What Does It Mean to Bless the Lord?

Church of East Corinth among trees in fall color. Vermont, New England, USA
Church of East Corinth among trees in fall color. Vermont, New England, USA

In 40 years of ministry, I had never spoken on psalm 103. Glad to have finally had the opportunity. Here’s the audio link to yesterday’s message in South Carolina. Loved our time with the family of God at Manchester Creek. 

The text is Psalm 103.

David commands his soul to bless the Lord.

That’s what I am doing today–commanding my soul to bless the Lord. 

Audio Link Here

I hope this encourages your heart to trust Christ more deeply than ever before.

“I think it’s the chicken!”

Monday Discussion

bedtime-prayersAll my life as a Christian, God has been calling me to a deeper dependence upon Him.

When I am completely honest, I have to admit that I have not responded well or consistently. 

At the University of Maryland, I began to see the difference that radical, extraordinary prayer could make. One year we started a prayer room on campus and students would drop in on that room through out the day before, after or in between their classes and pray for their friends and the advance of the gospel on campus. Over a four year period, literally 100’s of students placed their faith in Christ and began the process of learning how to follow Him. Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU) grew from 9 to over 350 students. Navigators, InterVarsity, the Baptist Student Union, TAG (Take and Give), and half a dozen other ministries on campus all grew at an extraordinary pace. God answered our prayers.

In 1976 I was on a beach project with CRU in Wildwood, New Jersey. Thirty students from around the country descended on the the city of Wildwood, got jobs, studied the Scripture together and went out to do evangelism every night. During that time, based on what I had seen at Maryland, I organized a prayer room that prayed through the summer for the effectiveness of the project. 

PrayerThe room was a dingy shed on the property of the house we were renting for the summer project. It was hot, dusty, and uncomfortable. But it was the place that students from the project would walk into and pray when they weren’t at work and had a spare moment. It was also a place were each of us had an assigned time. We simply prayed.

And we saw extraordinary things take place not only in conversions to Christ but in personal spiritual growth, and the conquering of sinful habits and patterns.

I don’t understand prayer.

God knows everything. He knows the words I will use and the sentences I will compose in my prayers. He knows what, and when, and how He will answer each and every care and concern of my heart. Which raises the question, “why pray if God already knows what we are going to say and how He is going to answer?”

The Scripture’s answer is because God commands it; He expects it; and Jesus Himself modeled it. And though I don’t understand how it all works, that ought to be enough.

Here’s what I do understand.

God’s brokers what He is doing in the world through believing prayer. Whenever God wants to do a mighty work, He moves the people of God to seek Him in concentrated, extraordinary prayer. The record of revivals both in the Scripture and in history is that great movements of God are always preceded by mighty movements of prayer.

Which comes first, the prayer or the revival?
Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

I think it is the chicken!

When we get on our knees and cry out to God, then, and only then, He lets Himself be found by us (2 Chronicles 15:2, 4) and our lives are renewed with a new vision of His holiness and plan that purifies our petty jealousies and grievances and allows the Spirit full reign in our lives.

Men and women, let’s pray.

Coffee Pot Ponderings on Time and Worship

Read Psalm 39

Copper PotSitting in a coffee shop, (The Copper Pot) and thinking on the brevity of life. The older I get, (about to celebrate another decade’s end), the truer these words feel. They, the words of this text, have always been true of course. But their impact on my spirit grows deeper as I watch the sand go through the hour glass.

I can look in the mirror now and see the ravages of time. Muscle tone is harder to keep. Pounds are easier to put on and harder to lose. Sleep is shorter. There is a growing thinness to a small circle on the middle-back of my head. The doctors have explanations for these things, these subtractions from an earlier vitality. 

But I’m more interested in what God wants to teach me in this season of life.

And that’s when I ran across David’s echo of Moses’s wisdom from Psalm 90 (a previous post here). David sounds like he has been listening to the same Spirit. And of course, he has. And that’s why I need to receive these words for what they really are, the word of God, and the reminder that days are short for all of us. Wise people live differently in time than those who are foolish. Wise people pray prayers that are like verses 4 through 7.

“O Lord, make me know my end
.       and what is the measure of my days;
.       let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
.       and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
.   Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!

