and He shall bring it to pass.” Commit your plans to God and leave the results to Him.

 

Rest

The opposite of agitation is relaxation. You can’t rest in Him if you are not waiting for Him. Verse 7 tells us to “be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for him.” Be faithful. Don’t move too quickly. Don’t rush things. Don’t make hasty decisions. Be quiet and patient. Perspective comes when we are still and silent and think it through. Why do we trust God, delight in Him, commit our burdens to Him, and not rest in Him? Because we pick them up again! We have to daily die to self. Rest is a blessing.

 

Hope

“…Those who put their hope in the Lord will inherit the land” (v. 9). God has an inheritance for His children (see also v. 11, 18, 22, 29, 34). The wicked have only temporary pleasure on earth, but God’s people have eternal treasure in heaven. There is nothing like the hope of heaven. God has set eternity in our hearts (Ecc.  3:11). Salvation changes your perspective of earth versus eternity. There is more to life than this life. This world is not our home, Heaven is! If your investment is there, your heart is there.

 

Give

“…The righteous one is gracious and giving” (v. 21). We are in a giving season from Thanksgiving to Christmas, yet, more people commit suicide during this season. It is not that they have more problems, but they feel their problems more. They are more fretful and restless. The church is not a place for ourselves. We are here for those who are not yet here. Live your life in such a way that your life makes a difference. We can make a difference and leave a legacy (v. 26, 28). Yes, it includes your money, but it is more than your money. Give yourself to God. David is the author of this Psalm. In verse 25 he looks back over his life and sees how God has proven Himself over and over – “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.”

 

Psalm 1 – The Blessed Life

This Sunday we started a new series called Psalms of Thanksgiving. The word “psalms” means praise or song. The book of Psalms is the Hebrew hymnbook. God inhabits praise. Wherever He shows up His blessing shows up. Today, we will look at Psalm 1 and what it says about living a blessed life.

 

God’s Way

Psalm 1:1 says, “How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!” Blessed is the Hebrew word for happy. If you are happy it is because you have been blessed, and if you are blessed, you are happy! Happiness is what everyone is looking for. There are only two approaches to life – man’s way or God’s way. Sin is a downward spiral. If you listen to fools you will start to think like a fool. When you start thinking like a fool you will act like and live like a fool. Notice the term “pathway.” People often think we are all travelling a neutral road. At some point on that road there is a fork where we must decide if we’ll go God’s way or not. There are not three paths. The Bible makes it clear that there are only two paths. The broad road where everyone appears to be happy, but they are really miserable, leads to death. The narrow path has its share of hardships and difficulties, but is filled with happiness, peace, and joy, that leads to life everlasting. We are all on the wide path until we choose to follow Jesus. There is no neutral ground. You will miss God’s blessing if you walk the wrong path. Don’t let others rob you of a blessing!

 

God’s Word

Verse 2 says, “Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.” We go to the written Word to encounter Jesus, the living Word. Luther said, “We go to the Bible as the Shepherds went to the manger to find Christ.” The Bible is a book about Jesus. In the Old Testament, He is predicted. In the Gospels, He is revealed. In Acts, He is preached.  In the Epistles, He is explained.  In Revelation, He is expected. Why do you need to be in the Word every day?  You can backslide going to church, singing, preaching, praying, and witnessing. The only thing you can do and not backslide is stay in the Word. You will either get out of sin or sin will get you out of the word. “Meditate” here is talking about bringing Scripture to mind throughout the day.  Meditate is the same word as plot/imagine in Psalm 2. It means to fix your mind. Hide God’s Word in your heart so that you night not sin against God. Dwell on the Bible not your burdens. Dwell on the Word not your worries!  Bring every thought under the influence and control of God. Take every opportunity to experience God’s blessing.

