Russell and Duenes

Sing to God

leave a comment »

“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

leave a comment »

“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

leave a comment »

“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

I Praise the Word of God

leave a comment »

Some Christians are what I would call “biblical minimalists.” In other words, they take the Bible to be a generally true guide to spiritual truth and life, but they charge evangelical Christians or “fundamentalists” with being bibliolators, of emphasizing and worshipping the Bible and its words, instead of simply worshipping the Triune God. I have always considered this to be a false dichotomy and a bogus smear.

I know of no Christians who “worship” the Bible, and to say that a regard for the Bible as the ultimate and inerrant truth and authority for spiritual life, and a focus on the words in Scripture – in memorizing and applying them – is bibliolatry, runs counter to what God has said.

Psalm 56 makes this point emphatically. Here, King David says: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You, in God whose word I praise.” (vs. 3-4). Later, David repeats: “In God, whose word I praise; in the LORD, whose word I praise; In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid, what can man do to me?” (vs. 10-11).

Thus, we have David three times saying that he praises God’s word. Of course, David’s trust is in God Himself, and I’ve never heard anyone suggest we should not trust God Himself. But David trusts and praises God’s word because that is where the promises from God are revealed, promises in which David is trusting. David has utter confidence in what God says, and so he praises it as revealed. Indeed, David later on exclaims about God: “You have exalted above all things Your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2).

If God exalts so exalts His word, we ought to do the same, mainly by listening to it and obeying it. For God’s word is no trifle for us, but it is our very life. (Deut. 32:47).

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 8, 2017 at 3:47 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms

I Would Not Tell You

leave a comment »

“If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world is mine and all it contains.” (Ps. 50:12)

“God is not served by human hands as though He needed anything because He Himself gives to all life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:25).

“No eye has seen a God like you who works for those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

We need to be constantly reminded that we add nothing to God. When we “serve” God, we do not render to Him anything that He “needs.” We are not helping Him because He is weak, impotent or unable to accomplish what we imagine we are doing for Him. Rather, it is He who has all the resources. He owns the world. He has power over the universe. All resources – physical and spiritual – are His. He is the Lord of heaven’s armies. All things are at His disposal for His good purposes. He is God and there is no other.

Thus, we serve Him simply by putting ourselves at His disposal. We come to Him, call upon Him, wait upon Him so that He will marshall His resources to work in and through us, to go before us in power and might. As Paul says, it is God who works and wills His good pleasure. God works for us like a doctor works for his patient or like a lawyer works for her client.

This is tremendously liberating. When we know and have confidence that God has all the resources and power in heaven and on earth, and we have none, then we relax and simply call upon God and move out in His strength. We act, looking entirely to Him. We enter into the great freedom of saying with Paul, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

May 4, 2017 at 4:38 am

Posted in Duenes, Psalms