Wisdom from the Psalms

Wisdom from the Psalms

Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands” (Psalm 119:66).

As a young child I did not particularly enjoy reading the Psalms.  I found them to be boring, and I could not understand or relate to them.  Upon my confirmation, I received a red letter, King James Version Bible with very thin pages and no commentary to help explain what I was reading.  Years later I overheard a man ask a preacher, “What version (King James, NIV, NRSV etc.) of the Bible is the best?”  The preacher responded, “The best version is whatever version you will open and read.”  I think this is great advice, but I might add one small caveat.  Perhaps the best version of the Bible is the one that you read and understand.  As you mature in your faith, you will develop a deeper desire to grow in your understanding and multiple versions and multiple commentaries will be beneficial. 

The Psalms seemed to me to mainly be the cries of King David.  I did not understand his problems or his Psalms.  Later in life I have developed a much better appreciation for the Psalms and a better understanding of David’s life.  I will never claim to be an expert on any aspect of the Bible, but I do enjoy learning more each day – some days more than others. 

Most Christians will open Proverbs or James if they are seeking wisdom, and they will certainly find much wisdom.  However, the Psalms also have much wisdom to offer.  I have spent several weeks reading through the Psalms and have come away with five themes that speak to me.  I encourage you to do the same, and you may come away with different themes that speak to you.  Below are the five themes that I discerned.  They were a blessing to me, and I pray that they are a blessing to all that read this.

Teach  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Gladden  And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, [And] oil to make his face to shine, And bread that strengtheneth man’s heart” (Psalm 104:15).

Restore  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me”   (Psalm 51:12).

Satisfy  Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

Favor  For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).

Prayer:  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14 KJV).  Amen.

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, His holy dwelling place.” (2 Chronicles 30:27 NIV)

It is important to understand that the power of prayer does not come from us.  Prayer is not special words we say or the special way we say them or even how often we say them.  The length of our prayer is also not important.   A powerful prayer is not made by standing on the street corner with dirt on your face or any other means to show others your piety.  The power of prayer is not based on a certain direction we face or clothes.  Moreover, a powerful prayer does not require candles or beads. 

The power of prayer comes from God alone who hears our prayers and answers them. Prayer is a “hot line” that places us in contact with Almighty God, and we should expect almighty results, whether or not He chooses to grant our petitions or deny our requests.  Our prayers never receive a “busy signal.”  Whatever the answer to our prayers, the God to whom we pray is the source of the power of prayer, and He can and will answer us, according to His perfect will and timing.  We pray with joy, thanksgiving, and anticipation because we know that our loving Father hears us and wants good for us.  We wait with child-like wonder to see how and when God is going to move.

Prayer is the first step of the Christian in any situation.  God wants His people to pray to Him for petitions and thanksgiving. Prayer to God should be made persistently (Luke 18:1), with joy (Philippians 4:6), in faith (James 1:5), within the will of God (Matthew 6:10), for the glory of God (John 14:13-14), and from a heart right with God (James 5:16).   “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).  There is absolutely nothing that cannot be accomplished through prayer if it is consistent with His will.  And prayer is never futile. True prayer is always true power. You may not always get what you ask, but you shall always have your real needs supplied.

I think the ultimate power of prayer comes when we pray for those that have hurt us the most.  Matthew 5:44 teaches us, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  Once we truly understand this and do it with sincerity, a supernatural peace will come upon us and the hurt will be a distant memory compared to the ever present love of God.

Prayer:  Thank you for the power of prayer and the peace that comes from knowing you hear all of our prayers.  Help up to pray with joy and confidence and then wait patiently for your mighty hand.  Dear God please help us to sincerely pray blessings for those who persecute us and as we do we do so with the knowledge that you will be glorified.

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Be The Same Person Everywhere

Be The Same Person Everywhere

“I hate double-minded people, but I love your law” (Psalm 119:113).

Have you ever heard of the term “Sunday morning Christian?”  This is a derogatory term for people that are Christian on Sunday morning but the complete opposite the rest of the week.  Some of us are a little bit better and we make sure to “act Christian” in public but not in private.  The “Sunday morning Christian” and the “public Christian” are both hypocrites. 

The word hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors

 in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks.  A Christian follows Jesus 24/7 – in public and private.  In our “human condition” we strive to impress others and God with our acts of piety.   Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 6:1-8.

