Gratitude Journal: Reflections from Psalm 57:
To the chief Musician, Altaschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.
57 Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.
2 I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.
3 He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
4 My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
6 They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah.
7 My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
8 Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early.
9 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.
10 For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.
11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.
Saturday, September 13
אל תשצת Al-taschith, DO NOT DESTROY – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: Psalm 57: 1; KJV
The Christian life is about making choices. God is sovereign and in His grace God allows us to make choices in life. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to make the right choices according to what is written in the word of God. However, God does not give us any right over the consequences of the choices we make because He is still the Judge. In the month of ELUL – August 27- September 24, (see ‘Featured Posts’), there is the distinct call to ‘Return To The Lord’; to seek God and live. Why? Because God is still the Judge and the Apostle Paul speaking to the Athenians in Acts 17:30 reminds us of God’s command to all people everywhere to come to repentance: “For He has set a Day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The Bible gives us two choices: Choose Life or Choose Death. The cry for mercy and forgiveness from a living God in whom all His ways are upright and just is to choose life and not be destroyed. To spare someone’s life even though you are persecuted or harassed or abused by that person is a choice for life not to destroy that person who belongs to God. Vengence belongs to God (Romans 12:19).
“You may be sure that your sin will find you out” Numbers 32:23
Al-taschith, DO NOT DESTROY: There are 4 occurrences in the Psalms, inspired by the Holy Spirit, when this Hebrew word Al-taschith is used: Psalm 57:1; Psalm 58:1; Psalm 59:1; and Psalm 75:1. All 4 Psalms were written at a time when Saul was in pursuit to take David’s life. This expression ‘Al-taschith’ can be traced back to David’s command to his followers in 1 Samuel 26:9 not to destroy King Saul: And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not; for who can stretch forth his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless? David could have also prayed for himself that the LORD God would be gracious and merciful to him and spare his life before his enemies. David believed that even in the darkness of the hour, there is triumph in the hands of a merciful God. But, even when David committed adultery with Bathsheba and sinned before God (2 Samuel 11), being remorse and pleading for mercy did not bring Bathsheba’s husband Uriah or their baby back from the grave. The grave still stands. There are consequences to sin.
Al-taschith, DO NOT DESTROY: There was only ONE posture that David took when he acknowledged the plague within his own heart and that was to pray and cry out Al-taschith: Do not destroy…me: ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.’ Psalm 51: 1-2.
In my study of Psalm 57, I visited the Mulu Caves recently in our neighboring state of Sarawak for the sole purpose of seeking out the heart of David in his moment of emotional anguish and distress as he hid in a cave. David begins travailing in prayer within the labyrinth of his own soul with the Hebrew word: AL-TASCHITH: Do not Destroy. I stood in the ‘belly’ of the Deer cave and recited this Hebrew word quietly in the midst of the stillness and darkness of the cave: Al-taschith: Do not destroy… me, O God. Have mercy on me and blot out my transgressions. It is at moments like this when you are all alone, within the darkness of the labyrinth of your own soul, when you come face to face with the Judge of all creation, Jesus of Nazareth. There is only one posture to take, only one prayer to make: Al-taschith: Do not destroy me, O God.
Al-taschith: DO NOT DESTROY: Have you been faced with circumstances when there have been accusations, slander, abuse and lies said against you by those who are closest to you, friends, those whom you trust the most and you want to retaliate with vengeance and anger? Are you in a situation right now where you have done wrong before God and seek His forgiveness and mercy to spare your life and forgive? Pray this Spirit-inspired prayer in Hebrew: ‘Al-taschith’ and be reminded of the grace and mercy of God in your own life. When all seems lost because we have sinned before our Holy God and forsaken the Lord and we know that judgement before God is at hand, there is only ONE posture to take:
Let us pray this prayer together: “Al-Taschith, Do not destroy us O Lord. Be merciful unto us, O God, be merciful unto us: for our souls trusteth in thee, O God.” Amen
♦ Reflect: Deuteronomy Chapter 30
∼ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NIV See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Sunday, September 14
PETITIONING GOD FOR MERCY – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
To the chief Musician, Al-taschith, Michtam of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave.
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: Psalm 57: 1; KJV
I remember telling my nurses and some of my colleagues that I was going to visit the Mulu Caves in Sarawak recently. These were some of their replies: Caves of all places? said one. That’s the pits! The smell of the Bats’ dung will kill you! Another one said this: “Don’t take too long!” If only, if only they knew that it was I who was in the pits. My heart and soul was in a state of preparedness and ready to go to any other pit if that is where I would meet with God and find mercy. It is against the pride of man to beg for mercy.
Yet, one of the most heart-wrenching portions of Scripture that has always humbled my spirit and soul are these two verses recorded in Genesis 6:5-6: And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. † Should not the posture of the entire human existence on earth be one of begging for mercy from a merciful God?
Unless God intervenes, it’s all over: David knew his Bible, the Hebrew Scriptures, well and in keeping the Word of God close to his heart, David knew his God well. In the depths of despair, David sought refuge in a cave and in the company of hundreds of men who were also in a state of anguish, discontent and mental confusion, David knew where to seek refuge and find the mercy of God. It is in the sphere of despair and humiliation that we find our true worth to God, and that is where the condition of our heart and soul and our faithfulness and trust in God is revealed : for my soul trusteth in thee: David did not plead for grace, instead he begged for mercy. † Obedience releases the grace of God but true repentance releases the mercy of God. The gift of repentance engages two principles:
Firstly, David Petitioned God with A Heart of Sincerity: A Private Petition: David understood the urgency of the situation. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: Why beg for mercy? We find ourselves in difficult situations, in crisis, because of our own doing. Because we are such sinners we deserve every bit of chastisement from God and it is in such a situation in our lives when we beg for mercy from God. Our calamities are a matter of time but our security and solace in God is a matter of eternity. While calamities threaten the peace and mind, we should continually seek after the safety of the Rock of Ages. David acknowledged the plague in his own heart and petitioned God for mercy with a heart of sincerity.
Secondly, David Petitioned God in Public: A Public Petition: David was unashamed to make a public expression of his penitence in front of six hundred men. He led a corporate Prayer of Confession. In the Anglican and some Protestant eucharistic liturgies , we make this public confession every Sunday: We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: David knew that it was God’s character to always bring mercy to a sorrowful, repentant heart and love to a discouraged soul.
Again I write: † Obedience releases the grace of God but true repentance releases the mercy of God. King David of Israel lived a life of true, sincere, repentance before the living God of Israel and he wrote this down in his own Gratitude Journal which today is recorded in Psalm 23:6: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me ALL the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. Amen
† When we petition God with a heart of sincerity and believe in this promise that we will receive the mercy of God, we bring the presence of God into our calamities and trouble. This is the question I want to leave with us till tomorrow: † Where in the house of the LORD did David know where to find mercy?
