Thursday, March 31, 2022


When we are glad in God, our joy will overflow: we will want to tell others. We will want to spread that gladness to all the nations.

Psalm 67 starts by asking God to be gracious to us, to bless us -- so that the nations will come to know Him and His salvation -- so that they will praise and worship Him.  It ends with a prayer fulfilled: "God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him."

When we are satisfied, and when we are praising God, we will want to spread that gladness to all we meet.

We've talked before about how when we see something praiseworthy, we are eager to share the experience. If we see a hawk in flight in a sunlit sky, or a chain of mountains covered in verdant forests, we want to take photos and tell others about the beauty we saw. 

If there's a new baby in our family, we want to joyfully tell others about its arrival, and how much he/she weighed, and whose family resemblance we see!

If we have experienced God's blessing of salvation, or He has delivered us from a trial, our praise will spontaneously overflow. We want to share the joy - His salvation is the ultimate joy! And why? So that other people can enjoy Him, too.

...rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20b)
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (Psalm 5:11) 

Even if it costs us: financially, or by being outcast or persecuted, or even if it costs our lives . . . it increases God's glory to take the gospel to other people and to other nations.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

It's our privilege, as believers, to assist missionaries as they live out their God-given passion to reach others for Him. They may be preaching in established churches, or pioneering new congregations, often under the skies instead of under roofs. They may be training others to continue the work of discipling and making "fishers of men." They may be holding community events like backyard Bible schools, or visiting prisons - all of this to reach people that God loves and tell them about His salvation.

We can support their work with our prayers.

We can support their work with our financial gifts.

We can even join them in the field on mission trips.

But we can be missionaries and allow His joy to overflow when we are at home in our own communities, too. If we are ridiculed for our witness, "count it all joy." If we are persecuted for our faith, we keep on believing and spreading His joy.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19)

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (I Peter 4:16)

Be gracious and bless us, Lord, so that we may overflow with your joy - so others may know!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Gladness from knowing Him

We're still "camped" in Psalm 67, enjoying the songwriter's joyous praise and his instructions to us to share that praise - last time, we noted that we should "export" our gladness to others. 
This world is in such turmoil.
So many of the nations are warring and resentful; they are rebellious against God. 
Even our own countries, those of us who pause here, pay precious little attention to the God Who gives so many blessings, even while they use those blessings for their own purposes.
I guess we can't expect others (other people or nations) to be glad in God if they do not know Him.

Kinda being Captain Obvious there, aren't I? (Grin)
Here's what the psalmist says in verse two:
so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations. (Psalm 67:2)

If people are worshiping gods of their own making, or of their own imagining, or if they are worshiping possessions, power, etc., then the One true God will not be praised.  In order to sing His praises, people must know Him as He is revealed in His Word. 

They must know His ways:  

And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
So that He may teach us about His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.” (Isaiah 2:3a, NASB)

They must know His salvation:

Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;

For You I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:5)

And many, many of the people of this world need to know Him!

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14-15a)

We need to pray for God to use us, and to use other believers: to raise up workers for the harvest. We need to pray for faithful people to contribute so that these workers can go and be supported financially and spiritually.

Another source of joy is that God will judge and guide the nations.

May the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For You will judge the peoples with fairness
And guide the nations on the earth. Selah  (Psalm 67:4, NASB)

God's judging the nations with fairness means that He will right every wrong. He will punish all those who have oppressed innocent people. He will punish those who have persecuted and even murdered the most vulnerable among us.

The promise that God will judge and guide is a source of comfort for those of us who know His salvation. The repeated assurances of God's Word tell us that the nations are NOT spinning out of control, but are under God's ultimate control. Proud, rebellious men and women may think that they are the rulers; the nations may think they are sovereign - but the Bible is clear that God alone is sovereign. We have the blessings of knowing Him, of knowing His ways and His salvation -- that is the gladness that we can share!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Verses that inspire


Recently this verse inspired me when I was reading in my quiet time:

for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)


My thesaurus tells me another synonym is "changeless."

Paul was talking about the Jews who at the time, were considered the enemies of God, because of the hatred and persecution that they participated in, towards the early believers. Paul said that if for no other reason, then for the sake of the fathers, the patriarchs of the old Testament, these Jews were still beloved. (Of course, they are truly loved because God loves all and doesn't wish for any to perish!)

