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Friday, August 29, 2008

Vanity and Children...but Not Related Topics

The next psalm in our journey through the Psalms of Ascents is interesting. It is found in the exact middle of the fifteen ascent psalms. It is the only one of the fifteen written by Solomon. There are seven psalms before it (120-126), two of which were written by David and five which are anonymous. After Psalm 127, there are seven psalms, two of which were written by David and five of which are anonymous. With the Hebrew propensity for chiasms (see here, here, here, and here), and the symmetry that appears to be here, the psalm may be the high point of the Psalms of Ascents. It is not perfect but close enough to take a minute to examine it.

    121 David
            124 David
                     127 Solomon
         131 David
   133 David

Additionally, the psalm seems to be a bit different in that it seems to address two different issues in the psalm: The vanity of life without the Lord, and children.

Read Psalm 127 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my working outline. Once again, I would love any suggestions which may improve the flow of thought in this outline. This outline needs much improvement.

Still Working on a Title

I. Vanity (1-2)
          A. Vain labor - unless the Lord builds
          B. Vain watching - unless the Lord guards

          still working on #C.
          C. Vain vigilance - because the Lord gives in sleep
          C. Vain to do anything - unless the Lord gives

II. Children (3-4)
          A. Children are a gift
          B. Children are a defense
          C. Children are a blessing

Many people want to make this whole psalm about family. I am not sure the context will allow that. Granted, when the Hebrew author wrote about a "house", as in verse 1, it could mean a literal house or a house as in "family" or even "dynasty." However, the rest of verse one speaks of guarding a city and verse three speaks of work. I am not sure each of these could be figurative for family. It is interesting to note that verse three talks about God "giving" during sleeping and then the next verse says that children are a "gift." Perhaps this is the connection between the two sections of this psalms. However, unlike the previous psalms in this study (120-126, so far), this does not seem to have a unifying theme through the psalm. In that, it is very much like the proverbs, most of which are attributed to Solomon, just like this psalm.

As for explanation of the outline, I think verse one is somewhat self-explanatory. If a person builds or a person guards, and thinks they are doing it in their own power, they are gravely mistaken. It may be human work that builds a building phyiscally but it is God who give the strength to do so, the resources to be able to, the weather which does not blow it down, and on and on. A guard may think he is protecting the city but it is actually the Lord doing so.

Verse 2 give the idea that it is vain to do anything without the Lord. The idea of rising early and going to bed late means when we rise, when we go to bed, and everything inbetween. In fact, even when we are sleeping, God is at work. We sometimes believe that we can do great things and accomplish fantastic tasks. The fact of the matter is, anything good we have done is becasue the Lord has allowed it and He should get the credit. These versed do not discount human effort, but indicate that without the Lord's intervention, it is vain.

The topic shifts to that of children. The real issue in this section is verse 4. The question is, "How are children like arrows?" When dealing with Hebrew poetry, it is good to let the image sink in for a while. What do we think of when we think of arrows? They are long-range weapons and are not used for hand-to-hand combat. In fact, they were used for defense. The archers would not be the on the frontline but would fire a curtain of defense for those fighting on the battle front.

This is like children to those who are aged. The phrase about the "gate" in verse 5 points to the place where legal issues would be taken up with the city's leaders. If someone had wronged you, you could go to the city's gate and plead your case. If you had children, they would go with you and stand behind you to back you up, much like archers would. They would take up your defense and fight with you. Thus, they are blessing to have.

I am not sure of a song from today which would capture the heart of this psalm because this psalm seems to have two "hearts." If anyone has any insight to this, please post so we can all benefit from it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 8.27.08

"...Barak Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya, and a white man from Kansas."

Terry Moran, from ABC's Nightline

Remember the Great Acts of God - Addendum

In my last post, I was working with Psalm 126. This post is an expansion of verses 5-6 of this psalm.

Read Psalm 126 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

The context of this passage is the return of the Israelites from captivity. When they returned to Jerusalem and the promise land, they had to start again. Being an agricultural society, planting seed was of primary importance because they needed food. These farmers weep while sowing in remembrance of the good life before the Babylonian captivity. Sowing is hard work and starting over is never easy. These Israelites had to trust God completely to bless them. They released everything they owned, their seeds, and planted it in the ground. After that, it was up to God to bless them with a great harvest. And that is the promise given here.

