Monday, February 28, 2011

Circle of quiet

In America, you can't watch TV these days without being shown some hideous crime that's been committed.  It's horrifying what people are capable of doing to each other.  Like this Psalm, we can't wait until there's an end to evil.  It seems like the wicked get away with murder, literally.  Long before TV, this same evil existed.  It was hidden and much easier to get away with. 

Psalms 94

1 God, put an end to evil;
avenging God, show your colors!
2 Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.

3 God, the wicked get away with murder
how long will you let this go on?
4 They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!

The good news is that God does notice.  He sees what is going on.  Men and women who are trained and instructed in the Word of God,  are actually included in a circle of quiet from evil.  I really like that, "Circle of quiet."  I don't notice the contrast as much now.  But I do remember a time when sitting to read the Bible was like a breath of fresh air.  We really need that in our electronic age.  Watching some TV shows brings confusion and fear.  Reading the Bible brings wisdom on how to handle the bad stuff. 
Psalms 94:12-23

12 How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
13 Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
14 God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
15 Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.

16 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
17 If God hadn't been there for me,
I never would have made it.
18 The minute I said, "I'm slipping, I'm falling,"
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
19 When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.

In one of my office jobs, I had a manager following me around with goo goo eyes. He jumped out of cubes in front of me.  He stood by my desk where I was trying to work and stared at me.   One day I showed him my wedding ring and told him I'm happily married.  I was very upset, this type of harassment shouldn't have been happening in 2009.  And it's still not acceptable to talk about.  I prayed, "Lord I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on You."  

When I went to work the next day, he had turned himself into HR.  He complained that I showed him my wedding ring... and was being mean.  He was the first to get layed off when the time came in the company.  His evil boomeranged back on him.  Sadly many companies have their hands tied as to how they handle bad behavior in the workplace today.  Along with electronic noise, we also have lawsuits. Laws that men have written to protect workers, protect the bad guys instead.  But, God is our hideout, our mountain retreat.  I left the company with honor and am so happy I did.

Psalms 94:20-23

20 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
21 They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
22 But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
23 Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.

Rom 8:28
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Majestic holiness

This is a very short and simple Psalm with a huge message.  When I think of the Lord clothed in majesty, I remember when Jesus was transfigured in the New Testament.
Matt 17:1-3
17 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
He must be beautiful to see!  I don't think paintings can show the real Jesus- I suspect the colors of Heaven are beyond what we can see today.  But one day we will, our eyes will be opened.  I wonder if there are rainbows in Heaven and what they will look like.
Psalms 93

1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
4 The Lord on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.

I think the holiness that adorns God's house is also going to be a new experience for us.  My first thought was of a house that's too clean.  The floors are highly polished, no dust anywhere, the furniture is covered in plastic.  I walk in and wish to leave as soon as possible (I'm clumsy).  If I don't slip on the shiny floor, I will probably knock over a very expensive vase after tripping over a throw rug.  Holiness is different than squeaky clean. It is pure without any evil or temptation, it is safe- absolutely no fear at all.   At last we will be able to understand these feelings.  I hope it's like that, if not it'll be better for sure.
5 Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O Lord, forever.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Makes me happy

I must confess, I'm really enjoying writing this blog.  I'm paying more attention to what the Bible says instead of just whizzing through to do my daily quiet time.  I have several translations and find switching between them makes it more interesting.  I would encourage anyone to do the same it's so inspiring.  It's also encouraging when someone comments, it's not just me, His Word speaks to us all.  Thanks.

This Psalm is a song of celebration!  It's a Sabbath song.  I love to sing to the Lord it's such a great way to worship.  When I used to commute for hours to work, I would crank up the Christian music and sing all the way.  I'd get to work, and be all sparkly and happy.  My co-workers and boss wondered about me...  But that's ok- I'd rather be happy and free then exactly what other people expect.

