Monday, July 27, 2009

July Giveaway Drawing...

click to enlarge

Hey sisters! Just a 'heads up' to let you know that the drawing for the July Giveaway will be held on Monday, August 3rd.
Remember, every comment you make will enter your name into the drawing up until midnight Friday, July 31st...
I can hardly wait to find out who will soon be recieving this Summer in the Psalm's Journal!

Summer in the Psalms - Week Nine Reading

Good Monday morning to you! I found myself humming a song last night, and realized a little while later that, nope, it wasn't a hymn, it was that old song written by Irving Berlin in which the opening line is, ... "We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, it isn't surprising the temperature's rising, a tropical heat wave". Now, don't be writing me to tell me what a horrible song that is... I was only singing the first line for heaven's sake! ... and you have to admit, it fit the heat and humidity of yesterday! Never have I more desired someone to just come along and say 'Oh, Cathie, go jump in a lake' as much as I did yesterday! Amazing what becomes music to your ears when only days before could have been taken as an insult ...

Anyway, without further ado, our Psalm for this week girls is Psalm 118! - I truly hope that you will enjoy and receive the blessing of it!

I will not be able to post on it until late Sunday evening, but you go right ahead, on Thursday, and post your comments in the Comment Cafe ... yours sisters are in need of your fellowship and wisdom!

By the by, I just wanted to say that I was blown away by the depth, wisdom, exuberance and openness that I saw in all of your comments on our last few postings - I am believing with all my heart that God is using this place as a platform for ministry beyond the scope of 'all that we could ever ask or think', and that He is using you to accomplish His purposes.

Now, to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Now, away you go into your day, drinking lots of water and being strong in the Lord, you mighty women of God!

With love from your 'sister-mama',

Friday, July 24, 2009

Where Three or More Are Gathered...

I had a lovely surprise late yesterday morning. As I was preparing for my day that lay ahead, my husband told me that Angie had called and left a message. That message was an invitation to come and meet her Auntie Jean in her new care facility and also to meet Takako, who would be visiting Auntie Jean along with Angie. I quickly made the necessary adjustments to my schedule and away I went...who could turn down an invitation like that!

Here is the lovely Takako, who, through Angie, has blessed our study group this past year. She has just learned how to enter into the Comment Cafe and was visiting there with us yesterday -Takako had gone back to Angie's place later on yesterday afternoon, and Angie showed her how to leave her comment - if you would like to see what Takako had to say, just go into the Comment Cafe from yesterday's post!

The connection with Takako and Auntie Jean has been one of caregiver and friend, before the decision was made to move Auntie Jean into her new residence.

Angie brought out a photo album, showing us a picture of Auntie Jean and her sisters, taken when they had gathered together at a family reunion some time ago. We really had a wonderful time of visiting and fellowship; we laughed and prayed and absolutely everything that morning simply pointed to Jesus.
Takako has asked that our group of girls continue to pray for her, as she has another series of tests, examinations and doctor's appointments coming up quite soon - I have to tell you that her faith is strong and full of joy, and it was my delight and privilege to be able to meet Takako in person.

By the way, I took as many pictures as I could but my camera was definitely not cooperating -below you will see one of the pictures of me with Takako and Auntie Jean - they all looked great in the view finder thing-a-ma-jig, but, it was a whole different story when I started to download them!
Besides, I think you got the best three looking girls out of the group!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Eight Gathering Place

Welcome, once again, to your Gathering Place girls! It is my prayer this week that as you sit under the restorative shade of Psalm 100, that it becomes, not only a place of meditation and contemplation for you, but a place of great rejoicing and praise as well!

I have found this week that many of the old hymns have found their voice in me and I have thoroughly enjoyed the ministering work that they have brought about within my heart and soul... Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Come Thou Fount; Doxology; The Solid Rock; It Is Well With My Soul; Blessed Assurance; Immortal Invisible... it has been wonderful!

Did you know that Psalm 22:3 tells us that God Himself inhabits the praises of His people? There is nothing like praising God and knowing the sweet release and freedom that comes from the quick retreat of the enemy of our souls! And that is what this Psalm is all about - praise and thanksgiving!

On my first reading of this Psalm, I noticed that in v.1-4 there were seven distinct commands given - Shout, Serve, Come, Know, Enter, and Give Thanks and Bless. Since Monday morning I have been looking at each one of these commands, as deeply as the Lord would have me go, and I have been blessed beyond precious reason; I am still not done and am looking forward to the next three days of going even deeper. I will give you a 'for instance' that is particular to the season that I now find myself in, so the application has been quite profound.

