Where Can I Go?(Psalm 18:2)

 

Photo of the Alps by Mark J. Booth

I am drowning in the midst of a storm.  I feel alone.  I don’t know where to go?  What does the Word of God say: “The Lord is MY ROCK, and MY FORTRESS, and MY DELIVERER; MY GOD, MY STRENGTH, in whom I will trust; MY BUCKLER (shield), and the HORN OF MY SALVATION, and MY HIGH TOWER.” (Psalm 18:2)

Jesus reminded the disciples that in this life they would experience tribulation.  We have all experienced tribulation.  We try to resolve the situation.  We try to cope.  We try to ignore the storm; yet we feel like we are sinking deeper and deeper into the raging waters.  David experienced many storms in his life.  Where did he go for deliverance and relief?  He went to “his God”.  Likewise, we can go to our God regardless of how strong the storm.

1. We can go to Our God because He is our Rock.  When a person is sinking into the water, they are looking for something solid on which to find their footing.  We often stumble and fall because we don’t stand firmly upon our solid rock, the Lord God.  Do you feel like you are wavering in every direction, then go to the Rock.  

2. We can go to Our God because He is Our Fortress.  A fortress is a place of refuge from the enemies we may have in this life.  Many people talk about being hurt by others.  Yes, others may try to hurt us, but we have a fortress to whom we can run.  We don’t have to be hurt by others, we can go to the Lord God, Our Fortress.

3. We can go to Our God because He is Our Deliverer.  The disciples were fearful in the midst of a terrible storm.   They were without hope until they cried out to the Lord.  The Lord stopped the storm.  No matter how awful the storm, the Lord is ready and able to deliver us.  No matter how strong the temptation the Lord will deliver us.

4. We can go to Our God because He is Our God.  David knows that he has a personal relationship with the Lord God.  He can go to His God at any time.  When we know God, we can trust Him.  We know that He loves us with an everlasting love.  We know that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

5. We can go to Our God because He is Our Strength.  David couldn’t handle his enemies in his own strength, but he knew the All-Powerful God.  We can do nothing apart from God.  As Paul stated: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13).  We may get tired and want to quit, but God’s strength enables us to carry on.

6. We Can Go to Our God because He is our Shield.  Satan throws his fiery darts of doubt, denial, guilt, temptation, discouragement, and rebellion against God.  In ourselves, we have no defense against these darts; however God is Our Shield.  He comes between us and the fiery darts of Satan.  There is no safer place than behind God, Our Shield.

7. We can Go to Our God because He is Our Savior.  Our salvation solves the greatest problem in life, which is how can a sinful person approach a Holy God.  Jesus took our place upon the cross and paid for our sin.  Through Him, we have eternal life.  If God has taken care of our greatest problem in this life, why can’t we trust Him with the storms that pass through our lives?

8. We can Go to Our God because He is Our High Tower.  We often see a bird flee into the sky as we approach it.  The bird knows that there is safety in the heights.  Likewise, our Lord places us in the heights to keep us away from the traps and snares of this life.  The storms have little effect upon us when we are safe and secure in the Lord.

As a result of all that God is, David says: “In whom I will trust.”  David knows the Greatness of God.  He trusts God because he knows Him.  Do we know our Great God.  Yes, the storm may be strong, but we do have One to whom we can go.  Will we?

 

How Great Thou Art (Have We Forgotten God’s Greatness?)

Have we diminished the Greatness of God in our lives? Are we making God into the image of man? Do we view God as we desire Him to be; or do we view Him as He reveals himself in His Word? The Psalmist understood the greatness of God “FOR THOU ART GREAT, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.” (Psalm 86:10) ”

God is Great in His Attributes. “For thou art Great.”

Do we ever meditate upon who God is?  Do we think about each of His attributes?  I would encourage us to take time each day to meditate upon one of God’s attributes.  For example, one day, meditate upon the omnipresence of God (God is present everywhere).  Read verses that show His omnipresence.  Think about His presence as you work.  Remember His presence as you spend time with family. No matter what happens during the day, remember “God is here”.   The next day, do the same thing with another attribute of God.  Often God loses His Greatness in our eyes because we don’t really know Him.

God is Great in His Works. “and doest wondrous things” 

The word wondrous has the idea of producing “awe”.  Have we lost the wonder of God’s work of creation, His miracles in the Bible, and His working in our lives?  God loses His Greatness in our eyes when we forget that He still is working in our lives and the lives of the people around us.  Paul wrote about the believers in Philippi. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Take the time to meditate upon God’s work in the past and the present.

God is Great in His Uniqueness. “Thou art God alone.”