.       Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
.       man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!
“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
.       My hope is in you.

I need this. I need this slap in the face that this flesh I walk around in is fleeting. I need this reminder that it is “nothing” (v. 5), a mere “few handsbreadths”, a “shadow” (vs. 6), uncertain (vs. 6b), the whole of my life is a “breath” (vs. 5, 11). I need such a reminder because my soul leaks and I tend to think that I will always have tomorrow to redo what I didn’t do today.

It’s an illusion.

I need to take the measure of this day and use it now for the glory of God because every day, every moment is precious. Today is the day to love my wife, my children, my church family, my neighbors. I’m not guaranteed tomorrow.

There is one future event that is guaranteed. It is more certain than my next breath and yours too. It is certain, beyond all doubt that Jesus is coming back to receive His own to Himself. He is coming back to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). And because He is coming I want all my hope and dreams to be centered in He who is coming. So, here is another offering for The Poetry Project.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow
Later
Someday
When I get to it
When this is done
When the stars are aligned
When my chores are finished
When my health is better
When my bills are paid
When my schooling is finished
When I’m established in my career
When the weather turns
When my strength is spent
In my old age
When I retire
When I have time to think
.     as if we know how much time we have.

The follies of our when’s and ifs and somedays
.     mount up from mole hills to mountain ranges
And we kid ourselves into thinking that they make sense 
.     that it is reasonable to not place You at the center of everything.

Give me a ruler, a tape measure, a scale,
.     something to weigh out 
the days You allot
.     so that I might use them well

And find all my joys in You.

Go to Psalm 40

Incarnation: God Infleshed — It Doesn’t Get Any More Profound

Wednesday is for Prayer

There are times when only a Christmas hymn will suffice for clarity and beauty of doctrine proclaimed with joy. Here’s a classic example. There are multiple verses and whole chapters that could be summoned for every line of this hymn. Remember and remind your soul to bask in the wonder of God become flesh for the salvation of men and women. Don’t miss the video at the end.

The Angels before Shepherds
The Presentation Of Christ In The Temple – Benjamin Gerritsz. Cuyp

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’ angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.” 
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ, by highest heav’n adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the favored one.
Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, th’incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

A Psalm of David Reheard

Monday is for Discussion

Another offering for the poetry project. We live in a post-resurrection world. We live in a world that has been radically changed by “the news of a great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10) and a Savior who rose from the dead (Luke 24:7). We live in a God inhabited world and it effects (or should) everything we do, including, reading the Psalms.

Read Psalm 24:1-10 (ESV)

Brick WallA Psalm of David Re-heard

Its all Yours,
   Everything I see and everyone I don’t
There’s never been a day
   When it wasn’t Yours
For You conceived it
   And grew it up from the ocean depths
   And placed Your peoples on the river banks

Where You dwell, I cannot ascend
    I cannot stand in such a holy place
I don’t have clean hands 
    I don’t have a pure heart
    I often dwell with falsehood
    My heart deceives itself
How can I receive any blessing from You,
    with an unrighteous heart?
But You are a God of salvation.

    You are a God who gives righteousness
    You are the God who replaces new hearts in stoney places
    You are the God who draws hearts
    You are the God who gives grace
And causes the blind to seek sight.     Selah   

So, like ancient gates
    I will lift up my head
    that the King of glory may inhabit my heart.
But who is the King of Glory?
.   The Lord, the scarred and pierced
.   The Lord, triumphant over death.
So, like ancient gates
.   I will lift up my head,
.   that the King of glory may conquer my heart.
Who is the King of glory?
.   The Lamb of God who takes away sins
.   The Lamb of God, slain from the foundations of the earth,
He is the King of glory!                           Selah

Go to Psalm 25.

Is “Anguish of Soul” the Key to Revival?

I wish every Christian in America, every lukewarm, comfort-loving, convenience-seeking, spiritually apathetic, passionless believer in Christ would stop and listen to this seven minute excerpt from a David Wilkerson message. Don’t multi-task. Take seven uninterrupted minutes from your day and listen.

It might change the rest of your day. It might change the rest of your life.

See this link for more: Is “Anguish of Soul” the Key to Revival?.