Psalm 24:3-4

Psalm 24:3 “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?”
[Not just anyone may come and stand before you, Lord, for you are holy and pure, and have conditions that we must meet first.
I praise you that you did not bend your standards to let just any uncleansed, unforgiven sinner come into your presence, but you met your own demands for holiness in the sacrifice of Christ so that we can come before you forgiven, cleansed and accepted.
Praise you that you will not allow sin to enter Heaven, that you will definitely eliminate wickedness from the New Heaven and Earth, while saving those who trust in you. This is a wonderful part of our hope in you, Lord God.]
Psalm 24:4 “Who may ascend…He who has clean hands and a pure heart,”
[These we can have only in you, Lord Jesus. There is no way we can purify ourselves of all the sinful tendencies and drives which are an innate part of our natural hearts or clean our hands from all the wrong things we have done.
David did so much wrong with his hands and heart, killing women and children in his raids, having so many wives, committing adultery and murder–yet you, Lord Jesus, provided cleansing and purity for him as he repented, and then you gave these to us. You are the One who paid the penalty so we can have cleansed hands, and a new, pure heart. Praise be to you!]
“who does not lift up his soul to an idol,”
[Here is our part, to worship you alone, Lord Jesus. Praise you, Lord, that you are showing me the many idols in my heart, that is, whatever I demand, apart from you, to be happy. And these are exposed any time I complain: for then I am seeking happiness in getting my way.
I praise you that you have exposed so many idols and continually help me to reject them. remembering that you, O Lord God, are the only one worth lifting our souls to. I commit myself to do that. Help me to quickly spot my idols and reject them.]

Psalm 24:1-2

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”
[To you belong all things, O Lord Yahweh, the Great Creator God. Every square inch of land, every drop of water, every plant, every mineral, every molecule as well as every creature is yours. You are the undisputed owner by virtue of your creating all out of nothing, simply speaking them into existence.
You are worthy of obedience, for we, too, belong to you as the work of your hands, as creatures before the Creator.
Psalm 24:2 “for he founded the earth upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
[It was you, Lord Yahweh, who spoke and brought the earth into existence, hung it on nothing, spun it at the right speed, correctly tilted the axis for proper seasons, and sent it off in the best orbit around the sun. You are the One who planned all, established the laws of physics, set gravity at just the right strength, who put your stamp of design on all aspects of your creation.
Your intelligence is seen everywhere: in the complexity, variety and beauty of flowers, giving you honor in their gracefulness and cheer as they bear seeds for the next year; in the ingenious design of fruits, with their perfect packaging for seeds and as delicious food for creatures; in the reproduction of animals in various ways, each appropriate for their place of life; in the immense information and order of DNA molecules; in the complexity of the human body with all its systems and inner communication abilities with synapses, electric messages, hormones and thoughts.
I praise you, Lord that you are the Founder of all, the Source of all, the Protector of all, the Redeemer of all. You are the God worthy of worship and honor, of obedience and praise, of thanksgiving and self-denial.
Praise you that you lead us consistently in the right way, moving us back towards the beauty that was there in the beginning. Praise you that we can know you, walk with you, cooperate with you, be loved by you, the Great Creator God.
I give you glory, exaltation and thanks today. May you be honored in my life as I obey you. May I bring you joy, not pain; gladness, not sorrow; pleasure, not grief. I praise you now for how you will answer this prayer in the day before me, for you are gloriously faithful and fantastically good.

God’s Shield of Victory

Written several years several years ago when I faced with three difficult situations simultaneously and turned to Psalm 18 for comfort and encouragement.
Psalm 18:32 “It is God who arms me with strength” [In my weakness, your strength is perfected.] “and makes my way perfect.”
[You know exactly what should happen, what should come, what is right–and that is what you bring, such as these three difficulties. You know how I should respond and will guide me in that direction.]
Psalm 18:33 “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.”
[It is in your power that we can come out on top, for without you we can do nothing. It is in your grace that we can move onward and upward in life despite difficulties, keeping on the whole armor, standing in the day of evil, doing all you desire from us.]
Psalm 18:34 “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
[You give us ability, strength, endurance and discipline–which we must then develop in cooperation with you.]
Psalm 18:35 “You give me your shield of victory,”
[This is important—it is YOUR shield, Lord, it is YOUR victory, therefore the glory goes to YOU alone. Yet you call us to share in your victories by your power, to defeat the true enemy in your strength, to triumph in praise, prayer and obedience. You give your shield, but we have to take it up and use it. In the three difficult situations before me now, I must get that shield up, offering the sacrifice of thanksgiving, resting in you, praising you in my weakness, trusting you in prayer and rejoicing in the unseen work you are doing behind the scenes.]
“and your right hand sustains me;”
[as I tire and droop in the battle, I can turn to you, and you lift me up, strengthen me, support me so I can continue on in the fight against the real enemy.]
“you stoop down to make me great.
[This is a beautiful and amazing truth: we are so far below you in every way, yet you lean way down over the side of Heaven to lift us up and make us great in your sight. This is sharing your glory with us, giving us your power, wisdom and grace that those around us may see your work in our lives and rejoice in you.]
Psalm 18:36 “You broaden the path beneath me,”
[You, Lord God, are at work in all the details. You open the doors, prepare the way, deal with things we are not aware of and protect us in your love.]
“so that my ankles do not turn.”
[you know what will cause us to stumble, to fall, and to be crippled—and these things you prevent, or guide us around, and as we follow, we can press on in the battle, thinking truth, thanking you, joining you in prayer, doing what your Word says is right.
Praise you, Lord God, for your goodness and graciousness and love. Praise you that I can live in these truths, bask in your light, revel in your love and rise up to run in obedience to you, bringing honor and glory to your name. May that happen today as you bring light to me.

