Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 22, 2017

Personal Sharing — Bad to Good!

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 21, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 137 – Revenge?

Day 2808: Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Scripture: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Upon the willows in the midst of it we hung our harps. For there our captors demanded of us songs, and our tormentors mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it to its very foundation.” O daughter of Babylon, you devastated one, how blessed will be the one who repays you with the recompense with which you have repaid us. How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. Excerpts of Psalm 137

Thoughts/questions: This Psalm is said to be one of the most well known Psalms. Probably written by the prophet Jeremiah during the Babylonian captivity, this Psalm of sorrow and revenge would resonate with the Jews or any oppressed people.

Although oppressed, they took a stand! Requested to sing songs of their past, they hung up their harps and refused to sing. And then their requested revenge regarding dashing children against a rock belies a desperate people.

Most of us have and will never experience this type of emotion and despair; however, some are. Be thankful if you haven’t been there; done that! Many of those who are presently experiencing similar treatment because they are Christians are not seeking vengeance, but are responding by loving their enemies and praying for them.

If they can do this, may we follow their lead and pray for and show love to those who challenge us.

Suggested prayer: Father God, may I always show Your love and not be caught up in hate or revenge . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 20, 2017

Personal Sharing — Self Inflicted Humility!

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 19, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 136 – For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting!

Day 2806: For His lovingkindness is everlasting follows each phrase. I only wrote them after the first and last phrase.

Scripture: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Give thanks to the God of gods, give thanks to the Lord of lords, to Him who alone does great wonders, to Him who made the heavens with skill, to Him who spread out the earth above the waters, to Him who made the great lights.

The sun to rule by day, the moon and stars to rule by night, to Him who smote the Egyptians in their firstborn, and brought Israel out from their midst, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, to Him who divided the Red Sea asunder, and made Israel pass through the midst of it.

But He overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, to Him who led His people through the wilderness, and gave their land as a heritage, even a heritage to Israel His servant, Who remembered us in our low estate, and has rescued us from our adversaries.

Who gives food to all flesh, give thanks to the God of heaven, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. Excerpts from Psalm 136

Thoughts/questions: Yes, there are lots of reasons to give thanks to the God of heaven, but most of all because His lovingkindness is everlasting. See you in heaven!!!

Suggested prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for all You’ve created, for all You do, and that Your lovingkindness is everlasting . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 18, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 135 – God is Good/All the Time!

Day 2805: Look down and it’s maybe a 6′ view; look up and it goes forever. Look up!

Scripture: Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; praise Him, O servants of the Lord, you who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;

For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain, Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.

Your name, O Lord, is everlasting, Your remembrance, O Lord, throughout all generations. For the Lord will judge His people and will have compassion on His servants.

The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. Those who make them will be like them, yes, everyone who trusts in them. You who revere the Lord, bless the Lord. Praise the Lord!   Excerpts from Psalm 135

Thoughts/questions: The created gods of silver and gold are contrasted with the Creator God who has a closet full of wind! Not much of a comparison, yet we humans tend to pay more attention to the created than the Creator – this shouldn’t be so!

A popular phrase is ‘God is good; all the time!’ The all the time part gets a bit fuzzy when made aware of the life challenges individuals face as well as the catastrophic events throughout the world. But when my focus becomes eternal and I realize the very limited knowledge I have, only then by faith can I proclaim, ‘God is good; all the time!’

Suggested prayer: Creator God, I believe, help me with my unbelief . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 17, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 134 – Bless and Be Blessed!

Day 2804: Good ole Mondays. Have a truly great one!!!

Scripture: Behold, bless the Lord, all servants of the Lord, who serve by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the sanctuary and bless the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth. Psalm 134

Thoughts/questions: I try to state this in words and I’m not sure I communicate it well, but I’ll try. God’s interactions with us are circular, not linear. For example, according to this short psalm, we bless God, then God blesses us. This can repeat over and over again in circular fashion.

If God were linear, we would bless God and bless God and bless God ad infinitum with nothing in return. But with God, it’s circular! We give, He gives back to us. We serve, and we are blessed in return. We help someone and at another time, they help us. A circular relationship – the very best!!!

To bless God with our words is one thing, but the most important blessing we can give to Him is a life of obedience, service, and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit! How He blesses us will vary according to what He knows will be best for us.

