Monday, June 29, 2009

And the Winner is...

Congratulations Marnie! I hope that you enjoy your new journal, as much as I enjoyed making it, and that it will be a sweet reminder to you of your Summer in the Psalms!
And girls, just know that each and every time we share our thoughts and insights with our sisters, we are helping to strengthen one another's faith...thank you to everyone who has been participating in the Comment Cafe - the blessing is definitely being spread around!
And don't forget that there is also a July Giveaway as well! This Friday I will be letting you know what that will be, but in the meantime, beginning today, July 1st until midnight July 31st, with every comment you leave, your name goes into the teacup for the draw!

Have a wonder-full week and we will see each other here on Thursday for our Summer in the Psalms Gathering!
***EDIT UPDATE!!! Oh for heaven's sake! I got so excited about this drawing that I'm one day ahead of myself! Marnie, you still won sweetheart... but here is what I am going to do - every comment left at the Comment Cafe today will now go into the July Giveaway.
Listen, why don't you all just comment on how ditzy I am and get a good start to next month!
With love,

Summer in the Psalms - Week Five Reading

What a beautiful Monday morning in which to start out our week! I am sitting here looking out at a clear, blue sky with not a cloud to be seen - it is my prayer for you this week that as you look into the Word of God that He would make clear to you all that you are to know at this particular time and that you will be blessed in the revelation of it all.

Once again, I would suggest that you take one verse and commit it to memory, remember, the Word of God is our only offensive weapon, the more we memorize Scripture the better we are at withstanding the slings and arrows of the enemy. Also keep in mind that this is not just 'David's Psalm' - this is your Psalm, given to you by your loving Father as a means to express to Him all that is in your heart and soul; I would suggest that you read it through a few times to understand the thrust of it and then throughout the week, open your mouth and read it out loud! I cannot fully express to you the power that is in the doing of this - when we get together this Thursday at the Gathering, I will expound further on the benefits of this particular practice.
Your Psalm for this week girls is... Psalm 51, and once again - enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Christ The Solid Rock She Stands

I am hoping that you had a chance to somehow, and in some way, enjoy God's beautiful creation today... after all, every beautiful wonder of it points to Him!

Yesterday, I had mentioned what an encouragement your comments and e-mails have been, and are to me, and so I thought that I would share with you just exactly what I was talking about. I have asked permission from my dear friend and sister Elizabeth to post her words and pictures - may they bless your heart as much as they have blessed mine today! Thank you Elizabeth!

Dear Cathie - as I read your comments today on Christ the Solid Rock, I have to share with you this picture I took with the single purpose of reminding me of standing on the Solid Rock. This little tree stands firm (I have watched it over the years going to McKenzie Beach) against fierce winter storms and calm days alike. Note the area around it is green - fresh green grass on this wind and weather bashed rock. The rock is only accessible at very low tide, which happened when we were last there. What a pleasure to get up close and personal to this little tree I have watched for years! I wonder, is there a lesson here in the growth at the base of the tree - as we take our stand on the Rock Christ Jesus do we shed some of our blessing to those around? Just a thought and I am sure you will probably give me some insight into this thought. I do so love to see this tree and every time I go to McKenzie Beach it is the first thing I look for.
There, I have done with my wandering thoughts, and must go to bed.
I so... enjoy your blog! God has gifted you and what a blessing to see you use that gift.
Love you, Elizabeth

This was at the base of the rock!!! Low tide reveals so much beauty!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Four Gathering Place, PART TWO

Hi, and welcome back! I just have to tell you that I am really surprised at how encouraged I have been by all of your comments and e-mails, you know, this kind of teaching format is so different for me, as I am sure it is for most of you! Being social by nature, I really enjoy the fellowship of seeing each one of you in 'person' each week, yet, I am really starting to appreciate this kind of Gathering as well. Plus, it just plain widens the scope of our sisterhood - just this morning alone we have had a visit from Tel Aviv, Israel; Sacramento, California; Pennsylvania, Idaho and Switzerland - so a warm welcome to all of you and also to our Burnaby, Victoria, Surrey and Penticton sisters as well! And listen, if you are just dropping by for a visit, remember to say hello!

Oh, I almost forgot! I would really appreciate your input on this one - it is just a meandering thought at this point, but what would you think about non-techy me trying to put together a video segment posting? Like I said, it is just a thought, but I think it would be fun! I can almost hear Joan saying that I am digressing again, so on to Psalm 40!

As soon as I began to study Psalm 40, I understood why God had given us Psalm 34 before it. These two Psalms go together in the sense that Psalm 34 gave us a wide lens overview of David and his relationship with God. We learned that David had sought the Lord and cried out to Him; that God answered and delivered David from all his fears; that God heard him and saved him (Psalm 34:4-7).

As we move into Psalm 40 we now get a more intimate closeup view of David's relationship with God, it is a closer look at the life of one who did "taste and see that the Lord is good" and just how "blessed that man is who takes refuge in Him!" (Psalm 34:8)

While my approach to this Psalm will be mostly verse by verse, it's always good at the outset of our study to get an overview and see how this Psalm progresses from praise and thanksgiving in verses 1-10, to petition in verses 11-17. As I was reading through I thought of Philippians 4:6 which says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

As we go through the Psalms this Summer, the one thing that we have to keep in mind is that throughout the Psalms, God is inviting us to enter into communication with Him through prayer! In just the last four weeks alone, we have learned so much - grown deeper in our faith, in our love for God and for one another, yet we can't allow the daily things of life to crowd out the most important teaching that the Psalms can bring us - that the MOST important of relationships we can ever have is with God and that this is only strengthened and deepened through prayer. One thing that we don't want to do is get all hung up on the definition of 'supplicate' and 'petition' and 'request' and 'ask'; if you want to know what they all mean, the bottom line is this - they are all just simply talking with God! Just plain talk to Him and you'll be supplicatin' and 'petitioning' all over the place in no time! And the result will be that God's peace, (which by the way 'surpasses all comprehension'), will be guarding your precious heart and mind in Christ Jesus!

In verse 40:1 David declares that he 'waited' patiently for the LORD; we tend to put the emphasis on 'patient', yet, in the original Hebrew the focus is not placed upon patience, but upon the 'waiting' itself. This word 'wait' is קָוָה (qāwâ), it simply means 'to look for, to hope' and it carries with it the extended meaning of looking for or hoping for 'with eager expectation and steadfast endurance'. This gave me such insight into the waiting period that David had experienced, because waiting with steadfast endurance is a great expression of faith. It means enduring patiently in confident hope for the salvation of God (Gen 49:18).

In Psalm 130 we see that this kind of waiting involves the very essence of a person’s being, his soul. When the soul is involved in 'waiting in true faith', as David's was, that soul, that person, is renewed in strength so that they can continue to serve and give glory to God while looking for his saving work (Isa 40:31). As I was thinking about this, Psalm 27 was brought to my mind, and I thought about when we wait as David did, our faith is not only strengthened, but our character is also developed. Do you remember when we spent a year studying the book of Romans, and how in Chapter 5:3-4 we saw that tribulation for the believer brings about perseverance; and that perseverance brings about proven character; and that proven character brings about hope? Well, in David's time, v.5 of Romans 5 had not yet occurred (the coming of the Holy Spirit), but his soul was certainly postured in hope, and praise God that hope does not disappoint!

