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Open up…

Ever stop and think… why would the Lord, strong and mighty, wait patiently for the doors to open?

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! – (Psa 24:7-8 ESV)

God is your guide, your protector, for His name’s sake

"For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge." (Psalm 31:3-4)

Your name’s sake

It is not for your sake that God is faithful to lead you. It is not based on anything you do, but it is for the sake of His name that He promises to never leave or forsake you and to finish the work He began in you.

  • "He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." (Psalm 23:3).

  • "I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1:6).

  • "May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

You take me out of the net

The devil is our enemy; He is a roaring lion; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; he is the deceiver, the accuser, the destroyer. However, no plot he has against you will prevail if you are a child of the Most High God! Not because of any cleverness or strength on your part, but because God is faithful to deliver you from His traps.

  • "He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me." (John 10:12-14).

  • "We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18).

  • "The LORD will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life." (Psalms 121:7)

  • "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (2 Timothy 4:18).

The Longing of our Hearts; Thirsting for God

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalms 42:1-2)

As a deer pants

It’s been said that there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. It’s true–we have an intrinsic, deep-seated longing for the Lord.

  • “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

  • “My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God” (Psalms 84:2).

  • “In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:8-9)

My soul thirsts

Discontentment, disatisfaction, emptiness–do not labor to rid your life of these feelings. These are reminders that this world is not our home! We are waiting for a better place. And if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

  • “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

  • “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13-16).

When shall I come and appear before God?

In God’s presence we shall be satisfied. When we are with Him, our joy will be full. Until then, our souls will pine and we’ll have times of hunger and thirst–some times will be more intense than others. But when these feelings come, know that they point to the day when we’ll be with the Lord forever.

  • “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).

  • “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:15).

  • “If indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corinthians 5:3-5).

Psalm 107

About this and other paraphrased bible stories

Oh give thanks to the Lord because He is good. His love, which never changes, lasts forever! Let those whom He has set free say so, those whom He has set free from trouble and brought back from faraway lands.

Some people wandered around in the desert. They were looking for a road that would take them to a city to live in, but they could not find any. They were so hungry and thirsty that their souls became weak and nearly fainted. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He walked with them, leading them on a straight road that brought them to a city to live in! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He fills up the empty soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some people sat in the dark, in the shadow of death. They were prisoners, they were depressed, and in shackles of iron. This happened to them because they did not listen to God and because they rejected His advice—the advice of the Most High God. Because of this, God made their hearts sink low with weariness, and they fell down and had no one to help them. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke into pieces the chains that were holding them captive. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! He breaks through steel doors and splits iron bars in two!

Some people were foolish because they did bad things, and because of their sins were miserable. They couldn’t stomach food anymore and were drawing near to death. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He spoke, and they were healed! God saved them from being destroyed! Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them thank the Lord and sing about all the good things He does!

Some people got in ships and did business in the sea. They saw the God’s wonderful work in the deep ocean. God commanded the stormy wind and made giant waves. The waves were so high they seemed to rise up to heaven and then drop down to the bottom of the ocean. The people in the ships lost all their courage, staggered all around, and had no idea what to do. But then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble. They prayed, and God snatched them up out of their distress! He made the storm be still and He made the sea be quiet. They were glad when the waters were quiet and that God brought them to the place they wanted to go. Let them thank the Lord for His love which never changes, and for the wonderful things He does for people! Let them worship Him in the congregation and sing praise to Him with all the leaders!

God makes rivers turn into a desert. He also makes springs of water into dry ground. He makes a land that could grow lots of food to be useless because those who live there do evil things. But He also turns a desert into pools of water, and dry lands into springs of water. He lets the hungry live there and make a city to live in so that they can plant fields and grow food. Because of His blessing they have abundant crops and lots of livestock.

When people are in trouble because they are doing harm to each other, God causes their leaders to be disrespected and despised and to wander around aimlessly. But He raises up the needy and blesses their families. Those who do right see this and are glad, but those who do bad have nothing to say.

Whoever is wise, let him pay attention to these things and let him think about the love of the Lord which never changes.

Becoming Like God by Worshipping and Trusting in Him

Psalms 115:3-8

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.

Those who make them become like them

Quite a few years ago a friend of mine asked me to come and help him with his Sunday School class. I reluctantly agreed and showed up Sunday morning with my assignment: take a passage of scripture and illustrate it on the white board for the kids. I choose Psalm 115.

As I read verses 4 through 7 I doodled the silliest little man I could come up with. Starting with the squiggly mouth, then the googly eyes, gigantic ears and so on. By the end of verse 7 I had the kids giggling at the goofy picture.

Then the clincher.

Verse 8, “Those who make them become like them.”

The class erupted and laughter. And so did I. I actually didn’t plan it that way. My intention was to talk about the absurdity of creating idols in life out of material possessions. It wasn’t until the words “become like them” came out of my mouth that I (the teacher) realized what this passage was teaching.

“Wouldn’t you rather become like God?” I asked the class.

Think about who God is. God is perfect. God is love. God is holy. God is gracious. He is merciful, kind, patient, strong, reliable, faithful, just….

If those who worship and trust in these absurd (despicable, really) idols so easily become as useless as they are, how much more so do those who worship and trust in the True and Living God become like Him.

  • Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
  • For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
  • But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)
  • Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)

So, as the Psalmist naturally progresses, “O Israel, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield” (Psalms 115:9-11).

Strength in the Face of Bad News

Psalms 112:7-8

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

Not afraid of bad news

Bad news is inevitable. It is not a matter of if it comes but when. The one who fears the Lord (v.1) will not be afraid.

  • Proverbs 3:25-26; Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
  • Jeremiah 17:7-8; Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
  • Psalms 46:1-2; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.

His heart is firm…his heart is steady

The word translated here as firm means stable, established, set up, secure. Steady means to lean, lay upon, rest, uphold, sustain.

The one who fears the Lord is strengthened day by day yet will always lean upon Him who strengthens it. His heart is made firm but never with the intention to endure suffering alone.

  • Psalms 73:26; My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
  • Isaiah 40:28-31; Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
  • Deuteronomy 33:26-27;There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Oh, let us fear the Lord! Let us trust in Him when bad news comes, trusting Him to sustain us, leaning on His everlasting arms.

The Least of all in the Lead

Psalm 68:27

There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead

The least of them

Here we see a consistent principle of God’s word: the last becoming first, the least becoming greatest.

  • Matthew 19:29-30; And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
  • Matthew 23:11-12; The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

In the lead

The Lord’s great reversal of rank and order does not mean he gives more to one over another but that he makes all of his saints to be equal.

  • Matthew 20:10-16; Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” So the last will be first, and the first last.
  • 2 Peter 1:1-2; Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
  • Romans 10:10-13; For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
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