Many want to relate this verse to the parable of the soils that Jesus told (Matt 13:1-9, 37-43; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:4-15). However, the force of the verse is closer to Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (NASB). This certainly does include evangelism, but it includes so much more.

A loss of a job may be sown in tears but reliance upon God during the time of uncertainty reaps shouts of joy. A child going their own rebellious way brings weeping but when reconciliation with the Lord occurs it comes with rejoicing. A passing of a precious believer may bring sorrow to those left behind but if one comes to the Lord through the witness of the life that deceased loved one there will be sheaves of joy, even in heaven (Luke 15:10).

The Christian can rejoice that whatever valley they are going through, whatever calamity has been brought upon them, whatever it is in their life that has been sown with weeping and tears, God will bring about a joyful harvest. And ultimately, believers, with a "shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him" will enter into God presence.

What in your life today can you identify as being "sown in tears?" Trust God during this difficult time. He will bring about a joyful harvest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remember the Great Acts of God

(See the addendum to this post here)

I have been blogging recently on the Psalms of Ascents and hoping that my posts on them will firm up some of my outlines. I also hope that others will contribute to the process and provide suggestions which will improve the outlines and provide a great skeleton for teaching through these psalms.

To briefly sum up where we have been so far, the psalmist travels to Jerusalem (120-122). He begins his worship by asking God for mercy, praising God for His help in the past, and about the relationship they have currently (123-125). In the next psalm, Psalm 126, the psalmist now remembers how the Lord brought them back to Jerusalem and requests that the Lord will restore them to what they once were.

Read Psalm 126 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my working outline. It really needs improved so any suggestions anyone could give, please post those in the comments. I know that many will be helped by it (I have notices a little more traffic coming to the posts regarding these psalms so you will be helping many other pastors by posting your thoughts):

Still Looking for a Title

I. Past rescue/redemption (1-3)
          A. Too good to be true/Astonishment (1)
          B. Rejoicing (2b)
          C. Noctice by others/Noticable (2b)
          D. Gratitude (3)

II. Present Request for Restoration (4)

II. Future Blessing/Rejoicing (5-6)
          A. Sow in tears -> Reap joyful shouting
          B. Weeping with bag -> joy with sheaves

One of the reasons I have waited so long between posts is because the incompleteness of these outlines. They really need some serious work, but I thought I could post these and maybe we could get a dialogue going to hone them a bit.

The first three verses is an obvious "flashback" to a time when God brought the people back to Jerusalem. It seems that this is a reference to the Babylonian exile but it could be a reference to the Exodus from Egypt. The issue for me is the term "brought back." While the Exodus did bring the people back to the land Jacob lived in before they moved to Egypt, the fact is they were there 400 years and everyone who came out of Egypt had never lived in the promised land. However, they were only in Babylon 70 years and many of the people remember what living in Judah was like. Additionally, the context (especially verse 4) indicates the psalmist is referring to captivity. While they were slaves in Egypt, they were not captured. They moved there and eventually became slaves. Babylon came and captured them. However, this is really not the main point of this psalm or this section.

The point is, the psalmist is remembering a past rescue God preformed for His people. The psalmist expresses his emotions concerning this act. It was like a dream, they would have never imagined it. They laughed and laughed and shouted with joy. It was such a marvelous act, the lost nations even commented on the great things their God did for them. They just were glad that God had done so many great things for them.

The remembrance of these past acts of God prompts the psalmist to petition God for restoration. He asks God to restore the people to what they were before they were taken captive. The simile used here is that of the seasonal wadis found in southern part of Israel. In the months of little rain, these streams will completely dry up and there will be nothing remaining but a ravine where the water once ran. In the spring, when the rains come again, the streams will fill up again, some almost immediately (if you can find a video clip of this, you should watch it because it is pretty amazing how fast and furious these streams become one the rain begins).