As I looked more deeply into God's command for His people to 'shout ', one of the places I found myself studying was Joshua 6 - to keep it short I will just say this, when God commands His people to open their blessed mouths and 'shout', then we had better be about opening our blessed mouths and shouting... there are some walls that God intends to be coming down!

Psalm 100 directs us to 'shout joyfully'. This word 'shout' means 'to raise a sound, cry out, give a blast, to shout a war-cry or alarm of battle, to sound a signal for war or march, to shout in triumph over enemies'. Did you ever stop to consider that your praising of God is a battle cry of triumph over your enemies? That as you praise God, He Himself inhabits those praises and the enemy then turns tail and runs as your praises to your God blows the trumpet of Satan's defeat? Don't tell me that this wasn't a balm to my weary soul this week, walls were crashing down all over the blessed place and this particular girl was all about 'possessing the land'!

Something else that I noticed was the direction and the attitude of the heart that must be present as we Shout, Serve, Come, Know, Enter Give Thanks and Bless. We are to shout to the LORD joyfully; serve the LORD with gladness; come before HIM with joyful singing; know that the LORD HIMSELF is GOD; enter HIS GATES with thanksgiving and HIS COURTS with praise; give thanks to HIM; bless HIS NAME. The direction is always God-ward, the attitude of the heart joyful, glad, thankful and full of praise.

I then meditated upon v.3. When we truly know that He is God, then we understand that He Himself made us and not ourselves. Among God's people there is no such thing as the 'self-made' woman or man - we are His people, we are the sheep of His pasture, after all, He is our Shepherd and we shall not want. Last week we looked at how we can come to 'know' God.

There is also an attitude, a positioning of the heart that God delights in when we approach His gates and His courts. We are to enter His gates with thanksgiving (v.4) and enter His courts with praise. I thought this week, as I meditated on this, how often I have barged through those gates and blasted through into those courts with nothing on my sorry mind but my own wants and desires. Yet those gates are only open to me through the shed blood of Jesus, and those courts are only accessible to me through the rent veil of the flesh of Jesus, my Great High Priest. Surely, to stop and consider the price that was paid for me, to even enter in, would result in the bending of my knee in thanksgiving at those gates and the opening of my mouth in praise as I passed through those courts and entered into the Holy of Holies, to come before the throne of God Himself.

Did you notice the superscription at the beginning of this Psalm? It is 'A Psalm for Thanksgiving' ... not a Psalm of Thanksgiving. This Psalm is to direct us towards thanksgiving and praise, it is not in lieu of it. This Psalm is given as a directive to 'all the earth' (v.1), yet it is not for 'all the earth', it is directed to those that belong to God. Those who serve the LORD with gladness (v.2) are His servants, and those that serve Him know that the LORD Himself is God.

I'll just leave it at that for now as I give the last verse time to minister to my soul, "For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations."

Great is Thy faithfulness,
Oh God, My Father!
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not -
Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been
Thou forever wilt be.

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!

I am looking forward to hearing your insights from this week when we get together in the Comment Cafe - see you there!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blessings on My Doorstep!

Look what was placed upon my doorstep today! Fresh garden flowers, just as cheery and fragrant as could be and fresh garden vegetables ... beets and carrots and lettuce and peas it was practically dinner! And who left this bounty you ask? I have no idea! Whoever you may be, I and my family thank you... not only for the extravagance of your gift, but also for the love behind it all. I know what it is like to tenderly nurture the flowers of your garden along, and to excitedly watch to see those first little green shoots of carrots and peas and beets and lettuce poke up their little heads in the Spring.

I thank you for carrying me in your heart as you tenderly cut and harvested your own garden in order to bless me today.

Thank you!

Girls Time Out!

Just have a quick moment, but just needed to share... yesterday my granddaughter and I had a play date! Our day together began with an early morning walk with BabaLinda and her lovely daughter Laura (behind the camera!), and Laura's daughter, BabaLinda's granddaughter, the cute little Miss Sopia. My entire day was sheer bliss!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Eight Reading

Good Monday to you! This morning I have been singing that old hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", what a wonderful way to begin a new day!

Another great way to begin the day is in the reading of a brand new Psalm! Our Psalm for this week is not at all 'lengthy', but it is full of joyful praise towards God. May you know the fullness of joy that is to be had through this Psalm as you read, study and meditate upon it. Our place of meditation this week girls, is Psalm 100... enjoy!

