Psalm 3: Faith against Foes

 based on Psalm 3 (original)

I cry out oh Lord for help
They surround me on every side
Will you save me in my need?
Many are saying you’ll not provide.

But I know you are my shield
You will lift my head up high
I call out, and you answer me
I know, my aid, you’ll not deny.

If I lie down and fall asleep
I know I’ll wake and rise with glee
I will not fear 10,000 men
For the Lord my God, He shelters me.

Rise up my saviour and my God
Deliver me Lord from my foes
Break their jaw, shatter their teeth
Strike down them who against me rose

The Lord provides our one true hope
From Him receive all you desire
May your blessing, God, be on us all
And let us become what you admire

author: Dr David H. Akehurst

If you liked this, consider reading some of my other poems.

(I have always thought that it would be good to read a translation/interpretation of the psalms that actually read like poetry in the English language. I know that many other people have done this, however a few years back I was house bound for a few weeks and had a go at writing poetry based on them. This is one of the results.)

Thoughts about life: Know, deeply, that God Loves You

Know, deeply, that God Loves You

He really does, more than you can possibly imagine. What parent does not love their child, what creator does not feel for His creation, especially if that creation had the ability to feel also. If we make something – whether our childhood creations brought lovingly home from school, to bigger projects we take on as adults – we feel for the things we make, things we invest a bit of yourself in. These inanimate creations capture a bit of our hearts, how much more so would a child. How much more so, do we, Gods creation, and able also to love, capture His heart. How much must He cry when we are hurt, or hurting, How much He longs to reach out and comfort us if we will let Him. How much does He want us to have the best life we can – so much that He sent Himself/His son to die for us, so that we can have the fullest and best life. If we seek Him, He will prosper us. He has the plans to bring us all we could ever dream of and more than we can imagine. But we tend to ignore Him, not listen, not put ourselves where we can receive these gifts. Sometimes we can be really dumb. Sometimes we are just hurt, and we need first to allow Him to heal us, before we are able to receive some of the good things. Often we have been given good things, and we take them for granted, don’t notice, forget, or throw them away without thinking – again mostly through being hurt and broken people – but it can be through us making bad choices, or simply not being aware that God is there, and He loves us with the intensity that only an eternal and infinite God can provide. Step into it, bask in it, lap it up, it is infinite, it won’t run out as a source – it will run out of you, it will overflow into those around you, and they will feel it too – then perhaps they will notice Him, accept His love, and allow it to flow into someone else.

[1 Cor 8v3, Jer 29v11]

The Grace of God: Get a Revelation of it!

Understanding, really understanding, the Grace of God is the one thing that will help us in our journey as a christian beyond anything else. I don’t mean simply knowing what the word means, though that is a helpful starting point, but knowing it deeply inside your heart and soul and mind – in other words, what I am recommending, is to get a revelation of grace.

The topic of grace is sufficient to fill pages and pages, even a whole book is probably insufficient to fully explore the topic and this post will only scratch the surface. However, I hope to talk about grace sufficiently to motivate you into wanting to get a revelation about it and excite you about the possibilities of what could happen in our lives once we really get it. I hope that what I have to say will speak to your heart or rather, I hope that God is able to speak to your heart via what I have to say.

I cannot speak about grace without speaking of Gods love for us. Gods love for us is the biggest example of grace, illustrated in particular by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, His son.

Think about this for a moment. There is nothing we can do to make God love us less, and nothing we can do to make Him love us more.

Think of something that you could do that you think God would like – regularly reading your bible, attending church every Sunday perhaps, or working at the local homeless shelter or even, maybe more dramatically, selling or giving all your worldly possessions in order to raise money to help feed the poor. You could do these things and they will certainly help your life and help the lives of others. But they will not make God love you any more. They will not get God to increase the amount of love He has for you. He already loves you with an infinite boundless love that can fill you to overflowing and, most importantly, Gods love for you is based on His decision, not on what you do or don’t do.

Similarly, think about something that you could do that you think God would not like. None of us are perfect, we probably regularly do something that we know is hurtful to God or to ourselves or other people. When you do that thing, when you hurt someone emotionally or physically, or when you do something that harms your own relationship with God, God does not start to love you less. Not even a little bit less. What ever you do, however wrong you think it is or was, God still loves you just as much. Gods love for you is based on His decision to love you, not based on what you do or don’t do.

