Daily Psalms – Psalm 49

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalm 46-50

Our reading started today with the following proclamation:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Psalm 46:1 NIV

The reading for today seems to focus around this theme. It is God who helps us. It is God who provides for us. It is God who reigns. It is God who is worthy of praise. It is God who saves. And Psalm 49 is a clear reminder that we cannot save ourselves.

When we moved here to Snyder several years ago, we got rid of many things we determined we no longer needed. We didn’t have room to move everything out here, so we sold, or gave away a great amount of stuff. Since we have moved here there have been boxes full of things in my storage building that have yet to be opened. It seems I didn’t even need all the things we moved out here!

We’re in a season of purging, asking ourselves if we really need the things we have. Do I really need all the clothes I have, or can I sell/donate most of them and just keep a few outfits for all occasions? Do I really need to pay for a streaming service when I rarely sit to watch TV? Do I really even need a TV? Does our joy and sense of identity really depend on a bunch of stuff sitting in our house, or is it found elsewhere?

I think these are the things the psalmist wants us to reflect upon in Psalm 49. The words are spoken for both rich and poor because both of us face the same reality:

People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish.
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.

Psalm 49:12-13 NIV

Now if those last two verses don’t speak to our culture, I don’t know what will. We get so excited and focused on people we don’t even know, wanting to “follow” them on social media. We pay a lot of attention to people, and things that really don’t matter. The end result of this all is death and decay. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “What am I living for?”

Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.

Psalm 49:16-17 NIV

As we approach a time of worship tomorrow morning, focus on what really matters. Not on my stuff. Not on my schedule. Not on my wishes and desires. Not on my job.

What really matters is my relationship with the only one who can conquer death.

But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
He will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 49:15 NIV

If you can’t truly say verse 15 about your present relationship with God, then that’s where your focus needs to be. Because in the end, nothing else matters.

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Be Like This Crook. Well, Sort of…

This week’s reading comes from Luke 15-16. This article will focus on one of Jesus’ more difficult parables. In the first fifteen verses of Luke 16 we read about a very backwards and messed up situation.

First, a manager has been embezzling, or at the very least wasting the resources he has been entrusted to manage. His master wants him to give a report of his accounts after he fires him. (16:2)  Knowing he has lost his job, the manager wants to gain favor with people who owe his master money in hopes that he will find a job with them when the dust settles. (16:4) The manager decides to greatly reduce the debt (most likely rent for producing crops on the master’s land) that is owed. In doing this he has gained favor with potential employers, but also reduced his masters income! (16:5-7).

Now after hearing that passage one would assume to hear the master berate the manager and cast him out of the kingdom. But that’s not what happens. Instead, the master commends the manager! (16:8)

Now surely Jesus would tell us that as followers of him we should never act this way. But he doesn’t! Instead he wants his followers to take on at least one characteristic of this crooked manager. In total, Jesus gives us at least four lessons from this passage.

First, we are reminded to be shrewd. Just as the manager saw an opportunity and took it, we as followers of Christ should also take advantage of opportunities we have. (16:8) We often pay more attention to things that don’t matter than we do sharing the Gospel. I like how William Barclay summarized this: “If only people would give as much attention to the things which concern their souls as they do to the things which concern their business, they would be much better human beings. Over and over again people will expend twenty times the amount of time and money and effort on pleasure, on hobbies, gardening or sport as they do on their church. Our Christianity will begin to be real and effective only when we spend as much time and effort on it as we do on our worldly activities.” (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke)

Second, we are taught that we should not hoard wealth, but use it to bless others. (16:9) Helping others, or blessing their lives will bless our friendships and store up eternal rewards.

Third, we must must have integrity. We must be honest at all times, even in the little things. Trustworthiness and integrity not only affect our earthly dealings, but can harm or enhance our witness for Christ. If we are dishonest, who will ever trust what we say about Jesus? (16:11)

And finally, we cannot serve two masters. Focusing on earthly wealth will lead us down the same path as the manger; we will wind up serving our own appetite and fail to serve the master who truly provides. (16:13)

As you go through the rest of your week ask yourself the following question:

Is what I’m doing right now honoring God and building his Kingdom, or am I serving myself and building my kingdom?  

Knowing the difference helps us see our lives as God does. (16:15)

First Post…Welcome!

Welcome to my blog!  I’m not sure quite what this will turn into over time, nor what I’ll write about from day-to-day.  As you can tell from the description, this blog has a pretty broad scope when it comes to topics.  We’ll touch on a little of everything, but today we’re starting with politics.

Our federal government is spending WAY more money than it brings in each and every year for the past several years.  This is referred to by political insiders as the “national deficit.”  That’s just a nice way of saying “the drunken national spending binge.”  The federal government this year will take in $2.17 trillion and will spend $3.81 trillion.  That means that this year alone your government officials in Washington D.C. will overspend by $1.63 trillion.  OVERSPEND BY $1.63 TRILLION!!!  The absurdity of this should shock every American and cause us to drastically rethink the choices we have made to re-elect the same old people to Washington.  But that’s not all…

Today the “Debt Super Committee” failed in its ability to reduce the federal spending by $1.2 trillion over 10 years which has automatically triggered some so-called “cuts” to our federal spending.  Let’s look at this in a way that most politicians would rather us not.  Each year the federal spending automatically increases. So if our government did absolutely nothing, spending would still increase next year by default.  And remember, we’re already $1.63 trillion upside down this year alone!   Next year that spending will increase again.  But Matt…what about all these automatic deep cuts that went into effect?  It’s another lie coming out of Washington.  GO FIGURE!

The “deep cuts” that automatically went into effect are simply decreasing the amount of spending increases that will occur over the next several years.  Let’s use the federal defense budget for example.  Originally the defense budget would have increased by 23%.  Now with the “deep cuts” that went into effect, the federal defense budget will only increase by 16%.   In other words, everyone in the government is getting more money next year, just not as much more money as they thought they were going to get, and this bends everyone out of shape!

Our government is overspending by more and more each year and our politicians, Democrat and Republican, can’t even figure out a way to not spend more than they bring in?  Yes cutting our gross overspending will hurt a little.  It would hurt if you had to cut your personal spending the same way, but if you or I didn’t stop our spending we’d go bankrupt in a couple of years and lose everything we have and hold dear.  I just wonder what will happen to our government…

Thanks for taking the time to read by first post! For the next post, sports. I guess you’ll just have to come back for that one.