Monday, July 30, 2018

The Psalms and Thanks Giving

Psm. 100:1-5

#1.  God's people are called to be a thankful people.  ie:  to Recognize who He is and Acknowledge His goodness, graciousness toward us.

#2.  God's people are called to GIVE THANKS!!   The difference = attitude vs. action  
      A)  Biblical references to "be thankful" vs "give thanks" = 50 to 1!!!
      B)  The most often used word in conjunction with "thanks" = "GIVE"

In Psalms = "give thanks..........   for:  Material blessings
"in song                                             relational blessings
"in the great assembly                        national blessings
"and call on His name                       Spiritual blessings

"and praise His name                        current blessings - what's happening now
"for His righteous laws                      past blessings - what has been done
"because Hi is good                          future blessings - what He's going to do
"to Him forever

Summary:  Psm. 118:28-29  I should give thanks because:
      1)  I'm blessed!!!
      2) I'm blessed By HIM!! - not by an impersonal universe!!
      3)   I'm blessed beyond my ability to procure (life, health, family, talents, opportunities, freedoms)
      4)  I'm blessed beyond what I deserve   (contrast with 'entitlement' attitude)

In Psalms - blessings are often listed in generic form.
Therefore, many people/generations can use them as their own.   (was David's, now mine!)

Example:  Psm. 1-7:1-32
       Intro:  Vs. 1-3   *give thanks because He is good!!!
let the redeemed say this!!! = those He's redeemed.... those He's gathered.....

     1st. Verse - Vs. 4-9  some of those He redeemed ....    wandered, lost, unsettled ... they cried, He delivered!!   (vs. 8)  let them give thanks

    2nd. Verse - Vs. 10-16 - some of those He redeemed .... sat in darkness, prisoners, enslaved by their own doing!!  .... they cried/ He saved them.   (vs. 15) let them give thanks

    3rd. Verse - Vs. 17-22  - some of those He redeemed .... rebelled!! became fools and suffered AT HIS HAND!!  (eventually....) they cried out, He saved them   (vs. 21)  let them give thanks

   4th. Verse - Vs. 23-32  - Some of those He redeemed ......  found themselves in great peril @ nature's hand!!  (life's circumstances)  .... they cried out/ He brought them through
(vs. 31)  let them give thanks.

  Conclude by combining closing line verse opening lines ... ie:  Vs. 43 ---> Vs. 1-3 - let them Praise and Give Thanks!!

On one hand thanksgiving - easy, natural amidst great blessings
However, it becomes SACRIFICE when offered amidst great loss, great trial 

Concept:  1 Thess. 5:18
Examples:  Dan. 6:10, Matt. 26:26-27, Acts 27:35

Opposite of thankful?? - Thankless!!!
Opposite of give thanks?? - withhold thanks!!   Rom. 1:21-22 - extremely unhealthy

The average person is not thankless in attitude, BUT often is in practice
Compare the 10 lepers - Luke 17:11-19

Clearly - Biblical view of giving thanks = (1)  right and proper  and  (2)  healthy!!
Note:  your thanksgiving does not Profit God!!!
Rather ... profits you and those around you!!!

Challenge:  (1)  examine your level of thankfulness (attitude) and .. your level of thanksgiving  (action)

                  (2)  develop both!!!

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Psalms and Praise

Review:  longest book?  Most often read Old Testament book?  the book most often quoted in the New Testament?  by Jesus?

Book of Psalms = several authors gathered over many years.  (Moses up to past exile.  roughly 1000 years)  Was the ancient Hebrew Hymnal. 
How different from our hymnals of today?  (Was inspired = true view of God!!)  Acts 4:25
Hymnals are made up of songs inspired artistically, but no necessarily Biblically!

Categories: - Praise, Thanksgiving, Complaint, Cursing, Messianic, etc.   BUT All = Worship!!!  Of YHWH  - (LORD)


Praise (noun) = verbal, vocal, audible, visible adoration - recognition of His goodness, majesty, mercy, etc.
(verb) = to express admiration, appreciation, to commend, compliment, applaud
Common Biblical words include:  exalt, extol (His virtues), glorify, bless & give praise to Him.