This love, this decision to love us, irrespective of our actions, is an example of grace. We don’t deserve to be loved as God loves us. We have done nothing, and could do nothing that would cause the creator of the universe to think he aught to love us. But He does.
Grace, undeserved favour. Do we deserve gods love? Do we deserve it regardless of what we do? Whether you answer that with a yes or a no, we are given Gods love. In abundance, overflowing, more than we can contain, God wants to fill us with his love.

Dad, Dad, do you still love me, our doubts say to us inside, do you still love me even though I have again done that thing that causes you pain?
Yes, my child, I still love you. Not only do I love you, I forgive you, and I will heal you, clean you, and celebrate your life. Again and again as many times as is necessary.
Dad do I have to do something to make it right? What punishment must I endure?
My child, I love you, all you need to do is come to me and accept my love. Accept my forgiveness, accept my grace.

How hard this seems to be for us to do sometimes! That action of simply coming to God and accepting His forgiveness and His grace. Do you understand, can you grasp it, the depths and the strength of Gods love and Grace for us?

King David is one of my favourite characters from the bible. Maybe I am biased because I share his name. But what I love about him is that he clearly understands about grace, and this is before Jesus was born. David is a very human King. He messes up, repeatedly, breaking many of the Gods laws. And yet he is described as a man after Gods own heart. He repeatedly repents of his mistakes, he returns to God every time. For example, how many of us have arranged for someone to be killed so that we can sleep with their spouse? No don’t answer, I don’t want to know. But, King David did that! [2 Sam 11] And then, in the next chapter [2 Sam 12:22], all be it a few months later, he is praying to God for the life of his son, believing for God to have grace and to and heal his son.

Do you have that same understanding of Gods grace? Can you go your own way, do something that hurts God, others, or yourself, and still return to God? Asking for his forgiveness, believing in his love and Grace? I encourage you, try it. Please don’t kill anyone. Don’t go out of your way to go against Gods way for us to live. But are any of us perfect? No, we are bound to make a mistake again, and when we do, we should go straight to God. When you do so, you will experience His grace [Rom 5:20]. I know this personally, because I have done this, and He has the same grace for you that He has for me.

Experiencing grace is the best way of understanding it, not just intellectually understanding, but understanding it deeply, in your heart. We experience grace from God, but also we experience it from one another. Every time we show grace to someone, we help them to experience grace and to get a better understanding of it. Then they in turn are more able to be gracious to others, but it all starts from God. In particular, showing grace to those who don’t have a relationship with God is important. Such people don’t recognise their own experiences of Gods grace to them, so we can illustrate God to them, by being gracious ourselves, on His behalf.

I know it is difficult. It is hard to show grace sometimes. But it is also, surprisingly, hard to accept grace sometimes and it is only through learning to accept and experience grace for ourselves that we are then able show grace to others. God is overflowing with grace for us, He wants us to take it from him. Believe and have faith, at every opportunity, for Gods favour on and in your life.

Many of the parables Jesus told have got grace at the centre of their message. In fact it is the grace illustrated in the those parables which made the stories so significant, and in some cases hard to accept. The parable of the workers in the vineyard [Mat 20] ends with the land owner illustrating grace. The ones he hired last did not deserve the same pay, but the land owner chose to be generous, he chose to give undeserved favour – grace, in the form of generous wages- to them.

The story of the prodigal son [Luk 15:11-32], with his father, full of grace, running to him [Luk 15:20] and celebrating the sons return [Luk 15:22-24]. Give a banquet and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind [Luk 14:13] – show these people grace, favour them with the banquet, and the following parable of the great banquet [Luk 14:15-24]. Not to forget all the people whom Jesus actively favoured by healing them. They had not done anything to deserve such favour, they did not pay Him, some didn’t even ask [Mat 12:13], many did not even thank Him [Luk 17:11-19], and Jesus didn’t ask them for anything in return, but they were all given a free gift of healing – grace in action.

Once we can really fully accept grace, and let it flow into us and out again, when we really “get it”. When we do that, I believe that our lives will radically change and we will really start to shine with the light, love and grace of God. Just imagine what your family would be like if every one always had grace for one-another. Imagine if that were the case in your local church, or neighbourhood. Imagine it extends to your whole town, city, country. Imagine living in a world full of grace, people who at every opportunity, will favour one another with love, forgiveness, help, finances, food, shelter, etc, without asking anything in return. How exciting is that thought? Well, it all starts with us as individuals fully grasping, understanding, how much grace God shows to us.