By the way, would you all join with me in wishing our Debbie a very Happy Birthday today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEBBIE!

with love,

Thursday, July 16, 2009

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

Hi girls, and welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the change of pace this week as you all gathered together to write the posting yesterday, you did a fabulous job - I was blessed by both your depth of insight and your willingness and eagerness to share. Some of you seemed to like the challenge of the change - I love to hear that!

Yesterday, Debbie and Angie each had a question - Debbie was wondering about the placement of the word 'even' in v. 9 - you will notice in your Bible that this word is in italics (the word itself being slanted), this was done by the translators to show that this word is not found in the original writings of Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic, but it is implied and so added to give even better clarity. Take out the italicized word, and you will see the sentence as it was written originally. Debbie, personally, there are times that I think they should have just left it, but in this instance, I really like the added emphasis, I mean the Psalmist is basically saying, "Look, you have made the LORD - Who, by the way, is my refuge - your dwelling place, and I'm just needing you to know, that He is not only the LORD, but He is THE MOST HIGH!... you just can't be getting any higher than THE MOST HIGH!"

Now, Angie was wondering if she had interpreted v.15-16 correctly by assessing that 'honour' was meaning salvation. The short answer Angie is, yes! Think about it this way, we learned from our study in John this past year (John 5:23) that the word 'honour' basically means 'to give place to'. So, on this side of the cross, God honours us by giving us 'spiritual place'; that through salvation in Christ we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). During the time of the Psalmist, God gave 'physical place' to His people that pointed to the spiritual yet to come. If you would like we can discuss this more when we meet in the Comment Cafe!

OK, so, I was thinking that I would perhaps talk a little about the promises that we see in Psalm 91; the conditions of those promises; how we are to interpret and apply those promises Biblically; and then perhaps touching on the subject of 'knowing His Name'. Maybe not in that exact order, but let's see how far we can get!

Before we get into the promises though, let's do a quick overview - did you know, that in all probability, this particular Psalm was written by Moses just at the very beginning of the wilderness wandering of God's chosen people? If not, then take a look at the superscription of Psalm 90 - go ahead, look ... I'll wait for you!

Can you just imagine, as you read the first verse of Psalm 91, Moses standing before the people and proclaiming to them, with great authority and with the weighing of each word, "He who abides in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." I mean, there is no mistaking his point here - if you are dwelling then you are abiding! And don't even get me started on that, just go ahead and read John 15!

After the psalmist makes this proclamation, he then makes clear where he personally stands in all this, "I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, My God, in Whom I trust!'" I consider this declaration to be absolutely magnificent, right up there with the confession of Thomas in John 20:28; and by the way, due to my fondness for emphasis, the use of the exclamation mark just endears this psalmist to me more than I can express!!! He then goes on, throughout v.3-13 to declare the results of abiding and trusting in God, and then in v.15-16 we see the confirmation of God Himself over His Word through the psalmist.

One of the reasons that this Psalm is so well-worn is that it is full of God's promises, some of these being more obvious than others. As I initially read through, the promises that I noted first were those that were directly linked to God Himself - for instance, in v. 4 "He will cover you..." or v. 11 "He will give His angels charge concerning you..."; then I noted all of the many other promises, such as v.5 "you will not be afraid..." or v.10 "no evil will befall you..." . It is so important not to miss that the reality of these promises in a person's life, all hinge on three things found in v.14-15 ... that the (he) loves Me; that (he) knows my Name; that (he) prays.

How about if we look at these three things a little closer?

The best way that I know how to describe loving God is what we saw in John 21, it is AGAPEO love... loving God in His best interest. This is the love that Jesus had for God, Jesus Who only and always did those things that were pleasing to the Father. In John 21, Peter definitely loved Jesus, but it was a PHILEO love, a 'brotherly' love. Jesus knew that for Peter to be able to endure all that lay ahead of him, he would need an AGAPEO love for Jesus, and in 1 Peter 1:6-9 we see that Peter surely did grow from loving Jesus like a brother to loving Jesus in Jesus' best interest, and this AGAPEO love in Peter led him to glorify God right up until the moment of his death.

This kind of love flows out of the heart that KNOWS the Name of God. Knowing God's Name will only deepen our love for Him - this 'knowing' of His Name is crucial. To keep this as simple as I know how, John 1:1,14 tells us that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us... " Jesus is God and Jesus is the Word. In Revelation 19:13 we see Jesus returning and we are told, "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is called The Word of God.

