Friday, September 28, 2007

Psalm 136:15

but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
What a great end to such a stubborn pharaoh. To watch his entire army wash away.

Pharaohs believed that they were gods. And to have some hebrew slave come in and tell him that the God of gods has demanded to let His people go. It is no wonder the pharaoh kept saying no. Why should the god of the Egyptians give in to the God of the Hebrews? It made no sense to him.

But pharaoh was no god.

Neither are we. We cannot stand up against the God of the Universe. We try to set ourselves up as our own gods in our own hearts. We try to run our lives, but the one true God will wash all of our defenses away, like He washed Pharaoh's army away, and take his rightful place. (or He will leave you to your devices and let you destroy yourself.)

C.S. Lewis once said,
There are two kinds of people, those who will say to God, "Thy will be done." or those to whom God will say, "Thy will be done."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Psalm 136:14

and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
There are so many times that God does not just pop us out of our situation. That is usually what we want to happen, we want relief, and we want it now! But God leaves us in the midst of the trial.

All through scripture, we can see this idea. We see Daniel left in the midst of the lions and his three friends in the midst of the flames. We see Jonah, who tries to get out of the midst of his enemies, but God sends him there by putting him in "the midst" of a whale. There is Elijah oh his mountaintop experience, in the midst of the Baal worshipers. Jesus Himself who rides in on a donkey, amongst those who He knows will kill Him. And the Good Shepherd prepares a table in the presence of our enemies.

God, believe it or not, works in the midst. If you are in the midst, don't seek "out", see God.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Psalm 136:13

to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
His love endures forever
(NIV)
For the Children of Israel the events of the exodus stand out so significantly. There is alot of meaning there, both for the nation of Israel, but also as individuals.

The story of the nation of Israel is a parallel to the life of a Christian. Slavery in Egypt is pre-salvation. The dividing of the red sea, and all of the events that lead up to it, is salvation. The promised land is the living that a Christian should be experiencing. The wilderness wandering is where most of us end up living instead of enjoying the promised land. The conquest is where we start cleaning house, booting out all of the false ideas and idols. And just like most of us, Israel maintained a certain amount of idolatry throughout that time and the time of the kings. And it continued until the captivity. Sometimes for us as well, it takes a significant trial to rid us of idolatry.

Here we have the nation of Israel leaving the land and they end up backed against this sea, so God parts it.

He has done the same for us. Christ has made a way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Psalm 136:12

with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
We can know from other places in the Bible that God is spirit. He is not a physical being sitting around somewhere, like the old Greek or Roman gods. Jesus says quite specifically, "God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." (John 4:24)

God is spirit, but He is not some sort of ethereal spirit that is just permeating the things that are. Truly He is sustaining all things. Not only physical existence, but it is also by Him that nations rise and fall and kings come and go.

We can see in this verse, that even though God does not have a physical hand or a physical arm, He is active. That is the essential teaching from a verse like this, He is not a passive God.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Psalm 136:11

and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
Truly we have a deliverer.

The saving of the Israelites from the land of Egypt is such an example of our own salvation. We also were in bondage. We also were slaves to sin and self. And just as the Pharaoh believed himself to be a god, so also we were born seeking to be our own gods.

Christ comes to set us free. He is desiring to bring us out from among them, but it doesn't take ten plagues to set us free. Just one amazing sacrifice, the first born of God, for true freedom.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Psalm 136:10

to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
In ancient Egypt, the other plagues could almost have been dismissed as natural occurrences. We know that they are not, but the blood water, the locusts, the darkness, the boils... even though each can show how vain and empty the Egyptian religion was, the pharaoh wasn't swayed by any of them. He was a god, both to himself and to his people, and there was no way that he was going to bow before the God of the slaves.

Most of us are like that. We are our own god and the god of our own little world, but The God of Heaven and Earth will have His rightful place. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

For some, it won't happen until the end.

For others, the trials (or for the Egyptians, the plagues) that are always pointing to God, will bring them to God. The Pharaoh recognized, at least temporarily, that the death of each first born could not have been a natural occurrence. At least for a moment he let go of the reigns and realized that he could not fight this God. Unfortunately for the Pharaoh and his army, this was only temporary, and true Lordship was never acknowledged.

