God is Omnipotent (Psalm 139:13-18 Devotion)

PSALM 139:13-18

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully [and] wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And [that] my soul knows very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, [And] skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When [as yet there were] none of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! 18 [If] I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.

PSALM 139:13-18

GOD IS OMNIPOTENT (God is All Powerful)

God is omnipotent, which means that He is all powerful. He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants. He is the supreme authority. There is no one more powerful than He is. His power is limitless. (We might also point out that God is “Sovereign” in this passages as well as His Omnipresence and Omniscience that we have already covered. Some of the attributes of God that we have been discussing overlap. If He is all powerful and uses that power, He is indeed sovereign, etc.)

Often when we consider God’s omnipotence we also consider his goodness (v. 17).

David contemplates God’s power over him to bring his life into being. He notes God’s sovereignty over all his days that God had “fashioned” for him before he ever took a breath. God not only knew about David, but was active in David’s life to the extent that He had written David’s days. (Imagine that, even on days when you look at a blank planner with no real plans established for where the day will take you, God looks at the same day and his planner is filled with details about what you are yet to experience…. Days for David like when He faced Goliath and days like when his bride was given to another man… God knew his days, and Knew what he needed, and God provided every step of the way, no wonder David wrote Psalm 23 about God’s provision!)

This reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 which speaks of those who have been redeemed in Christ.

[Eph 2:10 NKJV] 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

David then tried to contemplate God’s thoughts about himself and was bewildered that as much as David might think about God, God knew more and thought more about David. David was fully known by the God who created him. (I think sometimes this thought escapes us that God knows us better than we know ourselves.)

PRAYER

Father, with David I confess that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It amazes me as I direct my mind to consider your ways that what I am able to comprehend is only a tiny glimpse of who you really are. We can know things about you, but you are to big to ever have all figured out. Yet you know everything about us individually and have us all figured out. I am grateful for your goodness to me. I pray that my faith is increased today knowing that you know me better than I know you, trusting in your planning of my days, and that you are ultimately good. Give me grace for 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.

God is Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12 Devotion)

PSALM 139:7-12

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You [are] there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You [are there]. 9 [If] I take the wings of the morning, [And] dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me, And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, But the night shines as the day; The darkness and the light [are] both alike [to You].

PSALM 139:7-12

GOD IS OMNIPRESENT

God is Omnipresent which means that God is fully present everywhere and at all times. There isn’t a square inch of creation in which He is not fully present. Our experience of His presence may be different. In some “places” such as Heaven, those who are there are fully embraced by His love and conversely those who are present in Hell face His Justice and Wrath.

He is more fully present in this place and at this moment than I am. Should we be able to run from this place at the “speed of light” (the “wings of morning” is a metaphorical way of speaking about the speed at which light crosses the horizon at sunrise), God is already there. He is in the depth of the sea. He is on the highest mountain. He isn’t just present in places at certain times, but he is present in every place and at every time.

Even in the moments that I don’t feel His presence or can’t see Him anywhere, God is there. And that should provoke our hearts to prayer and worship. We can pray to God any where because he is everywhere.

[Jhn 4:23-24 NKJV] 23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 “God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Just because we have access to worship God from anywhere doesn’t mean that we should worship God according to our own mechanisms or desires. Folks have used these verses to suggest a “saltwater gospel” where were worship creation rather than the creator. The point of this Psalm is to say that God can find us anywhere. Indeed, it was Jonah who professed a “saltwater gospel” and fled to the sea to get away from the presence of God, but there Jonah found out that God was present in a storm, the sea, and a fish. God is everywhere, but sometimes He has called us to be somewhere in particular and if that’s the case, we should go! And we should go with the confidence that God is already where He has called us to go!

What a comfort that even in the darkness, God is there. The darkness is as light to Him. He is not detoured. What a comfort that must have been for poor Jonah who centuries after this Psalm was written, finds himself in the darkness inside a fish… What a comfort to us no matter what we go through to know that God is already there and we can call out to him!

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your incredible presence. I am so grateful that you are everywhere. I can never outrun you. I can never go so far that you aren’t there to see me. I am grateful that we can call out to you no matter where we are and know that you are near. I am grateful that you are a full time, ever present, always near and on time God. Give me grace to trust you and never doubt your character. 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.

God is Omniscient (Psalm 139:1-6 Devotion)

PSALM 139:1-6

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O LORD, You have searched me and known [me]. 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. 4 For [there is] not a word on my tongue, [But] behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. 5 You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. 6 [Such] knowledge [is] too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot [attain] it.

PSALM 139:1-6

GOD IS OMNISCIENT (He Knows Everything About Me!)

We are starting into Psalm 139 today. As we near the end of the Psalms I want to take a little more time with a few of these psalms because of the depth that is here. So we will be taking four days to go through Psalm 139.