I can honestly tell you that the knowledge of this has governed my whole entire Christian life and praise God, I have never veered from it. Girls, if you want to know God's Name, you must be in His Word! Look back now at Psalm 91:14-15. God says, "because he has loved ME; because he has known MY NAME; he will call upon ME..." We need to be knowing God as He Himself is revealing Himself, not the way that we ourselves want to think of Him as being. That only leads to idolatry, the creating of a god of our own making and design. I cannot tell you how often, through years of leading studies, that women have said to me that they do not read the Old Testament because the God of the Old Testament is a demanding and wrathful God and that they prefer Jesus of the New Testament; Jesus 'meek and mild'. This drives me to absolute distraction! In John 14, Philip asked Jesus to show him the Father and Jesus answered saying, "Have I been so long with you, and yet YOU HAVE NOT COME TO KNOW ME Philip? He Who has seem Me has seen the Father..." To know God as He would have us know Him, to call on Him in prayer as He would have us call on Him in prayer, to love Him as He would have us love Him, is to KNOW Him as He really is, and not pick and choose those attributes that are only pleasing to us and deny or close our eyes to others. If we do that we will never know that fullness of the NAME of God.

You may think that I have said to much regarding this, but if the whole of the promises of the Psalm are hinged on this, and they are, then it is vital for us to know. Having said that however, it is important to understand that we cannot 'force feed' ourselves to know the fullness of His Name. The knowing of His Name daily unfolds throughout our life - Abraham came to know God's Name as Provider when the ram was caught in the thicket; Hagar came to know God's Name as The God Who Sees when she and her son lay in a barren desert dying of thirst. It is the experiencing of the reality of His Name that we come to truly KNOW His Name.

OK, so how do we Biblically interpret and apply the promises that we have read throughout Psalm 19? We already know from our lesson a few days ago that everything that was true physically of Israel as God's chosen people is true spiritually of God's chosen people on this side of the cross today. For instance, the believer in Christ is spiritually safe, just as Israel was physically safe when the first born of Egypt were killed (Exodus 12:23). There is a physical 'deadly pestilence' and there is a spiritual 'deadly pestilence'; believer's are safe from the spiritual deadly pestilence and plague of sin and the death that are it's ultimate wages. Can God save a believer from the physical ravages of cancer by healing him, of course! Does God always? No, not always. But spiritually, the believer is safe from the death grip of sin and we need not fear.

There is so much more that this Psalm contains, but I will leave it there for now.

Personally, Psalm 91 is well worn and marked in my Bible, God has used it to minister to my soul time and time again over these past 20 years. I have committed to memory "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and fortress, My God in Whom I trust!" He has caused my heart to be tender before Him and to know that my soul has found it's rest in Him. And because my dwelling is now in the shelter of the Most High God Himself, I am hidden in Christ... it is any wonder that no plague of this world can touch my 'tent'... after all He is my 'Tent', my Dwelling Place. I praise you Lord!

OK girls, once again you know my disclaimer... don't have time to proof so let me know if there is anything that is spiritually downright dangerous otherwise, just grace me!


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

Good Morning girls, and welcome to your Gathering Place! A big thank you to those of you who have taken the time and effort to contribute to this posting, and to the spiritual growth of your sisters, with your thoughts and insights of Psalm 91. It is a Psalm that I have returned to over and over again, for many years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed just sitting under the blessing of it this week.

I will be posting my comments tomorrow, but for today, I am going to sit back and let you sisters have a good visit together, discussing all that you have learned and gleaned and been blessed with this week as you have been reading through and meditating upon Psalm 91. So, here are a few of your contributions to get your time in the Comment Cafe rolling... talk to you soon! Cathie

Hi Cathie,

Once again I have fallen in love with a Psalm. To think that I am so protected, loved and guarded is overwhelming to me. I do not know if I can possibly do justice to this Psalm but I will try. I will continue to digest verses 1-13 but I am brought to my knees by verses 14,15 and 16. This is my Heavenly Father speaking and confirming the previous verses. It took me a while to "get it" but when I did, it took my breath away! In verse 14 it says "Because he cleaves to me in love, I will deliver him". I was brought back to the book of John and all that it meant when we "Abide in Him". I am protected because I know His name. It made me think that sometimes his name is so abused and used in ways that grieve Him. To really know His name is a study in itself and I believe it pleases Him when we do. I could fill this page with all the names He is to me. Because I know "His Names" I can have an intimate, personal relationship with Him. He says that He honours me and that is more than my mind can comprehend. Am I right Cathie, that this honour means eternal life with Him? That is what I got from it because verse 16 then says, "with long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation". My interpretation was, eternal life with Him and all the joy that will bring. When He showed me His salvation, that meant to me."He gave me His Son". His Son is my Lord and Saviour, who died for me so that I might have all of the above. I have personalized this but the wonderful thing is that it is for EVERYONE who will receive this for themselves. There is so much to say about this Psalm and I am looking forward to learning so much more from you Cathie, as well as all my sisters who are in this "Summer in the Psalms" with me. Are we not having a great time!!!