Psalms 92

1 What a beautiful thing, God, to give thanks,
to sing an anthem to you, the High God
2 To announce your love each daybreak,
sing your faithful presence all through the night
3 Accompanied by dulcimer and harp,
the full-bodied music of strings.

I first started experiencing God's joy after I accepted Christ as my Savior.  It's hard to describe the feeling before.  I would wake up in the morning and think, "Another day... now what?"  I felt so angry and hopeless.  But God literally made me happy!  Even after 34 years, He still makes me sparkle and sing.  God's joy is different from happiness.  Happiness is dependent on our circumstances, but joy?  It comes from God and right thinking.
4 You made me so happy, God.
I saw your work and I shouted for joy
5 How magnificent your work, God!
How profound your thoughts
6 Dullards never notice what you do;
fools never do get it
7 When the wicked popped up like weeds
and all the evil men and women took over,
You mowed them down,
finished them off once and for all. 
8 You, God, are High and Eternal
9 Look at your enemies, God!
Look at your enemies — ruined!
Scattered to the winds, all those hirelings of evil!

Ok as I read verse 10 I had to take a second look.  A charging bison?  Yikes!  That's not very ladylike.  Big legs, horns on top of your head, an extremely hairy face... Oy!  But think about the bison.  He's tough, he digs into the ground, gets his horns in position and rapidly charges.  I would not want to see a bison heading for me in this manner.  But as a Christian, I like it.  I dig into the Word.  I have purpose, direction, and I go full-steam ahead to where God leads me.  The trick, of course, is to be very sure your heading towards God's plan.  I'm still a bit shy and the idea of being honored by a parade is intimidating.  I'd like to see Jesus honored more, cheer others on.
10 But you've made me strong as a charging bison,
you've honored me with a festive parade
11 The sight of my critics going down is still fresh,
the rout of my malicious detractors.
My ears are filled with the sounds of promise:

When we stay in His Word and His presence (Psalm 91), we grow like a tree.  We get roots that hold us solid and steady, we bear fruit and can truly help others.  This is a common thread throughout the Bible.  It's good to be a tree.  And remaining in the presence of God keeps us virile even in our old age.  I read a prayer request today on a Christian forum, a man described his Mom as always having the right word from the Bible.  A steady person he could always go to for help and encouragement.  She always listened and let him talk about things.  I hope I'm like that as I age.
12 "Good people will prosper like palm trees,
Grow tall like Lebanon cedars
13 transplanted to God's courtyard,
They'll grow tall in the presence of God
14 lithe and green, virile still in old age."
15 Such witnesses to upright God!
My Mountain, my huge, holy Mountain!
God bless you today, abundantly!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

The cloud above this Church looks like an angel.
Psalm 91:1-2
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust."
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shadow of the Almighty

This Psalm is a favorite of many people of different faiths. It's a very comforting Psalm. There's always something to worry about and these times are very unsettling. Sometimes I have to step back and ask, "Who does know what they're talking about, and the real results of their decisions?" 

God does.  We need the Almighty today more than ever. We need a Savior!  And that He is.  In faith we trust in God.  To dwell in the secret place of the Most High, means to read His Word and pray, to be still and know He is God.  We abide under His shadow, He is never far from us.  In Washington state there's a huge fortress that stands on top of a rocky cliff above Puget Sound.  It's made of strong metals, and has holes for canons, so soldiers can look out and protect us from the enemy.  Waves crash against the cliff far below.  God is our refuge, our fortress.

Psalms 91

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust."

I understand the snares.  It's very easy to get caught up in things that just aren't necessary.  He covers us with His wings of love.  Nighttime seems to be the worst if I am afraid and worried.  I feel so alone during this time.  He says that we shall not be afraid when we trust in Him.  Maybe reading this Psalm would help.
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Many have fallen from their faith.  They give up on God thinking He is boring, or too strict.  We know from medicine the results of bad choices with drugs and other things that destroy our bodies.  I know the emptiness of living without God.  But God will always take the fallen back.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

When we are dwelling with God, evil can't come near us.  He sends the angels to help us stay away from evil.  They bear us up.  This is a wonderful mystery.  I wonder if in Heaven, we'll realize all the many encounters we've had with angels on earth. 
9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

God promises to be with us always especially through trouble.  When we love Him, He delivers us.  When we call out, He answers.  He also gives us eternal life in Heaven and salvation, when we repent and accept Him.
14 "Because he has set his love upon Me,
therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation."