This deep 'soul waiting' was what David had experienced, and the LORD inclined to David and heard his cry, and saved him from the pit of destruction (say with me 'the pit of destruction'). You know, this may seem like Old Testament language here, but just think about the news last night and this morning that seems to have gripped the majority of telecasts and websites - there is surely a 'pit of destruction' today every bit as wide and deep as in David's time, perhaps even wider and deeper and more full that it has ever been, and the ONLY ARM that is able to reach down that far and pull precious people out to salvation is The Mighty Arm of our God!

I just couldn't help myself and fell flat out into a topical study on Psalm 40:2b-3, it was sheer exhilaration! For our purposes today I will try and keep it brief, but I am hoping that you enjoy it nonetheless!

After the Mighty Arm of God reaches down into that pit of destruction and lifts us up and out of it, He then sets our feet down upon a rock. Turn with me, if you will to Deuteronomy 32:31 - this is the Song of Moses that he was commanded to write; it was his final exhortation to Israel before he died...and it is beautiful! It starts out by calling all to hear and take hold of the doctrine to be taught in the song.

The first part of the song (32:4–14) emphasizes the Person of God in all his perfection and justice toward Israel. He had purchased them, set their boundaries, protected them, and provided for them. You really should read the entire song, but listen to verse 3, "For I proclaim the Name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! THE ROCK!" Ok, I admit that I am the queen of the exclamation mark, I use it way too much, but frankly it is as necessary to me as breathing. Why Scripture itself is not just 'exclamation marked' all over the blessed place is beyond me - but here, in this verse, YES!, we find that Moses himself could not resist that powerful little digit - he exclaimed the Name of God..."THE ROCK!"

In 2 Samuel 22:2-3 we see David also writing a song (Psalm 18) to the Lord, saying, "The LORD is my ROCK and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my ROCK, in Whom I take refuge." I love verse 32 and verse 47, "For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God?..... The LORD lives, and blessed be my ROCK; and exalted be God, the ROCK of my salvation."! (exclamation mark, mine).

Just as we learned in our study of Psalm 16 that God is our Cup - here we can clearly see that when His Mighty Arm pulls us up and out of the pit of destruction and he sets our feet upon a rock, girls, He's THE ROCK!

Remember that glorious hymn, "On Christ The Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand all other ground is sinking sand."? Oh, go ahead...sing it loud and sing it proud! It is because of THE SOLID ROCK that our footsteps are firm - He truly is solid ground and everything else is sinking sand. But there's more - God then goes and puts a new song in our mouth, a song of praise to our God! (Psalm 40:3) and just like we learned in Psalm 34, once that song starts warbling through us, many will see and fear and trust in the Lord! And girls, the circle just gets bigger and bigger!

David tells of the blessing that is upon those that do put their trust in God, and praises God with the new song that has been placed within his mouth in verse 5. Ok, now Debbie, this is in answer to your question verse 6 David says that God has not desired 'sacrifice and meal offering, nor has God required burnt offering and sin offering. Debbie was wondering how this could be when, during the time of David and right up through until the day of the crucifixion of Jesus, these offerings were indeed required and adhered to by the nation of Israel. Good question to bring up! I believe that the key to this answer is found in verse 6a and in verses 7-8.

The reference to David's ears being 'opened' or 'dug out' has a two-fold meaning, as it can be translated from the Hebrew to read 'pierced'. Firstly, God Himself had done the opening, the digging out, and now David had the ability to hear and obey the Word of God, he now had the ability to understand that ultimately it was not the sacrifice or offering that God was after it was truly David himself. But there is something else here that we need to see in reference to David's ear being 'pierced' - I am going to give you an excerpt from a study that I wrote a few years ago that will help explain this -

"...after seven years of service (Exodus 21:2-6), in the year of Jubilee, God's law cancelled the contract (between servant and master) and the servant was set free. At his appointed time of release, the master was under obligation to render unto the servant, grain, livestock and wine to establish a new life for himself. Not all masters, however, were equal. Many Israelites who contracted themselves out in slavery knew that seven years could be long and arduous under a hard taskmaster that was abusive and cruel. However, a servant who had come to love his master could, upon the seventh year, request to become a 'bond-servant', a servant for life, until death. His master, upon agreement, would take the servant to the marketplace, where the servants' ear lobe would be placed upon a block and with one blow of a mallet, an "awl" would be driven into the earlobe. Whenever people would see that bond servant, they would know immediately what that "awl" meant, .... "He must have some master!"

This is what has happened to David when he declares that God Himself has opened (pierced) his ears, He has now become a willing 'bond servant for life' to the LORD! In verse 7 David further states that his response is "Behold, I come". David further understands that God's desire for him has been written of in the "scroll of the book", that God had intentions upon David from even before he was born (Psalm 139:16) and that now the very laws of God are written on David's heart and he delights to do the will of God.

There is so much more to all this, but think on verses 6-8 as pointing towards your own salvation. We can talk about this further in the Comment Cafe! I'm having to practice restraint here from taking you all over your Bible on a couple of topical studies! Sheer indulgence!

Verse 9-10 are some of my favorite verses in Scripture and my memory verses from this chapter, along with verses 1-3. Let us determine together to be women who "proclaim glad tidings of righteousness" in the great congregation; let's not "restrain our lips" or "hide His righteousness in our hearts"; let's join together and speak of God's "faithfulness and His salvation", not concealing His lovingkindness or His truth from our brothers and sister in the faith.

I am looking forward to hearing what your time in this Psalm has done in your own heart. You know, it is in the sharing that our mutual faith is built and strengthen!

By the way, did you notice that the superscription to this Psalm was "For the choir director"? go ahead and sing this song, I tried it and for some reason it had a country/western twang to it! Go figure, I'm just glad I was singin' unto the Lord, I get the sense He was pleased if not amused by my attempt!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Four Gathering Place, PART ONE

Welcome to your Week Four Gathering Place girls! Pull up an Adirondack and 'settle you in some' alongside your sisters!

I'm hoping that throughout this past week you have been anticipating this time as one of fellowship and encouragement - it is no small matter that God has instructed us to encourage one another in our common faith, and I am honoured to be counted among your number!

I just have to let you know that there was an element of frustration for me this week! I mean, right out of the gate was the realization that there were two Psalms that the Lord would have us study and meditate upon, two! - I immediately bent my knees on that one because God knows what He is about and there is surely a blessing that comes through obedience.

Then, there was the selecting of two passages of Scripture, one from each Psalm, to commit to memory. It wasn't the memorizing that got to me... it was the selecting - it was just all so good! So in all honesty, the first verse I claimed and declared was, "Make haste O LORD, to help me."! (Psalm 40:13)

Something else was frustrating me though as well and that was the desire to do an indepth topical study on some of the things that God was revealing to me through these Psalms. My inductive study roots have served me well, and as much as I love studying and teaching book by book, topical study seems to be where God has been leading me lately. Now, among other things, all study requires discipline and time, and herein lay my frustration, how could I possibly go as deep as I was desiring to go with these two Psalms in just one week and be able to meet here to share it all with you today? The answer was simple - I couldn't. Like I said, an element of frustration! But let me assure you, that no amount of frustration was able to keep me from the blessing of being in His Word this week - as a matter of fact, that frustration that initially came over me, ended up becoming a stepping stone to joy, just knowing the depth of the riches that lay within both these Psalms!