Let us pray The Prayer of Confession on this day, the LORD’s Day together and sing this Hymn: Merciful God and Father, Loving Us Like No Other. Hear Our Prayer the Cry of Our Hearts. Amen!
♦ Footnote: My study of Psalm 57 took me to the Mulu Caves in Sarawak. I wanted to sense the emotional anguish of the soul of David as he wrote these Psalms while hiding in the cave and amidst the stillness and darkness within the cave. Please read ‘Featured Posts’ on Caves: A Hidden Tapestry In Stone.
Monday, September 15
GOD’S SHADOW – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. Psalm 57:1
From 1980 -1981 I served two years in military service as a Captain in the Malaysian Armed Forces. As the Medical Officer in-charge of the Medical Unit, one of my key responsibilities was to ‘set up camp’ for my medical staff and equipment in the front lines. At that time the Communist threat in East Malaysia was still alive and there were many sightings of communist insurgents in the jungles of Bau, Sarawak, where I was stationed.These areas were designated as ‘black areas’. In a mock ambush one night, my medical camp was ‘attacked’. It was sudden and frightening and the ‘enemy’ opened fire with blank bullets. We all ended up as casualties including the doctor! The camp we set up failed to protect us and the Commander warned us that if the attack was a real life situation, we would have all been killed. The trenches we dug out and the camouflaged leaves we surrounded ourselves with did not protect us. There was no place to hide and no choice but to surrender. A lesson well remembered.
King David of Israel was a warrior and strong military leader who led his men into battle on many occasions with the advice of his army commanders. On a national level he knew how and where to ‘set up camp’ and bring victory to his people, but on a personal level he knew the plague in his own heart. The only place he could ‘make his refuge’ and seek shelter and protection from the storms of adversity from the evil within his own soul and from his enemies without was with the God of his forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
God’s Shadow: The Scriptures draw reference to God’s ‘shadow’ as a type of His guarding presence. In Isaiah 32: 1-2, the prophet delivers an oracle of the coming King who would provide protection and shelter for His people from the storms of adversity as a “cool shadow of a large rock” in a hot and weary land. God is the Rock. David knew he could rely on God’s rocklike qualities, eternal strength and stability as a refuge. In Isaiah 49:2 the prophet draws reference to the hand of God as “..in the shadow of His hand He hid me”.
In Psalm 91: 1, 4 the psalmist draws reference to rest “in the shadow of the Almighty’ and refuge as under “…His feathers and under His wings”. We read in Matthew 23:37, when Jesus of Nazareth walked on earth, the Lord described the people of Israel as “baby chicks” scattered in every direction. How the Lord longed to gather the men and women like a hen gathers her chicks and under His wings provide the shelter, love and protection they needed.
† Where in the house of the LORD did King David of Israel make his refuge and find mercy?
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge: Psalm 57: 1-2
In The Shadow Of Thy Wings: The writer to the Hebrews (Hebrews 9: 3-5) talks about the arrangement of the Tabernacle of the Old Testament. The Tabernacle was the portable sanctuary used by the Israelites from the time of their wandering in the wilderness after the Exodus from Egypt to the building of the temple in Jerusalem. Within the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant. On top of the ark was a lid called the mercy seat (atonement cover) on which rested the cloud or visible symbol of the divine presence. Here God was supposed to be seated, and from this place He was supposed to dispense mercy to man when the blood of the atonement was sprinkled there.
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; Hebrews 9:3-5, KJV
† Overshadowing the mercy seat (Atonement cover) were the cherubims of glory. The prophet Ezekiel describes the cherubims as having wings of angels with many faces and appeared to have ‘the form of a human hand under their wings‘, Ezekiel 10:8. When one seeks shelter under the shadow of the wings, it is a place of divine protection and there you will be guarded by the wings of the cherubim, a fortress with defences where no enemy can enter.
† DAVID KNEW THAT IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE WINGS OF THE CHERUBIM WAS THE DIVINE PRESENCE OF THE MERCY SEAT AND IT WAS THERE HE WOULD SEEK REFUGE AND FIND THE MERCY OF GOD.
♦ Reflect: To seek refuge and find mercy from the throne of grace of a Merciful God and Father is the most sacred of all walks of the Christian life of a regenerated soul. To seek protection, shelter and rest under the ‘shadow of thy wings’ is :
1. To partake in the glorious awakening desire of the human soul to dwell in the house of the Almighty God;
2. To enjoy the favor of the Lord, for where the favor of the Lord rests, there the glory of God dwells;
3. To rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and
4. To be saved from the coming wrath of God.
“God forbid that I should boast in anything save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:14-16 Amen!
Tuesday, September 16
GROWING FAITH IN THE SOIL OF OUR TROUBLES – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
I will cry unto God most High; unto God that performeth all things for me. PSALM 57:2, KJV
∼ Unto God that performeth all things for me, Part 1:
If I recall the soul-enriching occasions when I have found my faith to grow, it was in the soil of my own troubles. Those most difficult and adverse circumstances brought me to my knees begging for God Almighty to intervene. To be honest, they turned out to be the best of times of my life because I found myself drawing close to God. It did not mean I started to behave like an angel, but, my heart, soul and mind was at peace. Calamity after calamity, distress after distress, it was at those times when I was in the pits and down in the valley when I found His divine presence was ever so close and real for me. † When we petition God with a heart of sincerity and believe in this promise that we will receive the mercy of God, we bring the presence of God into our calamities and trouble (G J September 14).
In 1997, I faced the worst financial crisis of my lifetime. The Asian financial crisis affected my practice severely. The interest rates for our bank loans rocketed sky high and I had to sell our brand new home to furnish the loans. There was only one posture to take: on my knees begging for mercy from God. The Spiritual warfare against me, my family, my possessions, my work, everything was so intense that even suicide was an option I considered. The Lord not only walked with me through the adversity of the storm but put a vision in my heart to walk after Him and make disciples of all the nations. I remember crying all the way to Eastbourne, England in September 1999, 15 years ago to the month. All I had in my hand was a piece of paper detailing the APCOD vision from the Lord. Asia Pacific region –too big for a beggar like me but too small for this great I AM. † Today, from the furnace of that adversity, more than 2000 delegates from 30 nations have participated in the 5 APCOD Consultations held in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and India. All glory to the God most High who performeth all things for me through Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
It has been in the interval between those moments of deep distress and calamities that I have found myself drifting away from God. We forget the mercies of God in our lives so easily. Now, after a devastating sideturn that led me on a road of forsaking my first love and into a state of total rebellion against this merciful God, I find myself once again feeling the weight of conviction of the plague in my own heart. Looking back, I know deep within my soul that God had orchestrated all things for me for His purposes alone, not mine. AWAKEN THE DAWN has brought the best within me to glorify God through this trial of deep remorse, regret, humiliation and pain. Allow me to encourage you to do the same. Start a Gratitude Journal this morning, today and together, a year from now, 5 years from now, let us see the Lord Jesus Christ’s hand ‘performeth all things for us’ for His purposes alone. Faith grows in the soil of our troubles. Amen!