Jesus said it this way:
John 16:33
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Monday, February 21, 2011


This Psalm is both beautiful and powerful.  It was written by Moses.  Most of us realize what a tough assignment he was given.  His job was to lead Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land.  God promised He'd lead the way.  Sounds simple right?  I can understand some of what Moses felt.  In many of my jobs it wasn't the work itself that drove me crazy, most of the time it was the people.  God provided mana and the people wanted meat.  God provided quail and the people wanted beef.  I'd design a web site for usability and a VP wanted a design that was snazzy like a football... Oy!  Of course my work usually required management approval.  Moses needed God's approval.  People are pretty much the same, as is God.

Psalms 90

1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

The following verses reminded me of a cute story.  A man was talking to God and he said, "God is it true a day to You is like a thousand years?  And a million dollars is like a penny?"  
God answered, "Yes it is."
So the man asked, "Can I have a penny?"
And God answered, "In a minute."

His timing is perfect.  But it's not like our timetable.  To us, our lives seem long, we have all the time in the world.  But to God it's like a moment.  Yet each of us are as important to Him today as they were in Moses' day.  Even after all these years we still see His miracles through prayer and in the world around us.
4 For a thousand years in Your sight
Are like yesterday when it is past,
And like a watch in the night
5 You carry them away like a flood;
They are like a sleep.
In the morning they are like grass which grows up
6 In the morning it flourishes and grows up;
In the evening it is cut down and withers.

I have verse 12 on my bulletin board.  It's so important to seize the day, to not let our moments pass by without realizing. Today is really all we have.  Yesterday is over, and tomorrow isn't here.  We don't have control over either.  Just today.
10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away
11 Who knows the power of Your anger?
For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

These verses also come to mind.  Here's how Jesus said it,
Matt 6:34 "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

Matt 6:9-13
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Roof that's guaranteed

Psalm 89 is very long but these first verses really stood out to me.  It's one of those Psalms full of imagery you can almost see.  Everything is based on God's love.  I love to look through astronomy books.  The photos from the Hubble Spacecraft are amazing!  The "cosmos" (planets, stars, gas clouds) are a variety of colors:  hot pink, purple, orange, green, literally sparkling in the black of space. They move across the sky in a great orchestrated dance.  When things collide a gorgeous event happens in space.  His love and faithfulness is the roof over our world, guaranteed by God.  This Psalm was written by Ethan, he was a singer during the time of Solomon.  

Psalms 89

1 Your love, God, is my song, and I'll sing it!
I'm forever telling everyone how faithful you are.
2 I'll never quit telling the story of your love —
how you built the cosmos
and guaranteed everything in it.
Your love has always been our lives' foundation,
your fidelity has been the roof over our world.

Jesus came through the lineage of David.  As Christians, we are guaranteed life through Him.  Jesus the solid ruler, our rock.  The more I read the Psalms, the more I see the unfolding of the New Testament.  It's really amazing how many years this has been coming together.
3 You once said, "I joined forces with my chosen leader,
I pledged my word to my servant, David
, saying,
4 'Everyone descending from you is guaranteed life;
I'll make your rule as solid and lasting as rock.'"

