Saturday, November 2, 2013

Psalm 86

David' prayer to have mercy and protection

David prays to the LORD to answer his prayers as he is faithful and trusts in the LORD. He praises the LORD for being forgiving and abound in love.

Other gods, in his opinion, does not compare with the LORD, as He has performed marvelous deeds.
Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, LORD,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
David realized that LORD's love towards him is so great that He delivered him from the realm of death. When arrogant and ruthless people are pursuing him, the all compassionate and gracious LORD is the One who showered mercy upon him.

A request is made to save him and to show him a sign of goodness.

My Thoughts
The love and trust for LORD is evident in this psalm. David recognized the depth of LORD's love for him. Those who stop for an instant and look around will **see** those marvelous deeds LORD has performed.

These psalms will be appealing specifically all those who want to taste love and to experience it's joy. LORD's love is special and anyone who tasted a single drop of it will never compromise.

We tend to write letters - long letters to those who we immensely love. It is an effort to pour out our hearts into those sheets of paper. We then somehow wrap it in an envelop and send it across. The person on the other end, may or may not grasp the weight of our hearts in those letters - it depends on the mood and atmosphere in which that person is reading those letters. Nothing should be expected in return while doing so.

The story is different with LORD. When we compose a love letter to the LORD, we really don't have to mail it. He will read it instantly, overlooking all those spelling and grammar mistakes; He will know the full weight of our hearts; He will be happy instantly. Regardless of whether we expect a reply or not, He will reply (no doubt about it!). He will speak to us in a special language, that only we can hear. His response tends to be 7 times longer, authentic, and lovely - much more than what we can contain in our hearts. A reply from Him is so soothing - which is precisely what David is asking.

Psalm 85

A prayer for LORD's renewed favor.

In the past, the LORD had showed His favor to Israel, had restored their fortunes and forgiven their sins. He has turned away His angry face.

Once again the psalmist pleads the LORD to do the same, and to put away His displeasure. He asks for LORD's salvation. The request is to revive and restore the nation of Israel, so that people may rejoice.
Psalm 85:10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
LORD's righteousness is among His people and goes before Him. LORD gives what is good to His people.

Psalm 84

A prayer of longing for the house of the LORD.

How lovely is LORD's dwelling place. The author's soul yearns and even faints to be in the presence of LORD. His heart and flesh cry out for the loving LORD. He looks at the sparrow, who has found a house to have babies, beside LORD's altar.

Then he describes who are those blessed, who go from strength to strength.
Psalm 84:4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
    they are ever praising You.
LORD, listen to our prayers and look upon us with favor.
Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in Your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Those who put their trust in the LORD are blessed.

My Thoughts
This beautiful psalm yearns dwelling with the LORD. This Psalm sounds as if the author, who used to have access to LORD's house is now prohibited from entering it. Read the psalm to learn how deep and desperate his love is. Those who have a loving heart will certainly and easily understand the sentiments of the author.

He envies those birds who have access near the LORD's place. He must have wished he was one of those birds to have unhindered access.

The most awesome house in this world is the one where the person we love the most resides. Our loved one's presence is the lone factor that craves for that longing. The stronger the love, the deeper we crave to be with them, in their presence and more frequently we find reasons to cling near them. It is only natural to feel jealousy towards those who get to visit them frequently.

The author narrates the tremendous amount of love he has, for the LORD. Out of desperation, he desires to be in the presence of the LORD, for at least one single day, providing humble service as a doorkeeper.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Some more modifications

Dear Readers,

We are making some minor adjustments to our guided tour and few modifications to our site. I am dropping few sections including Inspirational, Humor, Heaven etc.. The reality is that I have burdened myself and made promises which I cannot keep (for now).  I need to stay focused on the Guided Tour without further distraction.

About Heaven - the topic resonates well after we have read the Book of Revelation. Therefore, it makes logical sense to look at "Heaven" in that order. I hope you understand and agree with me.

For now, for those of you who have free time, I encourage you to read a book, "Heaven is for Real." This is a little boy's astounding story of his trip to Heaven and back. It was a 2010 New York Times best-selling Christian book. The book is currently being adapted into a movie. The filming began in July 2013 and the film has a release date of April 16, 2014.