 

God’s Wealth

He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (v. 3). God’s prosperity includes money, but it is more than money. God will prosper you with a life that really matters. God desires to bless His children. Never be jealous of someone else’s blessing. God has enough blessings for all His children. His well never runs dry! God plants and God prospers. A tree does not plant itself. God plants us where He wants us to live and serve. Bloom where you are planted. The tree has a constant supply of water by the river. It is a picture of the Holy Spirit pouring in us to produce His fruit in us. He gives us what we have for His glory. God blesses us to be a blessing! Don’t let your blessings become an idol. Don’t spend all your life trying to make a dollar that will burn up in the end. You are not carrying it with you. What matters most in life is God and people. Be generous with your time, talent, skills. Let your life bear fruit that will last forever. Let it bear seed that will produce further fruit.

 

There is a judgment day. “Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin” (v.5-6). The righteous prosper and the wicked perish. Which way are you going?

Relationships – God

Today, we will wrap up our series on Relationships by looking at Hebrews 8. Ultimately, the most important relationship any of us has is with God. Hebrews 8 begins, “Now the main point of what is being said is this…” (v. 1), and then the writer points to Jesus. Our relationship with God affects all other relationships. Jesus summed up all the commandments in two: love God and love others. The vertical impacts the horizonal. If you want your relationships with others to work, you need to work on your relationship with God. They are inseparable. What is required to have a relationship with God?

 

A High Priest

The second half of verse 1 says, “We have this kind of high priest….” To have a relationship with God, we need a go-between. There is only one mediator between God and man. That’s Jesus, the main point. The whole message of Hebrews is Jesus is greater, superior. He is King of Kings, Prophet of Prophets, Minister of Ministers, High Priest of all Priests. What we need is not religion but relationship, not death but life. We have everything we need in Jesus. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).  On the cross He said, “It is Finished.” He did not say He was finished. You do not have to clean up your life to come to Jesus. Come just as you are and He does the rest. Verse 2 refers to Jesus as a minister. Jesus, in an atmosphere of worship, continues to intercede for us. He pleads our cause every time the devil accuses, and He never tires of praying for us.

 

A Heavenly Place

Verses 2-5 talk about the “true tabernacle” in Heaven. The earthly temple and tabernacle were just copies, shadows of the real thing. A copy is good, but it’s not as valuable as the real thing. Think about it. If your loved one is deployed, you may keep a picture of them as a reminder. When they get home, you don’t hold on to the picture. You hug the real thing! There is a real place called Heaven. It’s as real as the address you live at on earth. It’s a place where He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain.

 

A Horrible Past

We’ve all sinned and fall short of God. Verse 7 says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second one.” Today, we are under the new covenant. We can be saved from our sin because of what Jesus did on the cross. There are eight covenants mentioned in Scripture: Edenic, Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Land, Davidic, and New. These are covenants God made with sinful man. Some characteristics of covenants are – bloodshed (animals sacrificed), name change (God changed Abram’s name to Abraham), an outward sign (a rainbow), a meal (a wedding reception), and a gift (parties would exchange gifts). When it comes to us, Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Lk. 22:20). We can enter into a relationship with God because Jesus’ blood paid for our sins. When we do that, we bear the name of Christ, Christian. There is an outward sign to show others we’ve been changed, baptism. We are promised eternity in Heaven and the first thing we are going to do there is eat at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Finally, when we become God’s, everything He has belongs to us. We get His righteousness, peace, victory, etc.

 

A Holy Promise

Verse 6 says Jesus “is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been established on better promises.” The law condemned but it could not convert. The law was not given to merely be obeyed; it was given to reveal we can’t do it. This new, final covenant will never be broken. It all depends on God, not on us. Notice the number of times God says “I will” in verses 8-10. Our salvation is not based on a merit system, all that we can DO. It is based on what Jesus has DONE. All we have to do is believe. The new covenant is inward not outward. It is a relationship not a ritual. Verse 12 says, “For I will forgive their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.…” The new covenant is about irrevocable forgiveness. It’s not that God is forgetful, but He chooses to forget because grace chooses to forgive. He holds it against us no more. A covenant is an unchangeable agreement between God and man that stipulates the relationship. Define the relationship. Do you have a relationship with God?