Saturday In The Psalms—Resolutions

I will… (9x in Psalm 101).

Psalm 101 is only eight verses long, but David makes nine I will resolutions to God. Perhaps you might consider making these resolutions yourself—

(1) I will sing of mercy and justice. These are two sides of the same coin; in fact, it’s only when we know God’s justice that we can appreciate His mercy. Both God’s justice and His mercy need to be celebrated.

(2) I will sing praises. Regardless of our situation or setting, God is worthy to be praised.

(3) I will behave wisely in a perfect way AND (4) I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. A commitment to integrity, living a godly lifestyle, and leaving a godly legacy.

(5) I will set nothing wicked before my eyes AND (6) I will not know wickedness. A commitment to be childlike in regard to wickedness, and watchfulness of anything impure.

(7) I will destroy AND (8) I will not endure AND (9) I will destroy all the wicked. A resolution to cut-off all relationships that are not God-honoring.

Resolutions aren’t just for New Year’s Day. Resolutions can be made any time we sense something in our life isn’t as God-pleasing as it could be.

What resolutions are you willing to make?

5 Quotes From “Praying For Muslims”

Sobhi Malek put together an extremely helpful guide for praying for Muslims. Each week has a prayer, but there are also several helpful insights which Sobhi shares. Here are a few of those insights.

“This warfare is not against people of any religion or affiliation. Christ, who died for all human beings, instructed us to love our neighbors. Rather, this war is against the evil powers which control people and hinder them from seeing the light of the Gospel of Christ (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are warring against satan who ‘has blinded the minds of unbelievers.’ His goal is to keep people from seeing ‘the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we pray and ask others to pray, this does not mean that we feel superior. We do not think we are better than Muslims or any other people.  Rather, we believe we are fallen human beings like all others, but we have been saved by God’s grace.”

“When Muslims say, ‘In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate,’ all Muslims and many Christians do not know that this is taken from the Bible. This phrase demonstrates the early influence of Judaism and Christianity on Muhammad. Here are some occurrences of this combination in the Bible: compassionate and gracious (Exodus 34:6, NIV); compassionate and merciful (Psalm 86:15, GW; 103:8, NLT; James 5:11, GW); merciful and tender (Luke 1:78, TEV).”

“There are many teachings in Islam that we, believers in Christ, can use as bridges to help Muslims draw near to and enter the Kingdom of God. The Qur’an states that God created Adam and Eve, that He sent the flood but rescued Noah, that He spoke to Abraham, that He gave the Torah (Pentateuch) to Moses, that He sent Jesus who was born of a virgin. All these narratives, common to both Muslims and Christians, can be used as bridges to bring Muslims closer to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This does not mean that all the details of these stories in Islam are in full agreement with the biblical accounts, but they can work as starting points. It is also rewarding to establish friendships with Muslims as you seek to share with them the Gospel of Christ. Friends trust each other, depend on each other and desire each other’s wellbeing. Building bridges of common narratives and friendship pays dividends.”

“The Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, is a collection of jumbled statements and stories in a random arrangement. Most of its stories are fractured and lack consistency. Subjects and themes are not connected. So fractured are narratives in the Qur’an that only one story has a clear beginning, middle, and end: the story of Joseph. All the other stories pick up in the middle, or else they are never carried to their conclusion. The Qur’an admits that satan sometimes intervened and gave Muhammad ‘inspiration.’ It also states that Muhammad forgot some parts of it. Several chapters start with meaningless three-letter words such as alr, alm, etc. Even great quranic interpreters cannot find a meaning for such words. In one place the Qur’an states that no changes occurred in its text, and in another it says changes to it indeed took place.”

“In the past few decades, millions of Muslims have migrated to the West. Some seek jobs, others pursue freedom and a better living, and still others hope to conquer the West by converting Westerners to Islam or by sheer reproduction and numerical growth! I personally take this migration to mean the Lord wants to help the Church win large numbers of Muslims to Christ by bringing them to her doorstep.”

Next week I will share a few of the prayers Sobhi leads us in each week. I would also recommend that you check out my review of Praying For Muslims.