I found Psalm 34:1-3 to be simply exhilarating, I know that David is speaking of his own personal response before God, yet, because he is inviting us (v.3) to join in with him I began to imagine this - all of God's people, His church, blessing the LORD at all times; His praise being continually in our mouths; our very souls making their boast in the LORD, I mean, this is the abundant life right there! This is the place where there is no want, no lack, no complaining or grumbling or dissatisfation... this is living smack dab in the middle of the abundant life of God! For heaven's sake, our "cup runneth over" (Psalm 23:5) and He Himself is the Blessed Cup! (Psalm 16:5)

And... something extraordinary happens as a result of simply living the abundance - the humble will hear and rejoice! Did you notice that I did not say 'living in the abundance'? There is a difference between living in the abundance and living the abundance. Just because you are swimming in water and are outwardly wet, does not mean that your thirst has been quenched through the drinking of the water - that is the difference!

Not to say too much on the subject, but I am of the notion that all too frequently our evangelical tendencies within the church tend to be geared towards the 'idea' rather than the 'reality'. Kind of like a bald person trying to sell a guaranteed hair restoring lotion, saying that they themselves have been using it for over thirty years and it has done wonders for them.

It is wonderful to hear David speak as he does, through this Psalm, however, we need to personalize what we read by asking questions of ourselves before God. Lord, is the result of the reality of being Your child causing me to bless You at all times and praise You continually? Does the very deepest place within myself, my very soul, boast in You God and You alone as David's soul did? And if not - why not? Psalm 23 begins with, "The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Have we perhaps become dissatisfied, perceiving in our lives only lack and want, which causes us to grumble and complain, because we have taken our eyes off of our LORD, our Shepherd, and put them on the things of this world? This world (and it's advertisers!) never seems to run out of 'things' - Psalm 34:10 tells us that "they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing."

As we look at the first verses of Psalm 34, it would seem that David understood that true evangelism comes out of the reality of the abundance of God lived out in the everyday lives of His children - the humble will see it and rejoice! And then I love verse 3, "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!" The result of true evangelism is that there is now the added joy of magnifying and exalting His name with others, together, in true, genuine, authentic, fellowship!

I think one of the reasons I enjoyed this Psalm so much, is that David begins with praising God for His continual goodness to him, then he calls on whoever is listening to come themselves and 'taste and see that the Lord is good', and then he takes on the role of a teacher urging them on in the way of the Lord, yet also warning them of the consequences of those who reject Him. I see in David the attitude of heart that shows the beautiful progression of a heart that is fully His.

The superscription of Psalm 34 places the writing of it in the time of 1 Samuel 21:10-14. Basically, David had been running to escape from Saul and had ended up seeking refuge with a Philistine king. This 'safe refuge' soon turned to 'captivity' when the king realized that he could have a good thing going here by having this 'valuable hostage' (now there is a good topical study right there!); after a period of time, David actually escaped when he pretended to be completely insane. And here is what I was thinking, if it wasn't for Psalm 34, many would read this account in 1 Samuel and lift David up as being clever or astute; but David himself is very clear - he had sought the Lord (v.4) and looked to Him (v.5) and cried out to Him (v.6). Well aware of his own impotence, David declares of himself 'this poor (afflicted) man' (v. 6), knowing that it was God alone Who had answered (v.4) had delivered (v.4) and Who made David to be radiant and unashamed before God (v.5) and that it was God Who saved him out of all his troubles (v.4,6). David goes even further, to declare that the angel of the LORD not only encamps around those who fear Him, but also rescues them as well. (v.7)

By the way, in v. 7 the word 'fear' should be looked at a little closer; we can see, just within this Psalm, that there are 'fears' (v.4) and then there is the 'fear of the LORD' (v.7,9,11), believe me when I say, that I have known both and I much prefer to be 'delivered from all my fears' through 'the fear of the LORD'!

In it's very basic expression, to have fear of the LORD is to show respect for Him and for His Word, it is an attitude of humility, a bending of the knee to His will and His ways. The best way I know how to explain this would be to have you read Matthew 14:27-30...Peter knew that if it was Jesus telling him to walk on that water, then he would indeed be walkin' on that water! Jesus commanded Peter to do just that, and Peter did just that - but then Peter took his eyes off Jesus, put them on the water (he saw the wind because the of the waves on the water) an he became frightened. That 'fear' that caused Peter to 'become frightened' was caused by taking his eyes off Jesus and putting them on the water, yet Peter's faith in Jesus, what he knew to be true about Jesus, caused him to cry out in his (literally) 'sinking fear', "Lord, save me!" I would suggest that you read the whole account, it is wonderful!

So, fear of the Lord is having such a respect for Him and for His Word that amid the waters of life, we trust in Him and in His Word more than we trust in the circumstances - it is when we are more afraid of taking our eyes off of Him, our Deliverer, our Savior, our Life, than we are afraid of the circumstance itself. When we know the ways of the world, more than we know the ways of God, our eyes are fixed upon the water; but when we know The Word of God, our eyes are fixed upon Him! (John 1:1-2,14)

In v. 11, David goes on to give the invitation to listen to the lesson of how to fear the LORD. I believe that it is profound in that it speaks to the longing of every human heart - the desire for abundant life and tangible goodness. As I was reading through, my first thought was this, that it's only on this side of the cross that these attributes in man are truly possible - only in Christ are we truly able to 'depart from evil and do good'.

Then in v. 15-22 we see the contrast between the people of God (the righteous) and those that are not His people (the wicked, evil). Before we look at this contrast I just want to say this, that throughout the years that I have taught Bible Studies I have come across many people that, when reading Scripture, will pick and choose those verses that they "like" and will completely jump over those verses that they "don't like". This is dangerous, to say the least! We will never truly know God if we continually insist on denying His revelation of Himself through His Word. God Himself clearly defines the righteous as those that belong to Him and the wicked or the evil as those that do not belong to Him. Another observation that I have made are those people that will indeed read those verses that they don't happen to particularly "like" and then proceed to explain how they don't really mean what they say. Such as the statement, "we (mankind) are all God's children," when John 8:41-44 clearly states that God is the Creator of all, but He is not the Father of all. We must worship God in spirit and in truth, if we make for ourselves a God to our liking and specifications, then we have become an idolatrous people - but that is a whole other post right there!

There are four statements that really stand out when it comes to those who do not belong to God - the face of the LORD is against them and He will cut the memory of them off the face of the earth (v.16); those who hate the righteous will be condemned (v.21) and evil shall slay the wicked (v.21). I did not have the time to study this last statement as much as I would have liked but it is something to deeply is evil that will slay the wicked, dying so to speak by their own sword.

Then there are the statements that stand out when it comes to contrasting the people of God - it is breathtaking! Instead of the face of the Lord being against them, the Lord's eyes are towards them (v.15), His very ears are open to their cry (v.15), girls, this should have your mind just reeling back to what we learned this past year in our study of the book of John; I am thinking specifically of John 9:31 which says, "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him." So, we know that when a sinner bends his knee in repentence, God hears that prayer.

