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A Heart for God – Psalm 138

This blog entry is from Bible Bytes a new page on words2encourage.

Psalm 138 is a very short psalm of only 8 verses, yet packed with wisdom. This psalm pours out from David’s relationship with God, and reveals characteristics of a heart for God. Some of these are noted here.

Wholehearted thanks to God (v.1) – “I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise…”.

Humility before God (v.2) – “…I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your loving=kindness and Your truth…”.

David acknowledges and values God as God. This acknowledgement of God as God is scattered throughout this psalm, (v.5b – “…great is the glory of the Lord…: v. 6 –“…for though the Lord is high He regards the lowly…”).

Acknowledging “God as God” is important to God. We learn this in Romans 1:20-21, God states that the downfall of men is to worship themselves therefore not acknowledging God as God and giving Him the thanks due Him.

Trust the goodness of God (v. 7) –– “… though I walk in the midst of trouble You preserve my life…” and v. 8 “… the Lord will fulfill His purpose for me…”.

David trusts that God intends good toward Him. David looks back on how God has answered his prayers before and how God delivered him in the past. He has learned to trust the truth of God’s steadfast love. David views himself as a work of God and God will not forsake that work (v.8).

As I read this I reflect on my relationship with God. I ask myself: Do I daily acknowledge God as God? If so, what difference does that make in how I live? Do I give God the thanks and praise due Him? Or am I just relieved when a prayer is answered? Do I have truths about God from His word and from His past interactions with me that I cling to in times of difficulty?

I encourage you to read Psalm 138 and let the truths therein
bless your relationship with God.

Thrive in Hope

Thrive in Hope
Recently I read a true story of a man who was trapped in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11/01. It was almost too late by the time he and some colleagues knew what was happening and decided to get out. They made it to the 22nd floor when the building began to collapse down on them. He huddled down in a corner on the landing as the walls ripped apart around him. He thought of his wife and that he would never see his unborn daughter whom they had named Hope.

The last thing he felt was a blast of hot air coming down on him as the walls tore apart. As he was swept forward through thick debris, smoke, and dust, he saw patches of light, patches of hope. He woke up on top of a small chunk of the stairwell landing on top of a 7 story high pile of debris, alive looking up at blue sky. All others in that stairwell perished.

They call this man the 9/11/01 surfer, because he seemed to have ridden a wave of air out of certain death into life and Hope.

Hope and Associates
Hope is a beautiful word. It radiates life, light, joy, peace and promise of good to come. The Bible has much to say about hope.

In the Old Testament there are several words used for hope. In general it means confident expectation of good to be experienced. It often carries with it associations with of waiting, anticipating, looking forward to, and trusting in.

In Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long;” the word hope carries with it the idea of constant waiting in expectation for God’s acting in our life.

In Psalm 33:18, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in His steadfast love;” the word hope has the idea of tarrying, waiting, remaining, abiding with expectations of God’s love.

Hope is a confident expectation. The expectation is so certain that it leads to praising God for its fulfillment, sometimes even before it is fulfilled. Psalm 71:14 expresses this thought; “But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more.”

In Psalm 71:5, we see that hope and trust are used in conjunction with each other: “For You, O Lord, are my Hope, my Trust, O Lord, from my youth.” Faith is at the heart of hope.

A New Testament, a New Language, a Same Hope
In the New Testament the concept of hope permeates the story of Jesus and the epistles. It is stronger in that the reason for hope, the author and fulfillment of all hope is a reality in our world.

The Greek word “elpis” is most often used for hope and it means a confident expectation of good; a joyous and confident expectation of salvation in every sense and eternal life.

Jesus Is Our Hope
Hope is the foundation to our relationship with God. Hope is Jesus Christ, Himself.

In Col. 1:27, Paul leaves no doubt as to who our hope is: “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

This hope is based on the resurrection power of Jesus: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3.  Hope is living and breathing.  It is God in Jesus Christ – “Waiting for our blessed Hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:13.

Why This Hope?
The very nature and character of God transmits hope. God is faithful, steadfast, true, righteous, loving, wise and all powerful. He always loves and works on our behalf. Let’s review God in action – Hope.
Hope is:

  • Jesus reaching out and touching the leper before he was healed (Mt.8:3). This gives me hope that he will touch me, all spotted, marred and deformed by sin, and make me clean.
  • Jesus calling the blind man to come to Him while everyone else tried to hush him (Mk. 10:46-52). This gives me confident expectation that He will hear me though other voices try to tell me He doesn’t, and that He will open my eyes to Him.
  • Jesus feeding 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish, while the apostles are counting their change and wondering how can we buy for so many and how can we get it here (Mk. 6:32-44). This inspires me to trust that God will supply all my needs and that He will feed me His Bread from Heaven and cause me to thrive, (John 6:51).
  • Jesus allowing a desperate woman to touch His garment as He passes through a crowd. He allowed power to go from His body to heal her, while others are annoyed that He asked who touched me, (Luke 8:43-48). This gives me confidence to know that in the busy-ness of life and the press of many needs, Jesus will take time to touch my life. His power will lift me up and purify me so I can stand before Him.
  • Jesus standing outside the tomb of His friend, Lazarus when all hope for life is gone. People are standing around grieving wondering why didn’t you come and heal him before the finality of death, as Jesus called His friend out of death to life. (Jn. 11: 30-44). Jesus has the power to call us out of the death of sin and give us new life. If you know your “self” and your sin, you know this is true hope.

Hope – the Anchor for Our Soul
My hope to live and thrive in this life is not contingent upon my knowledge, skills, looks, health, achievement or heritage, though I often try to make it that. My hope is in the living Son of God, Jesus.