1“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Good works are how we show Christian love to others.  However, our works should flow naturally as a result of our love for Christ and our desire to share His love.  Ephesians 2:8-9, teaches us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

PrayerThis, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:9-13).

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

A Prayerful Life

A Prayerful Life

16Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

The Bible has much Scripture that encourages us to seek God through prayer.  The Gospels and the Epistles are particularly filled with Holy Scripture that encourages us to seek God’s face through prayer.   Our direct line of communication to God is prayer.  It is a deeply personal process by which we bring Him our prayers of thanksgiving and supplication.  We go into our inner room and pray to our loving Father with full confidence that He hears us and will act on our behalf in the perfect manner and time. 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls us to “pray continually” and other translations will indicate “without ceasing.”  I don’t think we are expected to spend all of our life on our knees in prayer.  I do feel that we can and should lead a prayerful life.  This includes having a prayerful attitude.  Look at the context of “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  The Scripture begins with “Rejoice always” and then tells us how by “pray continually.”  It concludes by giving the reason: “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   

A prayerful life has two fundamental components.  First, we are constantly aware of the many blessings that we have because of Him.  Second, we are able to be grateful in any circumstance.  We are not grateful for all circumstances because some circumstances are evil and not from God.  However, just as Paul was able to find joy while shipwrecked or in prison, we can find joy in our adversity because we wait with child-like anticipation of how He will use it for good.

A prayerful attitude is developed by acknowledging our dependence on God (Proverbs 3:5-6), realizing He is always with us (Isaiah 41:10), and choosing to trust and obey (Psalm 9:10).  Prayer then becomes a continual process of offloading our fears and worries and uploading His love and grace.  In a prayerful life, we put God first not out of obligation or fear but out of faith and love.  Matthew 6:33 instructs us to, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.”  If we do put God first, then He will surely give us His provision and protection as the good Father. 

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the gift of prayer and the comfort of knowing that you hear all of our prayers.  We thank you for the comfort of knowing that you desire greater things for us than we can ever imagine.  Help us to develop a deeper sense of appreciation for our blessings.  Keep us mindful that we can find joy in all circumstances because we know that any adversity we face on earth is temporary and will be used by you for our good.  Help us to always prayerfully proceed in life and seek your kingdom first in all that we do.  Amen.

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Getting To The Heart Of The Issue With Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe

Getting To The Heart Of The Issue With Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe

Over the years, I have spoken to many Christians and enjoyed having the opportunity to hear their testimony. Some are “intellectual Christians,” so to speak, and believe that science has proved the existence of Christ and therefore they also believe. Many have provided me with compelling arguments for their Christian faith. Former LSU professor Todd Shupe also believes that science has proven that Christ walked the Earth “and I can provide strong arguments to support that fact and my belief in God,” he said.

However, at the heart of the issue is our heart,” says Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge. “Do you believe in Him in your heart and seek him with your whole heart?”

God gave us a brain and He certainly wants us to use it to better understand Him. He also seeks a relationship with us and a true relationship must come from the heart. Below are five Biblical themes that emphasize the importance of your heart in your Christian walk.

1. Trust: Trust is probably the most fundamental component in any relationship. We may not always understand His ways, but we are called to trust and obey. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, (Proverbs 3:5).

2. Love: Any meaningful relationship must be built on love, says Baton Rouge’s Todd Shupe. This is especially true with God because God is love, (1 John 4:8).  Jesus replied, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” (Matthew 22:37).  Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30).

3. Seek: Jesus asks us to seek Him, says Todd Shupe, LSU’s former wood science lab director. He is asking for us to daily die to our sinful ourselves and live in Him. To do so, we must daily seek His face.  But if from there you seek the Lord, your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul,” (Deuteronomy 4:29)   “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

4. What Comes Out of the Heart: Jesus was making a new covenant with the people who were unable to maintain the Mosaic law. Food preparation was very important under the old law and was considered necessary to earn your salvation.  [Jesus] said, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart,” Mark 7:14-15.

5. Guard your Heart: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” (Proverbs 4:23). Our words and opinions first originate in our heart,” says Todd Shupe, of Baton Rouge. If we guard our heart and only allow love to enter our heart, then love will flow out of our mouths and will be the basis of our action and ministry. Be blessed.