He is God of the Angel Armies.  I've never seen an angel.  But they must be magnificent.  I wonder if they sparkle like the beautiful cosmos.  Armies of angels must be breathtaking.  Man was created a little lower than the angels.  So we can't fully understand them, but even the angels are in awe of God.   One day we will, and we know they are on earth serving God.  This part of the Psalms reminds me of a symphony.  God stands with hands raised  pointing to the stars to make their contribution, then the angels, next the sun, the ocean, and man.  Unlike me who gives up on things that are too much trouble, He doesn't.  He knows the conclusion and it will be awesome!
5 God! Let the cosmos praise your wonderful ways,
the choir of holy angels sing anthems to your faithful ways!
6 Search high and low, scan skies and land,
you'll find nothing and no one quite like God.
7 The holy angels are in awe before him;
he looms immense and august over everyone around him.
8 God of the Angel Armies, who is like you,
powerful and faithful from every angle?
9 You put the arrogant ocean in its place
and calm its waves when they turn unruly.

These verses also came to mind:
Ps 8:3-5
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

Ps 147:4
4 He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.

If you've never seen photos of outer space, here's a link to the Hubble Spacecraft Photo Gallery.  I promise you don't have to be a scientist to enjoy these.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sorry I'm so late posting.  It's been an interesting week...  Another almost wordless post.
To look at him now, it's hard to believe this Swallowtail
started out as a caterpillar, crawling around on branches. 
It reminds me of this verse:
2 Cor 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Monday, February 14, 2011

God's love

For Valentine's Day I wanted to take a break from the Psalms and share this.   When I was a new Christian I struggled to understand God.  I was worried about everything I did, is this a sin?  Is this good?  To add to my confusion, my major in college, was in Fine Art which included required courses in Art History.  We started with Gothic painting in Italy which included all the old frescoes, sculptures and paintings from the huge cathedrals.  My school was in Seattle, so we watched slide after slide of pictures depicting Jesus, Mary, the disciples...  The story of the Bible, in pictures for those who couldn't read.  

I sat seeing the faces of Jesus- some were sad, some staring into space, many of His death.  I would try and pray at night and see one of the images in my mind.  Then I'd stop myself, "Wait that's not who I'm praying to."  

It was very confusing and as much as I loved studying the paintings, I was relieved to have the images stop in my head!  Now I can look at artwork and appreciate it much more, because there's no test at the end.  

I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 one night.  The "Love" chapter.  I kept reading it and realized it seemed impossible.  When I pray for patience, something happens to show me I don't have any!  I stumbled through the chapter wondering how a person could be like this.  When it dawned on me that 1 John says,  "God is love."  I began to see God in a new way.  God isn't waiting for us to mess up.  He's rejoicing when I get things right- He's cheering me on!  It's a beautiful description of God.  When I quit worrying about a test at the end, this doesn't seem quite so impossible.  I can simply love Him back.

1 Corinthians 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 John 4:8-9
8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

Happy Valentine's Day!  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not done yet

God smiled on His earth, His creation. 
Gen 1:31
31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Sadly, we don't always realize what we have.  It's easy to become ungrateful or just not notice what's going on around us. I remember shooting a gargoyle on the top of a building in NYC.  I had my camera on a tripod.  A man in a business suit walked up beside me to see what I was shooting. It made me wonder how many people live in the city and miss out on details like this.  But God doesn't give up on us.  The struggle with faith and thanksgiving was huge for the people of Israel.  We still have that struggle today as Christians.

Psalms 85

1 God, you smiled on your good earth!
You brought good times back to Jacob! 
2 You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people,
you put their sins far out of sight
3 You took back your sin-provoked threats,
you cooled your hot, righteous anger.

I can pray along with this Psalm, "Help us again."  Jesus provided the new start we needed, the resurrection life.  After I accepted Christ, the first thing I noticed was I laughed for the first time in years.  I was watching a TV show and just started laughing.  I think the first fruit of the Spirit I experienced was joy.  With the current political climate in North America, this prayer is important.
4 Help us again, God of our help;
don't hold a grudge against us forever. 
5 You aren't going to keep this up, are you?
scowling and angry, year after year
6 Why not help us make a fresh starta resurrection life?
Then your people will laugh and sing
7 Show us how much you love us, God!
Give us the salvation we need!