I encourage you to read this book. Check your library - it may have a copy. For those who are unable to find a copy, please feel free to reach me, and I will help you out. The book is written in a simple language. All of us at home enjoyed reading it. The prologue is posted under the Heaven Section.

There is another version of the same book - Heaven is for Real for Kids. I have not read that particular one. The original book itself was simple enough for kids to understand. Further it is a short book that can be read on a Sunday afternoon.

Psalm 83

Israel's prayer to crush their enemies when it seemed that the entire world was against them.

The psalmist prays to the LORD to come help them when their enemies are conspiring against them.
Psalm 83:4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
    so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
Enemies have formed an alliance and are plotting how to join forces against Israel. The prayer is to relive Israel from their hands, how LORD did in the past. The psalmist pleaded to the LORD to make the enemies of Israel like tumbleweed being chaffed before the wind, and the fire consuming a forest.

May the enemies of Israel be ashamed and dismayed and let them perish in disgrace when they learn about the LORD of Israel.

Psalm 82

The psalmist recalls that the LORD is presiding over a great assembly among gods.

He rebuked those judges who defend the wicked and the fatherless. He also condemn those judges who do not take care of the poor and oppressed.

The LORD sees everything and the psalmist urged Him to see those needy and to rise up to bring justice to the earth.

Psalm 81

Sing for joy and should aloud to the LORD; play music for the LORD to celebrate the New Moon Festival. This is to remember the deliverance from Egypt.

Sadly, the people would not listen to the LORD and nor would they submit themselves. They turned towards idolatry. The LORD was angry at them and handed them over to their enemies.

If only the people of Israel had subdued to the LORD, He would have taken care of them and satisfied them.

Welcome November 2013


Yellow topaz

Welcome November!

Zodiac signs for November are Scorpio (until November 21) and Sagittarius (November 22 onwards).

November's birthstones are the topaz symbolizing friendship.

The birth flower for this month is chrysanthemum.

All Saints Day - Nov 1
Fall Back Daylight Saving Ends- Nov 3
Veterans Day - Nov 11
Thanksgiving - Nov 28
First Day Hanukkah - Nov 28
Black Friday - Nov 29
Movember - no shave November

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Psalm 80

The psalmist is pleading to the LORD to come restore them and to save them. He wants the LORD to shine His face upon the people. He wonders how long the LORD will be angry with them. The people have been drinking their tears in “bowls” and have become a laughing stock of their enemies.

Once again the author asks the LORD to come restore them. He remembers how LORD brought them out of Egypt and planted them at this new place. They were later faced with enemies who attacked them and destroyed them.

A third time, requests are sent to the LORD to restore the nation of Israel.

Psalm 79

Prayer for LORD's forgiveness.

Here in this psalm, the author is crying out to the LORD. Other nations have invaded Israel, robbed everything and even burned down the LORD's temple. Dead bodies are lying around all over, which the birds and wild animals are feasting on. The streets are filled with blood. The psalmist is crying out to the LORD to hold His anger.

Next, the author is seeking LORD's mercy desperately. He is asking the LORD to save them from shame. Other nations are having fun when LORD is angry upon His people. He requests LORD to save them so that His name can be glorified.

The author is requesting LORD to payback the enemies for those insults they have caused.

Psalm 78

A psalm of instruction. 

In this psalm the author is requesting his people to pay attention to his teaching and parable. He wants to remind them those praiseworthy things the LORD has done for them. The idea is that the next generation remembers the LORD, without forgetting what He has done in the past. The author wants the next generation to walk in LORD’s ways by being loyal and faithful to Him.

Those people from Ephraim did not keep LORD’s commands, and refused to walk in His ways. Despite seeing LORD’s miracles, they continued to sin against the LORD and rebelled against Him. They put LORD to test by demanding the food they craved for, and water in desert. The LORD heard this, was furious, and His wrath was against Israel. He fed them with manna and water gushed out of rocks. Still people kept on sinning. Whenever LORD’s punishment was severe, they turned towards Him; then they would eagerly turn against Him.

Their hearts were not loyal to Him, and they did not keep His covenant. Still, LORD was merciful and loved them and did not destroy them. He restrained His anger from time to time. They turned towards idolatry, and yet LORD forgave them and delivered them. The LORD let the Ark of the Covenant to be captured and sent their enemies to attack Israel when they were disobedient. 
Psalm 78:69 He built his sanctuary like the heights,
    like the earth that He established forever.