Marvelous Love

What a wonder you are, Lord Jesus, in your willingness to suffer the anguish of the cross, the despair of abandonment, the pain of rejection, the battering of Satan’s attacks, the horror of becoming sin, the crushing weight of the Father’s judgment, the banishment from His presence, and condemnation to death.
There was no need for you, the Righteous One, to suffer these things, but love led the way, faithfulness stayed the course, obedience brought the glorious conclusion. Praise you for this great display of your rich, loving, gracious Character, O Everlasting God!
Praise you for your loving care, shepherding your rebellious children, displaying great patience in the face of our disrespect, unbelief, disobedience and selfishness.
You, Lord Jesus, are worthy of worship for boundless reasons. I praise you for the joy you give as I think on how you have worked in my life, providing personal, powerful, persistent, patient intervention to bring me to my senses, to bring me to surrender and out of trouble.
I love you, Lord Jesus. I rejoice in your all-sufficient grace, I praise you for your all-encompassing goodness. Truly you are worthy of all-absorbing worship, so I bow down now and give you honor in my thoughts, desires and words.
I rise up to enter this day, giving you glory in my life. May you be the One I continually delight in, and may that delight spill over onto all I will meet today!

Heading West

I completed the Bureau Indian Affairs application for a teacher’s position, mailed it off to their headquarters in New Mexico and got my 250 cc motorcycle ready for the trip.
It was 6 am on a fine July morning in 1968 when I finished putting the last items in my kit and opened the door to put it on my motorcycle. I was amazed to see a crowd gathered outside.
“What’s all this?” I asked.
Carl, a high school friend, replied, “Your mother invited us all to send you off!”
I smiled, pleased at this thoughtful act and the willingness of all the friends and relatives to come out this early.
I shook hands with each one and chatted a bit, but I was anxious to be off. I closed the neon orange box bolted to the back of my BSA 250, pulled on my helmet and climbed aboard.
As I dropped it into gear and began to pull away, my friends all shouted goodbye and Carl fired off a few rounds from his rifle to send me on my way.
The miles passed quickly on that first sunny day. My initial stop was Gettysburg where I visited with friends. Then I moved on to Maryland to stay with a classmate. From there I went north, through Williamsport over the steel grid bridge that made the motorcycle sway alarmingly.
I arrived that evening in Cherry Creek, NY to stay with my sister Andrea and her husband, Jerry. “Where do you go from here?” asked Andrea at breakfast the next day.
“First to visit our Grandma Haslip in East St. Louis, then up to Minneapolis to see my old college roommate. From there I’ll work my way west to Alaska.”
“Where will you stay?” Andrea asked.
“Beyond Minneapolis, I don’t know. I’ve got my sleeping bag, so could stay most anywhere.”
“Doesn’t the uncertainty bother you?” she asked.
“No, it’s an adventure,” I replied.
Several days later I arrived in Minneapolis. I’d been somewhat concerned about a whine that developed in the engine during my ride across Indiana. It had been a hot day, very hot, so I thought the whine might go away when things cooled off, but it seemed to be with me for good. It made me insecure, but I decided to ignore it, a technique I’d found effective before.
However,this did not work well with the “whine” in my soul that surfaced periodically. It was to come up more often than I wanted in the near future.
I checked my map, reviewed the directions to Ed’s home and drove into the city. I came to a large intersection where 5 roads came together.
I was first in line at the light and when it turned green, I zoomed out to cross the intersection, but was shocked to see cars coming from not one but two of the roads facing me. I had to swerve left and then right, barely missing the oncoming vehicles.
It happened so fast that I could only react instinctively—and fortunately by this time the motorcycle had become an extension of my body and I could almost move it with thought alone. But this close call really shook me.
Until this happened, I had been feeling really good about myself and my ability to deal with all that would come at me in life. And even though I had instinctively handled the near collisions well, it reminded me that there was a lot in life that was out of my control. It made me feel small and vulnerable. There was again a small whine in my soul.
I did not use my motorcycle at all during the days I spent at Ed’s. I felt the need to withdraw a bit from traffic and recover from the scare of my near accident.
The visit over, I loaded my box back on the motorcycle and headed out for Wisconsin to visit another friend from college. On the way I camped out in a field and awoke to a dew-soaked dawn with a million diamond drops sparkling in the sunrise. Even though life was uncertain, it certainly had a lot of beauty in it!
The next day I arrived at my friend’s house, and spent a couple of days boating, bicycle riding and visiting some local sights. Then it was time to move on.

