Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beach Trip August 2013

Okay, the pictures are up! This is all about our beach trip last weekend. We went on our first ever Loyd-Kirby-Talbert family vacation! We trekked down to Myrtle Beach to hang out for a few days and we had a BLAST! I didn't have my camera most of the time but these pictures are mainly from the night we went to the carnival. Mom and Dad gave the kids a little spending money so we took them on some rides. They had a ball, as you will see in the videos at the bottom.

 On the teacups:

 The ride that Brianna really wanted to go on (so she says):

So ready for the pool!

 Gotta get in a little quality time with the superheroes:

By Grace Alone *Review*

I received By Grace Alone by Derek Prince from Chosen Books to review. I loved it. I did feel that there were a couple of things in the book I didn't necessarily agree with Prince about, but overall I feel this is the best description of grace versus law that I have read. I think it is hard for many Christians to accept the idea of grace. We are always trying to earn God's love. Prince makes a powerful statement throughout his teachings in this book that the point of grace is that we cannot earn it. And when we do try to earn it, we are putting ourselves back under the Law.

I loved this book. The things I disagreed with Prince about were not significant issues, so I would still highly recommend this book to Christians who struggle with trying to earn God's love.

The way that Prince separates the chapters is perfect. You aren't overloaded with information and he spells everything out so it is easy to understand. He uses scripture to back up his points and brings to light things which you could easily overlook just reading the verse alone.

As I said, I highly recommend this book and will keep it so I can reference it as needed in the future.

Thank you to Chosen Books and Bethany House for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Timothy: A Little Fish With a Big Purpose Review

I love getting new books for the kids which have a spiritual basis. I was excited to read Brad Riley's new book, "Timothy: A Little Fish with a Big Purpose".

The colorful pictures will immediately grab your child's attention, and the story will keep her attention. The way Riley has created the characters, they are sweet and loving. There is a very sweet background to Timothy which has to do with his mother and grandmother, and their very close relationship. If you don't understand the correlation to the biblical Timothy during the story, you will understand it when reading Riley's afterword. I think he made a great decision to characterize this fish after Timothy in the Bible.

In the story, Timothy gets the opportunity to obey his grandmother. When he does, that decision will change him forever, because it allows him to be a part of one of Jesus' miracles.

Of course the story is fictional, but it is an extremely important lesson for our children to learn and for adults to be reminded of. When we walk in obedience, it is easier for God to use us in the plans He has laid out. As your child gets older, you can read to them the corresponding story from the Bible. I could easily see this book being used as a foundation for several activities with kids in a home or church setting.

You can purchase a copy from Amazon here.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Vox Dei Publishers for a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

By Grace Alone: Why the Law?

I am going to break from blogging about the Psalms for a little bit, although I'll still be studying them on my own. I've just finished an incredible book called "By Grace Alone" and I really want to share some thoughts from the book. I think it contains extremely important concepts for Christians and some misbeliefs that nonbelievers may hold. Please join me on this journey and share with your friends. If there is anything you want to look more in depth about, please consider purchasing the book. "By Grace Alone" by Derek Prince is available at most bookstores and on Amazon.

So the question now is, if the Law doesn't really apply to us today and it was impossible for us to keep from the beginning, why did God even give the Law in the first place? Here are six reasons:

1. Not as a means to righteousness.
First, we have to realize that God did not give the Law as a way to achieve righteousness.

Romans 3:20 - "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."

Other than Jesus, no other human being will ever achieve righteousness by keeping the Law.

Galatians 2:16 - "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law..."

Galatians 3:11 - "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God..."

2. To reveal sin.
The Law makes us aware of sin. 

Romans 7:7 - "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law."

The only thing that revealed sin to Paul was the Law. Until we really see the nature of sin we are not going to see fully our need of salvation. God gave the Law so that we would see this force of sin in all its horrible working and with all its deadly effects.

3. To reveal man's carnal nature.
Our problems are the result of two forces at work within us. The first force is sin. The second force is human nature that comes under the influence of sin and turns away from righteousness.

This nature is easily affected by sin. The Bible refers to it as "the old man", "the flesh", "the body", "the body of sin", and "the body of the sins of the flesh". Not referring to the physical body, but rather to the nature we inherited with our physical body.

Romans 7:14-15 - "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."