When God's people cry, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles (v.17), the LORD is near to the brokenhearted, He saves those who are crushed in spirit(v.18). And then comes this truth in the midst of this breathtaking treasure of abundance - "many are the afflictions of the righteous". All I can tell you is this, being a Christian does not guarantee an easy ride through this world. Find an earthly affliction and some Christian has walked through it. A relation of ours once said to me, "Look, if God (and this person did the little italics in the air with their fingers) would guarantee that my bank account would be overflowing and I'd never get sick, yeah, I'd be a Bible thumpin', card carrying believer too, sign me up!" (sigh)

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers them out of them all. Are you like me and want to take this as far as you can go? - well, take that affliction as far as death and know that death does not claim the Life of a believer, for "absent from the body and (immediately) present with the Lord...", this is our sure hope and our full deliverance. This Psalm goes on to tell us that God redeems the souls of those that are His own and that there is no condemnation to those who take refuge in Him (v.22), a direct contrast to v. 21. There is deliverance 'in the midst of' for God's people, remember, it is "his rod and staff that comforts us". If you have time, read through Psalm 23; this Psalm is not just for those on their death beds, this is assurance for us today! The "valley of the shadow of death" is this world that we live in, yet goodness and mercy shall follow the children of God "all the days of our lives and we shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever!

There is a deep truth hidden in v. 20. David may be remembering his own unbroken bones at this point, yet this verse actually points to Christ (John 19:31-37 and Exodus 12:43-46) as the Lamb of God, yet, it also points to those of us who are now hidden in Christ. We are not rendered 'immobile' by any affliction that we may face while upon this earth, because it is in Him that we now live and move and have our being.

My memory verse from Psalm 34 is one that I had given to one of our sisters a few months ago and which I had just recently sent to another sister of mine. God has now given it to me and here it is, personalized!

I, Cathie, sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
I looked to Him and was radiant,
And my face will never be ashamed!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Four Reading

Well, good Monday morning to you! It is the beginning of a brand new week and a new Psalm to go right along with it...well, kind of - this week we are going to be doing something a little different, because instead of just one Psalm, there will be two!

You girls that have been gathering with me each Thursday throughout this past year will probably remember my Memory Verse book and how I have encouraged each one of you to join with me in memorizing a portion of Scripture every two weeks. This week it just so happens that my memory verse comes right out of one of the Psalms that the Lord has given me for our Summer in the Psalms, so-o-o, it got me to thinking that perhaps you would like to join with me in memorizing a verse from at least one of the Psalms that we will be reading, studying and meditating on this week!

Girls, your Psalms for this week are...Psalm 34 and 40! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Three Gathering Place

Hi Girls - and welcome to our weekly, Summer in the Psalms Gathering Place! This week, it has been my prayer that God's revealing of Himself, through Psalm 30, would become a blessing to your own soul as much as it has to mine. This week has actually unfolded quite beautifully into a lovely time of retreat for me and I am receiving it with gratitude and joy!

OK, so, I just need to let you know that because I have been so full of the Lord's blessing through this Psalm, and because that blessing is still lying heavy upon this girl, I am finding it extremely difficult, at this moment, to be able to put into words all that is in my heart! All I can tell you is that after writing and deleting and writing and deleting (honestly, a little book lies somewhere in the world of "cyber-delete"), I am simply "ceasing to strive and know that HE IS GOD!" So-o-o, if what follows seems just a tad "without form", just know that it is as pure an expression as I can give you at this moment!

My first thoughts on Monday morning as I received this Psalm, centered around the superscription that is found at the very beginning. Superscription's usually reveal several things in the Psalm that follows it - who the writer is, the occasion of the Psalm, perhaps who it is for, or how it is to be musically accompanied, or even what kind of Psalm it is. Psalm 30's superscription reads, "A Psalm, a Song of Dedication of the House. A Psalm of David", so we know that David is the writer and that this Psalm is a song that was to be sung at the dedication of the House. And here is where my blessing began!

And yes, if any of you would like, we can discuss what 'dedication' to which 'house' this superscription is referring to - whether it is David's own house (2 Samuel 5:11), or the house of the Lord (2 Samuel 7:5; 1 Kings 6:1), or whether this Psalm written by David was given a superscription at a later date and used at the temple re-dedication after Antiochus Epiphanes destroyed the temple in 165 BC...

...however, what occurred to me right away is this - a house is a dwelling place, and as believer's we know that God Himself dwells in us (2 Corinthians 6:16), we are His house, His dwelling place, His temple where He dwells..."Or do you not know that your body is a temple (sanctuary, house) of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body."

And then v.1 continues with..."I will extol You, O LORD...". 'Extol' means to praise, to glorify, and we know from our previous studies that to glorify God means to give a correct opinion of, a correct estimate of Him - that everything in His house, in our bodies would give a correct opinion, a correct estimate of The God Who dwells there! And my next thought was this...if this Psalm is a song that was to be sung at the dedication of the House, (and it was), then this entire week is to be about 'me' re-dedicating 'this house', 'this temple' in which He dwells, back to the Lord!

In order to understand this Psalm, we need to understand v.6-9. It was in David's prosperity that he stated, in some form of arrogance, that he would 'never' be moved. This is such a snare for us as well, whether it is soul prosperity or whether it is circumstantial prosperity, there is the danger of becoming spiritually arrogant or spiritually sloppy - when we believe to some degree or other, that we are beyond that temptation or that sin; when we believe that our prosperity of the moment is a ticket from any future difficulties of life. This is where assurance can turn into self-assurance, where confidence can turn into conceit, where blessing can become a curse, forgetting ' from whence we came.'

In v. 1-5 we hear David praising God for lifting him up, healing him and not allowing his enemies to rejoice over him. Whenever I read through the Psalms and see references to 'enemies', very rarely do I think about people; the reason for this is because I know from Scripture that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against those powers that are behind that flesh and blood! (Ephesians 6:12)

In Genesis 4 we hear God speaking to Cain and telling him that "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at your door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Our enemies are spiritual in nature, but it is hard to remember that when flesh and blood is getting right into your face! Cain was given the truth by God, but he did not walk in it and ended up murdering his brother. The 'doing well' that God spoke to Cain about was not 'good works', it was the attitude of his heart towards God.

Just like Cain, David knew the displeasure of God in regard to the attitude of his heart ; the difference between the two men was that the displeasure of God caused David to become dismayed (v.7) and caused him to cry out to God in prayer (v.2,8); however, with Cain, the displeasure of God caused him to become angry and sullen, and although God reached out to Cain, there was no turning of Cain's heart towards God and with a hardened heart towards God, he murdered his brother.

But when David cried out to God, God healed him! We see David in v.5 telling us that God's anger, His displeasure is only for a moment, but that His favour is for a LIFETIME! Yes, David wept before God in the darkness of his night, but praised His Name, when that darkness turned to Light, when Morning came, there was a shout of joy that came from David! He goes on to say in v. 9 that there is no profit to God in David going down to the pit and turning into dust, much better to be saved and healed of God and declare His praise for all to hear! I laughed out loud when in v. 4 David exhorts all those who love God to go ahead and give thanks to His Holy Name - I just so get that! I mean, there is nothing quite like gathering with a bunch of God loving, Jesus praising people and just telling out loud to one another the goodness of God!