In Heaven there will be no more religions, no one will be called, "fools."  All questions will be answered.  He loves His holy people which includes the Jews- all people who accept Jesus' sacrifice. 
8 I can't wait to hear what he'll say.
God's about to pronounce his people well,
The holy people he loves so much,
so they'll never again live like fools
9 See how close his salvation is to those who fear him?
Our country is home base for Glory!

Love, truth and right living are a result of our faith.  At least I do my best with living right.  I am definitely not perfect.  I don't know any Christians who want to destroy others because they don't believe like they do.  I do know a lot of Christians who try to help others with food, visiting in prisons, clothes, and other things, regardless of their beliefs.  Jesus is our example.  He showed us how to live. 
10 Love and Truth meet in the street,
Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss
11 Truth sprouts green from the ground,
Right Living pours down from the skies
12 Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
our land responds with Bounty and Blessing
13 Right Living strides out before him,
and clears a path for his passage.
"Right Living strides before us, and clears a path for His passage" just like Palm Sunday in the New Testament (Matt 21:4-11).  Jesus, Son of God, chose to ride a donkey into Jerusalem.  Though He is God, the King of King's, He came to earth in humility.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

When I was reading Psalms 75 the other day this verse came to mind. Another almost wordless day...

Ps 1:1-3
1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

God's house

This Psalm was written by one of Korah's sons.  When I think of God's house, I think of the mansions Jesus talked about in Heaven.  I did a little research and it actually refers to the Tent of the Congregation David set up on Mount Zion.  When I think of it as Church, I can relate to it easily.  Although today we have the Holy Spirit within us and we are His tabernacles as well.  Perhaps there are three places to experience God's presence:  our hearts, the Church, and Heaven.  We won't miss out!  This is a beautiful Psalm with great imagery. 

Psalms 84
1 What a beautiful home, God of the Angel Armies!
I've always longed to live in a place like this,
2 Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!

There's an old casino along the Asbury Park boardwalk, at the Jersey Shore.  Although most of the buildings have been renovated, the Casino has not.  It's a large cement building with no glass in the windows.  The doves love to build nests in the window sills.  On a hot summer day, you can walk inside and feel the cool air.  The echo of doves cooing bounces through the room.  It's really quite amazing.
3 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God of the Angel Armies! King! God!
4 How blessed they are to live and sing there!

Our journeys with Christ are always full of ups and downs.  There are many winding turns that we didn't expect.  Some really really bad days.  But there are also many fantastic days.  It seems like God knows just when we need to be refreshed.  His timing is perfect, and there's always some refreshment when we need it most.  It could be a Pastor's message, a passage of scripture, a miracle,  or a simple hug at just the right moment.  It's not an easy journey.  But we definitely don't want to miss the ending!
5 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
6 They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
7 God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
at the last turnZion! God in full view!

8 God of the Angel Armies, listen:
O God of Jacob, open your ears — I'm praying! 
9 Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.

These verses are interesting.  I don't think of people in the Bible going on vacations, but I guess they would.  I remember our first cruise, a dream vacation.  The ship rocked a lot.  I thought, "I'm in a ship on the ocean.  I can't get out!"  Panic would begin to rise.  I had to remind myself not to go there.  I got sick with a sore throat.  When we got to shore, it was beautiful!  But even vacations don't always go as perfectly as we plan.  A day spent with the Lord having your soul refreshed and renewed is well worth it for sure.  It would be better to scrub floors in the House of God than be an honored guest in the palace of sin.  Sin leaves me angry and empty, God fills me with hope and joy.  I choose God.
10 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I'd rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
11 All sunshine and sovereign is God,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn't scrimp with his traveling companions.
12 It's smooth sailing all the way with God of the Angel Armies.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Archaeology and the simple