BUT we can be confident in this, our partnership with Him is always two-sided! Today, bless Him with your life and be ready for His blessings in yours!

Suggested prayer: Lord God, may the aroma of my life always be a sweet smelling one to You . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 15, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 133 – Let Us Be As One!

Day 2803: Mid summer already! Enjoy, as it soon will be over!!!

Scripture: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever. Psalm 133

Thoughts/questions: In George McDonald’s excellent book, ‘The Highlander’s Last Song,’ a character is asked what the most important word in the English language is. I briefly stopped reading and considered a few possible answers, then read on. The response was surprising – “One!”

While not as dramatic as world peace, when I pondered that response I realized how appropriate it was. When a person or group of people are ‘one,’ that self or group unity leads to peace, strength, maximization and so much more.

We probably ALL want to be at one within ourselves rather than warring within our members. And if we are involved in a group or team, being at one is possibly the highest goal the group could achieve.

And for God, how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity – to be ONE! Let’s have this goal – to be at one with ourselves, our God, our family, and any other group we might be part of!

Suggested prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, work in my life so that I bring peace and unity wherever I go . . . 

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 14, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 132 – God Fulfills His Promise!

Day 2802: Another Friday to TGIF – Thank God I’m Forgiven!!!

Scripture: Remember, O Lord, on David’s behalf, all his affliction; how he swore to the Lord and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, “Surely I will not enter my house, nor lie on my bed; I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

For the sake of David Your servant, do not turn away the face of Your anointed. The Lord has sworn to David a truth from which He will not turn back: “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne. “If your sons will keep My covenant and My testimony which I will teach them, their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever.” 

“There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed. “His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown shall shine.” Portions of Psalm 132

Thoughts/questions: This Psalm clearly indicates 2 things: 1) God’s promises have conditions even with David – if his sons obey, then they will always be kings of Israel. We like the promises, but sometimes don’t like the conditions. Gotta take them both!

2) God’s promises are for those who seek Him. God promised that the enemies of David would be shamed, but David would be blessed. He loves us all, but treats us differently depending on our response to Him. God loves you is true, but may send the wrong message as it simplifies our responsibility.

WE have a definite role in our relationship with God. Let’s all put on our spiritual big boy/girl pants and DO what we KNOW to be right!

Suggested prayer: Father God, help me to not be lazy in my walk with You . . .

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 13, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 131 – Live Simply, Have Hope!

Day 2801: Great is our God!!!

Scripture: O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. 

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.   Psalm 131

Thoughts/questions: None of us can remember this stage of life, but probably an unweaned child leaning against two instant feeding devices is not at complete rest. However, the Psalmist uses a weaned child with no ulterior motives to illustrate how at peace his soul had become!

Key words – had become. The author states that he had to discipline himself to attain this level of peace – How?  First it was perspective; he realized that in relationship to The Almighty, there was no room for pride or having an attitude. Second, he also realized who he was and stayed within himself.

Often athletes will say, ‘I’ve got to stay within myself and not try to do too much.’ They are aware of their talent level and know if they try to do things they normally can’t do well, bad things will happen. Well, the Psalmist also used this technique. He wasn’t after the big prize nor did he try to do more than he was capable of.

Your route to peace – know who you are, like you you are, BE who you are! Your route to hope – hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever!

Suggested prayer: Almighty God, help me to better know who I am and Who You are . . .

 

Posted by: Larry Hoekman | July 12, 2017

Psalms — Psalm 130 – Fear of Forgiveness???

Day 2800: Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading today as He has specific plans for you!

Scripture: Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen for the morning; indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Psalm 130

Thoughts/questions: The Psalmist definitely defines ‘fear’ differently than we do! If God DID remember our sins, then we’d have a God to be afraid of, but not our God who shows forgiveness!!! Maybe respect, awe, reverence, honor – but not fear!

Then the Psalmist states something very hard for me to do –  wait for the Lord. Go, don’t stop, next, what else – BUT wait??? That’s a hard one. OK, I’ll try to wait – maybe tomorrow as I’m pretty busy today . . .

Suggested prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are a God who forgives! And help me to slow down and wait for You . . .

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