Another giggle I had was in v. 9 when David, in the throes of his praising and conversing with God says, ..."Will the dust praise you? Will it (dust) declare Your faithfulness?". I giggled because I was thinking that God formed man out of dust (Gen 2:7) and later on in Psalm 103:14 David himself writes that God "is mindful that we are but dust", and I was further thinking that isn't it just like God to breathe life into dust and then watch as that dust goes about praising and declaring His Name...and all to His glory? I wonder if God smiled as dusty David, caught up in the healing and saving grace of God, asked Him this supposedly rhetorical question regarding dust and it's implied inability to praise and give glory to God....(I'm just sayin'!)

Sheol and the pit (sounds like a bad children's book title doesn't it?) was something else that stood out to me. Sheol and the pit are two different places - Sheol is a place that is encountered on the way to the pit! In v. 3 we see that the LORD had brought David's soul up from Sheol so that he would not go down to the pit.

On this side of the cross I see it this way - we were all born in Sheol, in sin; for those of us that have been born again, God has delivered us from Sheol, from sin, so that we would not ultimately go down into the pit. Now there are a whole lot of pits that we can fall, jump or be pushed into in the course of our life, just like there are many sins that we can commit (1 John 1:8-10). The difference is, that for believers, sin does not characterize our lives in the habitual practice of it nor does the presence of an occasional pit characterize our ultimate destiny, the ultimate and final pit. No wonder David was telling the godly ones to sing praise to the Lord and give thanks to His Holy Name!

I'm thinking that I would like to leave v. 10-12 for further discussion in our Comment Cafe! They are just such good verses and I would really like to hear what you have to say - I am looking forward to meeting with you there and learning all that the LORD has shown you this week...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Three Reading

Good morning girls, and welcome to our Week Three Reading! I have been so encouraged by your comments and e-mails, knowing that, you are indeed, sitting right smack dab in the middle of the blessing that comes from being in God's Word - nothing gives me greater pleasure than knowing that my sisters are getting blessed by 'leaning in'!

This week, our reading is ...Psalm 30 - enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Two Gathering Place PART TWO

Hi Girls! Did you enjoy God's beautiful creation yesterday - His glorious creation that points to Him? Well, after looking at Psalm 19:1-6 yesterday, today we are going to be taking a little closer look at the last remaining verses, 7-14. Yesterday it was all about the heavens declaring the glory of God - today we will see two things, the Scriptures themselves making witness of God and also, the witness of the servant of God.

Think of it this way...while the heavens declare the glory of God, the Scriptures declare His grace, and because you just cannot separate the glory of God from His grace, when the child of God walks her life according to the abundance of that grace, well, don't you just know that her very life is a witness of the glory of God!

Just as the 'sun' is the dominant feature in God's 'natural' revelation through creation, so the 'Law' (God's specific revelation through His Word) is the dominant element in God's 'specific' revelation in the Old Testament. I really enjoyed going through, over and over again, these verses and the first thing that I saw was that there are six specific titles given for God's Word - the law v.7, the testimony v.7, the precepts v.8, the commandment v.8, the fear of the Lord v.9, and the judgements v.9. That phrase, "the fear of the Lord" is actually another reference, a synonym, for the Law of God - as the aim of the Law was always to instill reverence for God in the hearts of mankind.

Now, I just wanted to say at this point that we are not saved by the hearing or even the 'adhering' to the Word of God, this is what got the Pharisees into so much trouble for heaven's sake! We are told clearly throughout Scripture that our salvation comes by God's grace, through faith - and that the Law of God was simply a tutor that was to lead us to Christ that we might then, through Christ alone be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)

OK, so then I looked at these titles for the Law (the Word of God) and saw, just like you did, that these titles contain qualities. The qualities of God's Word is that it is: perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true, enduring forever, righteous, desirable (more precious that gold and sweeter than honey, girls!). And then of course there are the results of those qualities... God's Word: restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart and enlightens the eyes. Listen, if you are like me, and in need of some serious restoration of your soul, some wisdom, joy and enlightenment this summer - then you and I are positioned, in exactly in the right place, in order to be recieving it!

David understood that the very Word of God, among other things, warns the servant of God; warns us on every level. We know that our spiritual state has emotional, mental and physical state ramifications - God's Word addresses every one of these, and it really is here that we find the bottom-line, do we really believe what God has spoken to us? Because, what I am noticing more and more in the world and in Christendom itself, is that there is a blatantly wide gulf between believing that God exists, and believing God! But that is another day, another post!

David then went on to say that there is also great reward in keeping God's Word; it would be a good thing to note that the reward is 'in the keeping' of God's Word, the reward is not 'for the keeping' of His Word. Meditate on this and let me know what you think!

In v. 12 David asks, "Who can discern his errors?" This is a rhetorical question, meaning that the answer is in the question itself, and the answer is...'no one'. Only God alone knows the inclinations of the human heart, Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that "the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways..."

Even in the doing of what we would consider 'good' works, our motives or attitudes of the heart might be stinking, literally to high heaven! No wonder the Psalmist cried out to God asking, "Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me!" (Psalm 51:10) Look, we all have hidden faults, hidden sins, we just plain do, and we are in desperate need of the Word of God to show us, just like in a mirror, those areas of sin in our lives. (James 1)

We see this in Psalm 139:23-24 where David prays and asks God, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there my any harmful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." What is this everlasting way? well, we saw it in Psalm 19:9, it is the way of the Word of God!

David asked God in v.13 to keep him back from presumptuous sins, I liken this to praying... "Lord save me from myself!" You know, I think a whole lot gets blamed on the enemy of our souls when we should be looking a little closer to home - James 1:14 tells us that "each one is tempted when he is carried away by his own lust." Satan might set out the bait, but it be all about us and the intent of our hearts, whether we are bitin' it or not! When I am eating of the Living Word of God, I am full, I am satisfied, and no stinking dead bait of the enemy will smell good after I've eaten at God's own banquet table! You know what I am sayin' - I know that you do.

So, a presumptuous sin are those sins that are in open defiance and rebellion against God's revealed Word, brought about by our own lusts, baited by the enemy. So David was not only praying to be cleansed of hidden sin, but he was also asking God to restrain him from running directly into open sin. If ever a man ran head-long into this blatant kind of sin it was David. He seemed to be minding his own business one day, looks out a window, sees a naked woman in a tub (the bait) and he bit, hook line and sinker. Not only did he sleep with another man's wife and get her pregnant, but he plotted, and had carried out, the murder of that woman's husband. You can believe that David was praying this particular prayer, knowing the kind of man that he was capable of being apart from God.

Most of the time, people believe sin, in all of it's various forms, to be freedom - after all that was the lie that was sold in the garden and many have fallen for it ever since. But God knows that sin itself is slavery, and keep in mind this, that every action we commit, whether in word or deed, whether good or bad, first begins as an intention of the heart. I remember years ago hearing this... that sin will take you farther than you ever intended to go, keep you longer that you every intended to stay, and cost you more than you ever intended to pay. God knows this, and longs for us to be set free of it - through the humility of confession and repentance that leads to salvation, YES! But also through the confession and repentence and godly sorrow that needs to come simply by being a child of God living in an earthly body!