I'm sure a lot of us have felt like that before. The Law brings out into light the two root problems in my life.

4. To foreshadow Christ.
Although the Law diagnoses the problem, it foreshadows the solution. In Luke chapter 24, Jesus talks to the disciples, explaining the scriptures and showing how He has fulfilled the things in the Law and other Old Testament scriptures. He says all this scripture foreshadowed Him.

5. To bring us to Christ.

Galatians 3:24 - "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."

The Law was to teach us the basic principles of righteousness, of obedience, of right and wrong, and then take us to the real teacher, who is Christ.

6. To keep Israel a separate people.

Numbers 23:9 - "For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations."

Even after Israel has been driven out of her own land, this prophecy has been fulfilled. The Jewish nation is still a separate indentifiable group of people after being dispersed from its own land for centuries, scattered among at least one hundred countries.

So that is why the Law was given. So how does it affect me if I try to keep it? That's what we'll look at next time.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

By Grace Alone: 7 Facts About the Law

I am going to break from blogging about the Psalms for a little bit, although I'll still be studying them on my own. I've just finished an incredible book called "By Grace Alone" and I really want to share some thoughts from the book. I think it contains extremely important concepts for Christians and some misbeliefs that nonbelievers may hold. Please join me on this journey and share with your friends. If there is anything you want to look more in depth about, please consider purchasing the book. "By Grace Alone" by Derek Prince is available at most bookstores and on Amazon.

7 Facts About the Law of Moses

Fact #1: The Law was given through Moses.

John 1:17 - "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." 

Romans 5:13-14 - "For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come."

The time period from Adam to Moses was the period until the law. Man was ruled by conscience. When Moses came, the Law was given through him.

Fact #2: The Law is a closed system.

The Law of Moses is a complete, perfect system to which nothing can be added and from which nothing must be taken away.

Deuteronomy 4:2 - "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."

Deuteronomy 12:32 - "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it."

According to God's command, the Law is completely unchangeable.

Matthew 5:17-18 - "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
A "jot" is the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet, about the size of a comma. A "tittle" is a little mark on the top of some letters that distinguishes them from other letters, and it's smaller than a comma.

Romans 7:12 - "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."

Fact #3: The Law means all or nothing.

If we wish to achieve righteousness by keeping the Law, it must be all or nothing. There is no in-between.

Galatians 3:10 - "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."

Anyone who is seeking to be made righteous by the works of the Law is under a curse. Once you come under the Law, you have no more options. You must continue at all times to do all the commands written there. If at any point you fail, you are under a curse. Not even one omission or exception is tolerated.

James 2:10-11 - "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law."

Even if you keep 99.9% of the law but fail in 0.1%, you are a lawbreaker. It is all or nothing.

Fact #4: Christ fulfilled the Law.

Matthew 5:17 - "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil."

Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law. He did this in three ways.

First, Jesus kept the Law perfectly. In John 8:46, Jesus asks the religions leaders of His day if any of them could convict Him of sin. If He had violated the law we can be sure they would have known about it, but He never violated it at all.

Second, Jesus fulfilled the Law by fulfilling all of its prophecies.

Luke 24:26-27 - "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself."

After Jesus was resurrected from the cross, He talked to the disciples and detailed all the prophecies He had fulfilled throughout His life, death and resurrection.

Third, Jesus fulfilled the Law by paying its final penalty on our behalf.

Romans 6:7 - "For he that is dead is freed from sin."

The original Greek there actually means he that is dead is justified from sin. The last thing the law can do is put you to death. If you have committed 15 offenses, the law can only put you to death one time. But Jesus Christ suffered the death penalty on our behalf.

Romans 7:4 - "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ."

Christ died to the Law and I died to the Law through His death. Because I am in Christ, the Law has nothing to say to me. I am outside its territory and jurisdiction, finally and forever.

Galatians 2:19-20 - "For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

Fact #5 - Christ broke down the wall of separation.

Look back at Romans 10:4. If you believe, then Christ is the end of the Law for you - whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. Ephesians 2:11-22 also discusses the difference between a Jew and a Gentile. In these verses Paul talks about a wall of separation. There was actually a wall in Jerusalem that a Gentile was not allowed to pass through. But Jesus has broke down that wall of division because He abolished the Law. Therefore Jesus has put an end to the Law and to the enmity between Jew and Gentile. 

