Russell and Duenes

Archive for the ‘Psalms’ Category

When He Killed Them, Then They Sought Him

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“In spite of all this they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works. So He brought their days to an end in futility and their years in sudden terror. When He killed them, then they sought Him, and returned and searched diligently for God; and they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer.” (Psalm 78:32-35)

The Israelites rebelled against God, sought their own selfish ends and desired their own ways, to the point that God had to kill them to get their attention. They were so hard-hearted that nothing short of putting some of them to death would effect repentance. They forgot God until they were brought to the point where they simply could not forget Him.

Must we reach the same point? St. Paul told us that what God did to the Israelites “happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” (1 Cor. 10:6).

God was mad because the Israelites “did not remember His power.” (78:42). We, too, have forgotten God’s power. We do not call upon Him. We come up with all sorts of man-made contrivances, or ridiculously convince ourselves that some politician, some corrupt man like Donald Trump, will deliver us and make up for our lack of godly character.

The Israelites provoked God with their idols. They “did not keep His testimonies.” (78:56). We, too, have not been careful to keep God’s Word. We have exchanged the pursuit of God and the commendation of Christ for continual acquisitiveness, covetousness and upward mobility. We have said that we love God in our hearts, but this has meant that we have a certain “feeling” about God, rather than that we have intended to obey what He says.

Yet for all this, God still “awoke as if from sleep” and “drove His adversaries backward.” He gave them King David, and ultimately, David’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. (78:65-72).

Let us turn to Jesus, not with words only, not with self-deceiving thoughts that our hearts are “all that matters,” such that we exempt ourselves from obedience, not with the mentality that “God never said I can’t have x, y and z,” but with sincere hearts that seek to honor and enjoy God in all that we do. Forgive us, O Lord! Turn our hearts to You.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 19, 2017 at 4:43 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Your Name is Near

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“We give thanks to you, O God . . . for your name is near.” (Psalm 75:1)

“As for me, it is good to be near God.” (Psalm 73:28)

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

The “nearness” of God to those who call on Him is a very precious reality. No matter our circumstances; indeed, when our circumstances are at their worst, God promises to be near. He promises that He is “a very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1). And God’s nearness is better than any human nearness, for God has all resources, all power to comfort emotionally and physically, all authority to keep the spiritual forces of darkness at bay.

With God near to us, we will not be shaken. So let us draw near to Him and rejoice that He is inexplicably near to us.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Sing to God

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“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts.” (Psalm 68:4)

As I’ve been reading through the Psalms, I am seeing this a lot, namely, the command to sing to God. I rarely sing to God. I don’t like modern “praise and worship” music, so I don’t really listen to it at home. It strikes me mostly as trite and unworthy of the greatness of God. Some of it is sensual to the point of being offensive.

But if I don’t sing at home, I am reduced to singing on Sundays, and even then, it’s “praise and worship” music. I still sing it, but it seems to me that the music has devolved since I became a Christian back in the early 90s.

Moreover, these many commands in the Psalms to “sing to God” certainly mean that my heart should be overflowing with the greatness of God, and this should just inevitably result in musical praise. I find that I have a dullness of heart problem. It’s not that I never want to sing to God, but I find that my heart is tepid, and thus, song, or the desire for song, does not overflow from me. And again, I am no songwriter, or at least I never have been.

“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3).

I don’t know what to do with these Psalms. I would ask you, Lord, to help me see you more clearly, so that a proper exuberance and praise would be in my heart for you. Help me to find ways to sing praise to you. For you are worthy of it.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 11, 2017 at 4:09 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

Your Salvation Among All Nations

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“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us; that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” (Ps. 67:1-2)

The psalmist here is explicitly asking for God’s blessing. He wants God to be gracious to him, to provide for him, to do him good and bring increase and prosperity to his life in some way. He wants more from God. If we just took the psalmist’s request by itself, we might be forgiven for thinking this is a kind of “health and wealth” request. “O God, give me, give me, give me!”

But then we read verse 2, and see the motivation behind the desire for blessing. The psalmist has only one reason for wanting more, for wanting increase and blessing. He wants to take what God gives and use it only to make known God’s way, His truth, on earth. He wants to advance, promote and contribute to God’s saving power going out and gaining the victory in hearts in all the nations of the earth. He has a desire for God’s saving power and glory that is global in scope. He is not satisfied with provincial or local salvation. He wants salvation among the people of China, Russia, Zambia, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Egypt, Sudan, South Africa, Canada, North Korea, Syria and Sri Lanka.

He does not want health and wealth. He does not want blessings so that he can simply care about he and his, or about his local community or country. He wants God to give him resources to do what God wants to do already, which is to bring the sheep from the “other fold also.”

May you so bless us, Lord, and may we desire to use your blessing for the salvation of the nations. May we thrill to such a prospect.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 10, 2017 at 3:55 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

If Riches Increase

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“If riches increase, set not your heart on them.” (Psalm 62:10)

This is a challenging word for us American, suburban evangelicals. More often, my hidden assumption is: If riches increase, make sure your comforts and desires are more deeply satisfied. If riches increase, make sure you get more of what you want, and just tell yourself that you are not setting your heart on your riches. Say that you are not trusting in riches, but that God is not against us ‘having nice things.’ Convince yourself that, in your heart, you have not made money your idol, even while you spend it on your desires.

We would do better to listen to St. James: “Your riches have rotted . . . Your gold and silver have corroded . . . You have laid up treasure in the last days . . . You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.” (James 5:2-5). Or the Psalmist: “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.”

This is the great antidote to trusting in riches, waiting in silence for God, calling upon Him “for He alone is my Rock and my Salvation.” Show us, O God, how to trust you and not set our heart on riches. If they increase, help us to trust you with them, to the glory of your name.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 9, 2017 at 4:10 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms