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Servanthood - Psalm 123

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I lift my eyes to you,
O God, enthroned in heaven.
We keep looking to the Lord
our God for his mercy,
just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
as a slave girl watches her
mistress for the slightest signal.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy,
for we have had our fill of contempt.
We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud
and the contempt of the arrogant. -Psalm 123
As we progress in our journey towards God, we learn that we are not only God's children, sons and daughters, in Christ; but we are also called to be God's servants.  It is a paradox that we are called to be both.  To grow, we must be sons or daughters, and servants.
The problem is that some Christians do not want to be servants. They are happy to be saved and served, and they follow the words of Psalms 120, 121, and 122.  They get it, about the lessons contained in the the first three steps.  But, the servant part in the fourth step?  No thanks…

Daily Longing To Connect With God - Psalm 122

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.  A psalm of David.
I was glad when they said to me,  “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
And now here we are, standing inside your gates,  O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a well-built city;  its seamless walls cannot be breached. All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people —make their pilgrimage here. They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,  as the law requires of Israel. Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,  the thrones of the dynasty of David.
Pray for peace in Jerusalem.  May all who love this city prosper. O Jerusalem,  may there be peace within your walls and prosperity in your palaces. For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,  “May you have peace.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,  I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem. -Psalm 122 (NLT)
The person up front got on the microphone and spoke with great exuberance, "Isn't it wonderful to be in the house of the Lord this morning!"…

The Lord Watches Over Us - Psalm 121

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. (1)

I look up to the mountains—  does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,  who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!  The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.
-Psalm 121 (NLT)

When God saves us, he does not just give us an invisible ticket to heaven and say, "see you at the end of your life."  No.  The whole package of salvation is that God saves us and blesses us.  The Savior is also the Lord, and The Lord is my shepherd (Ps. 23).  God is the, "I will be with you" God (Ps. 91).  He was not just with Moses and Joshua, but he is with every believer.  T…

Holy Discontent, A Pilgrim Begins - Psalm 120

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. (1)
I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.

Rescue me, O Lord, from liars and from all deceitful people.  O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you?   How will he increase your punishment? You will be pierced with sharp arrows and burned with glowing coals.

How I suffer in far-off Meshech.  It pains me to live in distant Kedar.  I am tired of living among people who hate peace.  I search for peace; but when I speak of peace, they want war!
-Psalm 120 (NLT)

In his book, The Problem With Pain, C.S. Lewis wrote,
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (p.91).  Pain turns us to God, if we have wisdom to turn.  There is a saying that, "crisis brings process".  In addiction circles, they say that one must, "hit bottom", in order to turn to God and leave the addiction lifestyle.  Addiction is id…

God Carries Us Before Birth and Throughout Life

Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel.
I have cared for you since you were born.
Yes, I carried you before you were born.
-Isaiah 46:3(NLT)

I am astonished by this verse, that says that God carries his children from conception and throughout life.  In contrast to a life of idolatry, where you are burdened and oppressed by, and must carry the idols; God carries his people.  That is such good news!

God brings us to conception, God brings us to birth, and God carries us through life (Ps. 139:1-18). God is faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).  What he begins, he will bring to fruition or completion (Phil. 1:6).  We are each a creative work from God that has a purpose he has fashioned us for (Eph. 2:10).

If you are discouraged by not being birthed, figuratively, into your purpose, or walking in it; be encouraged that God is faithful and he is carrying you.  If you have some calling in your life, that is not quite here yet, be encouraged that God will make it happen, because…

Songs of The Steps, Introduction

A Song of Ascents, A Pilgrim Song, One of the Processional Songs, A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
-Psalms 120-134, introduction note before verse 1

One time, when we visited a new church, and the worship leader began the time of songs, he began strumming his guitar and said, "here we go!"  This man understood that we were about to go on a journey together towards God.  It was not flippant or irreverent, but a true statement.

Psalms 120 to 134 are a group of Psalms that go together that are called, "Songs for pilgrims", or "Songs of ascents", or "Songs of degrees", or "Songs for those journeying to worship".  Each song builds on the previous one, but each are useful standing alone.  There are fifteen of them and they can also be grouped in threes or five triplets.

Summary labels for the five sections, postulated by Titus Chu are:
VisionConsecrationEnjoymentEnlargementMaturity First, we need to see God.  Then we give ourselve…

Taps: Day is Done, Safely Rest

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
-Eccl. 3:1

I heard the lullaby on the bugle, called "Taps", the other night.  I thought about what season was ending, has ended, or will end soon.  The call of "Taps" means that something has ended or that day is done.

It also made me think about how everything on earth, except for God, comes to an end at some point.  All that we have that does not ever die is our own faith, hope, and love.  We get credit for our faith, hope, and love; when we die and go to heaven.  These are things that you can take with you.  They remain. 

Life is full of seasons.  Seasons come and go.  Seasons are different.  A season shapes us and blesses us.  Another season tests and tries us.  Sometimes, we get to carry something with us from one season to the next one.  Other times, we need to leave behind something from the last season as we head into the new season.  It takes wisdom and discernment to know.  But God gi…

There Is A River

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
-Psalm 46:4 (ESV)

No matter what you are facing, there is always the continual flow of God's grace and God's goodness, that we are the benefactors of.  In the midst of the world going upside down, the living water, from God flows to you and me.  The question is, "will we partake of it?"