The question is, will you be like the pharaoh? Will you dismiss all things, both good and bad, as random natural occurrences? Will it take the loss of something big to get your attention or will you turn your eyes to Him now?

On a side note:
Francis Schaeffer uses this passage in his book titled Genesis to illustrate how the Bible speaks of the creative acts as real events that occurred in a real space-time situation. He points out that this chapter starts with these events, and moves through other events that are considered true history, and there is no transition that would lead you to believe that all of it isn't true history. This chapter is a powerful support of a literal creation, just as Genesis describes it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Psalm 136:9

the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
It doesn't take you long, when looking up at the stars, to begin to feel very small. The sky is so vast that it can overwhelm the mind. David put it this way,

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Psalm 8:3,4 (NIV)

Maybe it has been a while since you paused and looked at the night sky. I would like to recommend this tonight. Take a moment out of your busy day and marvel at God's wonderful lights.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Psalm 136:8

the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
I have been teaching a history class at my school, and we are currently talking about the ancient Egyptians. These people, along with many other ancient civilizations and even many primitive tribes, would worship the sun.

It reminds me of Romans 1:18-25 which talks about this exact thing. I won't quote the entire thing right now, but I do want to at leas put up part of verse 25, which says, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator."

That is exactly what they were doing. Worshiping something that was created.

I have been watching a show on the Discovery Channel lately called The Universe. And I have to tell you, the modern day, atheistic, evolutionary scientist isn't such a far shot from those ancient Egyptians. They both ignore the creator, they both ignore the one that set the sun up for the day.

The sun God made to rule the day
Will surely one day pass away.

Its fiery blasts will be no more
With Jesus knocking at the door.

Sun worshipers will see defeat
And knees will bow as sky retreats

Without the sun it won't be night
For then we'll see the one true light.

Then all this earth will be undone
And out will step the Bright True Son!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Psalm 136:7

who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
Before the sun, there was light. Before any of the stars were made, there was light on this earth. There were plants basking in that light and oceans reflecting that light.

Then, once it is clear that this earth is dependent on God and God alone and that even though we are not the physical center of anything, we are the focal point of His creation... He makes a Sun and a moon and stars to fill up that vast expanse of sky.

Did He make the "great lights"? Yes, just to declare His glory and to let us know that His love endures forever. When you look at creation, and you marvel at God's abilities, don't stop there. Remind yourself why He created all of this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Psalm 136:6

who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.

(NIV)


The Psalmist has said that He is God, He is Lord, and that He does Great Things. Then to back these statements up, he has begun to go through, starting from the beginning, and list some evidences that show Godship, Lordship, and Wonder.

We know from reading Genesis that God's creative acts were done through His Word. He spoke, and it was. He spoke time and space into existence. Then He begins to speak matter into existence. In this verse we are reminded that He has brought every square inch of earth and every drop of water into existence. He created a planet that points to Him!

I have talked of the immensity of the universe, but frankly, I still get amazed at the expanses of the ocean. I can remember the first time I saw the ocean, it made me feel so small. It was almost scary thinking of that much water, and its depths.

The World is His, and everything in it. His Love Endures Forever.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Psalm 136:5

who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever
(NIV)
With knowledge and understanding God made the heavens.

Look at the Sombrero galaxy and consider the understanding of God.



Now consider the sheer number of other galaxies that are in the heavens. This picture was taken when the Hubble space telescope pointed at a seeming empty part of the sky. It reminds me of when God told Abraham to look up at the stars of the sky and count them. Then He says, "if indeed you can..."

Consider the understanding of God.

And yet this universe is not as big as His love.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Psalm 136:4

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
If this verse said, "to him who does great wonders..." it would still be a great verse. We could talk about all of the wonders that God does. Everything from the rings of Saturn and the Sombrero Galaxy to the forming of a child inside its mothers womb or even how electrons are spinning around the atoms and not flying off. We could talk about all of those things and marvel at His wonders.