Love, Angie

Hi Cathie,
Psalm 91, verse 1 reminds me that a shadow is right beside a person, so he who dwells near God will be covered by His shadow,like a bird that spreads its wings to cover & protect its young so God protects those who seek refuge in Him.
Verse 6-8 is a reference to the Angel of the Lord striking down the Assyrians who had come to capture Jerusalem 2: Kings 19:35
This chapter tells of God's wonderful deliverance - how God strikes the Assyrians down and later causes the king Sennacherib's demise.
Verse 11 Satan misquoted this verse to Jesus when He was in the wilderness, he left out "to guard you in all your ways"
Then in vs14-15 God is now speaking. v15 God promises many times in the Bible that those who call on Him He will answer, He will rescue & honor him. Jesus also says this in John 12:26 that if anyone serves Him, His Father will honor them
The Lord will do the work - we will stand and see His victory.

Dear Cathie - I wish I had words to describe the blessings I have received from this Psalm. What can I say, except I have experienced the wonderful promises to be true! An encouraging promise to claim in each verse.
Our God is faithful. Blessings - Elizabeth

Hi Cathie, Great idea. Your last journal was such a great idea and so is this. I am sure there are many of us who would love to have it!I just loved this psalm and can hardly wait for tomorrow to see what you have for us. I was a bit puzzled in vs 9 with the word "even" could you explain why it is there? Thanks so much, Debbie

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July Giveaway!

Hi Girls! I've finally taken the time to actually sit down and post your July Giveaway, you have all been so patient! I was thinking that because the Journal from last month seemed to be quite popular I might as well go ahead and make another one - the theme of this Journal is 'Life'...hope you like it, and remember, each time you leave a comment your name goes into the draw...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Seven Reading

Good Monday morning to you and welcome. As you begin this brand new week, it is my prayer that you will powerfully know the reality of the presence of God each and every moment, and that you will know His comfort and assurance and strength.

I would encourage each of you to continue in the practice of reading out loud and committing to memory one or two verses from our selected reading and to also journal your insights and the musings of your heart.

Then, e-mail me at anytime before 6 a.m. Thursday morning, and share what impacted you the most from this particular reading and why - I will then take these thoughts and insights and they will make up the Gathering Place post for this week.

Girls, your Psalm this week is Psalm 91... may you be blessed as you meditate upon His Word.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Six Gathering Place

Hi Girls, and welcome to our Week Six Gathering! Although Psalm 67 may be considered a 'little' one, it has been my prayer that you were able to enjoy the sheer 'bounty' of it all. There is so much to share, however, for our purposes today I'll just keep to a few of my notes from this week's reading and then perhaps in the Comment Cafe we can take it even deeper.

One of the first things that I noticed in this Psalm, upon first reading, was that v.1 seemed quite familiar to me, that's because the words of v.1 have been taken from the words of the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26. This priestly blessing was given by God to Moses, who in turn, was then to give it to Aaron and to Aaron's sons, so that they would then speak these words of blessing over the sons of Israel; and there was a purpose in it all - God says in Numbers 6:27, "So they (the priests) shall invoke (put) My Name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."

The word 'then' found in that verse is in italics in your Bible, because it was added during translation to give clarity to the meaning, the original Hebrew does not have it. Go ahead and read that verse again, leaving that word out - did you see that? When that priestly blessing was spoken over the sons of Israel - according to God - His Name was was being put upon them...and once that Name was put upon them, God promised, "I WILL bless them."

For those of us who are fresh from our year long study in the book of John, remember with me that in Chapter 17, Jesus, while praying to the Father, said, "I am no longer in the world; yet they themselves (to keep it brief...that's us!) are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your Name, the Name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your Name which you have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished..."