I am not talking about living any way that you want and claiming that contrary living to the Word of God is not sin; or, confessing that it is sin, but that claiming that God is an understanding and forgiving God, so you ask forgiveness and go out and commit the same sin again, until it becomes a habitual way of life! A true child of God will ALWAYS be grieved over sin in their life, because the Holy Spirit in them grieves! For this we have this assurance, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us." 1 John 1:9-10

Verse 14 is my "take away" verse from this Psalm. That the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in God's sight, for He is my Rock and He is my Redeemer. My eyes are to be on Him and Him alone; I am to take my counsel and direction from Him and Him alone. And girls, isn't it true, that when we know His good pleasure, His particular joy is made full in us! And this joy of the Lord is our blessed strength!

Remember the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" that I quoted in part yesterday - well, let's hear the rest of it...

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow -
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided -
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

This is how the servant of God witnesses in this world, right along side creation and the Word of God - His grace covering us, His Holy Spirit (Who leads us into all Truth) in us, and His glory (well, I declare) revealed through us!

I can hardly wait to hear what you have all gleaned from this Psalm this week!

Summer in the Psalms - Week Two Gathering Place, PART ONE

Hi Girls! Welcome to our Week Two Gathering in our Summer in the Psalms series, this week our focus being Psalm 19! I'm thinkin' that this is going to have to be a two part installment... it was just too good to try and condense down into one posting!

The theme of this Psalm is all about God's revelation to man - which in itself just astounds me, I mean to know that God Himself speaks to us - mankind, who every one of us was born into sin (Romans 5:12) and has no natural inclination to listen to God, and yet He graciously continues to speak, and through Psalm 19 we see Him speaking in three very specific ways. He speaks in the heavens (v.1-6), He speaks in the Scriptures (v.7-11) and He speaks in the soul (v.12-14).

One of the first things that I saw, was that each of these three instances of 'speaking', can be taken in the context of witnessing. In v. 1-6 we see the witness of the heaven's "telling" the glory of God; in v. 7-11 we see the witness of the Scriptures declaring the Word of God; and in v. 12 -14 we see the witness of the servant of God. Let's take a closer look at the first witness, that of the natural revelation of God's glory...

Psalm 19 was written by David, and it is clear that he was quite moved by simply observing that the heavens, in all of their expanse, were 'telling', not only of the glory of God, but also 'declaring' the very work of God's hands. It brought me such joy to see that it was the sun that David highlighted as the dominating influence in this witness! Light dispels darkness girls!

Now, if you could indulge me for a moment, I would like to look at something that is, in my opinion, just too good to pass up! I would like to contrast for a moment the 'sun' in Psalm 19 being a witness and glorifying God, with the 'Son' in Hebrews 1 being a witness and glorifying God.

I'm almost sure that some of you saw that word 'glory' in v. 1 and were probably thinking about what you learned through your study in John about glory. The word 'glory', whether in the New Testament Greek (DOXA) or the Old Testament Hebrew (KABOWD), carries with it the same meaning - to glorify God is to simply 'give a correct opinion, or estimate of Him'. So, in Psalm 19 we see the heavens 'telling' of the glory of God, by giving a correct opinion, a right estimate of Him, and using the sun to highlight this witness!

OK, so now this is where I got really excited in my own observations this week! I turned to Hebews 1:1 and saw the Son giving His witness of the glory of God..."God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets (that would be the Old Testament Scriptures girls, one of the three ways that He speaks in Psalm 19!), in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the world. And He (the Son) is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His (God's) nature and upholds all things by the Word of His power." Jesus is the ultimate Witness and it gets even better!

Now, back to Psalm 19. So we see that God's power and glory are seen in creation. Today, as far as I can see, science would have us study 'natural laws' and leave God out of the equation, but the Psalmist looked at the expanse of the heavens and saw God! There are so many powerful Scripture passages that reveal God as Creator, many of them I spent time contemplating this week as I sat outside under the wide expanse of the sky - here are a few if you would like to read them...Psalm 8, Psalm 29 and Isaiah 40:12-31.

Jesus Himself pointed others to look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air in order for them to then in turn look beyond these 'natural' things and see the Father behind them all, as Creator, Sustainer, Provider (Matthew 6:24-34). Creation itself is not to be worshipped, we are to worship the Creator, yet creation ministers to our weary souls and continually speaks of the power and magnificence and glory and presence of God, pointing us to Him, the sustainer of Life. We will see later, that the enjoyment of creation itself is not Life giving, but simply points to the One Who is the giver of Life, through His Son, Jesus.

I saw something interesting in v. 2 - although the heavens are 'telling' and their expanse is 'declaring', and even though day and night they pour forth 'speech' and reveal 'knowledge'...there is no speech, there are no words, their voice is not audibly heard. Now, I do not want to take this farther than I ought, but let me suggest to you what I believe to be true...that there were no words, because The Word, praise God, was yet to come!

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him (didn't we just see that in Hebrew 1:1?) and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being....and the Word became FLESH and dwelt among us, and we saw His GLORY..." (John 1:1-3, 14a)

Creation itself speaks a universal language to all people groups and nations, pointing them to God and ultimately salvation. "For since the CREATION of the world, His (God's) invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

Did you know that nature preaches a thousand sermons a day to the human heart? Think for instance about the cycle of each day, beginning with light and moving to darkness, from waking to sleeping - this is a picture of life without God. Remember in John when Jesus said, "For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light so that darkness does will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light." (John 12:35-36)

Each and every 24 hours, we have a reminder of this through our morning and night. Thing is, when it gets dark, artificial light has become quite popular! Or how about thinking about the seasons, from spring to winter, or even the seasons of life itself - life to death. Throughout Scripture we see examples of the grass being mown down (Isaiah 40:6-8) or a tree cut down (Luke 13:6-9, Matthew 3:10), or fire destroying the waste (Matthew 13:40-42). These are all the activities of nature but they are also lessons for the human heart. Let's be honest here, most people would really rather not think about such things, but nevertheless, everyday the heaven's are faithfully declaring the glory of God and pointing to Him and the salvation that only He can give, and as we will see tomorrow, God never intended that we leave all this 'declarin' solely up to the Scarlett O'Hara, we need to be sayin' "Well, I do declare!" and then be about declarin' it!

You know, I cannot help but think back to last week and what we learned from Psalm 16...that those who go after other gods, other things, other stuff, that their sorrows will increase - but for those that belong to God there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore; there is counsel and security and we can look at all nature and know that all nature is pointing towards our Father God and doing it with great delight! (I mean take a look at some of the colours in a garden alone, creation delights in showing off the glory of God!)

The following hymn is just bursting from my heart this morning and so I am going to share a portion of it with you, (listen, just be grateful that all you have to do is read it and not actually hear me sing it, and count that as a mercy from God Himself!)...

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest;
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hands have provided -
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto to me!

Now, away you go and enjoy your God through His creation - and for Heaven's sake, go right ahead and take great delight in glorifying God right along with all the rest of creation, after all you are a "planting of the Lord for the display of His Splendor!" Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June Giveaway!

Well, here it is, the Summer in the Psalms Giveaway for June is - an Altered Journal!

I was so excited to offer this because honestly, I just love the one that I have recently made for myself and I wanted you to have the chance to have one too!

The one I am showing you is actually mine, and while each one that I have made is quite unique, no two being alike, they are all lovely!