Marvelous Beauty

Praise you, Lord Jesus, that you are the Sovereign King, the One who has a plan for every situation and will work things out. You are the One who will bring good things to pass in the best way—even out of all that is negative.
Praise you, too, Lord Jesus, for reminding me last night that you are the One I am to delight in. It was good that you drew me away from work, so I could be quiet and hear your reminder. I was in danger of veering off into delighting in projects.
You reminded me that my passion, my first love, my delight must be in you, Lord Jesus, the Creator of all, the Owner of all, the Ender of all. You are the One and Only One to be exalted.
Worship is very much wrapped up in delighting in you, intentionally nurturing our first love for you. So, I choose to delight in you now, remembering that you are perfect in wisdom, complete in knowledge, consistent in doing what is best for your children.
You are magnificent in power, creating galaxies just by speaking. You are majestic in your grace, forgiving where justice demands punishment. You are mighty in your goodness, pouring out positives on both the righteous and the rebel.
In you there is no evil, no sin, no wrong, no error. As seen in the picture below, You are pure and white as the snow, as clear as the blue sky, as majestic as the clouds, as beautiful as still waters. You are the King of kindness, the God of goodness, the holy Hater of evil, the just Judge of wrong doers, the faithful Forgiver of sinners.
What overwhelming beauty, what a mighty marvel you are Lord Jesus. I love you my rock and my redeemer.

Loss is Gain

It was a beautiful, warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, so we went for a walk in the woods with my son Josh and his little family.
About halfway through, I noticed that one of my hearing aids was missing. Instantly I realized what had happened: I’d been carrying my smallest grandson on my shoulders, and when I lifted him off, the hearing aid was dislodged. It had fallen off at that point, or somewhat later.
My first reaction was natural, “Oh no!” for this was an expensive item. But the Holy Spirit immediately prompted me to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving: “Thank you, Lord, for allowing this. I pray that you’ll help me to find it, as you know where it is. And if I don’t find it, I’ll praise you anyway.” I then retraced the several hundred yards we’d covered, looking carefully among the leaves for the missing item, but to no avail.
As I was searching, the Spirit reminded me of how our car had been stolen shortly before we moved to Germany in 2009. I had looked for that, too, but again, to no avail. We’d hoped to sell it and buy a car in Germany, but, as you may remember, the Lord had something much greater in mind for us.
He not only supplied a car for free through our new friends, Dr. Chris and Melanie, but they also paid for the insurance, taxes, repairs and all our fuel for the whole 3.5 years we were there!
But much more importantly, the Lord gave opportunity to share the gospel with Dr. Chris, answering all his questions, so that near the end of our time there, he came to Christ. That was certainly worth losing my 15-year-old rusty car for!
So, what does God have in store through this loss? I don’t know yet, but we shall see!
I returned to join my family, again looking carefully as I retraced my steps and then we all looked again as we walked back home–but no hearing aid.
Each fruitless search was another chance to trust God in praise. He certainly knows where that hearing aid is, but, has chosen not to show me. I don’t know what He intends to do with this, but I can trust Him to know and to reveal it at the right time.
It is so good to relax in His love, to let go of what is temporal (it belonged to God anyway), to hold on to the truth of His goodness and grace, and to rise above the situation.
As it says in Hebrews 12:1-2, remembering that I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, I am told to lay aside every weight (sadness at the loss) and the sin that so easily entangles me (worry, fretting, anger) and run with patience and perseverance the race He has set before me, looking to Jesus (not to people, possessions or success), the Author and Finisher of my faith (He will carry me through).
Then, following His example, for the joy set before me (of being His child, of having Him as my Shepherd, of His protection and provision, of a certain future, of spending eternity with Him), I can endure whatever cross (loss) may come and despise whatever shame I may feel (for my failure to find it), knowing that I will be set down in heaven with Him.
What a freeing, empowering perspective! I encourage you to pray that passage for yourself every day for a month and see what God does! And I will wait to see His further purposes in this adventure of loss.
[Epilogue: I never did find the hearing aid, but the Lord provided money to pay for a new one in an interesting way. A friend was unable to sell his pickup truck, so I bought it to help him out, then was able to resell it with enough profit to pay for both a new hearing aid, and a crown from my wife’s tooth! God has it all in hand, if we will only cooperate: “He who offers the sacrifice of praise, honors me, and opens the way that I may show him the salvation of the Lord.” Psalm 50:23]