During the time of Moses, the priestly blessing could only put the Name of God upon God's chosen people, Israel; but, on this side of the cross, God's chosen people do not just have the Name of God put on them... we are now kept in His Name. What does this mean? Well, read v.21,23 - the Father in Jesus, Jesus in the Father (they are One!), and v.23, Jesus in us, the Father in Jesus. I hope that you are taking the time to really get this, you just need to know the reality of where you truly are! Read Colossians 3:3... our life has now been hidden with Christ in God. This just takes my breath away each and every time I think of it. In more ways than one girls, we are Covered... we are Covered!

Now, just one thing more - John 17 has long been known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, and with good reason - turn with me, if you will, to Hebrews 3:5-6 where we see that while "Moses was faithful in all (God's) house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; Christ was faithful as a Son over (God's) house - Whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end." We are 'the house' girls! and Jesus, Who is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14) dwells within us. And our Great High Priest does not just invoke (put) God's Name on us... He is The Blessed Name! and we are with Him, in God!

One thing to keep in mind when reading through the Old Testament - particularly when it comes to the topic of 'blessing' - is that everything that was true of God's chosen people (Israel) physically is true of God's chosen people (believer's) today, spiritually. For instance, their promised land was physically realized - our promised land is spiritually realized. In Psalm 67 there is one reference to the word 'bless' in v.1 and two references to 'blesses' in v.6-7 and here is the thing... being 'blessed' is never an end in itself - the blessing of God upon His people is to have an 'effectual' result upon others.

The prayer of v.1 includes this realization in v.2, that God's blessing and favour is to have the result of His way being made known on the earth, His salvation among all the nations, and the acknowledgement of the reality of the answer to this prayer is found in v.6-7 - that because the earth had yielded its produce (the physical blessing), God had indeed blessed them and all the ends of the earth would see and know it and fear God.

Think about what this means for us today, spiritually. It is not our full bank accounts, and our full cupboards and stomachs and our luxurious homes that causes the world to take notice - many enjoy the same things, maybe more than us! What will make the ends of the earth fear God is what has been done in God's people spiritually - the out workings of which will show the ways of God, His salvation among the nations.

I don't know if you did this, but as I was going through and marking key words throughout Psalm 67, I marked the five references to the word 'Let', each one beginning a statement in v.3 -5. The Psalmist knew that ONLY GOD HIMSELF could cause people to praise Him, could cause the nations to be glad and sing for joy, and he explains why in v.4b - because it is God Who "judges the people with uprightness and the guides the nations on the earth."

Remember how the words at the beginning of this Psalm were actually words taken from Numbers 6:24-26? Well, there is something interesting to be found there, because the reference to God in Numbers is "Yahweh", which carries with it the meaning of God being the Self Existing One, He simply is and always has been. Yet, here in Psalm 67, the word "God" is "Elohim", meaning Judge, Creator. This Psalm is showing God as all sufficient in accomplishing His purposes. Doesn't it just astound you as it does me, that the Jews of Jesus' day did not understand what their forefathers knew - that the blessing of God upon them was for the salvation of the nations, the Gentiles? They were eager to recieve the Aaronic blessing, but had forgotten the Abrahamic blessing of Genesis 12:1-3, which reads in part, "...And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

So, for me, this Psalm is all about God's glory being made evident and seen in His people; God's grace being known and received among the Gentiles; God's blessing upon His people. By the way, did you look at v.6 and wonder how the earth (physical) yielding its produce could equate with us today - oops! that thought will have to wait, I just now lifted up my eyes, looked out the window and I'm tellin' ya - it looks like those fields are white for harvest! Gotta go!

Ok, there is so much more, but I am going to leave it at that for now! Looking forward to seeing you in the Comment Cafe!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Six Reading

Good Monday Morning Girls! You know, I just realized this morning, as we enter into our Week Six Reading, that we are now exactly at the half way point in our Summer in the Psalms Series! It has been wonderful so far, and I am looking forward to the next 6 weeks! This week, I would suggest once again, that you choose a verse to memorize from the Psalm and that you would again, read aloud! This little Psalm may be short, but it contains so much - so-o-o, your Psalm for this week is... Psalm 67... enjoy!

By the way, a certain little girl had a Pool Party during our warm weather spell...just couldn't resist sharing...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer in the Psalms - Week Five Gathering Place

Welcome, once again, to your Gathering Place girls - I can hardly believe that another week has gone by!

This week brought me, among other things, into a study about - Jacob! So, I thought that instead of going through Psalm 51 verse by verse, I would instead just share with you a few things that stood out to me and then allow the discussion in the Comment Cafe to guide our time of learning together.