Poetry Saturday—Christmas Fancies

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, 
    And etched on vacant places 
    Are half forgotten faces 
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know— 
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, 
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, 
    That continent Elysian 
    Long vanished from our vision, 
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, 
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, 
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, 
    And draws from youth’s recesses 
    Some memory it possesses, 
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, 
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis 
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss. 
    Not all the seers and sages 
    With wisdom of the ages 
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss 
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, 
As passing years are proving, for all of Time’s sad ways. 
    There lies a sting in pleasure, 
    And fame gives shallow measure, 
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, 
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, 
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, 
    Let Love, the world’s beginning, 
    End fear and hate and sinning; 
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes 
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

10 Quotes From “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of 49 sermons from Eugene Peterson. Check out my full book review by clicking here. Below are a few quotes that caught my attention.

“The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence—congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.”

“Science and religion are opposites, the way your thumb and forefinger are opposites: if you are going to get a grip on things, you need them both.”

“Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.”

“Naming an event a miracle doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It means we can’t anticipate it. It means we can’t reproduce it. We cannot control it. There is more going on then we can comprehend.”

“There are people today who mistakenly look at those [Ten] Commandments as restrictive, not realizing that for those who first heard them—and for those who hear them still, in faith—they provide for and preserve the values of the free life. The reality and truth of God is protected from commercialization and manipulation. Human life is honored. The dignity of work is protected. Close personal relationships are preserved. Truth is respected. Each of the commands articulates a reality and a value that protects a free life.”

“Aaron made a god, a golden calf. At that moment Aaron quit being their pastor and became their accomplice. There are some people who are always looking for a religion that makes no demands and offers only rewards, a religion that dazzles and entertains, a religion in which there is no waiting and no emptiness. And they can usually find someone like Aaron who will help them make it up, some sort of golden calf religion.”

“Acts of love cannot be canned and then used off the shelf. Every act of love requires creative and personal giving, responding, and serving appropriate to—context specific to—both the person doing the loving and the person being loved.”

“Our habit is to talk about God, not to Him. We love discussing God. The psalms resist these discussions. They are not provided to teach us about God but to train us in responding to Him.”

“The Christian life is not, in the first place, something we do. It consists of the healthy and mature formation of our lives by the Spirit, the Holy Spirit. Christian living goes off the rails badly when it is conceived as a program or routine that we engage in or skills that we master.”

“In prayer we do not act. God does. In prayer we do not develop a technology that sets the gears and pulleys of miracle in motion. We participate in God’s action. ‘Not my will but Yours.’”

8 Quotes From Gordon MacDonald In “Ordering Your Private World”

In the quiet solitude of our inner lives is where real growth takes place. Or said another way: if we won’t make time to order our private world, our public world will be limited in its scope and effectiveness. Gordon MacDonald unpacks some fantastic principles to help us in his newly updated and expanded book Ordering Your Private World. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then enjoy these quote from Gordon MacDonald.

“There is a busyness that reflects a plan of activity, a pattern of priorities, and a sense of purposefulness. It is a good and satisfying busyness through which one grows and increases competence. But there is also a busyness (a destructive busyness, actually) that reflects a chaotic way of life—a way of doing in which one is simply responding to the next thing in the day. The next thing! It makes no difference whether it has significance; it’s just the next thing, and one does it because it’s there to do.”

“A soul—our spiritual space—is empty when one tries to do soul-based things but makes little or no effort to keep that soul filled.”

“Driven people boast of their drivenness. They have forgotten how to play. Spiritual activity seems a waste of time. They are usually too busy for the pursuit of ordinary relationships in marriage, family, or friendship, or even to carry on a relationship with themselves—not to speak of one with God. Because driven people rarely think they have accomplished enough, they seize every available minute to attend more meetings, to study more material, to initiate more projects. They operate on the precept that a reputation for busyness is a sign of success and personal importance. Thus, they attempt to impress people with the fullness of their schedules.”

“Our careers, our assets, our natural and spiritual gifts, our health—are these things owned, or merely managed in the name of the One who gave them? Driven people consider them owned; called people do not. When driven people lose those things, it is a major crisis. When called people lose them, nothing of substance changes. The private world remains the same, perhaps even stronger.”

“It is worth taking time to ask how Our Lord’s command of time is demonstrated. … The first thing that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. … A second insight into Jesus’ personal organization of time is that He understood His own limits. … Jesus included a third important element in His strategy of time budgeting, for He set time aside for the training of the Twelve.”