Each Journal's pages are stitched (not glued), have a ribbon closure and the front and back covers are coated, inside and out for durability.

The reason that I chose this particular one for myself is because it was inspired by the title of the book, "The Secret Garden", by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a favorite book of mine when I was a young girl.

If you do not presently Journal, why not begin today? If you would like me to post some Journaling suggestions to get you started, just let me know! Through the years, I have noticed that my approaches to Journaling have changed, as the Lord changes me. The Psalmists Journaled...and so can you! And remember, each and every time you leave a comment, through the month of June, your name goes into the draw for the Altered Journal Giveaway!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Flowers On My Doorstep

What is it with all these lovely gifts that are being left on my doorstep? This is what I found awaiting me on Saturday afternoon after arriving home - a gorgeous black and white vase, a little package of needles and a plaqued clothing hook for the wall, along with a touching little card from my sister Linda (aka BabaLinda).

I know exactly where these delightful gifts will be placed - and so does Linda!

My Little Sewing Room is in the process of being planned and brought into fruition.

The plan is to have it suggest a little French boutique (now with a little touch of London!), with a large round mirrored bureau, a pedestal table by the window (now to be adorned with this gorgeous vase), and with black and white floral floor length drapes to frame it. Linda, THANK YOU!

Why my Father has blessed me with such precious flowers in my garden of friendships is beyond me, but He has deemed it as such and I am one grateful child!

Flowers On My Doorstep are not just the lovely outpouring of gifts from my sisters hearts towards me, but they are my sisters themselves...every one of you that God has placed upon the doorstep of my life, I count as precious, each one of you have found a "placement" in my life, and just the thought of you brings joy to me each and every day. I can indeed declare along with Paul, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all...".

And just to keep me humble, here is a picture of my beautiful granddaughter yesterday - grabbing a handful of her Grandma's hair and putting her whole little body into the tugging of it...and don't you know that I was loving every minute of it!

Summer in the Psalms - Week Two Reading

Hi Girls! Well, it is the beginning of a brand new week and don't you believe for one second that you will be the same girl going into it as you are going to be coming out of it! I am always amazed that God, Who is Himself, as well as His purposes, unchanging (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 6:17)), is all about changing us - from glory to glory I might add! (2 Corinthians 3:18)

This week, as you continue in His Word, you will be filled with the restoration of your soul, the rejoicing of your heart, the enlightening of your eyes and spiritual wisdom - and if you think that I am being just a little bit over enthusiastic, then this Week's Reading is just for you. Enjoy your reading of Psalm 19! And see you back here on Thursday!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm A Happy Girl!

Look what I found on my doorstep late yesterday afternoon! A dear sister (thank you sweetheart!) decided that she was going to bless me with my favorite indulgence...plain, sea salted Kettle Chips! I am saving them for Sunday evening - I'm a happy girl!

And, also inside this little bag was a CD of a singing group that (horrors!) I had never heard of before...Il Divo. I showed my husband and he knew who they were right away - where on earth have I been? - completely out of the loop it would seem.
So, I have music to listen to and a treat to indulge I said, I'm a happy girl!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week One Gathering Place

Well girls, how did you enjoy your first Psalm of the Summer? I purposely did not give you any direction, other than to ask that you read and meditate and live out what you were able to glean for yourself over these past three days. My whole intent was to allow you to sense where you are in relation to studying without direction or an outline of any sort. For some, the freedom of this can seem quite daunting, with questions like, "well, what am I supposed to do - just sit and read it? Then what?"

Today, before we actually look at this particular Psalm, I would like to share with you my own personal approach this week, in the hopes that perhaps it will deepen your time of study and meditation in the weeks to come. Although it is my express intent this summer not to study inductively beyond the basics of observation, interpretation and application - you will probably notice that some other aspects of inductive study will just naturally unfold into my time in God's Word.

The first thing that I did was to prepare a book bag with all that I will need - my Bible, a journal, pens, pencils, reading glasses (hey, age happens!), bottled water, and anything else that will allow me to have undisturbed time without jumping up because I don't have what I need. I will not always be reading or studying in the same place during the summer, so a book bag is easy to grab and put in the car or carry outside to study on the deck or under a shady tree.

With my book bag all prepared, next comes my own personal preparation. For those of you that were in my study last year what I am about to say next will be a refresher for you - for others, it may be brand is regarding the way in which we approach God's Word...

We are to approach God's Word as God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word is alive... it is a living, active Word. Every time you open the Bible to read or study, it comes to you with a warm breath, fresh out of God's mouth, you will never be able to separate the Word of God from the mouth of God, ever. Don't ever think that what you read yesterday is old news...God's Word is fresh for you today sweetheart, believe it!

In Isaiah 55:10-11 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17 we can clearly see that God speaks an accomplishing Word over us. Every time you open your Bible, God is all about accomplishing something in you, accomplishing a good work in you - and by the way, He will (Philippians 1:6) be faithful to complete it! God is all about equipping us for today and for what lies ahead, so we are to approach God’s Word like no other book - having respect for the Bible whenever we open it, knowing that every time we do open it's cover, God's mouth is literally opening towards us, the mouth and voice of God Himself - it is your right, as a child of God, to be able to spiritually sense the warm, living and active, FRESH breath from God, each and every time you open His Word.

We are to approach God's Word with the Spirit's filling. The moment that we are born again, the moment we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior - having acknowledged in humility through confession and repentance our sinful state and His death on the cross as payment for our sin - His Holy Spirit immediately takes up residency in us…literally the very Spirit of Christ…and we are then, at that moment indwelt by the Holy Spirit. God speaks to us by His Spirit and it is His Spirit that leads us into all truth. It is imperative then, when approaching God's Word, that we ask Him for the infilling of the Spirit to “open our eyes that we might behold wondrous things from His Word" (Psalm 119:18)...very often this is the missing link when we open the Word of God, and so it remains dry to us. God's Words are spiritually discerned - without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit any study of Scripture will simply be an intellectual pursuit...or worse, a complete and utter frustration.

Approach God's Word ready...when God talks, talk back! We need to not just read God’s Word…but actively respond to it! God is about relationship…not just scholarship - if you are completely lost in Deuteronomy or Leviticus, for heaven's sake tell Him and ask Him to give you understanding! Understanding then may come through your own further personal study of His Word or perhaps through your study group, your pastor or your teachers.

Or perhaps you are suddenly hit with a spirit of unbelief. Then tell Him (Mark 9:24) and ask Him to increase your faith! Sometimes, it is just a matter of not being able to stay awake during Bible reading or study, once again, tell Him! Talk to Him about what He is speaking to you...dialogue back with whatever it is that is upon your heart and mind...listen girls, God already knows our hearts and minds, but when we open our mouths to Him then we are actually living in a full on relationship with Him. Honestly, there have been times when I have raised my hand and "high fived" God, yelling out "Yes!" as I saw unfold in Scripture His magnificence and power and let's face it...just sheer Godness! Get active in your dialogue with God, after all, the God of the Universe is walkin' with us, and talkin' with us, and tellin' us that we are His we really have nothing to say back to Him? Just wears me out thinking about it!

We are to approach God's Word as healing. Psalm 107:20a tells us that God "sent forth His Word and healed them". That is just about enough to cover this particular point...He sends forth His Word and healed them...period.

