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Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Thursday, July 9, 2015 (Last Updated on 7/10/2015), Yujin wrote,

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul (Psalm 94:18-19).

The psalmist puts his hope in the LORD. The psalmist has slipped and is falling, but he trusts the LORD to hold him up. When his mind is being oppressed by a cancerous anxiety, he finds rest in God's peace. 

Friends, what are you trusting to hold you up? Is it your self-confidence? Is it the strength of your passion? Is it your friends? Or is it the LORD.

I wake daily to anxious thoughts. I am anxious over my own inadequacies. I am anxious over the unscrupulous ways of those dear to me. I am anxious over unfinished work and looming responsibilities. Yet, before I open my eyes and roll out of bed, I praise the LORD. I praise Him for His goodness and declare that nearness to Him is my good (Psalm 73:28). I thank Him for His mercy and grace, whereby I am forgiven forever by the blood of His Son and my Lord, Jesus Christ. I ask for His wisdom and discernment to guide me throughout the day in every plan, conversation, and endeavor. I ask for His providence and grace to cover me, so that I may not be undone by my ignorance, shortcomings, and sins. This is how I begin every day. Otherwise, I would be overwhelmed.

Friends, I encourage you to begin every day in humble praise, thanksgiving and trusting petition to the LORD. Then, you can be more assured of the righteousness of your attitude and your cause. Remember, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Wednesday, December 10, 2014 (Last Updated on 12/12/2014), Fernando wrote,

Psalms 90

12 So teach us to number our days    that we may get a heart of wisdom.

There is a song by Bjork called Hyper Ballad. It tells of a route how every morning she would wake up and throw things off a cliff and imagine her end in a similar way; an exercise and habit so that she starts her day feeling happy and safe knowing she is with her love.

Sounds a little dark? Consider Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 7:

A good name is better than a good ointment, the day of your death than your birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feast. BECAUSE that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. The mind of the wise is in the house or morning and the ones of fools in the house of pleasure.

These is a connection between keeping your mortality in mind and wisdom. Knowing that there is a beginning and end to everything – a season. This will keep things in perspective before the God who will separate the burnable chaff and the valuable wheat.


Psalms 95

Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.

I believe that God is sovereign over our choice to listen and obey him. Meaning he enables such obedience, this faith, is a gift from God (Eph 2:8,9) but what does a passage like Ephesians really say?

For by grace you have been saved… this is not your own doing

Doesn’t it at least say that God will save you regardless of your actions? I tie this idea with other passages like John 3: 36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

If salvation, a preservation from something and a bringing into something different; if eternal life is a gift from God & this is contingent on our obedience to Jesus, the Son of God, and God is coherent by not giving us contradictory statements, then it must be that both salvation and obeying are gifts from God.

So if this is the case why does God need to tell us what to do, if he is sovereign why not just make us robots that listen? The common response has to do with loving him requires a choice otherwise it is not love. Here, again, I tie in another idea, that Jesus came to make dead men live. The mystery of God’s glory, our creation, and our inner yearning for God wraps this up in something we experience.

I have heard sermons that express the importance of miracles, and telling the next generation of the good works God has done – that without it the next generation will be lost- but here you have a generation that for 40 years received provisions from God’s own hand; they were known as ‘a people who go astray in their heart.’

If we are to obey, what is to be obeyed needs to be communicated; if we are to obey, we need to be brought to life; if we are to be brought to life, what can a dead man do?

Blessed be the God of Resurrection - Jesus

Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Wednesday, July 10, 2013 (Last Updated on 7/9/2015), Yujin wrote,

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.

You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.

For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent (Psalm 91:5-10).

What an awesome expectation for the people of Israel. It says that they do not need to fear anything as long as they are trusting God. Does this mean that they will not face any hardship or calamity whatsoever? Job would say, "No!" When Satan enticed Jesus to test this promise of deliverance by throwing himself off the temple peak in Matthew 4, Jesus said, "No!" Why?

God is sovereign. While it is true that God can and does protect His people against calamities, He also allows some calamities and brings others to achieve His greater purposes, whether it be to test His people or even to redeem mankind. But these calamities are not those that people bring upon themselves, nor are they the sort that comes through other people and events. No, when God's people are faithful to Him, they can be sure that the hardships they face are God's doing, whether directly or indirectly, and specifically to fulfill God's purposes, though He may not always reveal these purposes to His servants. 