Have we placed anything or anyone above God?  Anything can become an idol in our life if it comes before God.  God is truly above all.  He alone is God.  He alone merits our worship and our obedience.  God says in Isaiah 44:8: “Fear ye not, neither be afraid:have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”  Sin, fear and worry enter into our lives when we fail to see the uniqueness of God.  He alone is worthy of our worshipful.

A Prayer to Our Great God

Lord, help me to bow in submission before you. Help me to know you in all of your glorious attributes. Help me to see your wondrous works in creation and all that you do around me. Help me not to place anyone or anything before you. May I see you as you are and not as   I want you to be. Amen”

How Can I Go from Despair to Delight? (Psalm 13)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (Used by Permission)

Despair creates a feeling of hopelessness. This affects our  life and the lives of others.  God seems distant.  The joy of our walk with God has disappeared.  Guilt permeates our life.  We are confused.   We don’t know what to do.

David, the Psalmist, was filled with despair.  He had fought the enemies of God’s people. He was also fleeing from King Saul.  God seemed very distant to David.  He was weary.  What was David to do?

Psalm 13 shows us how to move from despair to delight.  David starts out the Psalm in great despair.  He ends this Psalm with great delight in God.   What changed in David’s life.  What must change in our lives to go from despair to delight in God?

BE OPEN WITH GOD: THE FIRST STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT
David shares his feelings with God in total honesty.  God wants us to be open with Him.  We think we can hide our feelings from God, but He knows all about us.  When we are open with God, it enables God to begin his work in our lives. Here are some ways that we can pour our heart out before God.

1. I am impatient with God “How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever?”  (Psalm 13:1)  We wonder when is this all going to end?   We silently say to ourselves: “Why isn’t God answering my prayer?”  We soon develop a spirit of complaining.   We hang on to our faith, but we are becoming weary of waiting.

2. I feel deserted by God. “How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?”(Psalm 13:1b)  God’s face doesn’t shine upon us as it once did.  It seems  like a dark cloud has come between God and us.  This dark cloud can be caused by our sins, our circumstances, or our  doubts.

3. I am confused. “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?” (Psalm 13:2a) We don’t know what to do?  There are no answers in ourselves. We don’t know where to go for help?  God’s  Word doesn’t seem to help in giving us direction in our lives.

4. I am defeated. “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2 )  We quit living our lives with joy.  We are going through the motions.    We feel as though we have been kicked to the ground. We can’t get up.  We just want to quit.

BE FOCUSED UPON GOD: THE SECOND STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
Despair has overtaken David’s life; yet he remembers that God is alive.  He hears our cry.  God has the only answer to his despair.  After pouring out his heart to God,  he makes his plea unto God.  David remembers certain truths about God in his prayer that enable him to move from despair to delight.

1.God remembers me. Consider and hear me, O LORD my God.” (Psalm 13:3) When we pray unto God, we face the reality that God hasn’t forgotten about us.  We are His children.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  Even the worst of circumstances can’t separate us from the love of God.

2. God hears me.  Prayer not only acknowledges that God remembers us, but we also know that He hears us.  God is always available to hear our cries unto Him.  He hears even the most silent cry from our heart.

3. God enlightens me.  “Lighten mine eyes.”  (Psalm 13:3b)  We despair because we stop seeing life from God’s perspective. We start to view life from our perspective.  We don’t see the big picture.  We allow our circumstances to affect our view of God,  instead of allowing God to affect our view of circumstances.   When God is in the picture, we view everything from a different perspective. (See Psalm 13:4)

BE FULL OF PRAISE UNTO GOD: THE THIRD STEP OF MOVING FROM DESPAIR TO DELIGHT.
David’s circumstances haven’t changed, but he has changed.  He has moved from  despair to delighting in God.   We long for God to change our circumstances, but God’s goal is to change us.   David expresses his delight in three ways.

1. I trust in God’s loving-kindness.  “But I have trusted in thy mercy;” (13:5a)  David’s faith is renewed in God’s love towards him.   We often speak of the love of God, but forget to live in accordance to His love.  When we climb out of the depths of despair, we see the sunshine of His love again.  We delight in all that He is.  Our despair dissipates in the warmth of His love.

2. I rejoice in my salvation.  “My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.” (13:5b)  When we move from despair to delight, our hearts are open to the joy of the Lord.  We realize that our salvation not only gives us forgiveness and eternal life, but we also are a child of God.   Our Father is always ready to carry our burdens and hold us in His arms.

3. I give thanks unto the Lord.  “I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” (13:6) David’s song is one of thanksgiving unto the Lord.  When we delight in the Lord, we recognize the many blessings that we receive.  We agree with the song writer who says: “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

David’s despair turned to delight when he turned his eyes upon the Lord.  Yes, the Lord seemed distant and uncaring to David; however, David demonstrated faith in reaching out to God even when God seemed beyond his reach.  Our despair can also become delight when we reach out to our Heavenly Father who cares for us.