King David of Israel had the answer to all his afflictions. It only takes a moment to remember the mercies of God throughout our lifetime. Even though his earthly hiding place was in a cave, David’s true hiding place was with God. The best time of David’s life was when he was running away from King Saul. It was the LORD God Himself who put an evil spirit in Saul (1 Samuel 18:10). Saul grew jealous of David, became afraid of David because of his popularity and skills. Saul pursued to kill David but in the storms of adversity and terror from his enemies, David grew closer to God. The best recordings of his conversations with his own soul and with God was when he was running away from adversity. Today we have his Gratitude Journal in the writings of the Psalms. † God purposed all things in the life of David to prepare him for the throne of Kingship over God’s people Israel. David knew the answer to all his afflictions was in the faithfulness of God to hear his cry for mercy. In Psalm 34:19 he writes: “The righteous face many troubles, but the LORD rescues them each and every one”. Amen!
Do you feel as if God is far away and not in the midst of whatever trial or storms you are facing right now? In the loneliness of the moment of despair, God is nearer to you and me than we can ever imagine. If we truly believe what the Scripture says – ‘Unto God that performeth all things for me’ – then it must include our trials, calamities, adversities and afflictions. But when we count our blessings, one by one, and His nearness, all the sorrow and remorse flees away in the face of our Savior Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
Together this morning, let us ‘Thank The Lord’ for all the trials that come our way and let us pray this doxology from Jude 1:24-25:-
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Wednesday, September 17
GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY, OUR CONFIDENCE – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
I will cry unto God Most High; PSALM 57:2, KJV
To the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men,…DANIEL 4:17, KJV
∼ I will cry unto God Most High; Part 2:
The sonographer (a medical professional trained in ultrasound imaging devices) who works with me in the Medical Center is a 28th year old young man of another faith. Just two days ago he came to say goodbye as he was going to perform his pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. I was fortunate to have this intelligent young man work with me for the past 4 years and I would often share the goodness and mercies of the Lord in my own life to him. But when he entered my room to bid farewell, I broke down and cried. As I hugged him I asked permission if I could pray for him. He looked shocked and shaken to see me crying and he came running over and said,”Don’t cry doctor. I am only going to meet my god”. I was crying because in my heart I remembered the cry of David: ‘I will cry unto God Most High‘. If only this young man acknowledged that there is only One God who is above all other gods, the God Most High, Christ Jesus of Nazareth. It was a humbling thought to remember God as the Most High God. An awesome biblical truth that we need to constantly remember through our trials and day to day life. In John 3: 31 we read: The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. Amen.
∼ I will cry unto God Most High; ∼ God Most High:- In Psalm 57: 1-2, the psalmist King David of Israel found that secret place under the wings of the cherubims of glory and there he sought the mercy of God under the shadow of His wings: The Psalmist writes in Psalm 91:1, NIV:- He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Running away from King Saul, the cave of En Gedi was David’s earthly hiding place but his true hiding place was with God. † On a personal level, David acknowledges his God as the Most High God. Because God Most High is a living God, He hear’s the cries from the heart of a single soul in need. God’s sovereignty as the Most High God was David’s confidence to seek after the heart of God, trusting in His mercy to deliver him from all evil.
In Daniel 4: 17, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is driven from man to a condition and behavior of a beast in order to humble him. † In his ‘Dream of a Tree’, he refers to God on a universal level, as the Most High God who is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth. “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
♦ These are the ‘Twin Truths’ in Scripture: Daniel 4:17 & Psalm 57:2
† The Sovereignty of God is both Universal and Personal. God Most High is sovereign over ALL the earth, universal, but He is also personal. Sovereign in all things concerning your life and mine and yet God exercises His sovereignty in the universe working all things for our good. We must always have both views of our God. The Bible begins with these words of Scripture: Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God: hence the glorious Most High throne of God is there from the beginning. In Jeremiah 17:12 we read: A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. Our sanctuary, yes, for you and for me. A secret place of hiding we can safely go to in time of trial and need. † God’s sovereignty is the reason for our confidence to walk through ALL our trails and difficulties trusting in His mercy to deliver us from all evil. What a glorious assurance of our confidence in God’s sovereignty.
♦ ♦ Can we get to this glorious high throne of God Most High and make it our sanctuary?
God’s High Places: The psalmist in Psalm 91:14, KJV assures us of this: Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My Name. This is the promise of God Most High. † If we do not forsake His Name, God promises us that He will set us “on high” if we make His dwelling place our refuge and home. In fellowship, in leadership, in service to God’s people, in usefulness with gracious anticipation of eternal glory. When God sets us on high, Satan cannot pull us down. Our dangers and trials might be fearful but our security in the Most High God is joyful. The devil cannot hurt the man whom God upholds. God Himself, in Christ Jesus is our sanctuary of mercy. The ark of the covenant, and Aaron’s rod, the pot of manna, the tablets of the law, are all in Christ Jesus our sanctuary. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory.† The writer to the Hebrews records this fact in Hebrews 1:3 that the risen Lord is seated at the right hand of the Most High God and Himself has purged our sins, upholding all things by the word of His power so you and I can come through faith in Christ Jesus and be set “on high” with God in glory:
Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
† The same God who created this world uphold’s all things by His power. This is called the Providence of God. To trust the God Most High is to allow His mercies to encompass us and protect us from all evil and danger. God’s ways are not our ways and through all our trials we may grow in faith to trust and have confidence in the Lord while in the soil of our troubles.
Before we begin this day, let us take a moment to read this poem ‘One Solitary Life’ and pause for while to thank God for the Cross of Christ. Because of this ‘One Solitary Life’ in Jesus of Nazareth, you and I can come with confidence before the throne of grace of the Most High God and beg for mercy to follow us, not only for today, but for all the days of of our lives to the glory of God, Amen!
