Archive | April, 2013

Whats on your mind?

12 Apr

I wonder what you think about, especially when life is hard.  I have long believed in the importance of “training your brain” so your heart and mind can be at peace with God.  For me Psalm 77 shows the movement from being fearful and dispirited to focuses on God and finding peace.

The writer started by shouting out to God – trouble is all around and it is time to talk to God.  (Why do we so often wait for troubled times to talk to God?)

I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might,
I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.

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

Note that the writer is not helped by talking to friends or by staying up all night trying to figure out their lives on their own.  The path of worry and anxiety leads to doubt in God.

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

The writer looks to what God has done.  As my mother would say, “count your many blessings, count them one by one.”  The writer focuses on God, what our faith history, and the wonders that God has done in our world.  It is honing in on the nature of God that transforms the writer’s heart and mind.

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

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

16-19 Ocean saw you in action, God,
saw you and trembled with fear;
Deep Ocean was scared to death.
Clouds belched buckets of rain,
Sky exploded with thunder,
your arrows flashing this way and that.
From Whirlwind came your thundering voice,
Lightning exposed the world,
Earth reeled and rocked.
You strode right through Ocean,
walked straight through roaring Ocean,
but nobody saw you come or go.

The writer begins with the natural world speaking of God’s wonder and power, but then moves on to talk about how God has led the people.  Perhaps it is easier to see the majesty of God in nature, but I think we really look to God to direct our lives.

20 Hidden in the hands of Moses and Aaron,
You led your people like a flock of sheep.

So, as the modern jargon puts it, here’s the take away:  When your mind is cluttered with pain and hurt and fear, name it all on place it before God.  Focus on the good works and wonders of our God to transform and heal your life.

Peace.

You and God; how are you doing?

7 Apr

This is a question I often have.  How are God and I doing; am I being faithful to what God is asking of me?  I think the writer of Psalm 76, asks the same question, after they get done praising God.  I and really think this psalm reminds me of my world.

1-3 God is well-known in Judah;
in Israel, he’s a household name.
He keeps a house in Salem,
his own suite of rooms in Zion.
That’s where, using arrows for kindling,
he made a bonfire of weapons of war.

God is well-known in our world.  Perhaps people don’t have the same concept of God that you do, but people think they know God.  Certainly God is a household name – sometimes in a negative way – but there you have it.

I think for the most part, we believe that God loves us and know us and is always with us; but we often give little thought to God during our day.

I do truly wish God could make a bonfire out of all of our weapons of war.

4-6 Oh, how bright you shine!
Outshining their huge piles of loot!
The warriors were plundered
and left there impotent.
And now there’s nothing to them,
nothing to show for their swagger and threats.
Your sudden roar, God of Jacob,
knocked the wind out of horse and rider.

If we consider the glory and wonder of God, we can see how pale the rest of our “treasures” are for us.  Also, when we see the power of God’s creation in the midst of storms and earthquakes we can understand how the psalmist felt in this psalm.  Thunder and exhibitions of natures power was attributed to God.  We might not believe that these “acts of God” are directed by God, but as post resurrection people, we can see the continuing transforming power of God.

7-10 Fierce you are, and fearsome!
Who can stand up to your rising anger?
From heaven you thunder judgment;
earth falls to her knees and holds her breath.
God stands tall and makes things right,
he saves all the wretched on earth.
Instead of smoldering rage—God-praise!
All that sputtering rage—now a garland for God!

The psalmist experiences the power of God making things right and saving our earth.  It is God, not anything or anyone else who is able to bring life, redemption and hope to our world.  When the psalmist has established this God-first understanding, they can on us to do what we said we would do for God.  For the psalmist this means bringing offering.  I have to ask myself, if people where doing what they were suppose to be doing in response to God’s grace, then why are they told here to do what they are should already be doing?  Are the people who lived thousands of years ago the same as us today?  Today when people forget to praise God, bring God the offering of their life and resources. Were they like us who use God on a “as needed” bases? (how many people did you see at worship this week?  was it as many a last week?)

11-12 Do for God what you said you’d do—
he is, after all, your God.
Let everyone in town bring offerings
to the One Who Watches our every move.
Nobody gets by with anything,
no one plays fast and loose with him.

I believe the psalmist, “Nobody gets by with anything, no one plays fast and loose with God.  The New Testament puts it this way, “whatever you sow, that you will reap.”  I don’t see this as a threat, a “God is going to get you” kind of statement; it is just the reality of our world.  What you take time with, what you put energy and your resources into, that is what your life will produce; it is what your life will show.  If we just use God on a “as needed” bases,God will not have the power to transform our lives.  [I think I was getting ‘preachy’ and my new laptop did something weird; so that’s it for this post]