Paul's point was that God had not given up on the nation of Israel. And it's a principle that should comfort us today. It's relevant to us, not just to the nation of Israel. It means that God will not give up on us. He will always leave the path open to restoration.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21)

There will always be an open door for those who turn to Him.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

He has called us. And He's called us for eternity!

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, (II Peter 1:3)

Monday, March 28, 2022

The gladness of God





All of those are summed up in the feelings we experience when we seek and receive God's blessings.

May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you. (Psalm 67:3-5)

Almost like a praise chorus in church nowadays, verses three and five are identical. The chorus line after the verse. (Grin)  I think the songwriter wanted to emphasize the fact that we will find true joy in God, and then we will "export" it, so to speak, to other people and other lands.

There's a lot of talk nowadays from the talking heads on the cable shows and the podcasts and the social media feeds (well, actually I don't know that for sure, because I don't "do" social media, but I hear about it!) on our economy. Arrows on charts go up. Arrows on charts go down.

Lots of somber nodding about imports and exports. I guess I have a very simplistic view: I think about it like when I go on a diet. As long as there are more calories expended (exercise, etc) than are taken in (meals, snacks) I can expect good results. In much the same way, I expect that as long as our country exports more than it imports, we probably will have a balance sheet that looks better than if those numbers were reversed!

One of the things that the psalm says we SHOULD export is gladness in God. 

Yes, true gladness and joy are found in God. Gladness in stuff is futile. Stuff can be taken away in a moment of time. Stuff can be destroyed in an instant. Just take a peek at Job 1:13-19. . . . 

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19) 

Gladness in God, though, is eternal - no one can take it away from us. And the prayer in this psalm is all about telling the nations about our gladness. But there is something important we need to see here: we can't "export" gladness in God to other nations, or even to our neighbors, if WE are not glad in God!

How can we sincerely tell other people how glad they will be when they seek Him, if we are not real and genuine in our own worship? How can we tell our neighbors or people we meet, "Be glad in God! Seek Him!" if we are not ourselves glad in Him?

We can't read this in honesty: "May the peoples praise you, O God," if we do not praise Him ourselves. 

Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits— (Psalm 103:2)

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you and praise your name,
for in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,
    things planned long ago. (Isaiah 25:1)

The roots of the praise tree are deeply set in gratitude. God is our all-satisfying resource; our first and best possession is our relationship with Him. We should take that gratitude for His benefits, His faithfulness, and His plans for our good, and speak it to Him. Let the gladness of God fill our hearts, because then we can "export" it to others.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Seeking His presence

The beautiful language the psalmist uses is memorable: "and cause His face to shine upon us."

We find this theme in several other psalms. To have God's face "shining" on us is just the opposite of a scowling face. It's not an angry face. Not a worried face. It's a smile of love and blessings.

And to have His face shining towards us is the opposite of having Him turn His face away, too. No indifference. No disgust. No wrath. Not now. The songwriter means that God's favorable presence is with us, for us to enjoy.

Back in Psalm 27 we were reminded to seek His face and His presence:

My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

    Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Psalm 27:8) 

And He has promised us:

If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him. (II Chronicles 30:9)

We see His face when we worship our Savior:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)

There are three times in this psalm where the songwriter repeats the name of God in connection with having His blessing. You know, for me, this emphasizes that we cannot separate God Himself from the blessings He sends our way. After all, HE is the greatest blessing -- to have Him as our God. It's a fact that we can have all the blessings that the world values, but if we don't have God, we are not truly blessed. 
It's also true that we may not have much of anything that the world counts as blessings, but if we have God and His smiling face -- if we have His favor in His Son, Jesus Christ -- then we are truly and abundantly blessed!

We seek His blessings. We seek His presence. We seek His face.

We also seek to tell others, even other nations.

so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations. (vs. 2)

In our era, we know even more of what the psalmist alluded to: because Christ told us to "go unto all" and tell His story. He wants us to spread the news. He will bless the persons and the church(es) who are reaching out to the people of the world. He will give power and joy so that we can accomplish the telling of the gospel. When we give to missions, and when we go ourselves, we are launching ourselves into the stream of blessings that is already flowing in the direction of those people who have not heard of Him.

It's alright to ask God for His blessings for ourselves. But our prayer should really be that God will bless us so that we (and our family, and our belongings and finances) can be used to further His glory among the people of this world. Whether locally or far away, it's the same principle that we see in the gospel of Matthew:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

We seek His blessings and His presence to enrich our own lives, and for the sake of others whom we may help.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Seeking His blessing

All of us would quickly say, "Oh, yes, indeed!" if someone were to ask if we wanted the blessings of God. 