I remember when Paul prayed three times that his "thorn in the flesh" might be removed, but God did not remove it. In his case, God told him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). I recall when Jesus did not immediately go to heal Lazarus, even waiting till after Lazarus was clearly dead before going to him. At the time, Jesus revealed to His disciples, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it" (John 11:4).

Friends, what are we to make of all this? How can we be sure that we are being blessed by God or not? You cannot tell by experience, for the wicked may seem just as blessed as the righteous, and the righteous may even suffer more than the wicked. So, what is a believer to do? How can they know when they are living in a way that pleases God? 

There is only one way. It is by living according to God's Word! That is why the Psalmist writes,

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word (Psalm 119:11).

How do we know we love Jesus? Simply by obeying His teaching:

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me (John 14:23-24).

Some people say, "What about the Holy Spirit?" Do you know what Jesus says was the primary purpose the Holy Spirit was given? It was to remind them of the truth of God's Word. That is why He is also called "the Spirit of truth":

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:25-26).

Thus, to be filled with the Holy Spirit means in large part to being filled with the Word of God (compare Ephesians 5:18-20 with Colossians 3:16-17). In fact, the Holy Spirit does battle for us against the enemy with the Word of God, because the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). It is by the Word of God that we are made holy, that is, "sanctified" (John 17:17). 

In fact, the Word of God is the only resource we need to fuflill every good work God desires of us:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Why, then, dear friends, do our brothers and sisters find they need to make pilgrimmages to a cultic place like IHOP (International House of Prayer) or receive some psychic guidance from their prophecy rooms. Not only is this a waste of time and money, they put their own spiritual discernment in peril, because they are moved not by truth but by emotionalism and mysticism, by which the pagans also lull the ignorant to worship their false gods. 

Some of my dear friends, with whom I have shared my faith and my life, have embraced the mysticism of the neo-charismatic movement. I can tell by how they talk. They ask one another, "What did God tell you today?" "God told me such and such..." Now, of course, as long as they remain generic, they are safe. But from time to time, when they break protocol and say something prophetic like, "God told me that we will get this building" and it does not happen, they whitewash their words with something like, "It's because God had somethng better for us." 

Friends, not only is this unbiblical, but when Christians make such cavalier claims on God, it diminishes His Name, of which God commanded, "Thou shalt not take the LORD's Name in vain." It makes petty the inviolability of true biblical prophecy, for which, at one time, people were even put to death for making a prophecy that did not come to pass.

Someone said, "It is not enough to read the Bible and pray," and they didn't mean, "One must also obey God." They meant something like I need to "experience God," as if God needs to be conjured by some sort of mantra or tears or chanting or other kind of divination. This is what the Hindus do through their Kundalini rituals. Friends, this is not Christian and biblical experience. It is pagan and demonic. Be watchful!

Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, Yujin wrote,

You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered. Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. (Psalm 90:5, 6, 10, 12 NLT)

Moses is mentioned by name about nine times in the Psalms, but Psalm 90 is the only one attributed to him. Moses witnessed both God's great deliverance and His great wrath. He saw God deliver upwards of 2.5 million people out of centuries of bondage to Egypt with great signs and wonders. He also witnessed God put to death over a million of these very same people, every adult among them, over just forty years in desert (Numbers 32:13). He himself would be among those that never made it to the Promised Land. 

So when he wrote, "You sweep people away like dreams that disappear," he would have had a very vivid picture of God sweeping away the Israelites in the desert. The simile, "like dreams that disappear," may not merely point to the brevity of life but also reflect how quickly the people's dreams of a Promised Land disappeared with their demise. They sprung up like grass in the soil of Egypt, blooming and flourishing under God's watchful protection. But then they withered and died in the desert because of their rebellion and unbelief. Moses lived to be over a hundred, but most everyone else died before they reached eighty and certainly before they reached the Promised Land. They wandered in the wilderness for forty years, hungering, thirsting, struggling and then dying. For this is what God had destined for them. How awful it is to fall into the hands of an angry God!

I am naive. I am experientially naive to God's holiness. I don't even know how to tremble at the thought of God's terrible judgment for sin. If I really understood, I don't think I could even stand. My heart would stop and my breathing would be halted and choked up. It would be like being in a bone-chilling movie with such sounds and images and frightful prospects that would make me scared out of my wits. I've never liked horror movies.

In the citation from Psalm 90 above, I left out all of the verses refecting God's wrath. Here they are:

We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury. You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan. Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve. (Psalm 90:7-9, 11 NLT)

Moses knew how brief life is and how awful God's wrath can be. His words give concrete imagery to Paul's command to work out our salvation with "fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). 

