Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Great Reputation!

In the book of the Psalms, there are many different works written for many different reasons.  Some of them are meditations on an aspect of God.  The first Psalm tells us the blessed man has his delight in the Law of the Lord and meditates in it.  But not only can we meditate on God's law, we can meditate on God's person. For the purpose of this blog, Psalm 8 doesn't fit my normal pattern of "Life can get you down", but rather is the ounce of prevention when it comes to life.  Meditating on God's goodness can keep our focus where it needs to be so that we can endure life's problems without letting them get us down in the first place.

O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is
thy name in all the earth!
who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Psalm 8:1

David begins with a statement.  How excellent, how great, how mighty is God's name in all the earth.  We often think of a name as a label, but David is not referring to Yahweh, Jehovah, or Elohim when he says God's name is excellent.  He is referring to God's character, his renown, his reputation.  David started by dwelling on, and expressing to God that his reputation is great in all the earth!  Certainly he could only say that because he lived in Israel, a God-fearing nation where everybody loved the Lord and followed his commands.  Whereas we live in a nation filled with corruption, moral decay and perversity on such a rampant level that we might think it a stretch to say that God's reputation is great in ALL the earth.  We can let ourselves off the hook, right?  Because of the sin of others?  No!  A thousand times No!  We may be hard-pressed to see it, but it is just as true today as when David wrote it.  And the moral decay was just as prevalent in David's day.  His fearful, arrogant brothers.  His king who tried to kill him.  His own son seeking his throne and his life.  The people of the land still in the land and serving their pagan gods.

Think about it.  About the greatness of God's reputation, his renown!  The creator.  The artistic master behind the beauty around us.  The infinite power that created all the stars of the heavens!  The designer of all the creatures we enjoy seeing, using for labor and eating!  The God of the great and the God of the infinitesimal.  Designer of galaxies and of the stuff that makes up molecules and all of matter.

And David gives more proof in his meditations:
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings 
hast thou ordained strength 
because of thine enemies, 
that thou mightest still the enemy 
and the avenger.
 Psalm 8:2
What does God use to still the enemy?  The strength he ordained out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.  Out of the weakest of the weak, God has ordained strength to still the enemy.  The Phillistines sent Goliath to battle the armies of Israel.  God defeated him with the young man David.  The faith of David came out in his words as he expressed disgust that this Phillistine was allowed to defy the armies of the living God!  Did God use a great warrior to turn back the enemy?  Did he use great strength and power of men?  No, He used a child.  David knew the truth of what he was sharing.

Another proof of the greatness of his reputation?  His goodness to man.

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? 
and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels,
 and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet
Psalm 8:4-6

God has blessed man. Little, puny man.  Just a speck on the earth, less than a speck in the universe, and God takes thought of man.  Takes thought, 'visits' him, given him dominion over the works of creation.  

Man may not pay much heed to God at times.  But God has paid attention to man, and blessed him despite man ignoring God.  That is a great character.  That is a great reputation to have.  To love the unlovable.

Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Psalm 8:9

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Confidence in Mercy

I love taking time while reading the book of the Psalms to compare the state of mind of the psalmist at the beginning of a psalm with his state of mind at the end.  When there is a change, I like to hunt through the psalm to find what made the difference.  Because I often find myself feeling the psalmist at the beginning of a psalm - life has gotten me down, and I desire to get from there to where the psalmist got - looking to God and resting in Him.

The 6th psalm seems to turn on 2 things.  The psalm is full of the tears of David:
I am weary with my groaning; 
all the night I make my bed to swim; 
I water my couch with my tears.
Psalm 6:6
While a good cry can do wonders, David was weary with his tears.  The tears did not accomplish the change for him.  David had concerns for his enemies who were a threat to David unto death:  He told God that he needed salvation because
. . .in death there is no remembrance of thee:
in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
Psalm 6:5
David was also concerned that he had violated God's law and stood in danger of being punished for it.  He cried out to the Lord to spare him from rebuke and chastening.  He cried out that he was weak.  He cried out for mercy.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD;
Psalm 6:2a
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: 
oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
Psalm 6:4
When David remembered God's mercy, he started to dwell on the solution, rather than the problem.  He cried out for God to save him for the sake of his mercies - and God's mercies are many toward us.  As he thought on God's mercies, his confidence in God returned.  His assurance that God would answer overwhelmed him so that he wrote:
The LORD hath heard my supplication;
the LORD will receive my prayer.
Psalm 6:9
When we want to go from overwhelmed with worry and fear to overwhelmed with assurance from God we simply have to do what David did.  We need to dwell on God's mercies.  We need to plead for God to respond in his mercy, and we have the assurance that God hears, God's mercies are new every morning, God will answer the prayers of his children.

Monday, July 16, 2012

2012 Garden Goodies!

Not much to get me down in this post.  I suppose I could complain about weeding & picking vegetables.  I could tell you how canning makes my back hurt.  But these things don't get me down.  But getting produce out of the garden is always an opportunity to look up.  We rejoice in the cheap / low cost / free food that we can harvest, and we thank the Lord for His provision to us.  Not much to this post, except that I will try to keep a running total of what we put up out of our garden, and what we put up from other sources as well for the winter.

Pickled Beets - 21 quarts (July 16)
Red Raspberries - 2 quarts
Green Beans - 100 quarts (July 19-September 15)
Carrots - 56 quarts (July 23-October 12)
Shredded Carrots (for cakes) - 8 quarts
Tomatoes (canned) - 115 quarts (August 21-October 12)
Spaghetti Sauce - 106 quarts (August 29-September 6) 
Tomato Juice - 28 quarts (September 11)
Sweet Corn - 157 quarts
Cauliflower - 22 quarts
Chopped Celery - 14 quarts
Shredded Zucchini - 5 pints

From Other Sources
Celery (From auction - $2)
Cauliflower (From auction - $28)
Zucchini (From Auction - $1)
Sweet Corn (From Auction - 6 bushel - $42)
Sweet Corn (From Auction - 10 bushel - $7)
Tomatoes (From Auction - 3 bushel - $36)
Tomatoes (From Auction - 3 bushel - $21)

Total food preserved:
629 quarts and 5 pints