Honestly, though, there is still enmity between Jew and Gentile. It exists because the Law has separated Israel from all other people. When you are under a religious law, it puts you at enmity with those who are not under the same law. That's why some Baptists are at enmity with some Episcopalians. And some Catholics are at enmity with some Protestants. (Of course that cannot be a blanket statement.)

The trouble with the church is that we as Christians have re-erected the middle wall of partition. Now, however, it's not just between Jews and Gentiles. We use other labels, like Baptist, Catholic, charismatic, or Holiness. Every time we establish religious law we reap enmity.

There is nothing new about a Gentile or a Jew. But what is new is that we are all in Christ as one new man. When Christ put an end to the Law, He removed not only the enmity between believers, but also the enmity between us and God.

Colossians 2:14-16 - "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:"

In hymns, we often sing that Jesus nailed our sins to the cross. But really, He nailed the Law to the cross. Paul uses the word "handwriting" in that verse in Colossians. In Exodus, it tells us that God wrote the Ten Commandments with His own finger. He is the only one who can wipe out what He has written.

So, the ordinances have been wiped out. If we believed we were still under those commandments and ordinances, we would all be Seventh Day Adventists so we could worship on Saturday in order to keep the Sabbath. But the truth is, we're not under the old commands anymore.

Fact #6 - Christians are not under the Law.

Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

Romans 7:4 - "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ;"

Israel was married to the Law, and as long as the Law lived, if Israel were to turn to anyone else, she would rightly be labeled adulterous. But what Israel had to learn is that the first husband has died, and she is now free to be married to Christ, the resurrected Messiah, without being adulterous. 

Romans 7:6 - "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."

Galatians 5:18 - "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." 

When you are a child of God, you are led by the Spirit. When you go back under the Law, you're not living as a child of God anymore.

Fact #7: Christians are warned against going back.

Galatians 3:1-4 - "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain."  
If you go back under the Law, it's all in vain. Paul talks later in Galatians 5:1 about a yoke of bondage, which is referring to the Law. We talk about bondage to drugs and alcohol now, but the bondage of the Law can be just as concerning. Once you have decided to abide fully by the Law, Jesus is of no use to you. The word bondage is actually a word that means "slavery". When you go back under the Law, you come under the spirit of slavery to fear. The Law says, "Do this! And if you don't do it, you are a transgressor! Do that! And if you don't do it, you will die!"

Next time, I'll look a little more at the Law. If we can't achieve righteousness by the Law, then why was it given?  What was it's purpose?


Monday, August 26, 2013

By Grace Alone: Two Ways to Righteousness

I think I am going to break from blogging about the Psalms for a little bit, although I'll still be studying them on my own. I've just finished an incredible book called "By Grace Alone" and I really want to share some thoughts from the book. I think it contains extremely important concepts for Christians and some misbeliefs that nonbelievers may hold. Please join me on this journey and share with your friends. If there is anything you want to look more in depth about, please consider purchasing the book. "By Grace Alone" by Derek Prince is available at most bookstores and on Amazon.

Two Ways to Righteousness:

In this study, the word law refers to religious law. In other words, we will be studying law viewed as a means of achieving righteousness with God.

Romans 10:4 - "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." 

In that verse, Paul is telling us that the moment a person believes in Jesus Christ, that is the end of law for that person as a means of righteousness.The law will endure as part of God's word forever. The law will be part of Israel's history forever. But this is the end of the law as a means to achieve righteousness with God.

The Law refers to the Law of Moses.

Ephesians 2:15 - "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace..."

The commandments are the direct requirements of prohibitions (Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery etc.). The ordinances are the way of living that works out the commandments, certain deeds you had to do and certain procedures you had to follow, such as restoring lost property or bringing an appropriate offering to the house of God.

Romans 2:14-15 - "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another..."

It is not the Law that is written in the hearts of the Gentiles. It is the work of the Law. The Law for a Jew presses the issue of personal responsibility and personal guilt. Inside a Gentile is something like a law court. In this court the thoughts of the Gentiles are either accusing them or excusing them, and their consciences are as judges. Therefore, the work of the Law will do for a Gentile what the Law of Moses was designed to do for a Jew.

So what is grace?

A good definition of grace is "that which is freely given by God and received by faith, without being earned or deserved."

