Poetry Saturday—O My Soul What Means This Sadness

O my soul! what means this sadness?
Wherefore art thou thus cast down?
Let thy griefs be turned to gladness,
Bid thy restless fears be gone;
Look to Jesus, look to Jesus,
And rejoice in His dear name.

What though satan’s strong temptations
Vex and grieve thee day by day,
And thy sinful inclinations
Often fill thee with dismay;
Thou shalt conquer,
Through the Lamb’s redeeming blood.

Though ten thousand ills beset thee
From without and from within,
Jesus saith He’ll ne’er forget thee,
But will save from hell and sin.
He is faithful
To perform His gracious Word.

Though distresses now attend thee,
And thou tread’st the thorny road,
His right hand shall still defend thee;
Soon He’ll bring thee home to God.
Therefore praise Him,
Praise the great Redeemer’s name.

Oh that I could now adore Him
Like the heavenly host above,
Who forever bow before Him,
And unceasing sing His love.
Happy songsters!
When shall I your chorus join? —W.B. Bradbury

Poetry Saturday—Awake My Soul

Awake, my soul, and with the sun 
Thy daily stage of duty run; 
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise, 
To pay thy morning sacrifice. 
Thy precious time misspent, redeem, 
Each present day thy last esteem, 
Improve thy talent with due care; 
For the great day thyself prepare. 
By influence of the Light divine 
Let thy own light to others shine. 
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways 
In ardent love, and cheerful praise. 
In conversation be sincere; 
Keep conscience as the noontide clear; 
Think how all seeing God thy ways 
And all thy secret thoughts surveys. —Thomas Ken

Come And See What Our God Has Done

Check out the opening verses of Psalm 66—

Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of His name!
Tell the world how glorious He is.
Say to God, “How awesome are Your deeds!
    Your enemies cringe before Your mighty power.
    Everything on earth will worship You;
    they will sing Your praises,
    shouting Your name in glorious songs.” Interlude 
Come and see what our God has done,
    what awesome miracles He performs for people! (66:1-5 NLT)

I’d like to explore with you this phrase—come and see what our God has done. 

In so many of the Psalms we get at least a little context. We might be told the type of song it is or the kinds of musical instruments to be sung. We might know who wrote the psalm or at least why he wrote it. We might even hear what was happening in the psalmist’s world at the time he wrote the song or maybe at what event he wanted the song to be sung. All of these things would give us context clues into when/where to use the song—when I’m afraid? when I’m under attack? when I’m happy? when I’m depressed? 

For this psalm all the context we know is—For the choir director: A song. A psalm. 

But let me ask you: does it really matter? If you’re up or down, flush with cash or barely hanging on, winning the fight or feeling like you’re being beaten down—in any circumstance, can you still say come and see what our God has done? 

I think the answer is yes. I think this is the reason why no context is given us, because this psalm is appropriate regardless of the circumstances.

Just as the apostle Paul wrote, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).

As Christians, we’ve been called to step alongside people in their messy, broken lives. Yes, we are to weep with those who weep, but we’re not to keep them there but to take them to the One who can heal their messy, broken lives. 

The reasons to say, “Come and see what our God has done” are all around us. 

Earth’s crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God; 
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, 
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries, 
And daub their natural faces unaware. —Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Don’t just pluck blackberries; realize that those berries are the produce of a loving Creator. Don’t miss the opportunities to give God glory. Good times are wonderful opportunities to start. But those are just the starting points. Find the reasons even in hard times—I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Anywhere … everywhere … no matter the context … HE IS STILL GOD. He is still worthy to be praised. There is still ample reason for us to say, “Come and see what our God has done!” 

Poetry Saturday—Above All

Grant me, sweet Jesus, to rest in You above every creature; 
above all health and beauty, 
above all glory and honor, 
above all power and dignity,
above all knowledge and skillfulness, 
above all riches and arts, 
above all joy and exultation, 
above all fame and praise, 
above all sweetness and consolation, 
above all hope and promise, 
above all gifts that You can give, 
above all joy the mind is able to receive; 
above everything that You, O my God, are not. —Thomas à Kempis

Renewed Passion For Prayer

If I were to ask you if we should we pray for our friends in need, I think I’d probably get a universal “yes.” Even non-Christians might say we should “send good thoughts” or “best wishes” to our friends.

But if I were to ask, “How long should we pray for them?” we might get a lot of different answers. 

What about if we’re praying for a friend to get a job (and he gets it), or a friend to be healed (and she is), or a marriage to be restored (and it is)—do we stop praying then? 

Psalm 20 and 21 appear to be companion psalms: with Psalm 20 being David’s prayer of petition, and Psalm 21 being his prayer of praise. But there is also something quite interesting in each of these psalms about the placement of the word Selah. 

Remembering that Selah means some sort of pause, I find it very interesting where David tells us to pause in both of these psalms. In Psalm 20 we see the prayer request “may” either 6 or 7 times in the first five verse, but the Selah pause is right in the middle of them. Why would David start making his requests to God, tell us to pause in the middle, and then continue making his requests? 

I believe this Selah means to “pause and consider” that… 

  1. God invites us to participate with Him in fulfilling His plans. 
  2. God loves us so much that He wants to hear from us. 
  3. God is powerful enough to grant what we ask of Him. 

