Monday, May 23, 2011

Week 7: Psalm 62:5-8

Psalm 62:5-8: For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock.  My refuge is God.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.  Selah.

  1. Wait in silence.  How often do we miss the whisper in the wind where the Spirit speaks to us?  We’re so caught up in “noise” that our minds are filled with a static that blocks what God is saying to us, either through His Word or through the gentle prompting of the Spirit.  We must wait in silence sometimes in order to listen.
  2. He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress.  There is none other but God who is our firm foundation, built solidly on the rock and unmovable.  This fortress will not shake when the world rumbles around it, for God is my hope, my fortress, my rock, my salvation, my glory.  What can cause Him to quake?  What can move His foundation?  He is my refuge and the only certainty in life’s uncertainties.
  3. Always trust in God, when life is rosy and wonderful, and even more so when it’s difficult and rough.  He will never fail us.  More so, He wants us to pour our hearts out before Him, confessing our fears, our aspirations, our deepest desires.  He listens to us, and when we have no words, the Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26) on our behalf!  How awesome is it that the Creator of the Universe wants us to pour our hearts out before Him!
  4. Selah.  Unsure exactly of this words meaning, I like the interpretation of “pause and reflect.”  Think about this psalm.  Think about the promises made by God's constant refuge.  Take comfort in God’s constant provision and stronghold.  Praise Him for His love for us. 
 This passage was particularly difficult for me to memorize because I kept singing the "Psalm 62" song by Shane & Shane in my head as I did.  While the song is pretty much the same words, it's a different translation and some additional stuff.  Check it out, if you've never heard the song.  And if you like, listen to the rest of their catalog.  Great stuff all around.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Week 6: Psalm 56:4,5

Psalm 56:4,5: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?
  1. We have no reason to ever be afraid of anything other than God.  He alone is worthy of fear.  Everything else is as nothing compared to the Creator, especially flesh.  As long as we serve God through following His Son, then the Spirit dwells within us and God sees us as His children.  From this, God is a loving God who no doubt loves His children, and there is nothing that can be done to separate us from God’s love.  Thus, there is no reason to fear.
    1. Of course, we're human, and we cannot truly rid ourselves of fear.  Even the disciples were plagued by their humanity, calling out "It's a ghost!" when they saw Jesus walking on water.  Still, if we accept the fact that God is the only thing to fear, this will help us.
  2. Honestly, even if we endured 80 years of torture and excruciating agony, isolation, and abuse but we still had Jesus, what is 80 years?  It’s nothing compared to the glory of eternity with God.  So what can flesh do to us?  Nothing.  In the eternal view, this life is not even a dot on the infinite timeline of God's Will.
Humorously, I memorized this passage by creating a simple little rap in my head.  It seems to break down perfectly for rhyme/rhythm.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Week 5: Romans 12:1,2

Romans 12:1,2:  “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
  1. In light of the previous verses, that everything is from, through, and to God, Paul urges the recipients of this letter to present their bodies to God.  Why?  Because it is the ultimate act of worshiping to completely surrender to the Creator.
    1. living sacrifice is an interesting choice of words.  It seems oxymoronic, but considering Jesus’s command to “take up the cross and follow Him,” it makes sense.  He was the final sacrifice to atone for our sins, appeasing God’s wrath.  We’re called to emulate Jesus and thus live sacrificially, willing to give up everything God asks of us, completely submitting our being to Him.
    2. spiritual worship also is intriguing.  I don’t understand how there could be any other type of worship other than spiritual.  Physical worship makes sense, with raising hands and singing songs, but I would call this an act born from spiritual worship.  I suppose some can “physically worship” without “spiritually worshiping” as hypocrites.
    3. Is using “by the mercies of God” the same as Paul saying, “for the love of God, do this!  It’s serious!”?  Perhaps.  If so, and I suspect it is, then I find this funny.  It brings a smile to my face when I read Scripture and I bust out laughing (cf Leviticus 13:41).
  2. Do not be conformed to this world.  We’re to be in the world but not of the world.  We’re to love others, but we’re citizens of a different kingdom, where God reigns.  Also, this world implies that there is another world or home, which will be the New Heaven and New Earth created in the future.
  3. Being transformed by the renewal of your mind is such an important part of walking with Jesus.  We cannot serve two masters, and if we’re not completely submitted to a master’s rule then we’re serving with less than full commitment.  Jesus wants us to completely surrender to Him, forsaking our loyalty to ourselves and our pride.  Doing this, keeping our eyes on Him, is how we renew our minds.
    1. Why?  So we can know the will of God and how to act.  If our minds are renewed and transformed, they will be set on God, and if they’re set on Him, then the Spirit within us is obvious, and our actions and thoughts will be guided by Him.
      1. Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    2. How?  Complete and utter surrender.  We have to wholly submit ourselves to God, shirking our identities and becoming new in Jesus.  Practically, emulate Jesus as best as possible, praying for mercy & guidance; read the bible to ingest God’s Word; pray to God to speak to the Father.
These two verses, along with the previous week's memory verses, are ones I constantly go back to.  It's not a daily thing to have transformation, but it's a moment-by-moment, thought-by-thought thing.  A paradigm shift, if you will.  I pray often for my mind to transform and conform to the image of Jesus, that I may be more and more like Him.

I also love the sacrificial language of these verses.  The entire OT is littered with it, as the Israelites had to sacrifice in order to have forgiveness.  Interestingly, God didn't abolish the sacrificial system completely (though, thankfully He did get rid of what we typically think of as a sacrifice), but He switched from using animals and grains to His People.  We are now living sacrifices to God Almighty, not for forgiveness of sin (that was Jesus Christ's sacrifice), but as an act of worship.  And that's awesome.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Week 4: Romans 11:33-36

Romans 11:33-36: “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has given Him counsel? Or who has given a gift to Him that he might be repaid?’ For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”
  1. How deep are the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God!  They are bottomless things that never dry up, wells from the depths of creation and from God Himself.  He is infinitely rich, having at His disposal and use anything He desires and owning all there is.  He is infinitely wise, able to make the best possible choice and options available for His will, never making a wrong choice even when we cannot see the reasons.  He is infinitely knowledgeable, filled with the understanding of everything.  This is our God.
  2. His judgments are unsearchable.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), they are so infinitely higher than ours that it’s impossible for us to search out understanding from His choices.  Who are we to question why God made the sky blue?  His reasoning is sound and seems odd because we’re so far below Him that it’s pathetic.  
  3. His ways are inscrutable.  Inscrutable means unable to understand or comprehend.  Just as His thoughts are well above ours, we cannot hope to understand Him.  We can only trust in His promises and His Word.
    1. No one has known the mind of the Lord and no one can give Him counsel.  This refrain echoes the depth of God’s knowledge & wisdom.  It is comforting to think that there is no one above our God.
    2. God is indebted to no one (evidenced by the next verse).  He does not owe us anything, and every breath we have is a gift of His creation.  The chief gift is salvation and the cross, the ultimate gift of His only Son, and it’s a gift so that no one can boast but instead thank God for His providence.  
  4. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  God created everything, and it was all made by His hands or by His direction.  He set the mechanics of the universe in order.  He placed the sun in our sky.  He put the breath in our lungs.  He is the only Creator, and everyone owes their worship and praise to Him alone forever.
These verses are Paul's declaration of how awesome God.  I like to incorporate them into my prayers, for God is still bottomless, limitless, insurmountable, inscrutable, and mind-blowing.  Just when we think we understand something about God, a whole new facet opens up and astounds us all over again.

To God be the glory forever, indeed!