♦ Reflect: Acts 17: 24-28; Psalm 91
One Solitary Life by Dr James A. Francis (1864-1928)
He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him
He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself
He was only thirty three
His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth
When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend
Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life
Thursday, September 18
GOD’S PROVIDENCE, OUR DELIVERANCE – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. PSALM 57:3, KJV (1 Samuel 24)
King David of Israel was in the pits! Have you been in a situation where you are running away scared of something and find yourself in the pits and nowhere to go? Are you running from someone today? Maybe a responsibility? A relationship? Maybe you are running away from a blood test report that you are afraid may reveal the worst? Are you in serious trouble that you feel right now you are running away thinking the problem will not find you? A financial crisis perhaps? A medical report perhaps?
Take heart! There are two occasions I found myself running away scared: The first one was during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 when I was truly in the pits! The banks would call me every day for three months. “Your loans are overdue. Your interest payment is 3 months overdue”! Each time the phone rang, I would say in my heart, “Oh God, please not again.” It was embarrassing, it was humiliating, it was emotionally heart-breaking. Here I was running scared because I did not know what to do. I felt a total failure and I had let my family down. The second time I felt running scared was when I received my medical report that all three blood vessels to my heart were blocked. I needed open heart bypass surgery. A medical man myself, yet, I was running scared of the possibility I was going to die.
Like a severe infection, both situations were acute. In the gravity of my own troubles I found myself turning to God. My faith grew stronger in the soil of my troubles and I allowed God to be God enough for me, to save me and lift me up out from the pits. † In yesterday’s reflection I wrote: Our dangers and trials might be fearful but our security in the Most High God is joyful. Faith doesn’t say, “Courage is with me,” but rather, “God is with me”.
∼ “God shall send from heaven and save me”: David was in despair. He had been running scared and away from Saul. David’s life is recorded so you and I can learn from his mistakes. In the darkness of the cave and in the company of six hundred men, he was able to “see” that God would “send” His mercy on the wings of angels to deliver him from his troubles. David reminds himself of the faithfulness of God to save His people Israel. By bringing to mind that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is a God who delivers His people from all their adversity, David had his confidence anchored in the providence of God to save. How did he prove it? † The greatest ground for proving the providential care of God is to trust in the Most High God. “for my soul trusteth in thee” Psalm 57:1.
♦ What is the meaning of ‘providence’?
The word comes from Latin providentia which comprises of two words: pro- “before” + videre “to see”. Closely related to the word ‘provide’ meaning ‘to see before’. The word has the sense of “knowledge of the future” or omniscience which is understood as an attribute of God. † Providence means God ordering our lives. God “seeing” our needs and “meeting” them by sending forth His mercies to deliver us from all our adversities. To ‘Trust in the LORD’ is to engage in God’s character to provide, to protect, to prepare and to preserve us for His divine purposes in time.
† What God has planned in eternity (His purposes), He carries out in time. David found strength in the security of the Most High God. He did this by reminding himself of the providence of God to send forth his mercies to save him. In the acuteness of the danger David was in, in the gravity of his own trouble, David could display confidence in God’s providential care to deliver him from his adverse circumstances. How much we, in Christ Jesus, should be able to declare: I will trust in God who performeth all things for me.
Let us pause for a moment this morning and take the time to read Psalm 40 together and remember to allow God to be God in our lives. To surrender all things to the Creator God Himself who holds all things and does all things for the good of those who love Him. God will deliver us from all our pits of despair, anxiety, distress, calamities, afflictions and mistakes through Christ Jesus His Son. Amen!
♦ Footnote: Dear friend, I would love to hear your heart and know if AWAKEN THE DAWN speaks to your soul. Please do share your comments with me. I would love to hear and learn from your walk with the Lord too.
♦♦ Psalm 40, KJV
I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord. Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.
I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. Amen.
Friday, September 19
IN GOD I TRUST – † Reflections from Psalm 57, KJV
“: for my soul trusteth in thee:” Psalm 57: 1, KJV
During a recent Skype conversation with a freelance editor and journalist, she commented that the title ‘A Slice from the Heart’ sounded too ‘surgical’ as if surgery was being performed on the heart, one slice at a time! I replied, “Yes, indeed”! I explained to her that circumcision of the heart is “Spirit-surgery”, taking one slice at a time from a callous, hardened heart of sin and rebellion and molding it in the Potter’s hand to become a heart that will be fixed and steadfast to love and serve God only. One such ‘slice from the heart’ that takes a long time to heal is broken trust.
One of the most painful, hurtful, afflictions of the heart and soul of any human being is when trust in a person is broken. Be it a family member, friend, pastor, colleague or spouse, the pain of being disappointed and let down by someone you trust can be one of the deepest wounds inflicted on any human being. Especially when you are at your wits end. In the miry clay of a horrible pit, you confide your deepest struggles to someone you can trust to walk with you, pray with you and keep the secret of your pain in their heart for you and then that trust is broken. There is no anesthesia I know can mask the pain of rejection of that investment of trust you have placed in that person to share your troubles with. Broken trust hurts. The wound becomes deeper still when the person you trusted in confidence interferes in your devastating situation and works against you to bring your own downfall and further humiliation. That kind of broken trust grieves the soul and I know it.
♦ Life’s experiences help us to look back and see that after each cataclysmic event in our life, it is crucial if not critical to reestablish our walk and trust in God. When we trust the LORD, He will intervene in our impossible situations with His grace and mercy. God never fails us. His mercies always prevail. The prophet Jeremiah speaking the word of the LORD to the people of Judah: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man…But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.” Jeremiah 17: 5,7
∼ In God I trust: † Trusting God is a spiritual discipline. David’s confidence in answered prayer stemmed from his trust in the providence of God to hear his cry for mercy. Pursued by King Saul and his army of three thousand able young men from all Israel (1 Samuel 24:2), David’s foundation for victory was trust in a warrior God who was all-powerful and trustworthy. David might have brought to memory the ‘Song of Moses’ (Exodus 15) when the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and their deliverance by the Most High God from Pharaoh and his armies: The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is His Name.Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Exodus 15: 2, 11.
David was Saul’s armor-bearer and harp player. The Scriptures tell us in 1 Samuel 16: 21 Saul loved David and David attended to the King. Saul sought the permission of Jesse, the father of David, to allow David to stay in his courts. There was trust in the household of Saul until an evil spirit sent by God (1 Samuel 18:10) turned the heart of Saul against David and Saul pursued to kill him out of jealousy and envy. How David’s soul must have grieved to have this trust of friendship and love broken before him. Broken trust hurts. The Scripture says David remained Saul’s enemy for the rest of his days (1 Samuel 18:29) . Jealousy, envy, slander, malice can break trusted relationships in life. Despite all that David had gone through in his life, his heart and soul was fixed on his Most High God. Again in Psalm 56 we read of David fleeing from King Saul and he sought refuge in the city of Gath, in Philistine territory. Although afraid of his enemies, David trusts in the mercies of God and writes: In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me? God in His providence allowed David to experience the pain of broken trust so he could fix his heart and trust in God as the LORD prepared him for kingship over His people Israel.