But get this, all of the great wonders are His!

He doesn't just get credit for great wonders, He gets credit for all of them, because the verse says, "to him who alone does great wonders..." God has no counterpart. He has no arch-rival. There is none like Him, and He is the only one who is doing the wonderful stuff!

He is the changer of hearts and lives. He is the redeemer. He is the savior. He is the God who hears and the God who sees. And the most wonderful of all, His love endures Forever!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Psalm 136:3

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
You might be thinking that this verse is basically the same as the previous one. God of gods... Lord of lords... Let me dig a little deeper.

The word that is translated as lord (both times) is a word that means to rule. Our God is in charge. He is the ruler of all of the other rulers. He is the master of all masters. He is the boss of all bosses!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Psalm 136:2

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
I have tried to start this post at least three times now, but I keep getting stuck. I want to start off with some commentary about how God is The God. There is no one like Him. There is no power or authority anywhere in this universe that is anything near who He is. But what keeps throwing me off are those two words at the beginning, "Give Thanks..."

Usually when I allow my mind to delve into the bigness and the greatness and the uniqueness of God, it doesn't lead me to thankfulness. Not that it shouldn't or couldn't, but I am usually just starting to feel a little small.


Here is a picture taken by the Voyager Spacecraft on Feb. 14, 1990. It was taken at a distance of over 4 billion miles from earth. In the picture, the blue circle that was added later is around the earth which is shown is a band of sunlight.

This picture is called the pale blue dot because one man when he saw this said something about every man who had ever lived, lived his life out on that pale blue dot. God is so big.

Notice though the end of the verse, just as the end of every verse in this amazing chapter, "...His love endures forever." As infinite as the universe is, it is NOTHING compared to the bigness of God's love! His Love is Forever!

Why should my mind go to giving thanks? This God of all gods loves even me.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
(NIV)
The world is a difficult place. Sometimes it seems like there is an awful lot of bad going on. All you have to do is watch the news for 60 seconds and you will hear of something bad that someone has done.

Then there are all of those "little" bad things. Cars breaking down when you are on your way somewhere important, kids getting sick, finance troubles, arguments with your spouse, etc. And sometimes it just seems like everything is going sour.

Don't let all of those things fool you or sidetrack you.

God is good.

Think about that little statement. We don't say it all that often, especially when your lawnmower has stopped working or you are on the side of the road with a flat tire and you are going to be late for work. But He is most assuredly good.

This Psalm is going to take you on a small journey through God's goodness, and in every verse remind you of his greatest goodness, "His love endures forever."

You see, all of those things don't take away from God's goodness. Those things are reminders of the curse of sin and of the ongoing wickedness of mankind. We are sinners, but God's love endures and God is good.

Give thanks to Him today. Give thanks to Him for all of the times that He let your lawnmower start. Give thanks to Him that He has redeemed you and changed you so that you don't need to rant and rave at the side of the road when your tire is flat, but that you are able to remain patient. Give thanks that he is able to mend the brokenhearted. That He is able to redeem the most wicked of men and is able to give the most hurt of people the joy of forgiving.

He is such a good God in spite of our sinfulness. Give thanks. His love endures forever.

Friday, September 07, 2007

James 1:18

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
(NIV)
Firstfruits is a word that can be used to refer to first parts of a harvest that were offered to God. In a way, we are those firstfruits of His creation. Our lives are a living sacrifice to God. Consider Romans 12:1,
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
I would like to point out the beginning of this verse. It says, "He chose to give us birth..." In the NAS it puts that phrase like this, "In the exercise of His will He brought us forth..."That is probably a better translation of this phrase because of the use of the word will. In the original, that is the word that is used, and it means exactly that. God purposed to bring us forth. It was according to His will.

Whether you would consider yourself a Calvinist or not, phrases like this should not be ignored.

We should also not ignore the phrase "the word of truth" because it is through this that God births us as Christians. We do not get to God any other way. There is no other way, there is no other path to God. Some argue with this, they would say that all roads lead to God, but that is definitely not a Biblical teaching.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

James 1:17

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
(NIV)
Two things that I want to point out about this verse.

