One of the best things I have done for myself is grow in my understanding of God’s true character. I say true character because, like many people, I had created Him (if you will) in the image of my earthly (fallible) father as well as other authority figures.
So, in order to have an accurate view of God, I began writing down anything and everything I could as I came upon it in the Bible, in Christian music, in sermons and messages I heard, Christian books…that would “flesh out” more about what God is really like and what he has done for people.
This is one way I renew my mind with truth. I found out that I believed a lot of LIES about God!
So, today, you are going to start your God List (if you haven’t done this before).
WHY have a God List?
Have you ever had thoughts like “God this isn’t fair?” Or “How can God be good and allow this?” Or “God, you are expecting far too much of me, in fact, I think you are holding out on what would be really good for me…” ?? These kinds of thoughts don’t agree with the God that is revealed in Scripture.
When I begin to build a list that tells me what God is REALLY like, then I stop believing the enemy’s lies…like the ones he told to Eve in the garden when he tempted her “Surely God didn’t say ______.” (Dripping with sarcasm…) Or “God is holding out on you, Eve! You want to have the knowledge of good and evil and God is threatened by the thought of that!” and that sort of thing.
Had Eve had a God List, I don’t think she would have been so easily duped.
So, first thing we are going to do is create the God List. Then, later this week, I will show you what I do with it.
Remember that notebook I asked you to get? You need it today. It is fine if you have a tablet or iPad and software of your choice. I have put mine on Evernote and have it synced to all my devices. That way, whether I use my desktop computer, laptop, iPad, or iPod Touch (or even my Blackberry), I have an updated God List. It goes with me in one of those forms all the time. I will explain why later. But you can use Microsoft Word, or even a text editor or a good old fashioned piece of binder paper and a pen (though you will need to be able to put the sheets in a notebook over time!).
Then, open the Bible or launch the bible software or website. Navigate your way to Psalm 16. If this takes too long and you only have 10 minutes, PLEASE give yourself permission to only put 10 minutes of time into it. It is better than heaping condemnation on yourself! Please! This isn’t meant to be prescriptive (though I realize it sounds that way). These are tools I use. Make them your own or toss them out if they don’t work for you. Or adjust them. Take more time, or less time, try a different approach! In fact, I would love to hear about any modifications you try! Maybe someone else could be encouraged to hear your ideas, too.
So, now we have Psalm 16 in front of us. Please read each verse slooooowly, savoring it like you would a favorite beverage or piece of Dove chocolate! I want to walk with you through some of this one, then you can do some on your own. Let’s pull from Psalm 16 anything at all that we can about what God is like, what the Psalmist thought God is like, and what he did for people or what the psalmist thought he might do for people. Ready? Let’s go.
Here is Psalm 16:1:
Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.
What can we infer from this verse?
- God can keep me safe. (Psalm 16:1)
- God is a refuge for me. (Psalm 16:1)
These two things I write down (or type) in my God list along with the reference.
Here is Psalm 16:2:
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
What can we pull from this verse?
- The Lord is MY Lord — not just someone else’s Lord…he is MINE! (Psalm 16:2)
- Apart from him I have no good thing. (Psalm 16:2)
So far, this has been pretty easy. As we read on, verse 3…well, I don’t see anything obvious that I can pull from it. The same for verse 4. (You can look in your bible and see what I mean. Maybe you can find something there–good!)
Here is Psalm 16:5:
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.
What will you add to your God List from this verse?
I am adding:
- The Lord assigns me my “portion” and “cup” (makes me wonder what the psalmist means and could be a great study for me if I have the time and want to go deeper). (Psalm 16:5)
- The Lord makes my lot secure. (Psalm 16:5)
I may not fully understand what these things mean. The best way to figure that out is to do a word study and I won’t give time to talking about that right now, but no matter what it means, I think we can agree…this sounds like GOOD stuff, doesn’t it? Now, I already have SIX things on my God List.
Psalm 16:6 says:
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
YOUR turn! What will you add to your God list, based on this verse? After you do verse 6, go ahead and do 7 and 8, too! (Not ever passage is as obvious as this one, but I wanted to start simply!)
I would love to hear what you added from these verses. Please tell me in the comments.
Tomorrow, I will tell you what I do with my God List…which I have been adding to for years. I will continue to add to it my entire life. Sure, some things are duplicated…or triplicated, but the thing I like about that is that I get a good perspective on just how much of what I am told about what God is like is really wonderful. Sure, there are places where I am told he is angry or pours out wrath, but I begin to see over time that the number of time Scripture speaks of God as loving, compassionate, kind, etc., far outweighs the number of times I am told he is angry…or some other emotion that I may struggle with. (It is good to study these things, too, to better understand what it means, but that is beyond our scope for now.)
If you find today’s exercise has only whet your appetite and you want to do more, go ahead and do Psalm 17 or a piece of it. You don’t have to do more than one or two verses at a time to get something out of this process! Sometimes, God will have me zero in on one attribute of his that I get from even just half a verse. Then, I take that attribute with me throughout the day. For instance, today, I think I will back up to Psalm 16: 5. God has given me my portion and my cup. I will ask him to show me what this means (I think I have an idea) and how to be grateful for the portion and cup he has handed me. He has provided it…and I chafe. But it is from Him. I can make this the focus of my prayer.
How about you? Which attribute will you carry with you today and let God drive home to your heart?
What other things did you find in Psalm 16 and/or 17 about what God is like and what He does for people?