 

Can I Be Open and Honest with God? (Psalm 88)

Does God really want me to be honest with Him?  Can I share my doubts?  Can I share the pain that I am presently feeling?  Can I be sad before Him?  So often, we pray with pious platitudes instead of with an honest heart.  Psalm 88 is called the saddest Psalm in the Bible, because the Psalmist is negative throughout the Psalm.  God doesn’t seem to be giving him an answer.

Why did God include this Psalm in His Word?   This Psalm may seem very discouraging;  yet it is encouraging.  God wants us to be open and honest with Him.  He does understand.  He does answer though it may not be in our time.   Please take the time to read this Psalm and then open your heart to God.  He is waiting to hear from you!

I. THE FAITH OF THE HONEST SOUL (1-2)
Ps 88:1 O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
2 Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

II. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HONEST SOUL (3-8)
3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
4 I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
5 Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
8 Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.

III. THE EARNEST PRAYER OF THE HONEST SOUL (9-12)
9 Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
10 Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
11 Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
12 Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

IV. THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE HONEST SOUL (13-18)
13 But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
14 LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
15 I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
16 Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
17 They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.

God wants us to be open and honest with Him. God begins His work in our lives when we become honest with Him.  He may not respond to our honest appeals to Him when we desire a response, but He will respond in His way and in His Time

CAN I BE OPEN AND HONEST WITH GOD? (PSALM 88)
(An Outline to Psalm 88)

I. THE FAITH OF THE HONEST SOUL (1-2)
A. Faith in God’s Sovereignty (“LORD”)
Note: Four times he says” “LORD” (1, 9, 13, 14)
B. Faith in God’s Salvation
C. Faith in God’s Ability to Hear Prayer
II. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE HONEST SOUL (3-8)
A. The Troubled Soul (Probably because of sin)
B. The Focus on Death (3b-4a)
C. The Lack of Strength (4b)
D. The Perceived Separation from God (5)
E. The Great Darkness (Great Grief) (6)
F. The Great Humiliation (6) (Jeremiah 37:1-21)
G. The Discipline of God (7)
H. The Rejection of Others (Social Outcast) (8)

III. THE EARNEST PRAYER OF THE HONEST SOUL (9-12)
A. The Weeping before God (9) Matthew 5:4
B. The Continual Prayer before God
C. The Desperation before God (9c-10)
D. The Knowledge of God (10-12)
1. His Wonders
2. His Loving-kindness
3. His Faithfulness
4. His Righteousness

IV. THE STEADFASTNESS OF THE HONEST SOUL (13-18)
A. Confidence in prayer (13)
B. Circumstances that could make him quit (14-18)
1. Broken relationship with God (14-16)
2. Broken relationship with others (17-18)

Here is web address to the message I preached on this Psalm: http://www.calvarybaptistcharlotte.org/Media/The%20Mourning%20Song.mp3

How to Profit More from your Bible Reading-The Journibles

My First “Journible”

How is your Bible reading coming along?  Do you remember what you read yesterday?  Are you reading large sections of scripture, but not getting any new insights?  Is your Bible reading a chore?

We all know the importance of reading our Bibles, but are we using this time profitably?  One day, I was at a Christian book store and I saw a series of books that I  had never seen.   The title of the series was the “The Journibles: 17:18 Series”.  I looked inside and the pages were all blank with just numbers on the page on the right.  “What kind of book is this?”  I asked myself.

I went to the introduction and discovered that “The Journibles: 17:18 Series” comes from Deuteronomy 17:18: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:”  The Lord commanded the kings of Israel to write out their own copy of the Word of God.  This enabled them to learn the Word, gain understanding in its truth, and become more sensitive to the will of God.

I thought I would buy one of these books and give it a try.  I bought the book for
1 Timothy thru Hebrews.   The layout of the book is to write out the verse on one side of the page and then on the other side write an observation, prayer or an application.

I now find myself profiting more from my Bible reading.  I am seeing things that I had never seen before because I am taking more time with each verse, and allowing God to speak to me.  As I write down my thoughts, I am actually writing my own personal commentary of the Bible.

This morning, I finished my first “Journible” book.  I am now going to use it for Psalms 1-72!  This series has been the best Bible reading help that I have ever used.  The format is extremely simple.  Who would have thought about writing out the words of scripture in this age where we don’t write anything with paper and ink?

You can find more information on this great series of books at this address: http://www.the1718series.com.  This web site has a video and other information about this series.   You won’t regret purchasing one of these books.  I am glad that I purchased my first “Journible”.  If you have any comments or questions, please write me a comment.

P.S Here are a couple of sample pages with my notes.  Please excuse my poor penmanship.

This page is for writing out the verses.

This page is for writing out thoughts, prayers or applications.