He Saved Them Out Of Their Distress (Psalm 107 Devotion)

PSALM 107

Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. 6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, [And] He delivered them out of their distresses. 7 And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. 8 Oh, that [men] would give thanks to the LORD [for] His goodness, And [for] His wonderful works to the children of men!

13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, [And] He saved them out of their distresses. 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. 15 Oh, that [men] would give thanks to the LORD [for] His goodness, And [for] His wonderful works to the children of men!

18 Their soul abhorred all manner of food, And they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, [And] He saved them out of their distresses. 20 He sent His word and healed them, And delivered [them] from their destructions. 21 Oh, that [men] would give thanks to the LORD [for] His goodness, And [for] His wonderful works to the children of men!

27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. 29 He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. 30 Then they are glad because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven. 31 Oh, that [men] would give thanks to the LORD [for] His goodness, And [for] His wonderful works to the children of men!

PSALM 107:5-8, 13-15, 18-21, 27-31

HE SAVED THEM OUT OF THEIR DISTRESS

We have three wonderful kids. At times as they were growing up they got themselves in a few binds. Sometimes it was hurt feelings over an issue with a sibling. Sometimes it was scraped knees. Sometimes it was something more serious that required a trip to the ER. Sometimes it was a mess of their own making and we had to deal with disciplinary issues at school. The point is that they all had a place to go when they found that they were in a mess. They knew they could come home to mom and dad.

Some days all three kids come in with three or four different types of binds to handle. As their parents we delight in saving our kids through life’s problems. We are here for them.

In the Psalm today we see God’s faithfulness on display over and over again through all the binds that the Nation of Israel finds itself in. God delights in saving his people through their problems. He is present in the famines, the storms, the messes of their own making and more. He is an always present, always able God.

Notice how gratitude is tied into salvation. The Psalms at this point are teaching us to remember and be thankful for God’s goodness. He indeed is a God who saves!

Often I pray and I thank God for His goodness to me and to us as a people. It’s one of my “go to” things whenever I pray. Part of it is routine, but the reason it is routine is because I don’t want to forget the goodness of God. It is something that in some sense is future tense, but is also past tense and present in my life. His goodness has undergirded my existence and is beyond my temporal experience. It is present when I see it and recognize it and it is present even when I don’t feel it. God is good! And he is worthy of our praise!

I can’t help but be reminded of how Jesus tells us to go to the Father in prayer recognizing that he is the giver of good gifts. “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11)!

PRAYER

Father, You have been my rescue and deliverer in all of my scrapes and binds. You have delivered me from my sin and given me eternal life in Jesus Christ! You have guarded my path and guided my steps when I have trusted in you. You have been a shield and my salvation! I rejoice in your goodness. You are a good father who loves his children and delights to give good gifts. I celebrate your goodness today and am grateful for your kindness that had been shown to me. Let me reflect your love and grace to others this day! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

The Sin of Forgetfulness (Psalm 106 Devotion)

PSALM 106

We have sinned with our fathers, We have committed iniquity, We have done wickedly. 7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea–the Red Sea. 8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; So He led them through the depths, As through the wilderness. 10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated [them], And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. 11 The waters covered their enemies; There was not one of them left. 12 Then they believed His words; They sang His praise. 13 They soon forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel,

PSALM 106:6-13

THE SIN OF FORGETFULNESS

I am delighted to post on facebook each Sunday evening about our worship experience at church. I generally look back at the day and share a few of the many things I am grateful for. To be honest, some Sundays are tough. Many are filled with stress and anxiety of trying to communicate with so many people both corporately and individually. If I wanted to complain, Sundays provides no shortage of opportunities to commiserate about the problems I perceive. But I believe Sunday and the worship of the LORD serves a greater purpose than dwelling on our problems, it is a day to reflect on the goodness and grace of God. It’s a day for praise! So I post what I am grateful about in the gathering of the saints each Lord’s day. I do it for my own heart as well as to disciple those who are prone to pessimism.

Some have confused this with boasting, if it is, it’s certainly in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Corinthians 1:31) and not in what I’m doing! The practice has been so good for my heart and my relationship with the Lord. I lament for those who I sincerely believe belong to the Lord, but are critical of me for doing what the Lord has commanded us all to do: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord [is] at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] lovely, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things(Philippians 4:4-8).