Finally, LORD chose David from the tribe of Judah to shepherd the people of Israel. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Psalm 77

Comforting reflections during a time of distress.

The psalmist is crying out to the LORD for help at a time of distress. He thought about LORD during those tough times. He became scared at the thought of LORD and could not speak.

He wondered whether the LORD will reject him forever. He was afraid if LORD was angry with Him. Then he wanted to appeal for LORD's mercy and meditate on all those good works and deeds.

LORD's ways are Holy and He is so great who performs miracles to display His power among people.

Parting of Red sea is recalled, when LORD led His people as a shepherd.

Psalm 76

A celebration of the LORD's invincible power.

LORD is known among the people of Judah, and his presence is known in Salem (Jeru-Salem). He dwells in Jerusalem.

The psalmist describes LORD's awesome majesty in the form of a bright light, much majestic than mountains filled with game animals. He has power over valiant men, warriors, horses, chariots and has to be feared as nobody can stand His anger.

As LORD raises up as a Judge, His wrath brings down the wicked and men praise Him.
Psalm 76:11 Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
    let all the neighboring lands
    bring gifts to the One to be feared.
LORD has to be feared by all Kings of earth.

Halfway through Psalms

Halfway through psalms, and the journey suddenly became hard. It is because, the road towards the LORD's house is not an easy path. The evil one has planted several snares en-route, to distract and or discourage those on such a journey. The journey was never meant to be easy, in the first place - Jesus Himself cautioned it being narrow and said only few will even attempt travelling that path.

When we get to know our best friend better, we will learn (a lot more) about him/her. We will learn about his/her strengths and limitations. Similarly, when we get to know the LORD as our best friend, we will know (rather He will reveal) what He can and cannot do. One such thing the LORD cannot do (yeah, it may sound silly and foolish that the LORD cannot do something - but it's true) - He cannot tell lies.

Isn't it an awesome, secure feeling that there is finally someone who cannot say a single lie - no matter what. Someone who cannot deceive us even at the cost of His own life? Who is blessed to have such a friend? Who among us has the capacity to serve as such a friend? Where can we find such a magnificent companion? If Jesus served in the capacity of a Consultant, would there be anything that was made up? Whether or not the customer liked it, He would list them out one by one (a)... (b).... (c)... (d)... and finally... His recommendation. A 100% Truthful recommendation with suggestions, words of caution, and advance warnings. Jesus never said it was easy - but at the end of the road awaits a fabulous LORD.

I keep telling myself that I should keep moving forward by setting my eyes on the LORD and not to be distracted at anything. Yes, we are behind schedule, but this IS serious stuff. This is warfare - Spiritual Warfare.

Jesus is seeking some bold Christians to be on His side. Many so called Christians will look at Him, marvel His deeds saying, "Jesus is wonderful" or "I admire Jesus" and will take gallery seats as Jesus Fans. Only a few will be ready, to forsake everything and line up behind Him, as His followers - to fight the Spiritual Fight.

I strongly believe it is an honor and privilege to be called, "Soldier of Christ."

A solider or Christ puts on the Armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-18

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people..

Psalm 75

A thanksgiving in the form of praise.

The psalmist gives thanks to the LORD along with others. They recall His wonderful deeds. The author also shares his understanding about the LORD, as He is the one who chooses the right time and controls everything.
Psalm 75:3 When the earth and all its people quake,
    it is I who hold its pillars firm.
Nobody on earth can exalt a man, but LORD.
Psalm 75:8 In the hand of the LORD is a cup
    full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
    drink it down to its very dregs.
LORD is the one who makes judgement to exalt or low someone. The psalmist praises LORD because He will destroy the wicked and lift up the righteous.

Psalm 74

A prayer for LORD seeking aid and defense.

The psalmist is asking LORD why He has rejected them. He is asking several questions - why? Why? and WHY? It is clear that LORD is angry at them, and there seems to be no relief in sight.

Their enemies seem to be powerful like those lions who come roaring towards them. Others came with weapons and burned down the temple. The psalmist is questioning how long Jerusalem will be in such desolation.