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Todd Shupe’s Take On Prayer: Approach With Confidence And Thanksgiving

Todd Shupe’s Take On Prayer: Approach With Confidence And Thanksgiving

Prayer is an essential component to our relationship with God. We offer prayers for those who are sick or in need of help and prayers of thanksgiving for our blessings. Prayer is also a time for us to be quiet and listen for the gentle voice of God. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Todd Shupe has decided to focus on this scripture while waiting for God’s gentle whisper.

“Even if I don’t hear a response to my prayer, I still come away with peace and comfort knowing that God is God and He loves me more than I can begin to understand,” says former LSU professor and faith-based volunteer Todd Shupe. “This gives me a peace that transcends all understanding and prepares me to hopefully be a better witness and brother today than I was yesterday.”

According to Todd Shupe, it is important for us to approach prayer in the right manner.  The Bible tells us what to pray — “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) — and also how to pray: “In your room,” (Matthew 6:6).  However, it does not necessarily tell us how to prepare for prayer.

Good works are how we show Christian love to others.  However, our works should flow naturally as a result of our love for Christ and our desire to share His love.  Ephesians 2:8-9, teaches us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Todd Shupe, a former professor at LSU, feels that too many Christians approach prayer in one of two ways. First, many come to God in fear and doubt. We know that God can do what we are asking — but are fearful that He will not do it as we want or when we want.

“The second group of Christians I refer to as the ‘Santa Claus Christians.’ They think that if they are good all year then when they make a prayer request to God that He is “obligated” to do as asked. In both cases, resentment can develop if God does not provide what is asked and when it is asked,” says Todd Shupe, a former LSU professor.

According to Todd Shupe, it is important at this point to note that we follow God. God does not follow us and this fact provides the opportunity to tell the story of God leading His people in Exodus 13:21-22. “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”

“I encourage you to approach prayer with confidence and thanksgiving that God already knows what you need and is already at work in delivering it to you,” says Todd Shupe. “Also, what He provides will likely not be what you requested. Instead, it will be better and it will be a holy blessing upon you. God loves you more than you can ever understand.”

He will most certainly listen and respond to your prayers. We must be open to His response and accept it with gladness and thanksgiving because any gift from God is precious and holy — as was His son.

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

Todd Shupe Discusses Prayer, Its Purpose And Proper Daily Use

Todd Shupe Discusses Prayer, Its Purpose And Proper Daily Use

Perhaps one of the most intimate means available for us to communicate with God is through prayer. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 55 percent of all Americans report that they pray each day. The same study also states that, at a rate of 14 percent, more American women pray daily compared to men. According to Todd Shupe however, a 55 percent would be a failing exam grade for us overall. That’s an F, folks.

“I think many of us have a false perception of God.  We see God as Santa Claus and approach Him with our lists of requests when we are in need — but seldom go to God with prayers for others or prayers of thanksgiving for ourselves during good times,” Shupe said.

Todd Shupe believes that it is important to understand the purpose of prayer: It is not to bend the will of God to be in accordance with your desires. Rather, prayer is an important way for you to discern the will of God for you in your life. Then, you should follow God; do not attempt to get God to follow you.

According to Todd Shupe, perhaps the highest form of prayer comes in Jesus’ words in Gethsemane: “Yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus did not say, “Your will be borne,” which is how we often translate it. He said, “Your will be done,” which implies a cooperation with an outgoing, redemptive will that desires our highest good.

The Bible is full of scripture that explains the benefits of prayer. Below are seven of the favorite prayer related scriptures of Todd Shupe. You will notice a very consistent theme in them all, which is very similar to the “knock, seek, ask” scripture of Matthew 7:7. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Philippians 4:6-7:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:16:  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

John 15:7:   If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

1 John 5:14-15:  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 3:22:  And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

John 14:13-14: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Todd Shupe’s favorite prayer related scripture is Psalm 66:20: “Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.” Be blessed and be in prayer each day!

PrayerThis, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us today our daily bread.  12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (Matthew 6:9-13).

About the Author:  

Todd Shupe is the President of DrToddShupe.com and is a well recognized expert on wood-based housing and wood science.  Shupe worked as a  professor and lab director at LSU for over 20 years. He is active in several ministries including his Christian blog ToddShupe.com. Todd is the Secretary of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men, Database Coordinator for Gulf South Men, and volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, Iron Sharpens Iron, Open Air Ministries, HOPE Ministries food pantry. Todd is currently preparing to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men.