Psalm = poetry & song ie:  Praise put to Music
(in other words:  praising YHWH for --- who He IS and What He DOES!!  (has done, is doing, will do)

Examples:  the last 5 psalms:
Psalm 146:1, 2, 10, 147:1, 148:1-13, 149:1-5, 150:1-6

In Scripture we are:
(1)  instructed to Praise Him
(2)  expected to Praise Him - Psm. 33:1

But also:  (3)  created to Praise Him - Isa. 43:21
and/or (4)  re-created to Praise Him   1 Pet. 2:9
One of the primary purposes in this life is to praise Him.

WHY???  obviously NOT to benefit Him!! - He is total and complete and perfect in Himself
Therefore:  obviously to benefit US!!  ie:  MANKIND GENERALLY (people)  and YOU (individually) SPECIFICALLY!!

I)  How Praise Benefits - People/ MANKIND GENERALLY

Jer. 13:11 -  "for my renown"!! - to make Him known to other people
with John 12:32 - when people are drawn to God, Christ - they benefit  (as individuals) and WE benefit (as a church, community, nation, etc.)
Matt. 5:16 - Point:  Your Praise may direct their gaze!! 
                              Your Praise points to /draws attention to GOD.

II.  How Praise Benefits - You Specifically!!  

Praise directs your gaze/focus - Onto God (who IS, / what does)
Praise recognizes and names His character, attributes, deeds, etc. - (omnipotent, sovereignty, Care, Concern, Mercy, Goodness, Justice

Which results in some very positive things:

(1)  Confidence - ie:  trust/certainty/ FAITH - Psm. 9:9-10
     (a)  this is not self confidence..... = GOD confidence  "faith"
    (b)  this is not confidence that He'll support all your plans!!  vs.  HIS!!

(2)  Peace - Isa. 26:3, Phil. 4:4-7, 13
Praise is not necessarily finding something new, rather = declaring that which you already know!!

(3)  Direction - ie:  puts you in a path with Him, not against Him.   "say same thing as"

(4)  Humility - seeing God AS He is   leads to better seeing self as are

(5)  Balance -- of head and heart/ fact and feeling - Psm. 42:1-6

(6)  Receptivity  (open-ness to God, Holy Spirit) - 1 Cor. 2:9-10

(7)   Optimism - which is not blind, foolish, denying situations, problems, evil, etc.  BUT recognizing WHO is with you!!!

Overall - Biblical Praise affects, improves Performance in Life - Eph. 2:10 - Praise helps you Become what you are-- (a) created to be  b  saved to be

Recognize  1)  the importance of praise
                 2)  the benefits of praise
                 3)  the decision, choice .... to praise!!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Introduction to Psalms

Facts:   Psalms is:  the longest book in the Bible.
                            the most often read book in the Old Testament
                            the Old Testament book most often quoted in the New Testament.
                            the Old Testament book most often quoted by Jesus.

Word "psalm" literally = a song sung to stringed instruments.  (57 of the 150 are so designated).
Also have "song" - Psalm 46 intro,
               "maskil" - Psalm 32 intro
               "miktam" - Psalm 16 intro
Don't actually know what the designations mean.

Together these psalms constitue the Hebrew Hymnal.  Book of poems written to music in rhyming concept, not rhyming words as in English poetry.

Who wrote them?

73 attributed to David
2 attributed to Solomon
1 attributed to Moses
12 attributed to Asaph - a skilled leader in the tabernacle choir - a "seer" - 2 Chron. 29:30  Seer = person    who sees ahead like a prophet.
11 attributed to Sons of Korah = probably a guild of gifted song writers, poets, worship leaders
1 attributed to Ethan the Ezrahite - man of renown!!  = 1 Kings 4:32
Others - not identified  (anonymous)

When were they written?