Today as I read through this Psalm I was aware of just how bad an attitude of ingratitude can be. When we forget what the Lord has done, we stop looking for Him to work in our lives and trusting him for the future. Ingratitude is a sin and here it is noted as forgetfulness. Not the kind for forgetfulness that happens with age or as a side effect of taking medications, but the intentional dismissal of how God has moved in the past.

How terrible it is to forget the deeds of the Lord for then we enter into lives challenges filled with anxiety and depression. We face obstacles ahead of us forgetting how the Lord has conquered the challenges behind us. We turn in on ourselves and fail to look forward in faith. Not only do we sin against God by forgetting His deeds and being ungrateful, but we heap anxiety and fear into our lives like never before.

There is a reason that praise is a remedy for our fears. There is a reason that David’s melody soothed a troubled kings heart. It is right and good to praise God and be grateful for what he has already done so that we can rightfully trust Him and rejoice in what He will do. Every problem before us becomes a platform for Praise. Praise God for those people he puts in our lives who have come along with the Word, not to teach us something we have never heard before, but to REMEMBER the Lord!

PRAYER

Father, I am grateful for your word. I am grateful for the psalms that teach us to cry out to you in the good times and bad, the happy and sad times of life. I am grateful for how I have seen you move in my own life. I cherish the opportunity to remember your testimonies and how you have delivered me from my sins. I am grateful to see your hand at work every day in my life. I pray that I would never lose sight of my purpose for all the problems I face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Into the Dark (Psalm 105 Devotion)

PSALM 105

He turned their heart to hate His people, To deal craftily with His servants. 26 He sent Moses His servant, [And] Aaron whom He had chosen. 27 They performed His signs among them, And wonders in the land of Ham. 28 He sent darkness, and made [it] dark; And they did not rebel against His word. 29 He turned their waters into blood, And killed their fish. 30 Their land abounded with frogs, [Even] in the chambers of their kings. 31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, [And] lice in all their territory. 32 He gave them hail for rain, [And] flaming fire in their land. 33 He struck their vines also, and their fig trees, And splintered the trees of their territory. 34 He spoke, and locusts came, Young locusts without number, 35 And ate up all the vegetation in their land, And devoured the fruit of their ground. 36 He also destroyed all the firstborn in their land, The first of all their strength.

PSALM 105:25-36

INTO THE DARK

How does God harden the heart of an individual and send them into the dark? He does it with the Light! Note John 3:19-21 says, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21). Or how about Isaiah the prophet who says, “Here am I! Send me!” and what is the promised result for this evangelistic fervor? Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here [am] I! Send me. And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:8-10).

Then there is the curious case of Judas Iscariot who walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, and saw him perform sign after sign. He sat at Jesus’ feet when he was teaching. He experienced casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Yet, we are told that Satan entered into his heart and just moments after Jesus had looked him in the face, shared a meal, and washed his feat, Judas walks out on those same two feet into the night to betray Jesus.

In today’s passage we see how God used the plagues in Egypt to plunge Pharaoh and his servants into darkness. Not just metaphorically, but physically as well. Was this judgement or was it grace? On the one hand God has come against Egypt in such a way as to demonstrate that all their god’s are worthless idols beginning with their pagan sun worship all the way down to honoring pharaoh as a god himself (by taking his first born son). It was grace to show that the Egyptians had placed their hope in false gods, but it would become judgement. When their gods were proven to be false and the LORD was proven to be true, they didn’t forsake their false gods for worshipping the LORD. Isn’t this what Jesus said in John 3:18? “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).

So as God delivered Israel from Egypt and softened the heart of his people (and a few Egyptian converts along the way) he also hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and many other Egyptians. But we note it was the same miracles, the same signs, the same plagues, that were to bring about the salvation of one nation and the judgement of another.

The sobering reality is that this is how God does his work. We must respond to what light we have today so that we are not plunged into darkness later. Our reaction to Jesus matters. Am I pressing in to him or am I running from His persistent grace? God’s word doesn’t return void. As one African theologian put it, “The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.”

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your persuasive grace that opens eyes to see and hearts to believe. I want to always be pressing into the light of grace that you have shed on my heart. I want to draw near to you. I want to drink deeply from your grace and mercy. Keep me from ever hardening my heart to you. I pray for those even now who have appeared to harden their hearts. I ask that you would soften them to receive the light of your gospel and grace, rather than shrink back from the holy, I pray that they would press into your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

You Have Made To Play There (Psalm 104 Devotion)

PSALM 104

O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions– 25 This great and wide sea, In which [are] innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great. 26 There the ships sail about; [There is] that Leviathan Which You have made to play there. 27 These all wait for You, That You may give [them] their food in due season. 28 [What] You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. 29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. 30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; May the LORD rejoice in His works.