Have you been enjoying memorizing your selected verse, or verses, from this Psalm? The verses that became more and more pronounced to me were v.6; v.10; v.12 and v.15. Each day these verses have found voice in me and they have deepened my time with God and have also become journaling prompts as I have gone through this Psalm this week.

Behold, You desire Truth in my innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation,
And sustain me with a willing spirit.
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
(Psalm 51:6,10,12,15)

Right away, on Monday morning, the superscription at the beginning of this Psalm led me to read 2 Samuel 11-12; this is where we read the account of David; Bathsheba; her husband Uriah; and also the account of the LORD sending the prophet Nathan to David - it is within these two chapters that we also see David's response to the words of God, spoken through Nathan and how God deals with David.

2 Samuel 12:13 only tells us that David's response, when confronted with his sin is, "I have sinned against the LORD." - it's only in Psalm 51 that we get to see the depth of his confession. Because of our study of Psalm 19 in our Week Two Reading, we need to note, that the sin that David had committed in 2 Samuel 11 was not the 'hidden faults' that he had asked God to acquit him of in Psalm 19:12. Rather, the sin (iniquity) that David is now desiring God to 'wash him thoroughly' from, and the sin that he now wanted God to 'cleanse' him from (Psalm 51:.2) were 'presumptuous sins', those sins that he had prayed in Psalm 19 that God would keep him back from - that they (the presumptuous sins) would not rule over him.

This reminds me of when God was speaking with Cain in Genesis 4:7 saying, "...sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, BUT you must master it." Now, God would have never instructed Cain to 'master sin', unless Cain was able to do so - he just didn't particularly want to do so, and so he went with his flesh and sin ruled over him, the result being that he murdered his brother Able.

Same thing with David, he knew the Words (law) of God - sleeping with another man's wife and the murder of her husband was not exactly an 'oops', I made a mistake kind of thing (Exodus 20:13-14), it was completely premeditated and flew right in the face of God and His Word. By way of review, here is (in part) an excerpt from our Week Two Gathering...

David asked God in Psalm 19:13 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!.... 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.

David may have committed his sin in a dark corner (2 Samuel 12:12), yet his heart and his actions were all open and seen by God (Hebrews 4:13). According to the Word of God, sin is always first committed in the heart (mind) before it is ever committed in the flesh, yet we are told to remember that "God is greater than our hearts" (1 John 3:20) and that "If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. Yet, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness..." (1 John 1:8-9).

And here is a life lesson for us, - when confronted with his sin, David not only recognized his sin for what it was (Psalm 51:3), he also knew there was only One Who was able to cleanse him from that sin (Psalm 51:1-2), and he also knew that any sin that we ever commit, is ultimately against God and God alone, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge." (Psalm 51: 3-4).

This Psalm is all about confession and seeking the cleansing work that only God can do; I believe that our primary lesson from this Psalm would simply be the importance of confession to God.

Think upon this Psalm and upon the forgiveness that was given to David in 2 Sam. 12:13b, in the light of 1 John 1:9-10... "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 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." 'What 'to do' is bookended on both sides by 'what not to do, these verses are huge, and they were not written to non-believers, but to born again believers, Christians! While sin cannot be the characteristic of a believers life, a habitual lifestyle - God knows that we are going to sin from time to time, and He Himself has made provision for us. We see it in Psalm 51, we see it in 1 John 1, we see it in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself!
Notice in Psalm 51:10 that David is asking for a 'clean heart' and a 'right spirit' - David knew that his sin had come from an issue within his own heart and spirit. He wanted the 'joy of (the LORD'S) salvation to be restored to him - he knew that it was his sin has caused the disruption in the absence of joy in his soul.

The word 'broken' is used four times throughout Psalm 51 - in verse 8 it is used in the context of a verb - DAKAH דָּכָה meaning 'to crush, to collapse down'. It is also used twice in verse 17 in the context of a verb, SHABAR שׁבר meaning 'to shatter, to break, to rend violently, to maim, to cripple'. So where is the fourth use of this word 'broken'? It is in the word 'contrite', which translates SHABAR meaning 'to shatter, to break, to rend violently, to maim, to cripple'. This just astounded me and took this study in a whole different direction, it took me to Jacob.

Without going into all the details, think about this... in Genesis 32, Jacob not only came face to face with God (v.30), but he also came face to face with himself (v.27).