“Unmanaged time flows toward my weaknesses. Unmanaged time comes under the influence of dominant people in my world. Unmanaged time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies. Unmanaged time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.”

“The unthinking Christ-follower does not realize it, but he is dangerously absorbed into the culture about him. Because his mind is untrained and unfilled, it lacks the ability to produce the hard questions with which the world needs to be challenged. The private world of a Christ-follower will be weak, defenseless, and disorganized if serious attention has not been given to this sector of intellectual growth.”

“We do not develop our intellects merely for our own personal advancement, but we put our thinking power to work for the use of others. … As my mind grows, it may make possible the growth of others.”

15 Quotes From “Run Today’s Race”

Oswald Chambers mastered the art of stimulating deep thinking and introspection with just a few short statements. Run Today’s Race is designed to be read each day for a full year. Trust me, the short seed thoughts you read each morning will keep you thinking all day long. Check out my full book review by clicking here.

“It is a great moment when we realize we have the power to trample on certain moods, a tremendous emancipation to get rid of every kind of self-consciousness and heed only one thing: the relationship between God and myself.”

“It is easy to turn our religious life into a cathedral for beautiful memories, but there are feet to be washed, hard flints to be walked over, people to be fed. Very few of us go there, but that is the way the Son of God went.”

“Prayer with most of us is turned into pious platitude, it is a matter of emotion, mystical communion with God. It is no use praying unless we are living as children of God. Then Jesus says—‘Every one that asketh receiveth.’”

“There is only one purpose for your life, and that is the satisfaction of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“If there is the tiniest grudge in your mind against any one, from that second, your spiritual penetration into the knowledge of God stops.”

“We have judged our fellow men as sinners. If God should judge us like that we would be in hell. God judges us through the marvelous Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

“God delights to put me in a place where He can make me wealthy. ‘Follow Me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.’”

“The more complicated the actual conditions are, the more delightfully joyful it is to see God open up His way through.”

“When we try to reserve our strength it works out in weariness. Spend to the hilt all we have got and God’s recreating power is greater than all the expended power.”

“My personal life may be crowded with small, petty incidents altogether unnoticeable and mean [commonplace], but if I obey Jesus Christ in the haphazard circumstances, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God and when I stand and face to face with God I shall discover that through my obedience thousands were blessed.”

“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.”

“One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized.”

“As long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor until he does. The mainspring of [the Apostle] Paul’s service is not love for men but love for Jesus Christ.”

“As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls.”

“By prayer and Bible reading and meditation, the drab life (drab externally) has glorious holiday hours with God in which the soul is restored even in the valley of deep darkness.” 

More quotes coming soon, so stay tuned.

That’s What Friends Are For

Take just a minute to get a clear mental picture of your best friend.

Got it?

Now, think of a few adjectives you would use to describe your best friend.

Did you think of words like loyal … trustworthy … honest … loving … faithful … reliable … authentic … funny … patient ….?

What about godly? Would you describe your best friend with that word? After all, if your friend is godly, wouldn’t he or she also be loyal, trustworthy, honest, loving, and so on?

This gives us an idea of how important friendships are to God. If calling someone “godly” sums up the very best attributes of your very best friend, then that means that you can see God in your friend. And hopefully they can see God in you too!

Jesus told His followers that He viewed them as friends. He told them…

  • …how close to God He could bring them (John 14:20)
  • …how much the Heavenly Father loved them because they loved Jesus
  • …how much He was willing to do for them because of His love (John 15:9-13)
  • …how the Holy Spirit would continue to keep them close to God (John 16:12-15)

Eugene Peterson said, “Friendship is not a way of accomplishing something but a way of being with another in which we become more authentically ourselves.”

Your best friend is someone you can be completely real around, right? No games, no masks, just come as you are. And your friend still loves you completely. This is how it is with God as our Best Friend too!

There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any less, so stop worrying! 

There is nothing you could ever do to make God love you any more, so stop trying!

Friends love us enough to be totally honest with us. That’s why Solomon said, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy only multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6).

Friends want us to have the very best, and to stay on paths that lead to success. So again Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

Oswald Chambers tells us, “Friendship with God is faith in action in relation to God and to our fellow men.”

So be assured of God’s friendship with you. Then be God’s friend to those in your life, and allow them to be God’s friend right back to you … THAT’S WHAT REAL FRIENDS ARE FOR!

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