Getting such a revelation is normally a process. Some are lucky and have a “Road to Damascus” moment [Acts 9:1-19]. But for me any many others it is a journey, a process, and the best way to proceed along this journey is to practice. Practice receiving grace. Once we regularly appreciate and recognise how much grace is given to us by God, I believe we cannot help ourselves, but to give grace out in return. So practice receiving, then give out of what you have received. God gives, we take from Him, and are then able to give to others.

God loves to give to us. He gives love, healing, blessings, friendships, families… You name it, what is it that you are in need of, or even just wanting. You have a loving father who wants to give to you. Live in the expectation of receiving His undeserved favour in every circumstance of your life and don’t question whether you deserve it or not. Of course you don’t deserve it. God gives to us because of His love for us, not because of what we do or don’t do.

Grace, undeserved favour, go and practice receiving it.

  1. Grace is one of the most important concepts from Christianity
  2. We experience grace from one-another and from God – in particular the grace given via and through the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
  3. The best way to get a revelation of grace is to practice receiving it. The results will transform your life and the life of those around you.

Psalm 2: The opposition of Nations

based on Psalm 2 (original)

Governments and presidents oppose the Lord’s anointed King.
Why do nations still conspire, their people plot in vain?
By casting off (like chains) the guidance of His holy word,
How will they win? What do they hope to gain?
He could rebuke them if they listen, with His anger and His wrath.
But the one in heaven knows they’re fools and laughs at their mistake,
He has installed a gracious King upon His holy hill
And with these words proclaims Him King, all opposed will break.
Your are my son, today I have become your Dad,
Just ask! The nations and the earth will all belong to you
Rule them with an iron fist and break them if you will
Though my grace abounds and fills you through and through”
So tremble and be wise, all you kings and rulers on the earth,
Serve and respect the Lord your God, rejoice in His chosen Son
His righteous anger may be shown, destroying all opposed.
Better to be blessed, and seek to shelter underneath the Holy One.

author: Dr David H. Akehurst

If you liked this, consider reading some of my other poems.

(I have always thought that it would be good to read a translation/interpretation of the psalms that actually read like poetry in the English language. I know that many other people have done this, however a few years back I was house bound for a few weeks and had a go at writing poetry based on them. This is one of the results.)

Does God Exist?

“Does God exist?” A question that many people have argued about for a long time.

Personally I think that belief or faith in the existence of God is a personal choice. We should all respect that different people will make different choices. We should not get upset or argue unpleasantly with people over that choice it is their own to make. Faith, after all, is a matter of believing in something for which there is no immediate evidence. Hence, it must be a choice for us all to make, and I do not mind what choice you make, that is between you and God.

What matters, is the impact that that choice make on your life. Does your choice to believe, or not, in the existence of God, develop your character in such a way that your life has a positive or negative impact on the lives of others. What is the external visible result of that personal internal choice?

Thoughts about life: Practise Generosity

Why do we practise generosity? My answer is as follows,

In order that money and the acquisition of money does not become my primary goal in life. Practicing generosity reminds me that money is a means to enable me to bless others and that it serves as a tool to help me meet my purpose. Money is not important for its own sake. Be resourced so that you can make righteous use of the resources. Jesus had riches, and a treasurer, and used the money righteously. [Mat 6v24, John 12v6, Mat 2v11].

Praise and Worship: Sit or Stand

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song. [Psalm 95:1-2]

Praising God can take many forms and singing is simply one way to express our praise. But when we praise him by singing we should be focused on God, engaging with him, freely expressing our joy and happiness that we are in his presence, and allowing our hearts to engage with him.

Having recently moved to Germany, one thing has struck me as distinctly different between church in Germany and church in Britain. In Germany, traditionally, people sit down in church when singing! Why, I am not sure. However, coming from a British church culture where I have never (or rarely) sat down whilst singing, I find it very odd and a little uncomfortable. It is of course possible to sing praise whilst sitting, but I find this much easier to do when standing.

Apparently, in Denmark, they also sit down to sing, and I agree with this author that it is not necessary to always stand when singing. There can be good reasons to sit sometimes, however, I would present an argument that, on the whole, standing is better. How do I define better? In this case I mean that one can sing more freely, i.e. one feels less constrained when standing rather than sitting and one is better able to engage fully with the act of praising our maker.