† The fear of ever trusting anyone again can keep you in a cave of self-recrimination forever. I am learning how to let go and let God be God enough for me to trust the Lord that He alone will heal the pain of broken trust in others. When we look to the Cross of Christ we feel the disappointment of having let the Lord down because of the plague in our own heart. The psalmist David felt the same. In Psalm 34:22 David writes: But the LORD will redeem those who serve Him. Everyone who trusts in Him will be freely pardoned. Yes, everyone.
Are you going through a a personal crisis and you confided in a friend or family member or pastor or colleague or church member thinking they will be there for you in this moment of great strife and difficulty only to have that trusted relationship broken? Take heart! It is safe to trust in God – we can count on it. Jesus expects us to trust Him in all the storms of our lives. Will we?
∼ Psalm 56; Jeremiah 17
Saturday, September 20
THE REASON FOR SINGING – † Reflections from Psalm 57
“He sends from heaven and saves me,…God sends His love and His faithfulness.” Psalm 57:3, NIV
A Personal Statement: In the past few days my daughter has been drafting out her personal statement for application into University. She would show this to me now and then and together we would discuss the core issues she has written about herself, her character, what motivates her, her determination to succeed in life, her skills, her past and present academic achievements and most important of all is giving the reasons why she has chosen a career in dentistry. I explained that all she had was an A4 size paper detailing why a particular University should choose her, why she must stand out of hundreds of applications and be selected. Last night as I read through her draft and reflected on all the main points she had penned down on paper, we prayed together and I said, “Sarah, we thank God and celebrate your life in Jesus and this is EVERY REASON FOR SINGING praises to this wonderful, majestic, merciful, forgiving and loving God.”
† “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, NIV
† This morning I asked myself what kind of personal statement could I write to God so that God would choose me into His Kingdom of light. Nothing! There is absolutely nothing that I can write or have done is worthy of His choosing me to be His son and child of the resurrection. It is only by the grace of a merciful God through faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus of Nazareth that we have been chosen and called only for one purpose, and that is to bear fruit, fruit that will last to the glory of God. † A personal statement is a memorial to God for His love and faithfulness in our lives and this is ‘THE REASON FOR SINGING’ praises to God Most High. His love endures forever. Psalm 118:1
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my Name the Father will give you. John 15:16, NIV
∼ “He sends from heaven and saves me,…God sends His love and His faithfulness.” Psalm 57:3, NIV This assurance alone inspired King David of Israel, within the darkness of the cave, to sing praises to his Most High God. It should also inspire us to sing with peace and hope in our heart and soul that there is an everlasting God who sends His love, His faithfulness, His mercy, His salvation through the One and only living God, His Son the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. Treasures of boundless strength are stored in our God Almighty and therefore His people should shout for joy – Oswald Chambers.
This is God’s personal statement. A letter of introduction we can present to any living soul on earth that salvation belongs to our God. “He will save.” Throughout all eternity this song of praise is sung, “He will save.” Only an amazing God could love us and have joy in us and send His love and faithfulness to us, and assure us that He will never leave us nor forsake us…what more can we ask…what more can we do but to declare to the whole world: We have a “REASON FOR SINGING”!
♦ This morning I would like us to reflect the writings in my Gratitude Journal of the past one week as we seek God to speak to our hearts and enrich our souls through His word in Psalm 57: verses 1-3:
Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
Sunday, September 21
RESTORATIVE GRACE – † Reflections from Psalm 57
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, Psalm 57:4, NIV
Yesterday I greeted my first patient with the usual salutation: “Good morning. How are you today?” Her reply was an emphatic “Good”! I told her how I ‘envied’ people who always have this answer ready at the tip of their tongue as if no difficulties or troubles face them. She replied even more emphatically, “Oh Doctor! Then I must say I am ‘Very Good'”! She looked surprised that I should think otherwise. I then greeted my next patient with the same salutation””Good morning. How are you today?” And this time the reply was, “Great”!
I grew up with this folk song “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul and Mary and when I get replies like these: “Good”; “Great”; “Fantastic”, I often wonder “Where have all the lions gone” in the lives of people I meet every day who seem to have no problem and exuberate such an enthusiasm for life and perhaps rightly so.
Am I the only one whose soul is always among lions? Do you feel the same way too?
Recently I heard a message by a well-respected preacher and he had this reply whenever he was asked about the state of his welfare: “I am better than I deserve”. That is what I call ‘Restorative Grace’. “Better than I deserve” is the reply from a soul that lies prostrate before a Holy and Merciful God.The Scripture tells us that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). If I really deserve what is due to me, I will not be alive today.
∼ “Better than I deserve”: Ever since I was born again in February 1995, my soul has always felt it is among lions. More so after I received the vision for APCOD (The Asia Pacific Consultation On Discipleship; http://www.apcod.net) in July 1996. There have been many times I wanted to throw in the towel and give up because the ‘lions’ were too many but the grace of God was all sufficient to sustain me even in the worst of circumstances and situations. But if not for the ‘lions’ in my life, I know that I would have continually slipped into the abyss of self-indulgence, pride and ungodliness. It’s when we let go of godliness and our focus on God and His abiding grace in His Son Jesus of Nazareth that we loose direction and let the ‘lions’ that surround us devour us.
The Apostle Peter writing to the Church comprising of strangers in the world, pilgrims of the faith, that is you and me, warns us against conforming to the patterns of the world: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 1 Peter 2: 11. The Scripture uses the word ‘beseech you’ which means ‘asking someone to urgently and fervently do, to implore in prayer, to beg, to petition in prayer, to plead, to appeal, to call on with urgency’. I am recording and reminding myself about this warning because the Apostle explains why:
† Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
∼ My soul is among lions: † Restorative grace is operative grace that is comforting, preserving, sanctifying, directing, instructing and assisting grace which generously pours into the soul without ceasing. David is a man with human emotions that you and I can relate to. The situation he is faced with is dangerous and urgent. He is hiding in a cave in the Desert of En Gedi from King Saul and three thousand fierce mighty men of war, angry men and in the darkness of his soul he feels the danger and seriousness of the calamities that befall him.
Yet, it is this very person Saul that David confided to in 1 Samuel 17:36 how he killed the lion and the bear with his own hands and the uncircumcised Philistine Goliath was no match for him. But David also confessed to Saul to whom the victory really belonged to: And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” 1 Samuel 17:37
♦ At the foot of the Cross of Christ we are all equal. Faith in God to save us and deliver us from all evil and obedience to His word are the prerequisites for ‘Restorative Grace’ to flow abundantly in our lives. True repentance unlocks the key to this gift of grace from God. This morning we pray that even though there are ‘lions’ that surround us in any shape or form or kind, we have a Savior Redeemer who is all-powerful, all-gracious and all-merciful. His Name is Jesus of Nazareth and together let us proclaim what the Apostle John saw and heard in heaven: “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. Amen!