We know from v. 30 that the 'man' that Jacob wrestled all night with was God. Because of v.29 I do not personally believe that Jacob knew Who he had been wrestling with (much like us, when our flesh wrestles against God and His ways and purposes -many people may not be aware that they are actually wrestling against God)- but as dawn is breaking, God finally touches Jacob's hip and puts it out of joint (you can see how this is with us as well!). Jacob is in no position to further wrestle with God (he never really was, but God allowed him the room for a time) but instead he clings to Him and tells the 'man' that he will not stop clinging to Him until the 'man' blesses him. God then asks Jacob his name and he confesses his true self, "Jacob" 'the schemer'. Jacob had spent a goodly portion of his life in manipulative scheming, a self governed man, and yet it was here in this feeble confessing of his true self, that God did indeed bless Jacob and changed his name from 'Jacob, the schemer' to 'Israel, God governed man'. God then (v.28) gives Jacob his new name, Israel, 'he who strives with God'. I believe it is at this point that Jacob, now Israel, begins to realize Who this is that he has been striving with all night and asks, "What is your name?" And then what happens next is so profound to me, because... God asked Israel, "Why is it that you asked my name?" In other words..."you know exactly Who I AM...and then God... blessed him!

You cannot imagine how I want to go further with you on this - but just know this, that the blessing of God was upon Jacob, just as surely as it was upon David and just as surely as it is upon us today!

And here is the thing - look at v.31, "Now the sun rose upon him (Israel) just as he crossed over Penuel, and he was limping on his thigh."... Jacob, now Israel, had a new name, and a new way to walk - it was the dawning of a new day, a new beginning. A hip that had been SHABAR'ed by God Himself! The 'brokenness' that God is looking for in our spirit and in our heart (Psalm 51:17) is the 'collapsing down' of ourselves before Him, putting an end to ourselves so that we can be free to fully become all that God created us to be.

I know that you can see the parallels here with Psalm 51:17! When we are confronted with God through His Word of Truth, just like David was confronted through the prophet Nathan, our sins are readily seen in the Light of Him for what they are ...a direct sin against God Himself. No manipulating of circumstances, no gathering of people to tell you contrary, will ever be able to wash away the stain of sin that becomes clearly evident when God Himself asks you, "what is your name."

Jacob didn't do it perfect, the very next chapter begins using his old name Jacob, and not his new name Israel. We see him once again walking by sight and not by faith. We are no different, yet Psalm 51 and 1 John 1:4-10 should give us great comfort. Same thing with David, no sooner has he committed the sin of adultery and murder than we see him going ahead, moved by Satan to number his fighting men! Putting his trust, not in the Lord, but in the size of his army, if the lust of his flesh wasn't going to trip him up then the pride of life would. Listen girls, it is always going to be something! No wonder Psalm 51 has been such a haven for believers throughout the generations - God has given it to us to bless us in our walk with Him, and to free us up through confession and repentence!

Which leads me to ask you - this week, were you saying Psalm 51 out loud like I suggested? This is a practice that I began in the early days of my Christian walk; and I highly recommend it!

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that "...the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

Many of you will remember from Joshua 1:8, that before Joshua ever set foot in the Promised Land, God spoke to him saying, "This book of the law (God's Word) shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate upon it day and night, so that you may be careful to do all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success wherever you go." Basically what God was saying was, "Get my Word in your mouth and think about it all the time!" In Jeremiah 1:12 God says, "...I am watching over My Word to perform it."

I don't know about you, but when I become actively involved in reading God's living and active Word out loud, it penetrates deeper and does a deeper work in me than when I just sit and passively read it. Remember when I told you not to just think of this Psalm as 'David's', but that this is 'your' Psalm as well ? This, your Psalm, originated with God!, this is His Word and He is watching over it to perform it.

As you read out loud, you are getting His Word familiar on your tongue, you are literally declaring the Word of God which is doing an active work in you. For instance, many times, when we take the simple reading of His Word, into the declaring phase, you may be confronted with unbelief in a certain area. This would be a place that you would stop and begin to confess to God your unbelief and allow Him to begin to heal you of that. For instance, you may have come to v. 5 in Psalm 51, spoke it out loud, and realized just exactly what it was saying - perhaps this is something that deep down inside you really never truly believed to be true. You need to talk to God about this...remember, His Word is sharper than a double edged sword and it will penetrate those places within us that have remained hidden...we can talk more about this in the Comment Cafe if you would like.

Well, I don't have time to proof read today, so if I have made a mistake that could be lethal...let me know!


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