Finally, the psalmist declares his faith in God's activity to bring about the restoration of his people. To 21st-century believers who have both the Old and New Testament at their disposal, and who are familiar with Jesus' parable of the soils, it is easy to read a message of evangelism in these verse. However, these verses speak about broader issues than just evangelism. I will post more about this tomorrow because these two verses deserve a little closer look. The point here is that when God's people returned to the promise land from their captivity, there was sorry for what they had lost (tears, weeping). However, the psalmist is looking forward to the time when God will restore them to what He wants them to be (joyful shouting, shouts of joy).

I think the believer can walk away with from this psalm thinking about the great things God has done for us in the past, the most amazing being salvation. These thing, when recounted, can really astound us at how great God really is. But in times of trouble, or doubt, or struggles, we cry out to God for restoration. And we place our faith in the goodness of God that even though we may be crying now because of our tough circumstances, God will use it for His glory and our refinement.

Calvin said, "The reason why so many examples of the grace of God contribute nothing to our profit, and fail in edifying our faith, is, that as soon as we have begun to make them subjects of our consideration, our inconstancy draws us away to something else, and thus at the very commencement, our minds lose sight of them." Remembering the past acts of God will strengthen our faith as we go through or are coming out of troubled times. If God is has been faithful in the past, and God does not change, then He will be faithful in the present and in the future. We can count on it.

As I have been posting for this psalm, the hymn "Count Your Blessings" has been coming to mind. Perhaps, this hymn conveys the mindset of the psalmist (click to listen).

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Have Found a Friend in Jesus

In our series of the Psalms of Ascents, we come to psalm 125. to recap briefly, the psalmist travels to Jerusalem (120-122). He begins his worship by asking God for mercy (123) and then recounting how God has been the source of their help in the past (124). In this psalm (125), he sings about the current relationship he has with the Lord.

Read Psalm 125 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is the tentative outline I developed for this psalm. As always, please send feedback. I think they always can be improved. I would like the flow of thought to be better than this. This is just the initial thoughts.
Our Relationship with God

I. A relationship with God provides...(1-2)
          A. Stability (1)
          B. Protection (2)

II. Warning to those who have a relationship with God. (3)
          A. God's people do not have control over this land (3a).
          B. God's people should not be tempted to do evil (3b).

III. Holiness is expected of those who have a relationship with God. (4-5)
          A. Prayer for the good
          B. Warning for the bad

I want to give some of the thought process of my outline briefly. In verses 1-2, the psalmist uses geographical analogies to communicate a truth about the people of God. First, he mentions Mount Zion. This is by no means the highest "mountain" in Jerusalem and is in fact more a hill (I live in Colorado so I may be biased). The point of using Mount Zion is it permanency. Mount Zion was the temple mount and was the center of the Jewish religious system and the center of religious activity in the future (Rev. 14:1, for example). The use of this imagery is to show how God's people are stable in Him. He makes them like Mount Zion: permanent, stable.

The next geographical analogy used is the mountains which surround Jerusalem (although probably still hills by Colorado standards). Here, instead of the analogy being used to describe His people, the picture is used to describe God. His people are like little Mount Zion but God is like those big mountains which surround Jerusalem and protect it from attack. The Lord gives His people protection.

In the next point, point II, there are two warnings given in this psalm. The first half of verse 3 indicates that those that do not trust in God (the wicked) are in control of lands around Jerusalem (septer) but will not rest on the land of God's people. The point here is that in this world, there are evil people who are leaders around the world (most call them politicians) :-) God's people are not in control of this world. While God is ultimately in control of all things, He has temporarily given authority of this world over to Satan. This is a warning to God's people. This world is not home.

The second warning comes in the last half of verse 3: the reason the wicked's septer will not reach the land of God's people is so they will not be tempted to do wrong things. The warning is that God's people should not be tempted to do evil in this world. If the wicked are in charge, they may tempt God's people to engage in behavior and activities which would defile them. Becare, the psalmist says, to not let this happen.

The last two verses, making up point III, are pretty self-explanatory: the psalmist is praying that God will do good to those who are faithful to Him (those who do good) and he is warning those who live as they want (who turn aside to their crooked ways) that God will punish them. In short, the Lord expects holiness (upright in their hearts) from those who are to be in relationship with him.