We cannot earn it. We can never deserve it. Anything that we can earn or deserve is not grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."

Grace is normally received by faith, as seen in the above scripture. Grace has nothing to boast about.

Therefore, there are two ways to righteousness. One is by following the Law. One is by receiving grace. If something is of law, then it is not of grace. And if something is of grace, then it is not of law.

John 1:17 - "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

Grace and law are absolutely distinct.

Romans 6:14 - "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."

If you are under grace, you are not under law. You cannot be in both conditions.

Romans 10:5-6 - " For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)"

The Law is clear. If you want to be made righteous by the Law, then you must do everything the Law says all the time. If you can accomplish that feat, then you do not need grace. But, if you cannot be justified by the Law, then you must accept grace or not be justified at all.

The Law says, "This is what you have to do and to keep doing it all the time." Grace says, "Someone else has done it for you."

What this means is there are two kinds of religion in the world. One is a religion of law and works, the other is a religion of faith and grace. One is the religion of Cain (law and works) and one is the religion of Abel (faith and grace). (If you don't know the story of Cain and Abel I urge you to read Genesis 4:1-15 right now.)

Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. Cain brought an offering because it was something he decided to do. Abel received God's word and Cain refused God's word. If we seek through our own works to establish our own righteousness, we are refusing to submit to the righteousness of God, which is by faith. Abel offered a sacrifice that acknowledged the need for propitiation for his sin. (Propitiation is a sacrifice that cancels sin and satisfies the wrath due from God toward sin.)

Through faith in His blood, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for sins we have committed. Abel offered a propitiation and, in so doing, he acknowledged that there was a gift that needed to be propitiated. Cain did not offer a propitiation. There was no sacrifice, no death and no shed blood. He brought the works of his own hands - the fruit of the earth. In Genesis 3:17 God cursed the ground of the earth when He cursed Adam and Eve. Therefore, Cain offered God the fruit of something which was cursed. Abel's sacrifice was accepted by God and Cain's was not. Your relationship to God is either one of acceptance or rejection.

Abel's religion produced a martyr. Cain's religion produced a murderer.

Scripture indicates that in all of Christendom there will be two groups. Not Catholic or Protestant or Methodist or Baptist. One is the Bride and one is the Harlot. Everybody who survives to the end of the age will be in one or the other. Abel's religion produces the Bride. Cain's religion produces the Harlot. In Revelation 17 and 18 you can read about the Harlot, an elaborate false religious system.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Judges For You Review

I believe the Old Testament scriptures are some of the hardest to study. So many New Testament scriptures are easy to relate to modern times and apply easily to our lives. But sometimes the Old Testament stories don't quite make sense or it is hard to see how to apply the stories and lessons to our lives today. That's my opinion at least. So when I can find a good study on the Old Testament books in the Bible I jump on the chance to use them.

Judges For You is a book by Timothy Keller which, in his words, can be used to read (just front to back), to feed (as a study), or to lead (as in a small group setting). The book begins with an introduction to Judges; the background and the time period. Each chapter splits up the verses into sections so it's not overwhelming and it's easy to read. Throughout the chapters are words which are the color gray. These words are explained in the glossary in the back and are words such as: grace, ordination, Tribes of Israel, and so forth. Also at the end of each chapter are questions for reflection so you can apply the scripture to your life.

Not only does Keller include the glossary, but he includes a picture of the "cycle" that was consistently followed by the people. In other words, he explains how they would rebel, God would get angry, they'd go through oppression, they would repent, there would be salvation through a judge, there would be peace, and then the judge would die. Then the cycle would start all over again. Keller shows this cycle every time it occurs in the book of Judges. He also includes a map of Israel, some of the issues of Israel, and further recommended reading.

I've never seen such a great commentary on an Old Testament book of the Bible. It was interesting, easy to read, and definitely made me want to learn more. I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious to learn more about this book of the Bible.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and The Good Book Company for giving me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Psalm 18

Today's scripture is Psalm 18. Go here to read it in your preferred version. (I know this is a long one, but hang with me!)

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.
The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.
14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.
15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.
16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.
18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.
19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.
23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.
24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.
25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.
27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.
28 For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.
31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.
37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.
38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.
39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.
40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.
41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.
42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.
43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.
45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.
46 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.
47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.
48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.
49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

I will love you, my God. You are my strength!