He recognizes LORD as his king and salvation, who brought his ancestors out from Egypt. He describes LORD as all powerful and the creator of the universe, including sun, moon, and those seasons.

The author pleads not to forget the promise LORD made to Israel and not to let the oppressed retreat in disgrace.
Psalm 74:19 Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts;
    do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever.
The author begs LORD to come defend them.

Psalm 73

A word of godly wisdom concerning the destinies of those righteous and wicked.

To those who serve LORD sincerely, He is good.
The author almost envies those wicked who prosper. His mind is plagued when he compared them to his own state. He complains to the LORD about those wicked whose bodies are strong and healthy. They are free from burdens of other men and increase in wealth. He felt as though he kept his innocence in vain. He just could not understand any of it.

Then he entered the sanctuary of the LORD, and he understood the final destiny of those wicked.

Though the wicked seem to prosper, the LORD has placed them on slippery ground - they are swept away without any warning. The wicked fall utterly and inevitably from their state of proud prosperity. They will eventually be punished and destroyed.

Even though the psalmist is thinking stupidly, the LORD will not let him go - ever.
Psalm 73:23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
Though he envied the prosperity of the wicked earlier, he now knows that nothing in the universe is more desirable than the LORD.

The author wants to be near LORD and have made Him his refuge. He is going to proclaim to everyone about LORD's deeds.

My Thoughts
If anyone ever sees a glimpse of the LORD, he/she will not desire anything from this material world anymore. Verse 25 is so true, but that desire cannot be put into words - it is a unique experience, a wonderful longing.
Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
This longing is precisely the reason why monks don't crave for anything materialistic. They find fulfillment in their search for LORD.

Dale's Inspiration

If we are going to make big requests of God, we must come to Him with clean hearts and hands—that is, solely on the merits of His Son Jesus.

- Dale Whitaker

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Psalm 72

A prayer for his son Solomon.

David in this prayer wished that his son, Solomon will rule Israel with justice and righteousness. May such realm of righteousness bring fertilizing rain to the land and may the people experience abundance and prosperity.

May Solomon defend the afflicted and provide the needy. Let him rule with authority for long so that other nations come and pay homage to him by bringing gifts and tributes. If Solomon judges the people fairly and takes care of the needy and rescue the people from oppression and violence, may him be blessed.

David prayed that may his son Solomon be popular and blessed. May he received gold from Sheba and may he be prosperous.
Psalm 72:17 May his name endure forever;
    may it continue as long as the sun.
Then all nations will be blessed through him,
    and they will call him blessed.
He then praised the LORD for doing marvelous deeds, and may the earth be filled with His glory.

This concludes the II Book of Psalms.

Psalm 71

A prayer for LORD's help during old age, when enemies threaten because they see the king's strength is waning.

David takes refuge in the LORD and asks for His righteousness to deliver and rescue him. He trusted in the LORD to be his hope and confidence from his youth.
Psalm 71:6 From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
He prayed not to forsake him when he is old and at times when his enemies speak against him. He is determined to be close to LORD so that He will come rescue him. He is confident about hope in the LORD.
Psalm 71;14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.
He will speak about the LORD's righteousness and praise and proclaim His name and marvelous deeds. Looking into his own past, David knows that the LORD will restore his life, and increase his honor.

David will sing praise and honor him for LORD's faithfulness.

Psalm 70

An urgent prayer to the LORD when threatened by enemies.

In this prayer, David asks the LORD to hasten him and rescue him soon from his enemies. He alo prayed that those who sought his life be put to shame, confusion and disgrace.

On the other hand, may all those who seek the LORD rejoice and be glad.
Psalm 70:5 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    LORD, do not delay.

Psalm 69

A prayer of a godly king when under vicious attack by a widespread conspiracy at a time when LORD had wounded him.

David cries out that he is in lot of trouble as if waters have reached his neck. He confided to the LORD about those host of enemies, who hate him for no reason. He knows that LORD sees it all.
Psalm 69:5 You, God, know my folly;
    my guilt is not hidden from you.
David wishes that those who have hope in the LORD not to be disgraced because of him. He hopes that LORD's discipline of his servant may not bring disgrace to all those who trustingly look towards the LORD.