Today I just want to look at the first six verses and meditate on God’s Omniscience. That is to say that God knows everything. He knows all that there is to know. He knows what has happened. He knows what will happen (v.4). He knows what could have happened. He knows about sea creatures in the deep that mankind has yet to discover. He knows about microscopic organisms in the rain forest or thermal vents on the ocean floor. He knows about the loose particles that fly through space, much less all the stars and planets. He knows details beyond the ability of man to grasp. Where our understanding meets it’s limits, we have not even begun to fathom the knowledge of God.

There is nothing that come to Him as news. He doesn’t have to react to anything or anyone because He has already intimately known this moment from before all of creation. He knows this moment in ways deeper than I can understand. He knows the number of sand on the sea shore, the number of stars in the sky, but most importantly he knows the numbers of hair on my head because he knows me!

When we say God knows, we are confessing that God knows better than we do and more than we do. God knows our thoughts (v.2). He knows our sleep (v.2-3). He knows our bodies and our souls (v.1). He knows our habits (v.3). He knows where we have been and what we are fixing to head into (v.3). He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for us because the human mind is unable to fathom that sort of knowledge. We can know some things and we can know some intimate details about some things, but we can never know everything to the extent that God knows everything, even about our own life, or our own bodies!

Knowing that God knows us better than we know ourselves should prompt us to prayer and praise all the more. He knows our thoughts, our deeds, our words, He knows it all and he has chosen to love us. He has chosen to redeem those who repent of their sins and receive the grace offered us through Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Father, I am in awe of you today! I am reminded that you know everything and you know everything in a deeper way than I can even grasp or imagine. You know everything about me. You know this moment more significantly than I know it and yet you know every moment of my life that way. I am in awe of you today! So help me to be quick to take my burdens to you in prayer. Let me be quick to shed anxiety when I seek your kingdom and your will. For Lord I trust that not only do you know me, but you love me and you are good and are working all things together for my good and your glory! I trust in 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.

Even Kings Should Bow Humbled Heads (Psalm 138 Devotion)

PSALM 138

[A Psalm] of David. I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. 2 I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. 3 In the day when I cried out, You answered me, [And] made me bold [with] strength in my soul. 4 All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O LORD, When they hear the words of Your mouth. 5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great [is] the glory of the LORD. 6 Though the LORD [is] on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. 7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. 8 The LORD will perfect [that which] concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, [endures] forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

PSALM 138:1-8

EVEN KINGS SHOULD BOW HUMBLED HEADS

Have you ever just marveled that God hears our prayers at all? In modern society, most of us have so much power and convenience at our hands. There are those who are especially blessed with power and influence that they might begin to think of themselves as “gods” (v.1). People bow to them, give them honor, bring them gifts and treat them really well.

David recognizes that as a king, he has power and prestige, but when it comes to God, he is a beggar just like the rest of us (v.6). It might be difficult for a king to think of themselves as a beggar, but no one comes to God proud (v.6b). We all must come with humbled hearts.

And here is the thing that should cause us to praise God. When we do come to him with humbled hearts, whole hearts, he hears us and saves us! What great grace this is!

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your incredible mercy and grace! You are far from the proud, but close to those who are humble. We seek you this morning with our whole heart. We come as needy beggars in need of your grace and salvation. We are grateful, we are thankful for how you move and act in our lives. 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.

We Wept! (Psalm 137 Devotion)

PSALM 137

By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. 2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. 3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us [requested] mirth, [Saying], “Sing us [one] of the songs of Zion!” 4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song In a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget [its skill]! 6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth–If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy. 7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, “Raze [it], raze [it], To its very foundation!” 8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us! 9 Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!

PSALM 137:1-9

WE WEPT

There aren’t too many bright and happy thoughts to this Psalm today. There is no joyful kick-up at the end to remind us of how God makes a way for His people. Instead the last sentence we read gives us a haunting image of gross violence carried about the most innocent members of society. If you read it aloud, the words just hang there in a haunting silence.

This psalm goes back to a time when Israel was taken into captivity by Babylon. The had been forced out of their homeland, the promise land, and caused to live as strangers in a foreign land filled with gross idolatry. They weren’t slaves, but many weren’t too much better off.

Along the way their captors, their enemies, the ones who had forced them to abandon their ancestorial homes, farms, and villages were now making light of them. Like a kid who has caught a critter and keeps poking it with a stick, the words of their enemy were vicious and cruel. They want the Israelites who are properly mourning the events that have taken place in their world to sing their songs of worship to their God. They want to mock Israel and they want to mock their God!

The Israelites obviously didn’t feel like singing a praise song in such a way as to make a mockery of God or their people. So it’s like under their breath they said, “you want a song, we will give you a song!” and they wrote this psalm that speaks of their lament, but also the just judgement of God to visit the sins of their captors upon their own heads.