I think this message is would be a great message for new believers and matures believers, alike. A relationship with God through Christ will bring us stability and protection. However, that does not mean that this life will be easy. Those who are lost are in control for now but we must not be tempted to live like them. Instead, God expects holiness from us. Any Christian could benefit from a reminder like this.

As I was thinking about a song from today which captures the essence of this psalm, my mind when to "The Lily of the Valley" (click to listen) because it tells how we are in relationship with God through Christ and that in temptation he helps us stay pure.
I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessèd will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessèd face,
Where the rivers of delight shall ever roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Whose Side is God On?

Psalm 124 is the fifth psalm of those labels "Psalms of Ascent." After traveling and making it to Jerusalem (120-122), the psalmist begins his worship of God (123), which is why he came to Jerusalem in the first place. In this psalm, he is continuing that worship by recounting how God has helped His people in the past.

Read Psalm 124(NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is the outline I developed for this psalm. I am happier with this outline than the previous two, but I would still love some comments on them. I would especially like to hear suggestions on making the sub-points of II alliterated. :-)

The Lord is on Our Side

I. God is on the side of His people (1-2)

II. God keeps His people from being... (3-7)
         A. Swallowed (3)
         B. Drowned (4-5)
         C. Prey (6)
         D. Snared (7)

III. God helps His people (8)

A somewhat simple outline with a great message. In today's world, it is popular for the lost to say things like "God is not on anyone's side" or "God does not pick sides" but this is just not the truth. God IS on the side of those who have placed their faith in Christ and are called His people.

How many times have we felt like we have been swallowed by some problem overtaking us. Or that we are drowning in the issues of everyday life. How often do we feel like we have become prey to those who would want to harm us because we carry the name of Christ. Or that someone is trying to snare us, to cause us to fall and do harm to the name of our God. God keeps us from this. If you doubt this, read 1 Corinthians 10:13, where it says that God temptation to overcome us (and that would include the temptation to lose faith in God in the midst of trying circumstances).

I think a hymn that captures the essence of this psalm may be "God Will Take Care of You" (click to listen).

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, over all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, over all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

All you may need He will provide,
God will take care of you;
Nothing you ask will be denied,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, over all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast,
God will take care of you.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Finding Mercy

The fourth psalm in the Psalm of Ascents is psalm 123. To recap our travel through our series of the Psalms of Ascents, it begins with the psalmist desiring to go to his true home (ps. 120). It continues with the psalmist praising God for His protection during the journey to Jerusalem (ps. 121). He reaches Jerusalem and praises God for the great things he finds there (ps. 122). In this next, brief psalm, we find the psalmist in Jerusalem and beginning to do what he traveled there to do: worship Yahweh. To begin this worship experience, he asks for God to send His mercy.

Read Psalm 123 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Because this is such a short psalm, the outline is also short. It is still a rough draft and I really do not like it much but here is what I have.

God is the Giver of Mercy

I. We depend on God's mercy (1-2)

II. We desire God's mercy (3-4)

First, I really need a new title. Actually, I really do not need a title at all but I have been trying to title my sermons for the purpose of summarizing what I going to speak about. If anyone has a thought about a better title PLEASE post it so we can all see it.

Second, it is obvious in the first two verse that the psalmist is talking about his dependency on God for mercy. Verse two is not about the servants looking to their master for orders, but instead looking to them for the necessities of life. The psalmist uses these to show how we desperately need God to give us mercy because it cannot be found anywhere else.

The last two verses of the psalm shows the psalmist desire for that mercy. Because others (namely the proud, who depend on no one for anything) have attacked us (ridiculed and hold contempt for us) we need God's mercy to get through.

It seems to me that this psalm also is like stairs step:

I look to God in heaven (v. 1.)
     until he shows us mercy (v. 2)
        because we have endured much contempt (v. 3)
                from the arrogant (v. 4)

This also could also be an outline for this text. Any help with these outlines would be great.

I love the message of this little psalm: "God is the only place for me to find mercy and I need that mercy greatly."