Due to his current suffering, his enemies mock his commitment to the LORD. He prays that the LORD restore him and vindicate his trust in him. He will continue praying to the LORD despite the affliction.

At times of trouble, they have heaped scorn upon him, rather than comfort.
Psalm 69:21 They put gall in my food
    and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
Gospel authors claim that this suffering that David explained here is precisely what Jesus Christ endured on the cross.

Then David prayed that the LORD persecute his enemies and charge them with crime. He then asked for LORD's protection.

He will praise LORD's name and glorify Him with thanksgiving. May the heaven and earth praise the LORD.

Psalm 68

A hymn celebrating the triumphal march of Israel from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion.

In this song, David prayed the LORD to arise and scatter his enemies, so that the righteous be glad and rejoice before the LORD.

He then exhorted his people to praise the name of the LORD, who serves as support for everyone. LORD is the one who pours down abundant showers from the heavens and determines whether a war is won or lost.

Next, David refers the majesty of the LORD and talks about Jesus defeating death and ascending into the heaven. He will crush and defeat the enemies.

The procession containing the Ark of the Covenant has come into view, with singers, musicians, and maidens. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah are leading them along with princes of Zebulun and Naphtali.

David asks LORD to show His power and strength as He has done in the past; once the Ark is in Jerusalem so that other nations will proclaim His name too.
Psalm 68:35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.
Praise be to God!

Psalm 67

A communal prayer for LORD's blessing.
Psalm 67:1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face shine on us—
2 so that your ways may be known on earth,
    your salvation among all nations.
Let the people and nations praise LORD and sing for joy. With His blessings, the land will yield fabulous harvest.

LORD will bless us and the entire world will fear Him.

Psalm 66

A psalm of praise for LORD's answer to prayer.

Shout and praise the LORD with joy and share your thoughts with Him.
Psalm 66:3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is Your power
    that your enemies cringe before You.
4 All the earth bows down to You;
    they sing praise to You,
    they sing the praises of Your name.”
Look at those wonderful miracles He performed through Moses and how He destroyed those Egyptian army.

Praise LORD as He preserved His people, tested them, refined them and finally brought them to a land of abundance. The author promises to come into the LORD's temple to make offerings, and to fulfill his vows.

He then praised LORD for hearing his prayers and is relieved that his heart is free of sin.
Psalm 66:18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
    the LORD would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened
    and has heard my prayer.

Polyamory - The New Love Lingo

Gay and Lesbian is a thing of the past, and is no longer considered "hip with style."

Polyamory, the new love lingo, means "many" or "several." It is the state of being in love or romantically involved with more than one person at the same time, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. "Poly" is the short & sweet name for polyamory.

Poly is neither classified as swinging or cheating, but involves multiple partners and has it's own multipartner language and terminology. These relationships contrast with casual, recreational sex and involve both sex and love.

A closely related term is "Nonmonogamy" which means having more than one spouse during a lifetime. Majority of Nonmonogamy cases are without the consent of all involved. Our culture does not encourage this practice or lifestyle due to concerns about exploiting women.

In case of poly, all those skills required to carry out a monogamous relationship are required, but the difference is that there are more people involved. To excel in a poly relationship, one has to be good - very good. Poly involves being brutally frank with the partner about what one is upto. It accounts for those partners having equal rights to explore others. Poly can be classified as a group marriage, where everyone considers married to each other. They typically do not mingle or engage in sexual relationships with anyone outside their "family" and do so only with the consent of other marital partners. The poly family lives together, sharing their lives and resources.

There are even dedicated support groups for those willing to try out poly concepts. Support comes in the form of sporadic poly potlucks, meetings, gatherings, get-togethers, hanging out, having fun, etc.

An article about a poly family here in Marietta, GA, appeared in CNN today. Click here to read the article titled, "When three isn't a crowd."

Poly can be classified as intense, intimate, and responsible living among those who have a common goal and vision. Rather than merely "meeting" with these "family members" under one roof during weekends, they made a bold move to live under the same roof to enjoy every moment of their remarkable life, utilizing effective time management techniques. Soon we should be seeing this concept "catching steam."

Biblically speaking, this concept is not something new. Folks in Old Testament days used to indulge in relationships even complex than this - read your Bible, and you'll find it in there.