Tuesday, April 20, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Time Life Presents: The Psalms

Does this sound familiar? "Enjoy 150 greatest hits all in one collection. The best of the 1440's - 580's B.C. Original songs as written by Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph and that ever so talented group, Sons of Korah." Sounds like some late night infomercial doesn't it?

Actually, the truth is, the book of Psalms is the greatest collection of worship ever written. We know that songs are poetry set to music. Over the last two weeks, the Psalms has been included in our chronological study of the Bible. We know David was a musician and he wrote poetry. David was probably the King of Worship (today we label artists, the king of pop, king of rock, etc.) if there had been a label. He wrote most of the Psalms. David definitely wrote from the emotion of his heart. There are Psalms of joy and victory as well as songs of confession or a broken heart. Much like music today. It's interesting that most of David's life, he spent fighting some kind of battle. Whether is was with another nation or within his own family, poetry was his expression of the situation. He was an emotional man.

Rarely do we ever think about the Psalms being set to music. Yet often when I read them, familiar worship songs come to mind. For example Psalm 84:1&2 "How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God." Do you recognize those lyrics? That song we sing today was written by the Sons of Korah. Or maybe you go way back to Psalm 8:9, originally written by David, that says, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" Whose well-know voice suddenly shows up in your head? Sandi Patty maybe? A popular one we sing today is Psalm 106:1 and Psalm 107:1 & Psalm 136, which the author is anonymous says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." Today, Chris Tomlin has taken this Psalm and set it to music that can be appreciated in our generation. I sometimes think that the harp David played was similar to music artists today who pick around on their guitars. Can you just imagine David sitting in his room on the edge of his bed, writing what he was feeling at the moment. I wonder if that is why in some of the Psalms he mentions his bed. Psalm 149:5 "Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds."

How many times can I go to the Psalms and find a song that meets me right where I am. Much like listening to the soft rock radio station that plays oldies. Maybe I haven't heard a song in years, but instantly it can take me back to a place and an emotion I felt. I believe that is God's purpose for this collection of worship. He was there when they were written and He wants to share them with us today. He wants to let us know that David had the same emotions then as we do now and experienced the same struggles and victories that we do today. I once heard that the reason there isn't any music to go with the Psalms is because God wants us to make the music relevant to us in our time of life, because the word of God's lasts forever. (Isaiah 40:8)

Today, God has given us song writers today who write music that is God inspired. But many of these songwriters go back to the Word of God and set new music to old words. These words that stand the test of time and can still speak life into our spirit. Take some time each day to read from this collection of God's greatest hits. The Psalms say the right thing, at the right time in your life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Coming Clean

I'm going to segway this week to the Psalms. I have been reading "The Narrated Bible" this time through and this past week was the story of David and Bathsheba. This is where Psalm 51 is inserted as it is David's prayer of repentance to the Lord for his sin. Something that always is highlighted for me in this passage is the issue of a "clean heart". Since we are at the beginning of spring, spring cleaning is on my mind. Especially under the current circumstances. It seems that I am cleaning the house more often. You see, the owner of our home is selling the house we live in and in doing so, people are coming through to look at it. What is really difficult for me is that I have never met these people and yet they are looking into the most private places, my closets.

The other day as a man was looking in my closet of personal things, it made me so self conscious of what he might find. This got me thinking about my heart.

David comes clean with God in Psalm 51. He was cleaning the closet of his heart. It begins like this, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Verse 7 continues with "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Verse 10 says, "Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me." The New Living Translation says it like this, "Create a in me a clean heart, O God and renew a loyal spirit in me." I like the words used in that translation.

David knew what he had done was wrong. Transgressions and iniquities are like the things we stash away in our closets that we can't seem to throw away. Transgressions are the wounds that happen when others impose their sin on us. Iniquities resemble that of a bruise, bleeding on the inside. The things we stash that are sinful acts that we hide from others that we never let go of. The hyssop that David mentions is what the Israelites used in Egypt to spread the blood of the lamb over the door frames so when the Lord passed over them they would not be struck down like the first born of the Egyptians. This was the symbol of freedom because it was after this Pharaoh let them go. They were finally set free from the bondage of Egypt. If we as Believer's today live by our spirit then Egypt would be like our flesh. David was so ridden with shame that the only way to be free from the bondage of sin was to confess. He knew only the blood could wash him white as snow. Because of the death of Jesus, his blood now covers us and washes us white as snow.

Much like these strangers who are looking in my closets, seeing my most personal items and even the condition I keep my closets in, I'm more eager to clean them out. What kind of person do I look like to them because of what is in my closet? If a stranger could look into my heart's closets, what would they see? Would they see shame, anger, bitterness, hate, unforgiveness, etc or would they see a woman who has the word of God hidden in my heart? You know in Deuteronomy, God says that is the only thing we are supposed to hide in our heart. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

I know I have things stashed away in my heart that don't belong there. Those things don't stay hidden for long. Jesus said in Luke 6:45 "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his
heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." No matter what, the things in our heart will be exposed by what we say.

Today, I ask you to come clean with yourself. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your "Mr. Clean" and ask him to help you throw away those things that are stashed away and hidden that are not good. The things that even though you think are hidden, yet are what you talk about often. Open up those closets in your heart that carry bitterness, anger, hurt, guilt, shame, unforgiveness, etc. Do this, write down those things that you have stashed away on a piece of paper. Be sure to forgive others as well as yourself. Pray over them. Tear them up and place them in a trash bag and throw them away to never be picked up again. If we would do this regularly, we wouldn't live such heavy lives.

Coming clean comes at a price. Are you willing to let go of the junk that is cluttering your life? Or have you chosen to keep your heart cluttered with junk? Jesus paid the price for us on the cross. Think of him like the Salvation Army, take your stuff to him and leave it there.