But are those blessings automatic?

Not always.

Our Bible makes it abundantly clear that God wants to pour out His blessings upon His people. But it also makes it clear that His "best" (in human terms) blessings are ours when we order our lives correctly, in His will, and we seek Him as our top priority. 

His blessings are the result of His grace.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us (Psalm 67:1)

That sounds just like our prayers, right? We all ask for His blessings on ourselves, our children, our families, our churches . . . We all NEED God's grace and blessing. His grace is one of the most basic concepts to understand - but it's not easy to apply sometimes in our lives.


Because it just doesn't "jive" with our sense of fairness and justice. We are programmed all through our lives to work hard. To earn what we get. And our pride tells us that we deserve to be rewarded because we have worked diligently. After all, it's only fair.

God's grace, though, humbles our pride. We deserve His judgment, but He gives us His grace. Some folks (including me) have had a difficult time understanding one of the parables . . . let's dig in to Matthew 20, OK?

In that chapter, Jesus tells the story of the man who goes into the marketplace early in the morning, looking for workers. Perhaps his vineyard was ready for an unexpectedly abundant harvest. He needed more workers than he had on staff. So he goes to the equivalent of our "temporary workers" agency, the market, and hires more workers. He agrees to pay them a denarius if they will work a day's labor. 

In the middle of the morning, he realizes he needs more peeps. He hires more. At noon and at mid-afternoon, he does the same, and promises to pay them what's right. Finally, an hour before sundown, he hires more workers.

At sundown, the day's work is ended, and the men line up for their pay. The owner begins with the last group and gives them all a denarius for their hour of work. They leave happily, I expect. When the men came up who had worked all day long, they probably had seen what the others received, and expected more. But each of them also received one denarius. 

The men grumbled at the vineyard owner and said, "That's not fair!"

But he told them that he had paid them what they agreed on. If he wanted to be generous with his money to the other workers, what business was that of theirs? 

Now, if you were one of the workers hired on very early in the morning, wouldn't that bother you, too? "Hey, those guys only worked for one hour, and you pay them just as much as you pay us? We were here all day long, working hard!"  It's pretty basic, right? It's our human sense of fair play: you get compensated for what you do.  "That's no way to run a business."


That was Jesus' point. He's not running a business. He's talking about salvation, and grace, and forgiveness. 

Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? (Matthew 20:15)

In other words, I'm the Lord. I can do things however I want to. And when it comes to salvation, I will do it My way. 

Our God is generous. People will question His lavish love. They won't "get it." But He won't stop loving. He won't stop giving.

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul. (Jeremiah 32:40-41)

God will bless us. He will pour out His grace. And He will have fun doing it! He rejoices and delights in doing us good! 

Grace means that we receive blessings we don't deserve. After all, what we earn becomes a payment, a wage that we earn. Instead of judgment for our sins, God gives us a free pardon and eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Savior. 

Grace is not always easy to accept, because our pride makes us think we earned it. Or we deserve it. But to receive God's grace, we must humble ourselves. We need to acknowledge that we are sinners and actually deserve His judgment.

We should admit our helplessness. And ask Him for something we can NEVER earn: His grace and His blessing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Verses that inspire

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever. (Isaiah 40:8, NIV)

For most of the chapters before the fortieth chapter of Isaiah, the prophet had been warning the people of Israel of the judgment that was coming. He told them again and again that they needed to repent. He pleaded with them to turn back to their God, and to listen to the Words of truth from YAHWEH.

They still didn't listen.

Isaiah used withering grasses and spent flowers fading on their stems to illustrate the transient nature of man's life on earth. He tried and tried to encourage Israel to come back to the Lord. There's such a stark contrast between the permanence and stability of God's eternal Word and the fleeting span of grasses by the pathways we walk.  

His Word? 

Permanently established. Steadfast. Secure. 

How long will it endure? Eternity!

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9)

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. (II Thessalonians 3:3)

He is faithful.

His Word and His love will endure. His promises are sure. We can depend upon them and rest in His love.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Psalm 67 - seeking and sharing blessings

 We're beginning a new Psalm today: in our Bibles, it is number 67. It's short, but important!

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
 so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.

 May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.
 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
    for you rule the peoples with equity
    and guide the nations of the earth.
 May the peoples praise you, God;
    may all the peoples praise you.

The land yields its harvest;

    God, our God, blesses us.
 May God bless us still,
    so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.

What do we think of, when we hear the word "blessings"?