♦ ♦ Reflect: 1 John 2: 15 – 17; Romans 3: 23, 24
Saturday, September 27
A TIME TO WORSHIP – Part 1/3 – Reflections from Psalm 57: 5
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57: 5, 11; KJV
On Thursday, September 25 I wrote about meeting two leaders, John Bachman and Tres Rice, from the Haggai Institute in Maui, Hawaii. The purpose of their visit was to video record my journey with the Lord these past seventeen years since my time at HI in July 1997 (see GJ September 25). The interview was about one hour long and as Tres had his hands on the video camera, John had all the questions rolling in one after another. As I reminisced over the seventeen years, I recalled that the number of times I was in the valley and pits was far more than the mountain top experiences. But through all the trials, tribulations, despair and sorrows, there was always a time to worship God, always. In fact, His Name is Always – always there, always present, always blessing, always forgiving, always gracious, always loving, always calling.
Do we know how to worship God even if we live with a little or much in our lives? Should we accept our trials or expect only blessings? Do we only worship God when we have the time to do so or is the attitude and inclination of our hearts always in worship with God, even when we lie down or when we are awake? When is the right time to worship God? Do we wait and sort out our troubles first and then worship God?
† 1. GOD WANTS US TO WORSHIP HIM BEFORE THE TRIALS AND TROUBLES ARE OVER:
∼ Open your eyes, Turn your hearts, to the Power of God: When trouble and calamities come our way, many of us will collapse, buckle in, give up, and perhaps feel overwhelmed at the sense of failure that the darkness of the situation we are in has overtaken us into defeat. King David of Israel was in a dangerous situation and running away from king Saul. † But in the darkness of the cave in En Gedi and with despair in his soul, even while he lay in the midst of his enemies and ‘lions’ (Psalm 57: 4), David recalled the many times the God of his forefathers had delivered and rescued His people Israel from all adversity and afflictions. Surrounded by six hundred men who were equally discontented, David was able to open his eyes in the midst of adversity, turn his heart from the darkness of his troubles to the source of light of God’s salvation (‘and save me’ Psalm 57:3) and from the power of Satan to the Almighty God. Only then was David able to enter into a time to worship God and sing: Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57: 5.
∼ The Lord Jesus appearing to the Apostle Paul (Rabbi Sha’ul) in a heavenly vision on the road to Damascus said these words to Saul regarding his calling in Acts 26:17-18: 17 Delivering thee from the people, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. † Repentance and faith are the twin truths in Scripture. Jesus said, “Repent and believe” (Mark 1:15). There is no faith in God without repentance. When we enter into a time to worship God, deliverance and the forgiveness of sins takes place.
† 2. WITHOUT REPENTANCE AND FAITH, WE CANNOT ENTER INTO A TIME TO WORSHIP GOD.
† 3. PRAISE OPENS OUR EYES TO SEE GOD FOR WHO HE IS – ADONAI YIREH – THE LORD WILL PROVIDE.
∼ Dear Lord, grant us Your grace this morning to open our eyes and see the plague in our own hearts and turn us from the darkness of our trials towards the source of light in God and from the power of Satan to the Almighty merciful God. Then hear from heaven and deliver us from all evil and forgive us our sins. Be exalted above the heavens and in our lives dear Lord, always, we pray, Amen!
♦ Reflect: ∼ 2 Corinthians 4:6, KJV: For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Sunday, September 28
A TIME TO LOSE AND A TIME TO GAIN – Part 2/3 – Reflections from Psalm 57: 5
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57: 5, 11; KJV
† Reflections from September 27: A Time to Worship – Part 1:
- God wants us to worship Him before the trials and troubles are over.
- Without repentance and faith, we cannot enter into a time to worship God.
- Praise opens our eyes to see God for WHO HE IS – ADONAI YIREH: The LORD Will Provide.
∼ A Time to Lose: In July 1997 the Asian financial crisis hit this country Malaysia like a storm, raising fears of a massive world economic meltdown. I was in dire straits because my medical practice was hit badly and to help furnish my bank loans I had to put up all of our three properties for sale. It was a critical time for me. All I had in my hand was an invitation to go to Maui, Hawaii to attend a ten-day evangelical Leadership Training Seminar from 25th July to 4th August organised by Haggai Institute (GJ September 25). I was in a dilemma – to go or not to go? As a family, we had just moved into our new home but this ended up being sold! I had just moved into my own private practice and this ended up being sold! My mother who was 75 years old at that time had to support me monthly to help pay for my bills! I had never been in a more deeper pit (except for the one I am currently in) than this. What would you do? I lost everything – personal respect from my own family members; my own dignity that professionally I could not provide for my own family even though I was a specialist surgeon; humiliation that my own aged mother had to use her savings to support me and my family. What would you do?
∼ A Time to Gain: God had spoken to me. That was all I knew. Although I had rejected two previous invitation letters from HI (Haggai Institute), I was convinced in my spirit that the third invitation was ‘His Invitation’ to go. Against all personal insults that I was a failure, I went praising God in my heart that He had called me by my name. It was in Maui, Hawaii, on July 31st 1997 I received the vision from the Lord to bring Christian leaders from the Asia Pacific region to address the urgency for authentic discipleship to Jesus of Nazareth and APCOD – The Asia Pacific Consultation On Discipleship was conceived. Today, more than 2000 Christian leaders from 32 nations have been blessed to know the man Jesus of Nazareth in new light as Yeshua HaMeshiach ben David, our Hebrew Lord. † I count ALL things but loss that I might gain Christ and be found in Him, and in Him alone.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and may be found in Him. Philippians 4: 8,9
∼ Be exalted O God: † Praise opens our eyes to see the providence of God to provide through afflictions and turmoil. The more King David of Israel praised God, the more his eyes were open to WHO GOD IS and the deliverance of God to save him. Even as he took refuge ‘at the back of the cave’ (1 Samuel 24:3), David was able to see in the darkness of the cave that God will send forth His mercy and deliver him. He trusted in the saving grace of God. David was able to see beyond his calamities and ascribe greatness to a great God.