He is my rock. Literally my "stronghold" or my "security". He is my fortress. Again, my "stronghold". He is my deliverer. My "safety", my "security", my "escape". He is Jehovah, the one true God. My strength. The one I can trust. My buckler, or my shield. The horn of my salvation. He is my salvation and the truth of that salvation. He is my high tower. My "refuge", my "stronghold", my "retreat".

I will call upon God who is so worthy of praise! Because of God and His works, I can be saved. Not of anything I could do.

Look at what God has delivered me from. A lot of this scripture applies to David personally but we all have things God has saved us from. We all have reasons why God should not love us. Yet he continues to deliver us and rescue us. 

Verse 4 - David was depressed - perhaps even suicidal at some point in his life. He was afraid of men even though he knew they were nothing compared to God. But David knew (verse 6) he could still call on God and his cries would be heard by God.

We can see the power of God in nature - the earth shakes and the hills move.

We can see His anger in action here. God is as a consuming fire. The coals are people who are just fanning those flames. But when we call on God, He Himself will bow the heavens and come to us.

Verse 11 - He makes darkness His secret place. To us, God is physically invisible. But when He shows himself to us the clouds pass and we see this brightness that is God.

God is thunder. He is hail and lightning. We see His power in these forms of nature.

Verses 15-19 - Thank God, when I am drowning, He will take me and deliver me. Draw me out from the water. He is my "stay". My comfort. He keeps me from sinking. He delivers me because He delights in me.

Verse 20 - Yes, God will reward me according to my righteousness. And according to the cleanness of my hands. Know what is great? I am clean because of what Jesus has done for me! So when God looks at me, He does see someone who is righteous!!

Verses 21-24 - David feels that he truly has kept the ways of God and not departed from them. David put God's commands first. He feels he was upright (innocent) and kept himself from sin.

Verses 25-26 - When we are merciful, God loves to show mercy to us. When we are pure, God will show us how pure He is. But when we are devious, or shrewd, God will show us He can be this way as well.

Verse 27 - God will save the poor/humble/lowly, but those who are haughty and pride-filled will most likely not even ask for help.

Verse 28 - God, you are my light. You are the one who takes away my darkness.

Verse 29 - With God's help I can get over any obstacle.

Verse 30 - God's way is perfect. His word is proven and tested. He is my shield. 

Verse 31 - There is no god except the one true God. He is the only true rock, too.

Verse 32 - It is God who gives me strength. Clothes me in strength, and shows me the right way to go.

Verse 33 - He sets me aside... separate. He has made me unique.

Verse 34 - He teaches me to run in certain circumstances but also knows I need to be equipped for battle too.

Verse 35 - God has given me the shield of salvation. He holds me in His hand. Lets me lean on His strong hand when I can't hold myself up. When God is gentle and patient with me, it makes me become a better person.

Verse 36 - God has made sure I won't slip as I walk on my daily path. He widens my path so I won't teeter so much.

Verses 37-40 God will save me from my enemies. This could be something other than people. Lusts, temptations, anxieties, doubts, fears, etc. We should loathe these things until they are under our feet. Destroy them. Ask God to help subdue this thing against us.

Verse 42 - When we rely on God, our troubles and crises can turn "as small as dust". He will give us strength to cast those things out of our lives and into the streets.

Verse 46 - The Lord lives. Blessed be my rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted!

Verses 47-48 - God will avenge me. There is no need for me to try to do that. He will deliver me. He will help me rise above any of this mess on earth.

Verses 49-50 - I will give thanks to God and sing praises to Him because He has delivered me and shown mercy to me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Psalm 29

Today's scripture is Psalm 29. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.
The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.
10 The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever.
11 The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Verse 1 - We are to give God glory. Even if we are "mighty" - in strength or power, that is - God is so much higher than us. Any power we have on earth is because God has given it to us. Not that God needs us to give Him glory, but the recognition of what He has given us is a gift to Him.

Verse 2 - We should give God the glory due His name. I feel like one way we can do this is by being a living sacrifice.

Romans 12:1 - "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

God should be our "beauty" and "holiness" we are worshiping. We should adore Him. We should worship Him alone and in a holy place. And we need to strive to be holy in all that we do, too.