Last night I was reading an article titled, "Kings of Controversy" in National Geographic.  When I came to this Psalm this morning, I had to smile.  The story in the article is about how archaeologists are testing to verify that they have discovered King Solomon's mines, the place where people watched David slay Goliath, and also the house of David.  The remains would be over 12,000 years old now but the evidence seems pretty sound to me.  There are political issues among the archaeologists and agendas.  When the proof is verified, the ownership of the land in Israel will be set.  Some of the Israelis believe this is "right-winged" attempts at politics, and seek to prove the archaeology is false.  Others believe it's the only way to prove ownership.  Some say the Bible should not be used as a reference in archaeology- it should be solely based on scientific fact.  And others want to make the "Most Famous" list finding the biggest treasure.  Think I'll just pray for peace for those in this region.

Psalms 78 is another very long Psalm.  It describes the exodus where Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.  It's very interesting and details how every blessing God provided, turned into a complaint.  Even though the people were seeing God's miracles, they weren't thankful.  Finally God left them to their own devices- just turned His back in anger.  Psalm 78:65 picks up where God once again became engaged with His people. 

There were 12 tribes of Israel.  God disqualified all of them except Judah.  From Judah came David, a simple shepherd boy.  He was chosen to be King over Israel, and in the lineage of the Son of God- Son of Man, Jesus.  God chooses the simple ones like us.  He came through simple people.

Psalms 78
65 Suddenly the Lord was up on his feet
like someone roused from deep sleep,
shouting like a drunken warrior.
66 He hit his enemies hard, sent them running,
yelping, not daring to look back.
67 He disqualified Joseph as leader,
told Ephraim he didn't have what it takes,
68 And chose the Tribe of Judah instead,
Mount Zion, which he loves so much.
69 He built his sanctuary there, resplendent,
solid and lasting as the earth itself.
70 Then he chose David, his servant,
handpicked him from his work in the sheep pens.
71 One day he was caring for the ewes and their lambs,
the next day God had him shepherding Jacob,
his people Israel, his prize possession.

But why would God choose a shepherd?  The answer is here:   
72 His good heart made him a good shepherd;
he guided the people wisely and well.

The New Testament explains it even further.  God doesn't expect much from men's wisdom, our mighty acts, our self-made nobility.  He chooses the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the mighty, the despised ones, the things that are not happening to show the nothingness of the things that are.  Our jaws drop when we here the testimonies of some Christians.  From nothing to magnificent through the power of Christ.  Good news for us!  We don't have to be brilliant or perfect.  Just God's.
1 Cor 1:26-31
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption —  31 that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Power of remembering

This is one of those Psalms that quickly reminds me of how I'm not the only one that feels this way.  I love it.  It's another Psalm by Asaph.  He was having some sort of trouble, it felt like an open wound.  He couldn't sleep at night.  He couldn't even really figure out why.  He talked to friends and they said, "Don't worry.  Everything will be alright."  This always sounds good for a minute, but when you're struggling it's not really a solution.  I have this same problem, I feel something and I don't really know why.  Just can't put my finger on it.  I've had moments where I thought surely God is done with me now.  He's done one too many miracles for me. Now He has other things that are more important.  But, He's not like man. He doesn't go out of business. 

Psalms 77
2 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn't heal.
When friends said, "Everything will turn out all right,"
I didn't believe a word they said.
3 I remember God — and shake my head.
I bow my head — then wring my hands.
4 I'm awake all night — not a wink of sleep;
I can't even say what's bothering me.
5 I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
6 I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.