I still need a "modern" song with which to end this sermon. The first song of thought of (with the help of my wife) was "Mercy Came Running" by Phillips, Craig and Dean, but since I do not not agree with their doctrine, I am hesitant to use this song thinking that someone may see that as endorsing them. Then I thought of the hymn, "At the Cross" where the chorus says, "Mercy there was great, and grace was free...Pardon there was multiplied to me...There my burdened soul found Calvary." That may be the right one. Any suggestions?

I will have to update this one later as I continue to work on it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

When We All Get To Heaven

Continuing my series on the fifteen Psalms which are entitled "Psalms of Ascents," I will be looking at Psalm 122 today. This is the third psalm in this series (you can read my previous posts on 120 and 121 here). In the first psalm of the series, 120, the author communicated a dissatisfaction with living in a foreign place and he longed to go to his true home. The psalm 121 the psalmist wrote about the dangers of traveling to his true home but his God watched over him to keep him safe until he arrived. This next psalm seems to indicate that the traveler made it and rejoices that he is now home.

Read Psalm 122 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

The psalmist essentially tells of the things which he is happy to experience now that he is home. i realize that this was written by an ancient Jew happy to be arriving in Jerusalem, but it seems to me there is some correlation here to a Christian arriving in the heavenly Jerusalem. Here is the sermon (this is still rough - any suggestions you may have to improve it would be greatly appreciated):

When We All Get to Heaven

I. We will experience joy (1-2)
          A. Joy from the community in getting there (1)
          B. Joy at arriving there (2)

II. We will experience unity (3-5)
          A. Unity does not mean uniformity (4)
          B. Unity does not mean licentiousness (5)

III. We will experience peace (6-9)
          A. The peace that comes from security (6-7)
          B. The peace that comes from prosperity (8-9)

I think I probably need to give a rationale for some of my thoughts here. I think the information in point I is probably self-explanatory (if you would like some explanation, just post a comment here and I will happy to respond).

Point II may not be as clear. The psalmist begins in verse 3 by saying that Jerusalem is a city which is compact. We must interpret this no in a Western Post-modern way but in a Ancient Near-eastern way. In today's understanding a city closely compacted together usually brings irritation, crime, rudeness, and many other things which are the antipathy of unity. However, in the psalmist day, a city closely compacted was safe and gave strength in numbers against an attacking enemy. The psalmist was speaking of the unity he felt when entering Jerusalem.

Then in verse 4, he mentions how the different tribes of the Lord all come up and worship in the same manner. The point is, though the twelve tribes of Israel were all different and had their own little quirks, and sometimes they fought amongst themselves, they came together to worship the Lord. There was diversity among the people of God and yet there was unity among the people of God. This produces the sub-point A: Unity is not uniformity.

Yet in balance with the diversity of the tribes, verse 5 mentions the thrones of David, where judgments were rendered. It seems the psalmist is saying that even though there is diversity and unity, this does not mean anything goes. There is still law, and still judgments to be rendered and when all the people come together they acknowledge this. Thus, while there is unity, there is not a licence to live contrary to God's will. Unity is not licentiousness.

Finally, in point III, the issue of peace is brought up. In these four verses (6-9) the word "peace" is mentioned three times. The psalmist wants peace (wholeness, completeness, Shalom) in Jerusalem. For the ancient jew, this is somewhat literal. No more wars and no more fighting amoung themselves; a wholeness for the people of God. To the Christian, peace is found through Christ and Christ alone. However, the peace we will find in heaven must be beyond anything we can fathom in this physical world.

The psalmist finds peace from the walls of Jerusalem which keeps the enemies out. In short, he finds peace through security. Second, he seems to indicating that he finds peace through the prosperity of Jerusalem. PLEASE NOTE: I am not referring to the prosperity that the charlatans called prosperity preachers are talking about. I am talking about how well off we will be in heaven. I do not expect to live like a king on this earth. I am, however, a child of the King of everything and will be living with him forevermore. I do not know how much more prosperous one could get.

In keeping with my practicing of assigning a "modern" song to each of these psalms, the obvious choice for me was used in the title: the hymn "When We All Get to Heaven" (click to listen).