PSALM 104:24-31

YOU HAVE MADE TO PLAY THERE

The movie “Chariots of Fire” about Olympic athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, has a scene that always moves me. The character playing the role of Liddell says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast! And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I’m not so much moved to say the same thing in my own life because I’m not that fast and I’m out of shape… Generally speaking I feel pain, not so much God’s pleasure when I try and run these days (I just started back the other day).

What moves me in that quote is the thought that God is glorified in using our bodies the way he has created them. There is some hope that God is glorified in my singing not because it is “good,” but because I am able. It is a thing for which the human body is capable, is natural, and right. I see the same thing when my son plays sports. He is using the body the LORD has given him to his capacity and in that I think God is honored!

In today’s Psalm I couldn’t help but note that the Leviathan (sea creature, probably a whale?) is made to play. This activity that for the most part was seldom ever seen by human eyes, points to the joy and celebration of God the creator. There are millions upon billions of things that happen all over the world in dark tiny crevices on the ocean floor, in quiet forests, and other places where God is present, but no human eye can see (Not to mention the furthest reaches of space). To fathom that out in the Pacific ocean today, whales are playing to the glory of God and no other helps me to see the bigness of God. Yet to consider that he still has time to hear my prayers and that he is delighted in my praise brings a profound humility as well.

I couldn’t help but be carried back to the sermon on the mount today as I reflect on the magnitude and magnificants of God:

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 “and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.

Matthew 6:28-34

PRAYER

Father, I marvel at all creation and how it bares your name. It all points back to you! I take joy in the gift of breath and life. I marvel to know that you are bigger than my feeble mind can comprehend, yet you are never far from those who call out to you. I am humbled and grateful that you hear my prayers. I am incredibly blessed by the way you have provided for me. May my heart beat for your glory! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Praying God’s Word (Psalm 103 Devotion)

PSALM 103

[A Psalm] of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, [bless] His holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: 3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good [things], [So that] your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. 9 He will not always strive [with us], Nor will He keep [His anger] forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, [So] great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, [So] far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities [his] children, [So] the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we [are] dust. 15 [As for] man, his days [are] like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them. 19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. 21 Bless the LORD, all [you] His hosts, [You] ministers of His, who do His pleasure. 22 Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

PSALM 103:1-22

PRAYING GOD’S WORD

I love my job/ calling! There is a whole lot to it so it’s hard to define when someone asks, “What do you do?” So I usually just tell kids and others who ask, “I tell other people about Jesus and remind them of his promises in a whole lot of different ways.” (You can see an older post here that outlines a little more about what a pastor does).

One of those ways I get to speak the gospel into peoples lives is through taking time to CARE, having a verse or passage to SHARE, and offering a PRAYER. I simply get to listen to folks and hear the stories of their lives, the circumstances they are facing, and challenges they encounter. I then take a moment to share a little bit of scripture that applies to what they’ve said that the Lord brings to mind. And then I pray through the passage and their circumstances.

I’ll be honest the person I do this with the most… is me! I constantly need to unload to the LORD about all that is going on in my life. I’m a bit of an introvert and so sometimes I have to get out of my own head and just pray out loud. Then the Lord brings the passage to my mind and He’s really good about speaking directly to my circumstances through His Word. I don’t need a man made word, I need God’s Word in my life! Then of course the prayer and this is so sweet when we pray searching for God’s will using God’s word

In this Psalm today, David reminds himself and others about God’s character. If we aren’t careful we will let our circumstances determine the course of our prayers, but David shocks us awake out of a slumber or circumstances and commands us to remember who we are praying to and whom we are praising! It’s not as though we don’t know anything about Him. God’s character should determine how we pray, not our circumstances (because God’s character won’t change, but our circumstances will).

I recently caught myself worrying about some things that I have no real control over and the Holy Spirit brought me to Matthew chapter 6. I was reminded that God takes care of His own, the details of my anxiety were in His hands and I could trust Him. So today with David I echoed this Psalm as my prayer. “Bless the LORD, oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name!”