Verse 3-4 - I love the power of God in creation! His voice is on the waters. It's in the sound of the waves... that peace you feel in the early morning hours at the beach... that part of the day where your muscles relax and you are just smiling for no reason. His voice also thunders though, showing His power. His voice is power! His voice is majestic.

Verses 5-9 - Here we see God's dominion over the earth. His voice breaks trees - even the strongest cedars. His voice may be in the wind which breaks through the strongest trees. His voice may be in earthquakes, which makes the trees skip. His voice can divide lightning upon the earth and scatter the fire as He wants to. The thunder of God's voice can shake the whole wilderness. We have certainly felt the earth shake during thunderstorms, so I can definitely visualize these words even without ever feeling a real earthquake. Calves may be terrified into giving birth early and animals may run to and from hiding places in the forest upon hearing this thunder. God is so powerful even in nature that everyone in His temple is talking about His glory.

Verse 10 - God sits as King forever. He sits upon the flood. He is in charge of the things and activities of nature. And as He sits, He judges. And yes, I believe at times He uses nature to remind us of His power.

Verse 11 - Thank God He will give us strength and peace! He will bless those of us who continue to have faith in Him.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Psalm 28

Today's scripture is Psalm 28. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.
Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.
Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.
Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.
Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.
Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

God, you are my rock. You are the only thing in my life that never moves. So I'm throwing myself at you, clinging to you and crying out to you. When I do that, I beg you, don't be silent. Show me you are listening, so I don't get discouraged and show a lack of faith as someone who is unsaved. I'm crying out to you, God. I'm humbling myself, lifting my hands and my voice to you. Hear me.

Grab me up and drag me away from the wickedness of the world. Completely remove me from it. Don't let me be that person who acts one way to people and another way behind their back. I do not want to be that person. That is a "double heart" (Psalm 12:2 - They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak).

People want so badly to make their choices and live however they want. David in this scripture plainly says - Okay, God, just give them what they want. Give them what they deserve.

At a certain point, God will not continue to try to turn your heart anymore. Rather than building you up, he will destroy you. This is to the person who continues to completely disregard God's works, or the things He has done. God is merciful but He will only  fight with you and your idols for so long.

It is such a blessing to be able to call on God. He does hear my pleas.

He is my strength. My shield. My heart trusts in Him and that helps me through every situation. It makes my heart rejoice and it just has to come out of my mouth in the form of praise. 

Because I am saved, God is my strength. He is my saving strength.

God, save us. Save us from ourselves. Bless us, God, although we are so undeserving. Feed us. Keep us safe and not wanting for anything. Lift me up out of my pit of neediness, or depression, or idolatry, or anxiety, or overwhelming feelings. Whatever my "pit" is, lift me up out of it, God, and restore me - because I am yours. Not because I am deserving. Because I am yours.

Questions? Comments?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Psalm 26

Today's scripture is Psalm 26. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide.
Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.
For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.
I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.
I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked.
I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord:
That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.
Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men:
10 In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me.
12 My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the Lord.

How often do we ask God to judge us? I mean, really? I don't even want my husband to judge me based on what he sees, but God sees all I do and knows all my thoughts and motives. So it's 100 times harder to ask God to judge me. We should ask Him consistently to show us the things in our lives that need to be removed, but that is hard and scary. 

Another question we have to ask ourselves is when people do make accusations against us. God... is this true? Point this out to me. Judge me. Tell me if this is something I need to consider and change. I may feel as though I have walked in integrity and trusted in God but He can open my eyes and show me if this is not true.

Verse 2 - So examine me, God. Test me. Look in my heart and my thoughts and make sure they align with your will and your desires.

Verse 3 - God, you are so loving and kind. From that love should my actions come. We should act out of God's love, not any religious reason or to look good.

Verses 4-5 - David talks about things we should not do in these verses. We should not surround ourselves with people who are against God and who outright disobey Him. If we choose wisely who to hang out with, it helps us stay strong in our faith.

Verses 6-7 - We have to try to be the best Christian we can to stay intimate with God and to be a good example. When we live by God's word, people are more likely to listen to us when we tell them the wonders of God.

Verse 8 - We should love to be in God's presence. We should long to be with Him and other believers. This should be like home to us.