Jesus was the very sacrifice with which He entered into the presence of God for me.  It is through His atoning work that I have hope. (Hebrews 6:19-20b – “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner…”).

No matter how battered we are by life, we have hope. No matter how many waves we ride through life’s trouble, we have hope. No matter how often we sit on the debris of our life, hope abides. No matter how low or discouraged we are, we have access to thriving in the middle of it all through our faith in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Hope of glory.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow (thrive) with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

The God Who Stoops

I have a friend who has a habit of saying a certain phrase almost every time she prays publicly. It goes something like this: “Father God, I thank you that you stoop down to help me.” Or, she might say.” I thank you that you bend down to pay attention to me.”

I used to say in my head, “Stop that! Stop that! God is GOD. He does not stoop down. He is high and lifted up. He is the exalted, almighty God. He does not have to bend, stoop or lower Himself in any form.” Of course I never had the courage to say it, and I am grateful that I did not say it, because I have learned that it is true – God does make Himself lowly for us.

No matter how majestic and powerful God is, and He is, He is in all things a “humble” God! Maybe humility does not fit your profile of God, and I can understand why you think that, especially when you look at God’s creation power and intelligence; His mighty acts of leading Israel and fighting for them; healings; resurrections, and of course the power and love displayed in Jesus. His majesty and glory are impressed upon us when we read passages in scripture that describe what people saw when they saw God. Let’s look at a few of these.

God High and Lifted Up
Isaiah 6:1-5 records what Isaiah saw when he saw God: “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim, each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Such grandeur! The train of God’s robe flowed through the temple. I can’t imagine the heavenly beings. Even these beings covered their faces because of the glory of God. Isaiah was so blown away he said “I am lost,” which really means I am undone, ruined, destroyed, coming apart.

Ezekiel 1:1-28 records in great detail Ezekiel’s encounter with the living God. Let’s focus on verses 26 – 28; “…And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel recorded the majesty he saw: the appearance of sapphire; gleaming metal (maybe like shining gold); the appearance of fire; brightness all around; rays of light as a rainbow, and the glory of God.  Ezekiel’s only response was to fall down before this great God.

Another account of seeing into the throne room of God is in Revelation 4. Reading verses 4 through 6, John describes the glory he saw with descriptors like: the appearance of jasper and carnelian; a rainbow with the appearance of emerald; lightning peals of thunder and a crystal sea, all indicating majesty, splendor and shades of the glory of God!

God Comes Low
It is true God is more majestic and awesome than we can ever think or imagine, yet God is humble! The word “humble” is used to characterize God in Psalm 18:35.

“You have given me the shield of your salvation; your right hand upholds me,
and your humility exalts me.”

The Hebrew word anava is used in this passage and it means: a lowly mind; modesty; meekness; humility and condescension (in the sense of lowering oneself to do something for another such as in God bending down to help us, as my friend mentions in her prayers).

Ps. 113:5-6 echoes this thought of God making Himself low on our behalf: “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth.” (NIV)

The New American Standard Bible uses the words “humbles Himself” instead of stoops. In this verse the word shaphel means: to become low; to abase oneself; to be humble. So the psalmist is saying that God, who sits enthroned on high, lowers Himself to look into the affairs on earth; to intervene in the lives of men and to work on our behalf.

Proofs of God’s Humility
If you think about it, there are numerous examples of God’s humility in the Bible. The most powerful is in Philippians 2:5-8 states Jesus “emptied Himself” and took the form of a man and became obedient unto death, even the most humiliating death of crucifixion.

But, I want to look at an example of God’s humility that actually preceded Jesus becoming a man and dying on our behalf. Let’s look deeper into Ephesians 1:4-5. It is just one short passage that I think displays God’s humility in a powerful way.

“Even before God made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Eph. 1: 4-5 (NLT)

Before God created the world He, the majestic – all powerful God on high, deliberately made a plan to send Jesus into this world to die on our behalf in order to bring us into His presences as His sons and daughters.

God looked down through time and saw all the evil, the hate, the immorality, the deceit, the greed, the pride, and the selfishness of each one of us. He knew we would reject Him, ignore Him and worship ourselves over Him, yet in His great love, He humbled Himself and provided for our salvation. He sent His Son in the form of a man (in a body that could suffer, bleed and die) as the atonement for our sins. He lowered Himself to do all this so that we could come into His presence and have a relationship with Him.

God’s Humility and Us
As I walk in my relationship with the God , I see that He is constantly humbling Himself to work in my life. He is God and needs not to prove Himself to me, yet He proves His love and promises to me all the time. The God who is surrounded by heavenly hosts and angel armies takes time to know me and to support me in my daily struggles.

The God who is all knowing and is everywhere at once, listens to me and responds to my questions, and my calls for help. The God who created all things fixes my brokenness. The God of all power comforts me in my fears. The God of all purity and holiness understands my weakness and forgives me my sin. The God who has all rule and authority chooses to lift me up.

When I think about God’s humility it is too much to take in, nevertheless it is a truth about Him. I believe true humility is the off shoot of great love. This thought enhances my awe of God, and challenges my own sense of humility towards others.

Today, take some time to think about God’s humility in His relationship to you. If you cannot see it, ask God to open the eyes of your mind and your heart to see His great love which responds in humility to you.

Special Post:
At this time I would like to share a link with you. I have a friend who understands the majesty of God and who loves to thank God and praise God in song. She is making an album of praise songs. For more information on this check out the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1440539986/morgan-minsks-solo-album-praise