PRAYER

Father, there is such a great benefit in remembering to whom we pray as we pray. I am so grateful for your work in my life. I am so grateful for your word that helps me understand who you are and how you love your own. I am filled to the brim with joy, celebration, and blessing at knowing you and experiencing your work in my life, As I have walked with I have learned more of you and have never been disappointed. I marvel at how quickly I lose sight of you when challenging circumstances happen in my life, I am reminded today that things may change, but you never do. Your love remains the same and in that I am greatly blessed! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

He Shortened My Days (Psalm 102 Devotion)

PSALM 102

A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You. 2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth. 4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread. 5 Because of the sound of my groaning My bones cling to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I lie awake, And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. 8 My enemies reproach me all day long; Those who deride me swear an oath against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away. 11 My days [are] like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass. 12 But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations. 13 You will arise [and] have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. 14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust. 15 So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. 16 For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. 17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer. 18 This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. 19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the LORD viewed the earth, 20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To release those appointed to death, 21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, And His praise in Jerusalem, 22 When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD. 23 He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. 24 I said, “O my God, Do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years [are] throughout all generations. 25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens [are] the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. 27 But You [are] the same, And Your years will have no end. 28 The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.”

PSALM 102:1-28

HE SHORTENED MY DAYS

It’s okay to complain to God. Don’t worry, He can take it. Sometimes the grief just piles up. If you were going to complain to anyone, God is really the only one who could bring comfort to your hurting and help to your healing anyway. This Psalm is for the overwhelmed. It is for all of us who don’t have it all together and can’t keep it from falling a part. It’s okay to pour out the mess of our grief and grievances before the Lord.

The grievance that sticks out to me in this particular Psalm is where the Psalmist says, “He shortened my days” (v 23). While on the one hand it’s very personal for the Psalmist writing this. He is afflicted by illness and enemies and he sees his days are numbered (and it doesn’t seem to him like he’s had that many days). He wants to live a long and fulfilled life, but that’s not going to happen. His days are being cut short. Things just won’t be working out the way he had envisioned.

On the other hand this Psalm is messianic. It points to another one who would be cut down in the springtime of their life. It points to Jesus who willingly embraced suffering so that we might not have to face the wrath of God. He went to the cross for our sins so that we could know God and have our sins forgiven. He embraced the reality of an ‘early’ death for the sake of those He would save by the power of His resurrection. (My mind cannot help but ponder that the Lord knows what it is like to have a son slaughtered in His prime. He indeed sympathizes with our weaknesses).

It’s in the messianic inferences that we catch a glimpse of God’s grace. There is one who understands and knows our grief and is able to bring us comfort, both because He has been through it, but also because He promises to get us to the other side of it as well. It was in a different context that the disciples had questioned Jesus about what all they had given to follow him and he answers that there are no real losers when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. What we may lose on this life is nothing compared to what we gain when we have eternal life. So while the context is greater, I think the application fits this scenario as well.

Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” 28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30 “But many [who are] first will be last, and the last first.

Matthew 19:27-30

I was comforted today to know that I don’t have to hide my deepest hurts from God. I can come and spill the beans, so to speak, before the Lord concerning my grief and grievances in life. I was encouraged to meditate on the fact that He just doesn’t know of my circumstances, but as we examine the life of Christ and his humanity that he knows my feelings and frustrations. I was strengthened in my faith when I pondered that what lies ahead in the kingdom of God is greater than what we leave behind on our way to the celestial city. So while I may be in tears of lament today, there will come a day when he wipes away all our tears (Revelation 21:4).

PRAYER

Father, thank you for your book of Psalms. I am so encouraged and comforted by the fact that all through this book you are able to carry the burden of the afflicted. I don’t have to stew with my messy grief and questions, but that I can take them to you. You are not threatened by my mess. Indeed as I pour my heart out to you and ponder your word I see now more than ever that you draw near the broken hearted and comfort the afflicted. Thank you for your grace today and everyday. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

It Shall Not Cling To Me (Psalm 101 Devotion)

PSALM 101

A Psalm of David. I will sing of mercy and justice; To You, O LORD, I will sing praises. 2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. 3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. 5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure. 6 My eyes [shall be] on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me. 7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence. 8 Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

PSALM 101:1-8

IT SHALL NOT CLING TO ME

It is a wonderful picture of God’s grace that the author of Psalm 51 should also be the author of Psalm 101. In Psalm 51 David seeks forgiveness for his sins of adultery and murder. It is obvious that at that point of his life at least he did set “something wicked before his eyes.” And he did indeed “fall away” (for a time). In Baptist life we call it backsliding. Psalm 101 and 51 are a wonderful picture or restoration and moving forward into the grace of God. I was profoundly moved by the words, “it shall not cling to me.”