Lavish Love

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1
Because of your majestic and marvelous Character, Lord, your love is continuously poured out on us, we who are your lazy and willful sheep.
You are Love itself, you are faithful and forgiving, gracious and good, positive and pure. We do not deserve your love and protection, but you are insistent on having a warm and rich relationship with us, pouring your time, grace, care, protection and guidance into our lives 24/7.
I praise you, O my Lord of lavishness, my Rock of refuge, my Fortress of faithfulness, Defender of the defeated, my Shield of strength, my Tower of power, my Stronghold of safety.
As it says in Psalm 18:3 “I call to you, who are worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” I praise you for your protection, glorify you for your deliverance, exalt you for your unbelievably wonderful grace at work in me each day.
You are Life, you are Light and you are Love. You are my King, my God, my Savior, my Deliverer and my Protector. You are worthy of praise, worthy of exaltation, worthy of obedience.
So, to you I bow down, to you I surrender, to you I give myself afresh. I lay down before you all my desires, my possessions, my plans, my preferences. I give you my will and take yours in its place.
May you be glorified in me today, may my responses flow, not from my puny natural thoughts and understanding, but from your great Heart, your wonderful Word and your immense Power.
May your Spirit overflow from my life onto all those around me so they, too, may taste of your goodness, and thereby may your Name be lifted up before all I meet this day. Amen.

Amazing God!

Praise be to you, my marvelous Lord and Shepherd, my King. I awake in the night, and find you there, watching over me. I awake in the morning and find you again, waiting with a freshly prepared new day to share with me.
You are faithful in your love, passionate in your care, gracious in your provision and persistent in your protection. I am like a feeble vine clinging to you, my solid, unshakable Rock.
As thoughts of evil threats come in the night, I can easily reject them by meditating on your presence and power as presented in Psalm 18.
You are the protector of the weak and the provider for the poor in spirit, so I can trust you, as I am both. Your Word caringly calms my churning thoughts, sweetly soothes my anxious soul, provides positive, encouraging perspective and safely shields me from Satan’s subtle subterfuge.
“I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Ps 18:1)—you have drawn me graciously into a rich and strong relationship with you, making yourself my Lord, pouring into my life your strength, sharing with me your power–even though you know I will at times miss use it, rebel, disobey and disbelieve, wounding your heart—but you continue on in your unquenchable mercy.
You are so gracious! You are faithful in the face of our faithlessness. You are good in the face of our rebellion. You are constant in the face of our unbelief. You are utterly other from us and I praise you for making yourself known, for seeking us out, for adopting us into your family. May we live today so as to bring honor to you.

More on Context

Further thoughts on living in the context of God’s greatness
What a difference this context makes! Wow! To live with you, to live for you, to be your child, your ambassador, your herald, your workman, your messenger, your servant, your partner in work, your fellow heir, your brother, and in the end, your bride—what great and marvelous privileges.
You are a wonder, O God, all these gifts you have given to me although I am by nature your enemy, the one who rebelled against you for so many years, who is stubborn in selfishness, slow to learn, who gives you pain every day in my willfulness, my self-dependence, my trusting myself instead of you, in my grieving and quenching your Spirit. How great is your love, how great is your forgiveness, how great is your grace.
You, as my Savior-Shepherd, have now allowed a new difficulty (challenge, adventure) into my life. Looking at it from my perspective it is unwanted, painful and negative. But looking at it from your perspective, it is good thing.
You will give me the grace, not to just cope with it, but to more than triumph over and through it, to give you honor and glory through praise in the midst of it.
No human being could ever think up a God like you; you are too good to be true! And yet you are more than true as you are Truth itself: pure, clean, shining, solid, sure, unchanging.
You are the only One to be trusted fully. So, we glorify you, we lift you up in praise, we rejoice in you and in your making us your beloved children. Great are you, Lord and wonderful is your name.
Prayer: “Today may you be lifted up in my life, glorified in my living, exalted in my being–you who are my Lord Jesus, King of Kings, Lord of the universe, and Shepherd of my soul. Amen.”