Yet, in the midst of this reflection, there is an appeal. It is not an appeal to God's justice but to His grace:

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom. O LORD, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. (Psalm 90:12-14 NLT)

It is the same appeal that Jeremiah would make as he witnessed the awful wrath of God against His people Judah:

I cry out, “My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!” The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the LORD. Let them lie face down in the dust, for there may be hope at last. (Lamentations 3:18-24, 26, 29 NLT)

Friends, today I am reminded again of just how fleeting our lives are, how many are my sins, how vain are our pursuits, and how experientially naive I am of God's holiness. I could despair, but what good would that do? Yet, I find hope, even among those that lived wicked lives, because they finally humbled themselves, and God looked favorably upon them. Let us, therefore, humble ourselves in the dust. Let us constantly remind ourselves of our worthlessness and His great worth. I am reminded of the prayer Augustine prayed as he despaired over his frustration with personal sin: "Lord, command what You will and do what You command in me." This is my prayer too, that in my frustration with myself, being so powerless to think and meet even the most basic standards of God's holiness, God might do in me, or else somehow fulfill in me, what He requires.

Oh LORD, my face is in the dust. Forgive me for every vain thought, every meaningless action, every empty praise, every worthless pursuit that consumes every day of my fleeting life. While I am fully deserving of Your wrath, You have chosen to grant me knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled in me Your requirement of righteousness; therefore, I have hope. And according to this grace I will live day by day. Amen.

Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Tuesday, July 12, 2011, Unmi wrote,
   Today, if only you would hear his voice, 
8 “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, 
   as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, 
9 where your ancestors tested me; 
   they tried me, though they had seen what I did. 
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; 
   I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, 
   and they have not known my ways.’ 
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, 
   ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Psalm 95:7-11)

Psalm 95 begins with a call to worship, but then ends with the above warning. Hebrews chapter 3 and 4 specific talk about these verses in this Psalm. 

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
   “Today, if you hear his voice, 
8 do not harden your hearts 
as you did in the rebellion, 
   during the time of testing in the wilderness, 
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, 
   though for forty years they saw what I did. 
10 That is why I was angry with that generation; 
   I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, 
   and they have not known my ways.’ 
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, 
   ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ " (Hebrews 3:7-11)

The writer of Hebrews says that the first generation of Israelites leaving Egypt were not able to enter into God's rest because of their unbelief. 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:16-19) 

We just read Psalm 78 which details the extent of their rebellion, but the following verse is interesting:
34 Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; 
   they eagerly turned to him again. 
35 They remembered that God was their Rock, 
   that God Most High was their Redeemer. 
36 But then they would flatter him with their mouths, 
   lying to him with their tongues; 
37 their hearts were not loyal to him, 
   they were not faithful to his covenant.

They turned to God only when they were in trouble, they flattered Him with their lips and lied to Him with their tongues, because in their heart, there was no true loyalty to God, there was no true faith, only lip service. 

Going back to Psalm 95, Hebrews 4 says just as it was in the past, even "today," it is not those who hear the good news of the Christ preach, it is only those who by live by faith who will enter God's rest.  1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. (Hebrews 4:1-2) It isn't lip service or head knowledge, or some personal spiritual experience or eyewitness of miracles that demonstrates our faith, our faithfulness is demonstrated by obedience to the word of God. 

 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:11-13)

Passage: Psalms 90-95

On Monday, July 11, 2011, Stephen wrote,

According to the gospel of Luke, Jesus was tempted by Satan after 40 days of fasting. The first temptation was that Satan asked Jesus to make bread out of stones, and Jesus responded by quoting Moses, "Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Then Satan took Jesus to a high place, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and said that he would give Jesus everything in the world if He bows down to him. Of course, Jesus simply responded, saying that Only God must be worshiped. Lastly, Satan led Jesus to the top of the temple and asked Him to throw Himself down from there if He is Son of God, quoting Psalm 91:11-12, which is part of today's readings

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone."

Jesus' response was not like, "Of course, God will protect me and I will prove it by jumping off." Instead He quoted Moses again, "It is said: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" What Jesus meant was do not experiment with God just to find out whether he is going to do it or not. It is obviously stupid of you to throw yourself off of a high place, thinking that you're not going to hurt. It would be an extremely reckless act! Even though God would protect us from any harm, we have to exercise sound judgment as well. Satan can use God's Word to make us fall. We all must pray and diligently study the Word of God so that we may not fall into that kind of folly!