David did some bad things. Real people got hurt. David’s heart was treading the path of perverseness. His heart was going more and more wicked by the moment, but then God’s grace stepped in when a prophet named Nathan told David the truth about his sin. In our culture, we seldom ever want to confront people over their sin, but what a relief it must have been to David when his sin was addressed. The charade was over. How long must He have gone singing songs he didn’t feel anymore because his heart was numb because of unconfessed sin. Now his sin was in the open and he could deal with it. He could be cleansed by the Lord.

What a renewed sense David must have had when He sang those songs, not as a king who was perfect, but as a king who was restored by the grace and mercy of God. I don’t know when psalm 101 was written, but it must have rang different after his restoration when he could sing of setting no worthless thing before his eyes. He’d been down that path before, No need to go there again. His heart belonged to the Lord.

Today celebrate both God’s mercy and justice along with king David. Like David, I need God’s mercy in my life for the sins I’ve committed (indeed without mercy none of us will see God). But that mercy invites me to want to walk in harmony with God’s justice. I want to abhor what God abhors. I want to walk in uprightness and integrity, not of my own making, but because God has seen fit to make sure that my sins of the past, “shall not cling to me.”

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for mercy! I revel in your soul liberating mercy that finds me at my weakest and strengthens me in resolve to follow you in all things. I am grateful that you are a God of forgiveness and all our sin issues an be dealt with in you. I am grateful that you call and empower us to live holy lives set apart unto you. Bless us this day as we seek after you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Attitude or Gratitude (Psalm 100 Devotion)

PSALM 100

A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He [is] God; [It is] He [who] has made us, and not we ourselves; [We are] His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, [And] into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, [and] bless His name. 5 For the LORD [is] good; His mercy [is] everlasting, And His truth [endures] to all generations.

PSALM 100:1-5

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Although gratitude gleams from many parts of the Psalms, Psalm 100 stands out. It is the only psalm whose original Hebrew title calls it a “Psalm of Thanksgiving.” There isn’t a single sad note to be found in the whole thing. No one knows who wrote it or on what occasion Israel sang it. But it gives such insight regarding the giving of thanks and praise that it is a “go to” Psalm for many Pastors preaching Thanksgiving messages.

So often we are quick to meditate on the negative things happening in our lives or express our frustration with life, but how often have we taken time just to be grateful to God for the many wonderful and abundant blessings we have in our lives? I try and practice a healthy amount of gratitude in my life. God really has blessed me and my family and I don’t want to take it for granted! I want God to get all the praise, honor, and glory that He deserves because He is worthy!

Gratitude and glory go hand in hand. “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever” (Revelation 4:9). Indeed, Ingratitude or not being grateful to God is at the root of rejection God and has earned the the wrath of God against sinners, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).

Gratitude and Thanksgiving go a long way in reminding ourselves that we didn’t make it on our own (Psalm 100:3). We are not self-made. We are God-made! We aren’t saved by our merits, but by God’s work on our behalf. Today the challenge is to carry an attitude of gratitude.

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your amazing grace on display in all of my life. You have been so good to me. You are better to me than I deserve. I thank you for my family and my friends. Thank you for the opportunities you have placed before me. Thank you for your unfailing love and grace that pervades my existence. I am humbled by your kindness to me. You are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory! Please guard my heart from in gratitude. May I always walk in contentment provided by The Holy Spirit so that I might glorify you in all I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

He Answers Prayer (Psalm 99 Devotion)

PSALM 99

The LORD reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells [between] the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! 2 The LORD [is] great in Zion, And He [is] high above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name–He [is] holy. 4 The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool–He [is] holy. 6 Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the LORD, and He answered them. 7 He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar; They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them. 8 You answered them, O LORD our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, Though You took vengeance on their deeds. 9 Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God [is] holy.