David was an armor-bearer, a warrior and leader of high rank in Saul’s army (1 Samuel 18:5) and had led them into many successful victories against the Philistines. But when Saul entered the cave, the men chided David to kill Saul but he refused because Saul was an anointed leader chosen by God (1 Samuel 24:4-7). David feared God above his own pride to exalt himself in front of his men. †David was willing to loose his own pride and dignity in order to gain the mercy and grace of God to be saved from his enemies and troubles. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Proverbs 3:34
∼ Job who in the midst of intense suffering and hardship lamented before God: “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the Name of the LORD!” (Job 1:20-21) Job lost everything but God blessed the latter part of his life and made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10).
∼ The whole duty of mankind is to exalt God above the heavens and in all the earth. Whether we have almost nothing or we are blessed with everything we need, our first calling as children of the resurrection is to exalt the Name of Jesus, give thanks and worship the King of Glory. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Amen!
Monday, September 29
FACE TO FACE WITH GOD – Part 3/3 – Reflections from Psalm 57: 5
Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57: 5, 11; KJV
(Reflections from September 27: A Time to Worship – Part 1/3)
- God wants us to worship Him before the trials and troubles are over.
- Without repentance and faith, we cannot enter into a time to worship God.
- Praise opens our eyes to see God for WHO HE IS – ADONAI YIREH: The LORD Will Provide.
(Reflections from September 28: A Time to Lose and A Time to Gain – Part 2/3)
- Only after we experience the loss of all things that we may gain Christ, and may be found in Him.
- True worship allows us to see beyond our calamities and ascribe greatness to God our Rock.
∼ July 1997: The journey to Maui, Hawaii was a long one, approximately 20 hours (Kota Kinabalu – Kuala Lumpur -Narita, Japan – Hawaii, Honolulu – Maui). I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen and could only trust in the grace of God to guide me. The emotions of feeling lost, lonely, dejected, unable to come face to face with friends and family was overwhelming. I can recall every bit of emotion I went through because those milestones in life are engraved deep in my memory. † But deeper still was the joyful expectancy that I knew I will meet with God face to face.
On the evening of Thursday, July 31st, 1997, Dr John Haggai, founder and Director of the Haggai Institute challenged me with these words: “Attempt something so great for God that it is doomed to fail unless God be in it!” ‘Attempt something so great for God’ – was he serious? Was I in a position to ‘attempt’ something so great when I was just about to loose everything in my life as a result of the Asian financial crisis – self dignity, possessions, pride, personal feeling of not being able to achieve anything, a failure to my family and friends? What would people say? I had received many arrows and spears but that night, alone in my room, I prayed and sought the face of God. God spoke and I wrote down the vision of APCOD (pronounced A-P-COD). For the 10 days in Maui, it was a time of daily praise and worship to an ever-forgiving, loving God. Attempt I did because I knew ‘God was in it‘! For ‘God to be in it’, I had to come face to face with God with a repentant heart.
∼ David could see Saul ‘face to face’ while Saul was in the cave (1 Samuel 24:4). When he came out of the cave and showed Saul the piece of robe he had cut off while Saul was in the cave, he came face to face with Saul and three thousand armed, fierce men of Saul’s army (1 Samuel 24:8). † Yet, in the face of his calamities, in the face of great danger and turmoil and worry for his own life, David turned his face away from all his troubles and came face to face with God. † That is where the true heart of worship takes us: face to face with God in spirit and in truth. In the face of God we see the plague in our own heart, our own sinfulness and the only response is to beg for mercy and forgiveness. Acknowledging his own sinfulness, David was a man after God’s own heart. He knew he will find peace and rest in the shelter of the Most High God. † David was able to praise God and acknowledge with joyful acceptance of all that God had provided by His grace to save him and deliver him from all his adversities. In the face of God, all his troubles faded away and in God he saw the majesty of the Holy One of Israel. His response was one of praise from a grateful heart: Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
∼ We should never face any difficulty thinking reasons why God should not deserve all our praise. We should enjoy the times we have to praise the Lord, both privately and publicly in worship. There are times I have lost the attitude of praise in my heart because of the plague in my own heart and lack of appreciation of the merciful activity of God’s grace in my life. Yes, this happens when I turn my back away from God and face the pleasures of the world. † Only in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can we enter into an intimate relationship with God in worship. David experienced the boundless grace and mercy of God in his life and responded with a heart of worship and praise. Spontaneous praise is always authentic praise from the heart of a grateful person when face to face with God. Amen!
Tuesday, September 30
A FIXED HEART – Reflections from Psalm 57
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Psalm 57: 7, KJV
One of the greatest choruses any disciple of Jesus of Nazareth is blessed at some stage during his or her pilgrimage through this life to sing is this song of praise: My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: Let me repeat this chorus: My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I believe this with all my heart that when we are able to sing this chorus, all the angels in heaven will sing this praise with us as well. I started this Gratitude Journal on July 8, 2014 as a broken person with a broken-world experience. I know that this chorus has a deep, personal song in my own heart and my prayer is that someday soon, I too, like King David of Israel, will be able to shout to the Lord in glory: My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. † What is important is that I do not keep any broken pieces to myself but give it all to the LORD so God Himself can fix my heart by the power of His Spirit. Only then can I AWAKEN THE DAWN to worship God in spirit and in truth. Amen!
† But one of the most tragic personal statements ever recorded in the Scriptures concerning the grieving heart of the Creator God Himself is in Genesis 6: 5-6: The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD grieved that He had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. † Should it not be that our first and primary purpose in life is to get our hearts fixed to please God and bring joy to the heart of the Father through true repentance? A broken and contrite heart God will not despise (Psalm 51:17) because only such a heart God can and will fix.
∼ A Fixed Heart: What is a fixed heart? The term ‘fixed’ is used as a term of ‘preparation’; it suggests a constant state of readiness to receive instruction and walk in obedience to the commands from a Commander. † A fixed heart is anchored in the faithfulness and love of God. King David of Israel was serious in apprehending his heart to get it right before God. David is determined that whatever the outcome, whether captured or set free by King Saul, David wants God to be exalted and glorified. PRAISE ALWAYS BEGINS FROM THE HEART. David could have killed Saul while Saul was in the cave and gained victory in the eyes of the six hundred men who surrounded him but he chose to allow God to be victorious in his life. David knew WHO GOD IS and was assured of his salvation in the LORD. At the back of the cave, his heart is overflowing with thankfulness that God will save him and be merciful to him. David wants all the nations to praise and exalt God. From the superabundance of a grateful heart shall our mouths sing praises. Only a fixed heart is in a state of preparedness to enter into the presence of the Holy One of Israel.
