Tag Archives: Intimacy with God

Discovering God in the Psalms: Take Time to Praise

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Psalm 107:8 (NKJ)

Our text for today’s WordBytes comes from the 107th division of the Psalms. There is nothing more gratifying to the soul than to praise the Lord during private devotions. It is the soul’s release which allows our innermost being to render tokens of gratitude and adoration to the Lord.  That power is multiplied when experienced in corporate worship with other believers.

The psalms found in this fifth division lend themselves to an overall liturgical purpose befitting public worship for the Jewish people of that time and for us today.

Sometimes, however, we become so entangled with the events of our lives that we forget to take time to praise. We overlook the fact that our praise and worship is not only pleasing to God, but it’s also the quickest way to access the power and provision of the Lord. Why is that true? Because the Lord inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3). This imperative to “praise the LORD” is repeated four times (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31).  In this psalm it is to impress its importance as we journey through this life.

Oh that men would praise the LORD. Men must be reminded to praise God. They become bound to personal agendas and circumstances, leaving little room or time to praise God. Praise is squandered on mortal man with his accomplishments, often forgetting that God created the universe, thrones, principalities and powers. All things were created by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16).  To praise God for His greatness is to acknowledge His authority and sovereign rule. It’s interesting to observe that the angels are not commanded to praise God–they do it willingly (Rev. 5:11-14; 7:11-12).

For His goodness. To say, “God is good”, is to trivialize His true nature and character. Goodness (hesed) in Hebrew means “unfailing, loyal love.” It is often based on a prior relationship, in this case, our covenant relationship with God. As believers, we have entered into an everlasting covenant with God, through His Son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This New Covenant promises us restoration of our relationship with God (Rom. 5:1), forgiveness of sin (Matt. 26:27-28), sonship (1 John 3:1-2), and an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15).

For His wonderful works to the children of men. In reading Psalm 107, God’s “wonderful works” are His acts of mercy to those whom He had entered into covenant relationship with. These wonderful works are amazing and cause us to be astounded as God intervened on behalf of mankind. After men “cried unto the LORD” (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28) and had come to “their wits’ end” (27), it was God who “led them out and brought them forth.” It was God who “healed and restored, delivered and saved.” Then men lifted their voices in worship and praise (vv. 22, 32).

As believers, we have much to praise God for each day. We should praise Him for the “works” He performs on our behalf–for protection and provision and for grace and mercy. God is worthy of our praise for His love, for salvation and for eternal life. We ought to enter into perpetual praise throughout the day, as the angels do in heaven. We have even more reason to praise God than the angels in that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).

Desperately Seeking God

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is.

Psalm 63:1 (KJV)

Recent news featured individuals who were lost in the wilderness. One story told of a young boy who became separated from his family when he left them in search of mushrooms.  In another story, a hiker who left her team experienced a dangerous fall resulting in a badly broken leg.  In both stories, their separation from others resulted in fear and despair until they were rescued from their dire situation.

The same is true of man when he is separated from His beloved Creator.  Without God, man is left to live desperately seeking what only God can provide. To try to do so, can only results in fear and despair.    Therefore the logical way to end this desperate dilemma is to seek God.  In Psalm 63 David shares his despair as he finds himself separated from God. It is here that we find David desperately seeking God.

The historical context for this psalm can be found in 2 Samuel 15. David’s despair is the result of his son Absalom’s conspiracy to steal the kingdom from his father. Fearful of the potential shift in power, David vacates his throne in Jerusalem and heads to the wilderness of Judah.  While David was in fact, in a physical wilderness, the wilderness he speaks of in this psalm describes metaphorically his desperate longing for God.  It provides a powerful outline of how to find God.

First, David spiritually reconnected with God.  David’s desire for God became the first thing he sought when he rose in the morning.   His soul—his mind, will and emotions—thirsted for God.  His flesh responded to this insatiable thirst in a strong longing to be with God.  Do you thirst for God?  How do you connect with God?  Are you intentional in your making “quality time” for Him or does He only get a quick bible verse reading when you have time?

Next, David recounted His previous experiences with God.  Though David had never seen God physically, he had personally experienced God’s power and glory through nature and His attributes. He knew God’s love and mercy as he tended to his father’s sheep as a young boy (Ps. 23).  David was witness to God’s protection as he faced the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:49-51). David knew the source of his success in battle against Israel’s enemies (1 Sam. 18:5, 7).  David knew the power of God’s presence.

Finally, David relinquished His will to God.  Though a mighty king, David humbled himself to God knowing that the only way to reverse his situation was to totally trust and depend on God for all his needs.  Christian pastor and author, A.W. Tozer, identified the root cause of man’s dissatisfaction resulting in his continual search for that which he “cannot have”.