Verses 9-10 - We should dread being associated with this type of person. Of course we are called to love all people but I think we all know when we are taking a relationship too far and it is affecting our relationship with God. When their hands have mischief and they are miserable and have no desire to change, we should run from these people.

As for me (verse 11) - It's a personal decision we have to make throughout all our lives. So as for me, I will walk in integrity. I am redeemed and God has been merciful to me and I want to repay Him for that. Rather than focusing on what you are doing wrong and where I saw you last night and who you were with - I'm going to keep on doing gut checks on my own self instead. Because I want to keep walking in integrity. The more I'm focused on you and what you're doing, the less I'm focused on my path.

My feet will stand on solid, even ground. I don't want to stumble or turn. I want to always be part of the congregation that blesses and praises God.

Questions? Comments?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Compassionate Jesus

I recently read a book called "Compassionate Jesus" by Christopher W. Bogosh. The subtitle on the cover says, "Rethinking the Christian's Approach to Modern Medicine". I'll admit, I kind of wiggled my eyebrows at that. I don't really have an approach to modern medicine. I'm not a huge fan of medicine, I don't give it really freely, but I'm going to do everything in my power to keep my kids from hurting or feeling bad. I wondered what kind of path this book was going to take me on.

The first chapter is regarding the act of prolonging life. The author makes a great point in this chapter, which is the fact that our society today is obsessed with prolonging life. Bogosh discusses decisions such as Do Not Resuscitate orders and exhausting every medical treatment available, and what he says is that it all comes down to - what is God's will? Is it God's will that I seek every medical treatment for my condition, no matter what? Or is it God's will that I spend the rest of my days serving Him and loving on my family? The answer is different for everyone. As Bogosh says, "God's glory takes precedence over physical healing" (p. 20). It's just hard to see that when you're in the situation. He also does a great summary of Biblical compassion as found in scripture.

He discusses the advancements that are constantly coming through medical facilities. Obviously these are great advancements - vaccinations, MRIs, insulin, etc. He takes us on a history of the medical profession which is pretty interesting. He also provides financial reports and statistics on the health care system - some of which made a physician state that "as a culture, we really have to acknowledge that we're mortal" (p. 58).

The book is written by a man in the medical profession (hospice care, specifically) so it is extremely interesting for him to break down everything from life support to vegetative states to emergency room visits. You can tell that he wants all people to be aware of these situations (and be prepared) and wants Christians to be able to parallel these situations with scripture when making decisions.

The book is very detailed and I learned a lot. Bogosh uses a lot of examples with different responses to different situations, which I found interesting and made a lot of sense to me.

If you or a loved one is struggling with medical decisions, I would recommend you read this book. It may help you line your beliefs up with scripture. If nothing else I believe it will help you lean more on God than medical technology, and I think that is exactly what the author is looking for.

Thank you to Cross Focused Reviews and Reformation Heritage Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Psalm 146

Today's scripture is Psalm 146. Go here to read it in your preferred version.

Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:
Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners:
The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:
The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.

I must praise God - This is stated four times in the first two verses.

As long as I live I will praise Him. While I have a body I will praise God. I believe some people say this but it's just lip service. When things start to be hard in life they drift away from God and start to question His goodness. 

I have to remember not to put my trust in any human. Not a family member, a spouse, or a pastor. Not to say that I don't trust people, but I don't put them on a pedestal. If I give people too much credit and then they mess up, it will really disappoint me. It ought not to be that way. God is where my trust should lie, and God will never fail me!

Verse 4 makes another good point. Say I put all my trust in someone and then they die. In that moment, "his thoughts perish". God will never die and will never go away. He is the complete opposite of us humans. 

Happy is the person who asks for help from the God of Jacob. Who places his hope in God. The God who is the Creator, the keeper of truth, the righteous judge, the feeder of the hungry, the one who takes care of our needs, the one who breaks our bonds and chains, the one who opens the eyes of the blind, the one who lifts us up when we are bowed down. What an amazing God. He loves the righteous. He takes care of us whether we are homeless, fatherless, widowed, or any other affliction. But if we are an enemy of God, He can turn our world upside down.

God will reign forever. Regardless of our belief in Him. Praise Him. He will reign over every generation here on earth.

When I read this scripture it made me think of the song 10,000 Reasons. One of our favorites to sing at church, so I wanted to share it with you!


Questions? Comments?