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and blessèd
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

While we walk the pilgrim pathway,
Clouds will overspread the sky;
But when traveling days are over,
Not a shadow, not a sigh.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Let us then be true and faithful,
Trusting, serving every day;
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Onward to the prize before us!
Soon His beauty we’ll behold;
Soon the pearly gates will open;
We shall tread the streets of gold.

When we all get to Heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I am so Proud of Her

I have mentioned my brothers on my blog but I am not done. My sisters are also amazing women doing great things.

My sister Audra is the coordinator for Smart Start of Bulter County (Kansas), which provides multiple areas of service and advocacy for families in that part of Kansas (Audra, if I have this wrong, let me know and I will change it). Here is her website:

Smart Start of Butler County

And here is her picture. You should click here, and then email and tell her that her brother is bragging on her.

Oh...and here are a couple of pictures of her dogs, Gracie and Georgie. Gracie is the older, white dog. Audra just got her new puppy, Georgie, who is the smaller, brown dog. I think the pictures tell the whole story (click pictures for larger image).

Love ya, Audra.

My Help Comes from the Lord - Addendum

In a previous post, I wrote about Psalm 121 and gave an outline (please read that post before moving on with this post). I have adapted this outline to make the flow of thought a little more easy. Here is the new outline and then I will share my rationale.
My Protector Watches Over Me

I. My protector is the Creator (1-2)

II. My protector is omniscient (3-4)
     A. He keeps me from slipping (3)
     B. He does not sleep (4)

III. My protector is omnipotent (5)

IV. My protector is omnipresent (6-8)
     A. No matter the time (6)
     B. No matter the situation (7)
     C. No matter the place (8)

The first point is the same in both the previous post and in this one so I will not comment on it here.

Second, one may balk at the use of these theological terms but I think first it will give the pastor/teacher an opportunity to teach these theological truths that EVERY Christian should understand and be able to communicate. Yes, the teacher could use "All-knowing", "All-powerful", and "All-places" in these points, but I do not think we should dumb-down our sermons. We should teach those entrusted to our care what they need to know. If the critics will use these theological terms (and they will) then Christians should be able to know what they mean.

Thirdly, I do not think these are "forced" in as they may first appear. For point II, "omniscient" is communicated, I feel, for his stating that God will not let his foot to slip and God does not sleep. God knows the obstacles coming on the path and helps the author miss them. Even when the psalmist is sleeping, God is watching. He always knows what is going on. The theological term for this is omniscience. What peace comes from knowing our God knows all that will come along our path!

Also, omnipotent is understandably used here as well. Verse 5 speaks of God is the shade on our right hand. First, the right hand poetic for power. Second, shade indicates that something is between the speaker and the sun, namely, God. This is all poetic language to indicate that the psalmist's power is really Gods power. God fights for him. An enemy steps in front of the psalmist and then God steps in between them, casting a shadow over the psalmist.
(RABBIT TRAIL - Sometimes in a Western Post-Modern mindset, shade or a shadow is a bad thing - cold, dark, mysterious. In an Ancient Near-eastern mindset, a shadow is relief from the sun in a place with no air conditioners. It is shade and relief).

The psalmist is singing about God's power and how that helps in in times of trouble. What encouragement comes from knowing that God is not only powerful, but ALL-powerful! He is omnipotent.

Finally, the term omnipresent was used because the psalmist spoke of the circumstances in which God saves. God will protect from the sun during the day and the moon at night. This is a poetic device named "Merismus," which lists the extremes to make the point that whatever being talked about is the extremes AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN.. One of these was used in verse 2, "maker of heaven and earth." THis means God created the heavens, the earth, and everything in them, under them, over them, and, in short, everything. In verse 6, the psalmist here mentions the day and night. This means God is watching all day. We would say 24-7. No matter the time, God is watchinging over you.

Next, the psalmist says God protects from all evil. No matter what evil is going on around you, God is watching over you.

Finally, the psalmist says your coming and your going: another merism. Not only when you come and not only when you go, but anywhere you go.

Anytime, any circumstance, any place. The theological term for this is omnipresence. What encouragement we should have knowing that God is with us everywhere we go!

It is these thoughts which bring to mind the song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow" (see previous post). Our God watches over us. He protects us. And this is all because He loves us.