† A crisis reveals where a man’s heart is. A crisis reveals where a man’s true faith is. A fixed heart is able to see the full recognition of WHO GOD IS: holy, sovereign, almighty, loving, forgiving, merciful God. It creates within the heart of the worshiper a hatred for sin and a desire for holiness, obedient submission and repentance to God. As a result of this vital intimate encounter with the LORD, there the heart of worship responds in exalting the Name of Jesus above all the heavens and in all the earth. Praise is the spontaneous response of a grateful heart in the presence of the Almighty God.
Coming ‘Out of Egypt’, the children of Israel when they crossed over the Red Sea, on the banks of the sea with a cry of victory they sang the ‘Song of Moses’ in praise to the LORD God Almighty (Exodus 15). So too, when our hearts are fixed and steadfast in victory, at the foot of the Cross of Christ on Calvary, we too will sing this song of praise from our hearts: Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth. Psalm 57: 5 Amen!
♦ Reflect: Galatians 6: 14-15
∼ Matthew 12:34: For out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
≈ Philippians 3:12, KJV: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Wednesday, October 1
AWAKEN THE DAWN WITH A NEW SONG – Reflections from Psalm 57
Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 57: 8-10
Anyone needs a new song? I do! What better time in the day than to AWAKEN THE DAWN WITH A NEW SONG, to wake up early in the morning and have a new song in your heart to bless the Lord. The Scriptures begin with the words of the LORD: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. † The first order of creation was the separation of the light from the darkness that was already ‘over the surface of the deep’. And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day (Genesis 1: 3-5). Even before the two great lights were created on the fourth day – the sun and the moon – there was first the first day of creation and the separation of light from the darkness. This, I believe, is the condition of the heart even before we see the breaking of dawn in the morning. † Spiritually, only our Creator God can separate the light from the darkness of our soul through His word because ‘God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all’ (1 John 1:5). Only God can create a fixed heart, prepared and ready for worship.
† Praise begins from the heart. Before we meet with God, the heart must be emptied from all darkness and the light of the Word of life must so fill the soul to begin afresh to praise and worship the LORD with a new song. Only the power of the Spirit of God can write the lyrics of a new song in our hearts because if God is the composer of the new song every morning, the only response is…to sing for joy… because joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. What is important is to sing a new song of faith, hope and love in the Lord Most High, the Creator who orders into being all of life that has breath because we serve a living God.
∼ In the depths of despair, in the darkness of his soul, King David of Israel trusted in the faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Elohim – the Name of God as Creator and Judge of the Universe – to save him from the utter chaos and turbulence in his life. Elohim, the Creator of evening and morning, night and day, would also bring judgement on all evil in man and in this world. Declaring his innocence before King Saul and before the LORD, David called out to Saul, “May the LORD judge between you and me. ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you” 1 Samuel 24:13-14. David knew that judgement belongs to God. He had every reason to trust in the saving grace of the Most High God to grant him mercy and spare his own life from the danger that surrounded him.
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
† God’s faithfulness begins afresh each morning. David knew that and the Word of God confirms the attributes of God to each of us every morning, without fail. In joyful expectancy for God to act and send forth from heaven His mercies and grace to intervene supernaturally, David’s heart was fixed, in a state of preparedness, ready to meet with the LORD. Being the sweet singer of Israel, he mobilized the talents God had given him, got his instruments ready, the harp and the lyre, and started to awaken the dawn with praise and thanksgiving with a steadfast spirit within him. David wanted his praises to not only be heard among the six hundred men who were in his company but wanted the Name of God to be exalted among all the nations till the heavens!
† When we trust in the Lord’s faithfulness to usher in the dawn of each and every morning as created by our Creator Himself, we are assured that God will intervene in our impossible situations with His grace and mercies afresh every new day. We can depend on it! Our response is to ready our hearts afresh with a new song of praise every morning and AWAKEN THE DAWN with all our talents and blessings as we offer our lives as a living sacrifice to please God. Great is Thy Faithfulness O God! Amen!
♦ Reflect: ∼ Psalm 108
Thursday, October 2
TONGUES AND HARPS – Reflections on Psalm 57
My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp:..I will awaken the dawn. Psalm 57: 4-8
I have studied, prayed over and dissected Psalm 57 under the microscope to get a real feel of the heart of the man David son of Jesse and his conversation with both his own soul and with the heart of God while hiding in a cave from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). Psalm 57 has become my ‘footprint’ and shadow of my own life’s turmoil and struggle and it is from this Psalm that the title of this blog and Gratitude Journal AWAKEN THE DAWN has taken its root from.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. James 3: 9
∼ Tongues and Harps: With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings: I am guilty of this a hundred fold! The tongue is an instrument of righteousness that God created so man would seek after the heart of God and with a fixed, steadfast heart worship God with their tongue. Praise and worship begins from the heart (GJ September 30) but because the heart is deceitful and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9), we can also curse with our tongue. When the heart has sinned before God by an unkind word spoken against a friend or loved one, or we are in a state of remorse and sadness overwhelms the soul, it is almost impossible to worship God and the result is silence as if the tongue is stuck against the roof of the palate and unable to move.
David was a musician from youth. As a young shepherd boy, he would sing and worship God with his harp. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him and David blessed the Lord with the talents God had given him. Saul engaged the sweet singer of Israel to sing for him (1 Samuel 16:21). Yet, there was slander and deceit in the heart of Saul and he inflicted much damage and humiliation on David even to the point of wanting to take his life. With three thousand armed men carrying swords and spears, their verbal slander, insinuation, falsehood and ridicule was more painful than poisoned arrows. (1 Samuel 24:10-12)
† Yet, even in the midst of the ‘lions whose souls were set on fire to kill him’ Psalm 57: 4, David was able to ‘lie’ down and take rest as his soul took refuge beneath the shadow of the wings of God. David knew WHO GOD IS and that the weapons set against him will not prosper, including the terrible instrument of the tongue. On the blade of every spear and every sword was this inscription: It shall not prosper. Once he acknowledged the plague in his own heart before his sovereign God, his heart was now fixed in repentance and ready to worship God. Even before the light of day, he got his instruments of praise ready, his harp, his lyre, his men, all gathered before the God of all creation to worship and give thanks and praise: Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn.- Isaiah 54: 17
† The Apostle James explains this in James 3:11: Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Proverbs 4:23 teaches us to ‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life’. Matthew warns us in Matthew 15:18 that ‘the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them’. † But our Lord Jesus said on the last and greatest day of the Feast of Tabernacles,” Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 10: 38
∼ This morning, as we awaken the dawn and a fresh day begins in our life’s journey to make peace with God, let us pray that our tongues will always sing praises of thanksgiving from a grateful heart that is full with the springs of living water, the Holy Spirit, that comes only from a forgiving, merciful, gracious God. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens; let thy glory be above all the earth, always and forever more. Amen!
♦ Reflect: James 3; Matthew 15: 18-19