Psm. 90 intro: Moses - approximately 1400 BC
Psm.  137:1-4 - exile - 586 BC
So --- written over a period of 1000 years.  (bulk from midway - David's time; ie 1000 BC)

Psalms were gathered, compiled into 5 books  (scrolls)
1-41        Psm. 41:13 "amen and amen"
42 - 72    Psm. 72:19-20   "amen and amen"
73 - 89    Psm. 89:52    "amen and amen"
90 - 106  Psm. 106:48  "amen. Praise the Lord"
107 - 150
 Finally were put into one book.  Words are preserved,  however, music is lost.

Some were written to well known tunes:
Psm. 9 intro, Psm. 22 intro., Psm. 56 intro.

Some specifically addressed, designated
Psm. 92 intro, Psm. 100 intro., Psm. 120 (-134) intro.
(Compare to our Christmas songs, Patriotic hymns)

Some have identifiable origins:
Psm. 3 intro,  Psm. 51 intro. - leader of Israel (David) written about his personal failure

Some include unidentifiable notations:
Psm. 3:2, 4, 8   "selah"

ALL = Poetry;  language of the heart  (feeling, emotion)

*Devotional theology*
expressing feelings without compromising truth
baring the soul without ignoring the mind
Biblical Poetry = a place where head and heart can meet!!!!

*Experiential Knowledge*
This is not knowledge based on Experience alone!!
= Knowledge based on experience ..... interpreted int he light of His Words.
Example:  Psm. 13:1-6 - head & heart meet - Psm. 22:1
Head and heart meet because we = thinkers AND feelers!!!

Types of Psalms:
Praise and thanksgiving, lament (complaint) & cursing
Songs of History (past), songs of expectation (future)

BUT ALL = Songs or Worship!!!  (they extol God!)
Therefore, we find:   YHWH  (LORD - 700 times)
Elohim (God - 365 times)
Adonai (Lord/Master - 54 times)
Elyon (Most High God - 22 times)

Worship Him for Who He IS!  
Creator - Eternal - Only God - All Knowing - All Powerful - All Present - Ever Faithful - Never Changing

Worship Him for what He DOES!!   (He does this because of Who He is.)
Psm. 9:12, 56:8  - He sees, hears, cares, remembers

Psm. 57:2-3, 12:5-6 - He responds; He comes down!

Psm. 3:1-4 - He provides, protects, delivers

Psm. 23:1-4 - He guides, directs, leads

Psm. 32:5 - He forgives, restores

Psm. 9:15-20 - He judges ---- He makes honest judgments;  He exacts justice

Psm.  25:1-5 - He is our HOPE 

Psm. 18:6-19, 46, 47 - He is an AWESOME Hope  ".... avenges me." 

Psalms = high VIEW of God, therefore high praise FOR God  (as should be)

But Note All this = before Christ!!!  before incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection.  Before additional knowledge, revelation.

Point:  IF the Psalms = appropriate before Christ, THEN ....... Now?!  after seeing Him come down, die for us, saving us from our sins.

BUT Know this:  God is not after your praise PRIMARILY. 
He is after your .... recognition, surrender, commitment, loyalty, obedience, service

Why???   "for His glory"
On one hand, He does seek to be glorified
On the other hand, it is not for Him!!!
Example:  Jesus' words - John 12:32 - "if I be lifted up..., will draw men to me"

So....... Worship Him For:
(1)  Who He is  (Worship due Him!!)
(2)  what He does  (past, present, future)
(3)  the good that will come TO MAN from that!!  (ie:  yourself, others)

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 100:3-5

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Future of the USA???

Jer. 18:1-10 - written for the people of Israel.   BUT - God's dealing with nations of the world is still happening.
Are you - Optimistic?  Pessimistic?

Pessimist says:  headed for doom
failing education system
aging population
immigration crisis; "melting pot" is now patchwork quilt
corrupt corporate leadership
inefficient government - only 19% of the American people show optimism about our future based on how our government is working!