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us. ”

In today’s society people are desperately seeking relief for their spiritual thirst. They are searching for life options they feel will satisfy their needs through hedonistic pursuits, spiritual experimentation, and material gain.  These efforts unfortunately never satisfy and often result in further despair and darkness.

Because David desperately sought God first, he was able to experience a confident assurance that would have been impossible through human seeking or striving.  God our Father and Creator knows and possesses what is needed for spiritual and emotional “dryness”.  Only God can truly satisfy.  It was in seeking God that David found spiritual relief for his thirst.

During the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacle, Jesus offered Himself as the source of relief for the thirsty soul:  “Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’ ” (John 7:37-38).   Jesus still calls today—offering living water to the world—a “thirsty land where no water is.”

God’s Gift of Rest

“For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’

“although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.”

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV)

While on vacation this month, I had the opportunity to purchase my second Fitbit device after successfully killing my original one.  After a year of consistent use, I found that it really does promote personal movement, healthy eating and rest.  Yes, rest.  One of the features on my Fitbit is a sleep function that tells me how many hours a day (yes, it tracks naps) I rest as I pursue my “sleep goal”.  It faithfully sends a nightly text to tell me to cease from my activities and “begin to prepare for bed” (it really does).

Health experts and social scientists agree that the need for rest is critical to not only our physical well-being but also our emotional health and our cognitive performance.  The writer of Hebrews also recognized the value of rest especially the rest God gives, as a gift, to His believers.  Today I’d like to share my thoughts on rest in the context of intimacy with God and returning to our First Love.

Rest defined

Webster defines rest not only as sleep but also as “freedom from worry or trouble”.   Most uses of the word rest in the Bible are nontheological; they take on spiritual meaning when used in relationship to God and His people—the recipients of the both the Old and New Covenant.

Also read:  “Seeking and Finding God

God introduces Rest

In the Old Testament, Sabbath rest was introduced in Genesis as God ceased from His work of creation (Gen. 2:2-3).  Sabbath rest was later commanded as part of the Mosaic Law (Exod. 31:15) as evidence of God’s love and recognition that all living creatures, man and animal, needed physical renewal and respite.  Canaan rest finds its beginning with the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. It included not only deliverance from Egyptian slavery but also establishment of protection and victory over Israel’s enemies as they entered into the Promised Land (Josh. 14:15).  The tribes of Israel also enjoyed God’s gifts of rest when they settled in the land, which flowed with milk and honey (Josh. 1:13-15). In following God’s commandments, they would ultimately acquire rest experienced by “peace in the land”—no longer threatened by attack from Canaanite inhabitants (Josh. 23:1).

Jesus Christ’s arrival and selfless act of atonement presented believers with the opportunity to enter into God’s Eternal rest.  This rest surpassed those previously offered beginning with precious promises available on this side of heaven (2 Pet. 1:4), His presence manifested through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, 26) and will culminate with the blessed reward of eternity with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“The struggle Christians are engaged in is not that of finding their way through life but of entering God’s rest.”

Accessing God’s Rest

Accessing God’s gift of rest is possible through development of an intimate relationship with Him.  Rest is not cessation from work but in listening to His voice and obediently acquiescing to His plans and purpose for our lives.  This exercise of faith provides peace and release from anxiety and fear.

On this matter of rest, Lawrence O. Richards, noted theologian writes:

The struggle Christians are engaged in is not that of finding their way through life but of entering God’s rest (Heb. 4:11).  That is, they are to be responsive to the Lord and let His Word and Spirit guide then to the solutions he has already provided for their problems.

God has provided us with the Holy Spirit, who acts as our spiritual Fitbit to tell us when we need God’s rest.  When we have been negligent in our personal time with Him, we become spiritually restless and ill-tempered.  We can’t seem to concentrate on the things of God because we lack the rest we need to keep us emotionally and spiritually healthy (Col. 3:1-4).

We can find rest as we listen for and respond to the Lord’s voice.  Such trust can only be ascribed to the Creator of all rests—Sabbath rest, Canaan rest, and Eternal rest.  Only Sovereign God can create, deliver, protect, and give use victory over the challenges we face (Rom. 8:37).  He knows the end from the beginning, and His purpose will stand (Is. 46:8-10).  It is God’s desire that we live more fully as recipients of His gift of rest.  He invites us to draw near and enter into His rest.

SELAH:   Are you in need of God’s rest?  Is it time for you to recommit, refocus, and reprioritize your relationship with the Lord?