PSALM 99:1-8

HE ANSWERS PRAYER

The other day I had a busy and frazzled day. I didn’t get anything done that I wanted to get done. I was drawn away from what I had wanted to do (get into the study) by several crises and prescheduled events. Because of my calling I found myself praying with folks over health concerns. Then I was called away to be with a family who had just got some very disturbing news. Then I was in a couple of meetings that would help determine where we would go as a ministry, then to a midweek prayer service, and then to pray over the schools. At the end of the day I looked back and I couldn’t help but be grateful. Even though I didn’t get into the weeds of study like I had wanted to, I did get into the weeds of prayer all day long. I was forced to continually bring everything to the Lord in prayer and allow him to refine my heart. I know we are called to pray with out ceasing (and I often pray in my heart) but by the end of the day I had hours of out loud verbal prayer under my belt.

What made the day especially encouraging was knowing that when we call out to God he hears our prayers! My wife had shared that day about a seeming answer to one of our prayers. I looked back at where God has been working in our lives and I could see he was answering prayers we have been praying. The blessings we have harvested (I’m talking spiritual not necessarily material) have been harvested in the midst of a long season of prayer! It was a good day of prayer.

What jumped out to me today is that God hears the prayers of his servants who come to him with pure hearts and sincere faith. He answers our prayers according to His character and His promises. He is a God who forgives and I am grateful because I have been forgiven much. He is a God who is approachable and I am grateful.

I had a good day of prayer the other day and while I am grateful for the day I had and the way it has brought me closer to the Lord it has also served to spark an increasing desire to grow closer to the Lord through prayer always. As crazy as it seems, because it was a crazy day, I welcome more days where I talk to the Lord out loud through it all.

PRAYER

Father, I am so grateful that you hear me when I pray! I am grateful that even though I had an unplanned and unbalanced day that you were there with me through it all and I get to point others to you. I am grateful for your calling in my life. I want to glorify you in all that I say and do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

Let The Hills Be Joyful (Psalm 98 Devotion)

PSALM 98

A Psalm. Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory. 2 The LORD has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. 5 Sing to the LORD with the harp, With the harp and the sound of a psalm, 6 With trumpets and the sound of a horn; Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King. 7 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell in it; 8 Let the rivers clap [their] hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, 9 For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world, And the peoples with equity.

PSALM 98:1-9

LET THE HILLS BE JOYFUL

I’m not a mechanic, but I’ve done some mechanic work on my vehicles. My mechanical knowledge of things is limited to a wifi router and Youtube. Yet by God’s grace, there are a few things that have gone wrong on my vehicles that I’ve been able to order a part for and fix. There is no greater moment of satisfaction for me than when what was broken comes roaring back to life and everything works just like it should!

The world has been broken by sin and the curse! Humanity has fallen and it has tainted every level of creation. When those who are made in the image of God are broken, all of creation is broken. What would it look like for the curse to be gone and for all creation to work as it is supposed to again? This series of Psalms has been hinting about God’s worthiness, His justice (He is the one to fix it) and His Salvation (only he can restore what is broken).

This series of Psalms that calls out for everyone, everywhere to praise God! God is worthy of all our praise! We were made for His worship and His glory! All of creation was made for His glory! When everything is set back right, even the hills will be joyful (I picked out this line because my last name is hill and so it has a double meaning).

I saw a lot of brokenness this weak, held hands of the hurting, prayed for the grieving, tasted the bitter salt stream from my eyes as I wept with those who were weeping. The one thing that gave me great hope in the midst of an otherwise difficult week was that God is on His throne and He’s going to fix this mess we are in. He’ll rid the world of sin (Either through the blood of Christ or banishment into a place called Hell) and bring all things into a glorious order. He’ll wipe away those tears (Revelation 21:4). The Psalmist looks forward to the day when the whole earth has a rightly ordered praise (a new heaven and a new earth)! Paul wrote about the burden all of creation was in due to sin in the New Testament as well. We are all longing for that day!

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected [it] in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only [that], but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for [it] with perseverance.

Romans 8:18-25

PRAYER

Father, Oh Lord what a day of rejoicing that will be when all things are made right and new in you! I am so grateful for your amazing grace in my own life! You are worthy of all praise honor and glory! Give us strength when the days are long and dark and we don’t immediately feel joy in our heart. Help us to seek you, trust you, cling to you in the midst of our tragic moments knowing that the final chapters haven’t happened yet. Give us great hope in you on the days of adversity. Let us sing with joy and call for all creation to respond to your goodness. A goodness that we have just tasted for now, but will experience in a fuller way later. We cling to you in hope. We trust in your promised. We drink deeply of your grace and we proclaim ever more, you are worthy! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.