7 Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
8 Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
9 Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
10 "Just my luck," I said. "The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him

Next a great piece of advise is written,  and Asaph's faith is restored.  He thinks back on his life, all the things God has done.  When I think back and remember all the times God has provided jobs for me, all the many ways He's fixed things I can't doubt.  There was even a time when I worked in a large aerospace company.  It was my job to put together a technical manual from representatives of different teams.  They all hated each other.  Our first meeting was very difficult.  As a team facilitator and analyst, I did my best to steer them in the right direction.  But these guys just wanted to vent on each other. It was a long hard job for them, with many tries and failures.  I prayed, and thought about wearing a bicycle helmet to the next meeting, just to lighten things up.  I brought it, but decided not to wear it. When I went into the room I saw the faces of angels (yes even software engineers can have an angelic look once in awhile).  I walked outside to make sure I was in the right room.  It was. So I started working on finishing the project.  Smooth as glass.  They even thanked me...  I remember going back to my desk and my boss was nervously waiting by my cube, "How did it go?"  

I replied, "No problem it's all done."

His jaw dropped.  Then one of my friends loudly asked, "Karen did you pray?"

I said, "Yes I did," and smiled real big.

"I knew it!"

My boss just smiled and shook his head.  Later he told me I was never permitted to leave his department.   I write this with a huge smile and laughter.  Amazing God!  It was totally not me.  I'm sure you have memories like that too.  When I get discouraged I need to remember all the miracles (great and small) I've experienced by His side.  No god is great like our God!

11 Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders
12 I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.

Asaph remembers and bursts into praise.
13 O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God
14 You're the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do —  
15 You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

Another verse that came to mind when I was reading this Psalm was from Revelation in the New Testament.  It turns out our personal testimonies are very important in the spiritual scheme of things.  Satan is overcome by the blood of Jesus and the word of the believer's testimony.  Pretty cool huh?
Rev 12:11-12
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Make the world right

This is another Psalm by Asaph.   It starts out with many thanks to God- sometimes thanks isn't what's on my mind.  One day the washing machine started making very loud noises.  Then it started to dance.  I knew we had a problem.  I imagined soap flowing out of it and all it would cost to fix it.  Suddenly I got a brilliant idea, and unplugged it.  Even when everything seems to be out of control and I'm sure nothing will ever go right again, God reminds me there's always something to be thankful for.  It can be the small things like clothes to wash today, money to buy groceries, my husband, the cats.  Even having the Bible is something to say thanks about.  We got the washing machine fixed just fine and moved on.  It's interesting how things seem to stop me short sometimes.

Psalms 75

1 We thank you, God, we thank you — 
your Name is our favorite word;
your mighty works are all we talk about.
2 You say, "I'm calling this meeting to order,
I'm ready to set things right
3 When the earth goes topsy-turvy
And nobody knows which end is up,
I nail it all down,
I put everything in place again. 

When I see a miracle, like a person getting healed from an illness.  I feel like nothing is impossible for God!  He's almighty I've got it made.  Then something happens.  I forget.   He is "High God," "Rock of Ages" (I've heard those descriptions in hymns).

Psalm 75
4 I say to the smart alecks, 'That's enough,'to the bullies, 'Not so fast.'"
5 Don't raise your fist against High God.
Don't raise your voice against Rock of Ages
6 He's the One from east to west;
from desert to mountains, he's the One.

He is bigger than we could ever imagine!
Psalm 103:12
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
God weighs the scales, He brings one down on his knees, another up on her feet.  We all experience the ups and downs in our lives.  Maybe that's why I try to read the Bible each day, I need to be reminded a lot!  Plus I love some time with God, He's always solid.

Psalm 75
7 God rules: he brings this one down to his knees,
pulls that one up on her feet
8 God has a cup in his hand,
a bowl of wine, full to the brim.
He draws from it and pours;
it's drained to the dregs.
Earth's wicked ones drink it all,
drink it down to the last bitter drop!
9 And I'm telling the story of God Eternal,
singing the praises of Jacob's God
10 The fists of the wicked
are bloody stumps,
The arms of the righteous
are lofty green branches.

Perhaps the "arms of the righteous are lofty green branches" refers to a tree who takes its nourishment from God, that stands by the still waters. It bears fruit in serving God. The shade provides relief for those who come near them.  In a literal sense it doesn't sound so attractive.  But spiritually very cool.