Continued/growing racism
radical Muslims among us
school shootings

Changing views of morality - no common consensus for right & wrong
breakdown of family life - 60% of kids spend some time in single parent home

redefinition of marriage
confusion over gender

national debt/out of control spending
entitlement attitude - growing welfare state
consumer mentality - "consume!  don't produce!"
personal rights take precedent over the "greater good"
failing moral leadership @ ALL levels of government   - quote:  "Stupidity and power makes a bad combo"

rising medical costs
polarized political system (50/50) - key factor in why 80% of American people = pessimistic about our future.  Those on right see us leaning left, & that's bad direction!
On the other hand, those on the left see us leaning right and that's bad direction!
So, all tend toward Pessimism!!!

The Optimist says:
Look where we've gone/come in 400 years  (1600)
We're now the wealthiest, most powerful nation in history!!

We survived:
- a war of Independence - against a major world power
- a devastating Civil War (with post war healing and reconstruction)
- 2 world Wars as well as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan
- the Great Depression (&multiple recessions)
- the Cold War

Still have a wealth of natural resources
USA - world's largest exporter of foods
and spend smaller % of household income for food than any other country!!!

We have a chosen government (therefore theoretically fixable government!)
                 few nearby enemies / powerful military
and a national pride!!  (example:  see tears at the singing of the National Anthem)
AND always had a polarized political system!

Seen recent drops in violent crime, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, divorce, AND unemployment rates!

We are blessed with --- abundant energy supplies
                                     entrepreneurial spirit (can do attitude!)
                                     investment capital  (individual opportunities)
                                     access to higher education/technical training
                                     unrivaled technological genius and creativity
                                     political stability (compared to much of the world)

USA is still the model for liberty around the world.
People want IN, not OUT!

"There is not better time or place to live than in America today!!"

On one hand, there are good arguments on both sides.
However, are secular arguments don't factor in God (as does Jeremiah, as should we.)
Is a huge difference in what the Christian view should be.

Question:  What would your assessment of Israel be IF had no knowledge of God's part? - in Egypt? the Exodus?  the Wilderness?  the conquest?  the Exile?  the Diaspora?

Bible teaches - God is.... (1) Sovereign (Ruler)
                                      (2) Concerned - (with His creation/people)
                                      (3)  Active  (interactive) - doing something

Therefore:  brief overview...

(1).  God (ultimately, finally) forms, directs, preserves, destroys nations!  example:  Jeremiah text
Example:  Gen. 17:20 - Ishmael
Deut. 28:49-51 - (curses for disobedience)

But on the other hand,
(2)  Man's actions contribute to God's decisions  - (Jeremiah text)  Jer. 18:11-13

So ..... Psalm 33:12,  Prov. 14:34

Our Part??????????  More exactly ------ Your Part??????

#1 Seek God - example:  a _________ nation is made up of ________ people.  (fill in the blanks)
You find Him in Jesus Christ.   John 14:6   Not sufficient to just have a vague notion of God.

#2.  Seek the good of your nation
This = your ministry field.  your responsibility  (example = Daniel.  He faithfully served Babylon without compromising his faith)
Includes:  (1)  prayer - note here .... Psalm 119:126
               (2) support - (broad subject ..... includes taxes!!)
               (3)  criticism  (Jeremiah)
               (4)  praise

#3.  (seek to) Be salt and Light - (Matt. 5:13-16)
Salt and Light = minority substance that goes a long way!!!
On one hand, only God can bring revival/reversal
However, we're called to be part of that

#4.  Follow god even if your nation turns away.   Christians often called to minister to hostile society
Example:  Christianity and Roman Empire in 300 years!!!
(our nation is not our Sovereign - not our Savior)

#5.  Don't give up on your nation.
"God does not quickly abandon His people" - Lamentations 3:19-26

#6.  (while doing all the above....)
Keep in mind your true nation. - Phil. 3:20,

So,  1 Pet. 2:9-10

Deut. 4:5-9, Deut. 30:19