There is a place on earth where God dwells.  The people who experience God dwelling there are people who celebrate God, who are continually thankful.  We are glad, for the river of life that we have discovered and now live by.

The secret is to find the river in the midst of life and drink from it and live by it.  And God dwells with those who partake of his goodness, who are blessed by his blessings, and give him glory for it.

There is a river.  It's not, "there was a river", or "there will be a river".  There is a river.  It is here now.  The benefit is here, right…

Wilderness School

John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
-Luke 1:80 (NLT)

Many people have been and are in God's wilderness school right now.  I want to encourage us that God's school is the best school.  Many of the servants of God that are well known names, in the Bible, spent time in the wilderness.

The wilderness can strengthen us and make us better and godly.  Or we can get bitter and die there, without ever coming into what God has for us.  We can let our dry, barren, and seemingly empty time grow us in a good way.

John grew up and was strengthened, for what God destined for him, in the wilderness.  It is interesting that John's dad was a minister, and it would have been easy and natural for John to follow his dad into the ministry as well.  John might have had access to the best teachers in Israel, but instead, he learned on the outside, in austerity.

I believe that John's wilderness training gave …

Secret, Private, Good Deeds & Reimbursement From God

Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
-Matt. 6:4 (NLT)

The Christian life is a life lived in Christ.  He gives us a new life that we live through him, all week, 24 hours a day.  The gifts we give, the good deeds we do, and the generosity that we live in - all need to be done in secret, privately, off-stage, and outside the spotlight of the attention of others.

If you do your good deeds, your giving, or your acts of righteousness when no one is looking, but God; then God will reward you.  God will return the favor.  God will pay you back.  God will reimburse you.

If you do good deeds on stage, in the spotlight, and in any way that is in the open, saying, "hey, look what I am doing!", then the attention and admiration you get is your payment.  And, you get nothing from God.  If you do good, only in front of others, showing off, with a desire to been seen; Jesus says, "you have your reward."

There is nothing wrong with be…

Receptivity, Response, and Understanding of The Message

That day Jesus went out of the house and sat down beside the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he climbed into a boat and sat down. The whole crowd was standing on the shore.

He said many things to them in parables: “A farmer went out to scatter seed. As he was scattering seed, some fell on the path, and birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on rocky ground where the soil was shallow. They sprouted immediately because the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it scorched the plants, and they dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorny plants. The thorny plants grew and choked them. Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit, in one case a yield of one hundred to one, in another case a yield of sixty to one, and in another case a yield of thirty to one. Everyone who has ears should pay attention.” Jesus’ disciples came and said to him, “Why do you use parables when you speak to the crowds?”

Jesus replied, “Because they haven’t received the…

My Times Are God's Times

My times are in your hands.
-Psalm 31:15

"I've got you", said the Lord, when you went from one season to another.  You have had failures or dead ends, and the Lord says, "I've got that".

We are anxious about the future and have regrets about the past.  God has both of these, because he has us.  You might be both excited and dumbfounded about your future and that is fine, because God holds the course of your life and has your destiny in mind.

No matter where you have been or what you have done before now, if you are his today, he says, "I've got this".  He has your future, with him and in him.

Your life has had or will have sorrow, grief, and suffering.  You will be rejected, misunderstood, and betrayed.  That is life in Christ.

You will also experience more joy than you can put into words and find the greatest treasure.  You will experience great sorrow and great joy.  There will be times when you experience heavy grief and rich hope at the…

A Breach Birth

Later, when it was time for Tamar(1) to give birth, she was carrying twins in her womb!  While she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand, so the midwife grabbed it and tied something scarlet around his hand, observing, “This one came out first.”

As it was, he withdrew his hand, and then his brother was born. Amazed, the midwife(2) cried out loud, “What’s this? A breach birth?” So that boy(3) was named Perez.(4)  Afterwards, his brother came out, and around his hand was the scarlet. So they named him Zerah.(5)
-Gen. 38:29

A breach (or breech) birth is not ideal.  It is when the baby is turned around, in some other way, rather than head-first, in the birth canal.  Things are birthed in our lives, where they or we, get in a breach position.  The 'baby', or what is being birthed, might need to be turned, so that it (more) safely gets born.

I remember an evangelism course, when the teacher told the story of ministering to a man, who had a very long list of reasons why he …

Don't Ask Me Why

Don't wait for answers
Just take your chances
Don't ask me why
-Billy Joel
I believe that God says to us, "don't ask me why", sometimes.  I believe he says that because it is the wrong question. Asking childlike questions is normal and good.  Curiosity, as an adult, is a wonderful thing as well. 
You may ask, "why is this happening to me?"  Know that you may never know.  Just live your life.  Faith it.  That means trust God.

You also may reach the wrong conclusion, so stop asking and move forward.  We have an enemy that wants to discourage us, who is the liar.  His job is to immobilize you.  He wants you to reach the wrong conclusions about God, yourself, and others.  He wants you deceived.
If the enemy can embitter you against God or against your self, he has succeeded.  When we judge God, by rejecting his gifts to us, we bring ourselves under a curse.  We can stop the blessings in our lives.  So much of walking in the kingdom is about personal respo…