Do we think of the prayer we say before our meal?

Do we think of Auntie who says "bless his/her heart" about all the nieces and nephews?

Do we remember just a few hours before, when we had our prayer time, and we casually asked for blessings for ourselves or others?

I think when we look at this psalm, we see the writer had a specific reason for seeking God's blessings. We'll be studying this week to discover it.

Many people do consider this a very important psalm - the folks who lead the Church of England decided that this should be read in each and every worship service! 

It reads a little bit like the blessing that the priests were to pronounce on Israel. We find that in the book of Numbers:

The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

It's also similar to what God promised Abraham (well, he was called Abram at the time) in Genesis:

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you." (Genesis 12:2-3)

In Matthew's gospel, Jesus instructed us to pray that His will would be done on earth. And Paul cited scriptures when he was explaining his calling to preach to the Gentiles. The theme is there throughout the Bible - we seek God's blessing so that our joy can be spread to all the nations. 

Let's dig in this week and learn more!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Every day is a day for worship!


Let's praise Him for His grace, His mercy, and His faithfulness!

Let's join in worship of our Father, Almighty God!


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Practical applications, II

Psalm 66 also tells us to make sure our hearts are clean in God's sight. We might look A-OK to other humans, but God sees us as we truly are.

“I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10, NIV) 

We dare not neglect frequent cleansing of our hearts. We must deal with sin on the heart level - in our innermost beings. Each day we might yield to the particular sins that are our "Achilles' heel," whether it be pride, lust, greed, anger, or selfishness. Just as quickly as we realize we have sinned, we need to ask the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing.

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Just as quickly as we ask, God will be faithful and forgive.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

The last application for us from Psalm 66 is that we cannot neglect our prayer time with God, even if the answers we seek are a long time in coming. We may feel the answers are delayed, but we must not forget that Israel prayed for deliverance from Egypt for four-hundred years! Then He sent Moses to deliver them. In the situation that the songwriter describes in our psalm, the people of God didn't receive instant relief. They were bothered by this terrible enemy for longer than they'd hoped. 

But God's timing is not our timing. He hears our prayers. He hears our cries for help. But in His time, He will bring us into a place of abundance. He will deliver us.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

There is no one else like our God. 

Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” (II Chronicles 14:11)

He will answer our prayers. And when He does, let's give it our all! Let's praise and worship Him, and make His praise glorious!

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Prayer requests


Instead of my saying a lot today, I hope that if you stop here and there's a burden on your heart, you will leave a comment. 

Let us pray with you.

Let us have the privilege of bearing your trial, your obstacle, your heart's cry for help, up to the throne of God. 

Let's pray.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Practical applications


As we finish up on Psalm 66, let's make some practical applications to our everyday lives.

Making His praise glorious is a top priority for believers. There are many ways that we can praise Him.

First, don't look down upon public song. Many people argue about the style and tempo and the instruments played, but singing in our church services is an important part of praising God. Do we think about other things while half our brain is instructing our eyes and mouth to look at the hymnal and make sounds?

Hymns and choruses sung by the congregation are not just filler. They are not just times for late-comers to slip inside and find a seat. They are not times to stand outside the sanctuary and chat with people to "catch up" with them. They aren't times to be reading the bulletin.

Hymns and choruses are times to engage whole-heartedly. If the lyrics are shown on a screen for the congregation, or if we are looking down to our hymnbook, this is a time for genuine worship.

So many times, the hymns are very familiar and we have a tendency to not think about them too much. But the words are so meaningful in many of the songs - they are like lessons in theology! They give us an opportunity to ponder the love of God and His grace and mercy. They bring to mind our sin, and the awesome gift of salvation that is ours through the cross of Christ Jesus, our Savior. The songs and hymns we sing should help us to rejoice and give Him glory and gratitude. The second verse of Psalm 66 tells us to "sing the glory of His name" and that's exactly what we should do!

Another practical application is to make sure that we don't forget about private worship - the personal, one-on-one relationship that is ours by His grace. Our singing should be the result of hearts that have been speaking gratitude to Him all week. 

Have we lost our passion for our prayer time? Is it a chore to stop and read our Bibles? When God whispers, "Come, let us reason together..." are we excited to kneel and pray, or is it annoying to take our time away from other "important" things in our lives? How can we think of what He has done for us, and grow cold?

Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
    days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, NIV)

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)

In our quiet times, we have the opportunity to worship in Spirit and in truth. Take time each day to spend time with Him.