It’s as if in the middle of all of his petitions, David says, “Hold on a second. Do you realize what we are in the midst of doing? We are actually communing with the All-Knowing, All-Loving, All-Power Creator and Sustainer of the Universe!!”

In Psalm 21 David is offering up a prayer of praise for God’s answers to his prayers (note the similar language in Psalm 20:4 and 21:2), and once again he tells us to Selah pause right in the middle of those prayers of gratitude. 

I asked earlier, “When do we stop praying for a friend or for ourselves?” Is it when we get the job, or experience the healing, or have the breakthrough or restoration? What if the job, the healing, the restoration was just the beginning of what God wanted to do? The Selah in Psalm 21 is an accentuation: an explosion into so much more!! 

David prayed for victory in battle, but gave him an everlasting victory; David prayed for long life, but God gave him eternal life (21:4); David prayed for blessings on his battle, but God gave him His eternal blessings (21:6).

Jesus said our Heavenly Father has gifts for us beyond our asking (Matthew 7:11), and the Apostle Paul said the same thing in Ephesians—

Now glory be to God, who by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. (Ephesians 3:20 TLB)

These two Selahs tell me: 

Don’t quit praying when times are tough. 
Don’t quit praying when you’ve prayed a long time. 
Don’t quit praying when it seems like God has answered. 
Keep on praying. Always. About everything!

 

Please join me this coming Sunday as we continue to look at the Selahs in the Psalms. You can join me in person or via Facebook Live. 

Unexpected Praise

Well, this isn’t what I expected! David says his song in Psalm 9 is supposed to be sung to the tune of “Death Of The Son,” so I’m expecting a prayer that is loaded with minor notes. But instead, David gives us … this! 

The opening verses show us David exploding in praise to God. Check out his vocabulary—

  • I will praise You—this literally means David is pumping his hands in the air
  • I will tell of all Your wonders—David is not doing this just one time but is ticking off a long list of God’s praiseworthy deeds and attributes
  • I will be glad—his face lights up with joy 
  • I will rejoice—this word means a roar of praise (see 1 Chronicles 16:32)
  • I will sing praise—there is a new melody with every praise David lifts to God

Why this loud, exuberant, unexpected praise? Because David has noticed that whatever has “died” on earth is only a temporary loss, but God is forever! 

There is an unusual word pairing at the end of verse 16: Haggaion and Selah. This is the only time these two words appear like this in all of Scripture, and it’s also the only time Haggaion is used without being translated. 

Haggaion appears just four times in the Bible—(a) in Psalm 19:14 where it is translated meditation; (b) in Psalm 92:3 where it is translated solemn sound; (c) in Lamentations 3:62 where it is translated whisper and mutter; and (d) here in Psalm 9 where it is untranslated. 

By combining Haggaion and Selah, David is wanting us to solemnly meditate on an important contrast: God’s way vs. man’s way. In verses 3-16, David uses huge and eternal terms for God like righteous Judge, reigns forever, refuge, stronghold, merciful, and prayer-answerer. 

Side-by-side with these eternal terms for God, David lists the temporary terms for man like stumble, perish, ruined, forgotten, and trapped. In fact, David ends this Psalm by reminding us evil men who do evil things are “mere men.” Other translations fill in the details: 

  • make them realize their frail nature (AMP)
  • show them how silly they look (MSG)
  • merely human (NLT) 
  • puny men (TLB)

Then David ends with a final Selah—one more call for us to allow this message to resonate with us, especially during the times others may call dark, depressing times. The message that should resonate in our hearts and cause us to throw our hands up in joyful celebration of God is…

these earthly things are temporary and God is eternal. He has never forsaken those who seek Him, and He has never forgotten those who call on Him for help. 

When a dark time—a “death of a son”—tries to rock your world, don’t do what puny mortals expect, but throw your hands up in the air, and sing and roar a praise to the Almighty God Who cares for you! 

Join me this coming Sunday as we continue our looks at the Selahs in the Book of Psalms. You can join me in person or on Facebook Live.

9 More Prayers From A.W. Tozer In “The Wisdom Of God”

In each chapter of The Wisdom Of God, A.W. Tozer prayers for us that we would see Wisdom as a Person to be known. Here are a few more of those prayers. 

“Let me not stay my heart till I have discovered Thee in all Thy fullness.” 

“Manifest Thy grace and wisdom in my life today as a witness to those around me.” 

“O Lord God, Thy wisdom has been poured into my heart, creating such a longing for Thee that nothing in this world can satisfy.” 

“Heavenly Father, open my eyes to recognize Thy hand in my life. … May I be aware of my surroundings in light of what Thou art doing.” 

“Let me penetrate the cloud of unknowing and see Thy face and allow it to transform every aspect of my being.” 

“I praise Thee for Thy faithfulness in pursuing me and going to the ultimate end to rescue me from myself.” 

“My heart, O God, needs Thy most sacred protection. Keep me from the infiltration of sin into my life so that I may glorify Thee in everything I do.” 

“I praise Thee, O God, for the restlessness of my spirit has driven me forward to discover my rest completely in Thee.” 

“Dear heavenly Father, may I sent before me only that which will glorify Thee in all the beauty of Thy purity and holiness. I pray Thy wisdom will guide me throughout my life in making the choices that will bless me and honor Thee.” 

You can check out some of the other prayers from The Wisdom Of God that I shared here. You can also read my review of this collection of sermons by clicking here.

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