The first is that all good things come from God. He is the source of good. As the Psalmist says, "Thou art good, Thou doest good." And this thought of God is essential to hold on to in those moments when things aren't good. Instead of blaming God, we need to see that He is using those things to build us up as humans.

I would love to continue these thoughts on the goodness of God. Sometimes we don't acknowledge it enough, and when we do, we speak of it in a surreal sort of way. Almost as if God's goodness isn't the same as the real word goodness. The only other time that God's goodness comes up is when we are blessed in some big way or when we see God's hand of protection. These are most definitely good, and from the Father of the heavenly lights, but we let our praises trail off when something goes sour. This is why we need to go right to the second thing.

This next thing that I would like to point out is that God does not change. The same God how protected you in that car wreck is the same God who allowed your Grandma to die. I am not trivializing anything, and I am most definitely not trying to be silly. It is the same good God! He doesn't change.

Just know that when life throws you those curve balls, God has seen it... allowed it... and maybe even wept as Jesus did over Lazarus, but all of these things He Will Work For Good!

Praise be to the Good God!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

James 1:16

Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.
(NIV)
Don't be deceived. The world is constantly trying to tell you the opposite to this. The world will tell you that sinful pleasures do not lead to death, but don't be deceived.

James is saying this because there is a high propensity to deception in this area. This deception goes all the way back to the garden of Eden. "...surely you won't die!" says Satan. "Surely God will not kill you for eating of this tree."

As the next few chapters of Genesis can attest to, that sin did most assuredly lead to death. It started with Abel, as the first murder victim, but then it just goes on. Especially when you get to the genealogies, he was born... he died... he was born... he died...

A similar passage to this is found in Galatians 6:7-9. It starts off, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." This law of sin is like the law of gravity. If you jump up in the air, you may think that you are flying for a moment, but don't be deceived, you will fall back down.

Praise be to God that He has set us free from the law of sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

James 1:15

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
(NIV)
Sin always leads to death.

No matter what lies your selfish desires tell you, sin will still always lead to death.

It started in the garden when man first sinned. God warned that man would "surely die" if he ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One of my Bible professors told me once that phrase, "surely die" could be translated as, "dying you shall die."

When man sinned that first sin, he immediately became spiritually dead. Another immediate change was his physical body. He began to die physically. And if he did not repent and seek God in faith, that God is able to save him from these deaths, then man would eventually be sentenced to eternal death and judgment.

Your own sinful desires will tell you otherwise. Your lusts will tell you that the way to really live is through these various avenues of worldliness. Those selfish lusts will tell you that following after God and obeying His commands will be such a sad state of existence and that you will fall far short of the "living" that you could enjoy.

Jesus Christ says plainly, "I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE. No man comes to the Father, but by Me."

The decision then is an issue of faith. Will we walk in faith, believing that God's word is true? Will we trust that His way is better than ours? These are the decisions that we must make. The decisions that seem so plain when we are reading our Bibles or praying or typing a blog about the book of James... The answer seems so elusive when we are in the midst of our selfish temptations and the lies are coming at us full stream.

Prepare your minds today for the onslaught.

Monday, September 03, 2007

James 1:14

but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
(NIV)
This is such an important concept to understand. Your temptations come from your own evil desires. If you spend all of your time focusing on your circumstances or the people around you or your genetics... then the battle will continue to rage.

The phrase "dragged away" is one word in the original, and it is normally used in hunting situations, when one would draw out an animal from its hiding place. The word "enticed" actually means to bait. Your desires... your lusts... are drawing you out and baiting you to sin.

I tried to think of a good way to word this, then JONO left a comment in the previous post that put my thoughts into words.
"...probably even more than the devil or worldliness is Me tempting Me.
The devil just exploits whats already there.
The kingdom of Me has big eyes and loves to tell you what I have & what I can do.....as fast as I deconstruct it to make way for the kingdom of God, I'm off making bigger and I wrongly think better plans for ME."
As we battle sin in our lives, we must go to the root of that sin, and that root is located deep within ourselves, in the kingdom of Me.