Scientifically and physiologically, good posture is obviously important. Constriction in the airways and the diaphragm would hinder singing and make it a strain on the singer. However, although most professional singers do stand when singing, there are many occurrences of professionals sitting to sing. According to a trained opera singer friend of mine, when sitting one must sit upright with straight back in order to sing properly.

Is there any biblical guidance on whether we should sit or stand when singing? There are many verses about singing as a means to praise God, the psalms are full of references about singing, and other verses in both Old and New Testament encourage us to sing and praise God. However, there is no reference I have found that says anything about sitting or standing as a posture for singing.

Various verses that state we should praise God with our whole being, spirit, mind, body, and in particular with our hearts. Praise him with all of your heart, i.e. passionately and with feeling.

…Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. [Ephesians 5:19]

…Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. [James 5:13]

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. [John 4:24]

…I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. [1 Corinthians 14:15]

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. [Psalm 134:2]

If we look at other times when we engage with a musical event, it is quite common to see people standing waving their arms around and jumping about. Just look at any modern pop concert where the audience is ecstatic in the presence of the latest teen idol (and could be described as worshiping the singer) – they do not sit mildly in their seats. At a more reserved classical concert, or opera, people do have more of a tendency to stay in their seats, however at events such as “The Last Night of the Proms” the same joyous and highly active behaviour can also be seen. Similarly, take a football match, when your favoured team scores, do you sit and politely thinking “oh well done”, or do you jump up, wave your hands and cheer?

One of my favourite examples of someone fully praising God with all their being is that of David in 2 Samuel,

Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. [2 Samuel 6:14-15]

So David said …, “It was before the Lord, … Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. …” [2 Samuel 6:21:22]

Clearly, this was heartfelt praise and David was dancing and singing before his Lord, without worrying what other people thought of him. He was thinking only of engaging joyfully with God. So much so that he upset his wife by dancing in his underwear. Now, I don’t think I really want to turn up to church in only my underpants, however this example of praising God and not worrying about what the person next to us is thinking is certainly a good example to follow.

If we look the the psalms, as the primary biblical example of praise, clearly praising God is a joyful and noisy thing to do,

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
Praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals. [Psalm 150]

and again in Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy. [Psalm 47:1]

I would assert that it is natural, when freed from traditions and conventions, for people to engage in joyous praise and worship with their whole body, and this is easier if not seated. I want to praise God, singing with my voice, my body, my mind, my spirit and my heart, passionately and with joy.

– Open Bible: Verses on Singing

Thoughts about life: The Bible is the manual for how to operate your Life

The human spirit, soul, body, and the world we live in is a complex and intricate system or machine. It is both fragile and able to be repaired, giving a sense of robustness. However, as with all complex things, they work best, you get the most out of them, life to the full, by operating them in the way they were designed to be operated. You don’t have to use them the way they were intended, they will function (badly) if used wrongly. I.e. Drive a car with flat tires and no oil, etc. It works, you get from A to B in it, but it gets damaged, doesn’t last long, and does not work so well – bit of a rough ride. Well in order to operate life and yourself correctly, follow the manufactures instructions [Gen 1v27]. Additionally He will repair you as you go, and repair damage already done [Luk 9v11]. Do this and He promises your life be amaizing [Romans 8v2, John 10:10].

Psalm 1: How should one live life?

(based on Psalm 1 [original])

He who follows good advice
How blessed is he indeed
Who keeps others on the path
And gives encouragement in need.

His delight is the Word of the Lord
On this he dwells by day and night
All he does prospers well
Nourished by its power and might

Not the case for wicked men
Who will be blown away like dust
They will not get a righteous end
Or be held account by what is just

For the Lord does guard and guide
The way of those who do what’s right
But the wicked man, he will be lost
In the darkness of the final night

author: Dr David H. Akehurst

If you liked this, consider reading some of my other poems.

(I have always thought that it would be good to read a translation/interpretation of the psalms that actually read like poetry in the English language. I know that many other people have done this, however a few years back I was house bound for a few weeks and had a go at writing poetry based on them. This is one of the results.)

Thoughts about Life: Love God

Humans have a built in instinct to worship and love something. With out God we invent our own gods, made of wood, stone, gold, gems, beer, football, pop stars, sex, money, power [Exo 32v1]. Whatever we choose, we will inevitably focus on and make our life revolve around something. Let us choose purposefully what that should be, and pick something – the someone – that will last for eternity, and is worth worshipping and loving. [Mat 22v37, Det 6v5]