Think upon and I are sanctified (set apart) by God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:5)
We are healed by God’s Word (Psalm 107)
God's Word is the Word of Life (1 John 1:1)
God’s Word is Living and active (Hebrews 4:12)
And as redundant as it sounds...God’s Word – is God’s Word, for heaven's sake!

His Word is everything. Read Revelation 19:13 and see that Jesus is "THE WORD OF GOD"! Some people say that they just want a Word from God...well, we've been given the Word, He is Jesus and Jesus is God (John 20:28) and He has Spoken! Have you ever wanted to hear God His Word! it has been literally God-breathed into existence for us. And here is the thing...John 8:31 tells us that those that continue in His Word prove to be His disciples. And that is exactly what you are doing over this summer girls, you are continuing in His Word and proving yourselves to be His precious disciples!

Now, onto Psalm 16!

Monday morning was my time to spend reading through this Psalm...over and over again. As I went through it verse by verse, writing in my journal, I began to notice that with every verse a question arose within me, I will not go through every verse and response in my journaling for that initial day, but I will share a few of them with the way, these questions were not just written down and left, I then took these questions and presented them to God - the reason that it is so important to take these questions that arise in our hearts, directly to God, is that quite often we begin asking ourselves...and ourselves will usually rise up and take the opportunity to answer! What sorry counsel that has the potential of becoming and hugely dangerous to our souls! Ask these questions of God and let Him, by His Holy Spirit counsel you...what refreshment this brings to our thirsting souls!

Just a little note, don't ever assume anything when reading Scripture, if you think you know what it means, then check it out, back up your position from Scripture on why you think that way...a little time consuming, but well worth it!

v.1 I know that I belong to the Lord -but do I always take refuge in Him?; or have I begun to take refuge (comfort and security) in the things of this world? Is this "preservation" in this verse a one time thing that comes with salvation, or a continual "preserving"?

v. 3 Is all of my delight in the saints that are upon the earth?; do I truly consider them to be majestic?

v.5 All that I have, all of my days, the time that I live in, the body that I have are all given to me by God; do I truly view them as such?

v.7 The counsel of the Lord goes deep - instructing me even as I sleep; am I then blessing the Lord by truly walking in the counsel that He has given me?

v.8 Setting the Lord continually before me and acknowledging the reality of His continual presence at my right hand is my I actively engage my thoughts towards this reality and walk accordingly?

The following day, Tuesday, I again read through Psalm 16 in the morning, again in the afternoon and then later that evening. At each point during the day, I perhaps read it through 7 or 8 times - each time taking notes in my journal...what follows are brief excerpts from those notes...

v. 1 "Preserve me..." - do not let me have any movement outside of Christ; I've been born again; I am a new creature in Christ, let none of the old, only the new be an evident reality in me.

v. 2 Humility of the heart before God, posture of humility and yielding to Him and His will, ways and purposes...He is my Good.

v. 3 I do take delight in my sisters!; when those who claim the Name of Jesus bring dishonour to His Name Philippians 4: 8 it!; When I am disappointed or grieved by their actions or words Philippians 4:8 it!; take my delight in the saints who are on the earth!

v. 4 Daily awareness of those things which are idols; turn from them; point others to the One True God as I faithfully serve Him; do not speak or lift up false gods or idols, nor uphold those who pursue them.

v.5 The Lord Himself is my portion; He is my inheritance; He is also my cup (which, Psalm 23 tells me overflows!); He supports my lot, He is the One that holds all things concerning me.

v. 6 The boundary lines, the defining lines of my life and all that concerns me have fallen in pleasant places; there is a 'cease striving' in this reality; ask God to give me eyes to see the abundant provision of this; let my heritage be increasingly beautiful to me as I see it unfold throughout the pages of Scripture and in the reality of my own life.

v. 7 The Lord Himself Counsels me - astonishing! empowering!; this instruction and counsel is living and active in me, even instructing me in the night; it is my purpose to daily, moment by moment, bless the Lord in the living out before Him, and others, His wise and sufficient counsel.

v.8 Purposeful daily living, setting the Lord continually before me; being fully aware of the reality of His close presence, will assure my not being shaken.

v. 9 Because of this awareness and assurance, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely (for time and eternity)

v. 10 My soul will not be abandoned by God, nor will my body undergo permanent decay.

v. 11 God Himself will make known to me the path of life (Psalm 23 - the path of Life is the path of righteousness); live daily in His presence where there is fullness of joy; in God's right hand there are pleasure forever (contrast this with v. 4)

On Wednesday, I took those notes and began to do a deeper study. I meditated on the fact that God Himself is my cup which runneth over. I studied further what it means to have "my glory rejoice". I contrasted the sorrows that would be multiplied to those that follow after other gods with the fact that in God's presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures forever. I further pursued the reality of my inheritance being God Himself and my heritage in the faith. Now, this initial Week One Gathering Place post is different, in that I am simply showing you my own process in going through the Psalms and also in the fact that I am writing out simple notes from my journal. From now on, these posts will contain the FINAL results of my reading and study without showing the process!

You probably noticed that Psalm 16 is referred to in the Bible as a Mikhtam of David. Mikhtam in the original Hebrew means "gold or precious", 6 of the 150 Psalms are titled in this way. So we know that David wrote this particular Psalm and that it was considered to be as precious as gold.

There are many scholars that believe this Psalm is speaking of Jesus because of what they read in Acts 2:25-28 and Acts 13:35...however, these Scriptures only refer to Psalm 16:10 which is definitely pointing to Christ and we know this from the context of the verses in Acts.

Some believe that Psalm 16 is exclusively about David - however, that is completely contrary to what we have read in Acts.

Others say that Psalm 16 is applicable to David as a "type" or "foreshadowing" of Christ, but this cannot be the case since we know that David "saw corruption".

Some say that the first part of Psalm 16 is referring to David and the second part to Christ, but, there is no change in the subject of the first person "I or my" as we move through verse by verse; the one who is appealing to God for help in verse 1 is the same one who is rejoicing in verse 11!

Consider with me, if you will, that perhaps the "precious as gold" aspect of this Psalm is in part, due to the fact that it applies, in it's entirety, both to Christ and David - but also to us! Girls, we have just left the book of John, remember Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? In view of the sufferings set before Him did He not call upon the Father to "preserve Him", yet not His will but the Father's be done? We learned that Jesus only and always did those things that were pleasing to the Father and only spoke those things that were the very words of the Father, so did He not "continually set the Lord God before" Him, did He not "bless the Lord God, Who counselled Him"? Are we not also to become more and more like Christ, being transformed into the image of the Son? Doing those things that Jesus did? These things that we read through Psalm 16 are indeed as precious as gold because they relate and speak to us as well as of David, through belief. We too, as co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17) will one day know the joy of being given glorified bodies, of not having our souls abandoned to Sheol! This is just about doin' me in...have you any idea the restraint I need to use in order not to begin teaching out of Romans and Hebrews right now...Lord, have mercy!

OK girls, I'll see you in Cathie's Cafe, through the comment link! I need to hear what you have gleaned throughout these past few days! The additional three days of Friday through Sunday are intended for us to dialogue with one another, learning and growing together and for meditating on all that we have learned through His precious Word!


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