Many of the Israelites had seen their children murdered in front of their own eyes simply for the offense of crying in the midst of confusion, or even to cut off a generation from becoming powerful enough to overtake their enemies. This sin against Israel seemed to embody the tragedy and depravity of the whole situation. Their captors had no mercy, shown them no quarter, taken advantage of them in every way, stripped them of their dignity, and even murdered their children before their very eyes. The Israelites knew that when they sang their songs to God, they were like prayers. They weren’t calling out to a worthless idol who was powerless, but they were calling out to Almighty God the maker of heaven and earth. He could and would avenge every injustice.

So the Praise in this song to day is calling out to God for justice. Notice they aren’t praying for revenge but rather for vengeance. Revenge is something you take your own hands. This psalm does not say, “We’ll be happy when we bash your children on the rocks.” They are calling out to God (v. 7) to avenge the wrongs done to them and warning their captors that the evil that was so willingly poured out on Israel by Babylon will come back on the daughters of Babylon one day.

This Psalm is filled with tragedy but it also carries an air of prophecy. The daughters of Babylon will see their own children destroyed one day by those who are all to willing and smile as they do it.

The real tragedy is that it doesn’t even need the trappings of war to work that sort of evil against infants. There will be fathers who murder their own children in the name of happiness worshipping false gods.

So Israel sang a song. Not a happy worship song, but a worship song none the less. In the midst of this imprecatory psalm we find the voice of the psalmist still calling out to God for justice simply because God is just. Through hot and heavy tears the psalmist utters words from a broken heart but a trusting heart non-the-less.

So what do we take away from this “devotional” reading of Psalms this morning?

  1. We can pray to God through tears of injustice the injustice that we have suffered and know He hears our prayers.
  2. We can trust God for ultimate justice.
  3. Sometimes we want to appease our sense of justice by taking matters in our own hand, but the psalmist wisely teaches us to place vengeance in the Lord’s hands (See also Romans 12:9).
  4. There is a penalty for our sins, both personally and corporately and someday we will answer for our sins.
  5. We can trust that even when we have suffered injustice, we haven’t been completely abandoned by the LORD.

I think the words of Paul in Romans 12 pair well with this passage today.

[Rom 12:17-21 NKJV] 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but [rather] give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance [is] Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

PRAYER

Father, I confess that it was uncomfortable to read this Psalm at first this morning. But as I reflected I couldn’t help but note that we are no less deserving of your wrath than those this psalm was inspired by and written against. Yet rather than having our children’s heads bashed against the rocks, you chose to send your son to die in my place so that I might be justified, redeemed, forgiven, and adopted into your family. I am grateful for the gift of reconciliation and the opportunity that I have to show it to others. I am grateful that you are a God of justice and that every injustice will one day be settled either by Just retribution or through being justified in Jesus Christ. Thank you again for my salvation and the great grace I learn more about every 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.

His Mercy Endures Forever! (Psalm 136 Devotion)

PSALM 136

[Psa 136:1-26 NKJV] 1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for [He is] good! For His mercy [endures] forever. 2 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy [endures] forever. 3 Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy [endures] forever: 4 To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy [endures] forever; 5 To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy [endures] forever; 6 To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy [endures] forever; 7 To Him who made great lights, For His mercy [endures] forever– 8 The sun to rule by day, For His mercy [endures] forever; 9 The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy [endures] forever. 10 To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, For His mercy [endures] forever; 11 And brought out Israel from among them, For His mercy [endures] forever; 12 With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, For His mercy [endures] forever; 13 To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, For His mercy [endures] forever; 14 And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His mercy [endures] forever; 15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His mercy [endures] forever; 16 To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His mercy [endures] forever; 17 To Him who struck down great kings, For His mercy [endures] forever; 18 And slew famous kings, For His mercy [endures] forever– 19 Sihon king of the Amorites, For His mercy [endures] forever; 20 And Og king of Bashan, For His mercy [endures] forever– 21 And gave their land as a heritage, For His mercy [endures] forever; 22 A heritage to Israel His servant, For His mercy [endures] forever. 23 Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy [endures] forever; 24 And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy [endures] forever; 25 Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy [endures] forever. 26 Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy [endures] forever.

PSALM 136:1-26

HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER

I love this Psalm. So often we are caught up in what we might call doctrine or theology (truths that the scripture teach us about God) and we treat this like information we are just supposed to know. But these truths we learn about God aren’t just facts we are suppose to learn about God, but they should provoke a response in us. Because these things are true about God, we should praise Him. Bible doctrine calls for application!

I imagine two voices when I read this. One voice is calling out truths about God and how He has been there for the nation of Israel in the past. They are yelling at the top of their lungs, “remember when God…” and they finish with some sort of well known deed or act like parting the Red Sea (v.13-15). But a second voice speaks up to say “For His Mercy Endures Forever.” The responsibility of the second voice is to repeat this line anytime in the story that we should be provoked to praise. And so even the telling of the Red Sea incident has to be told in smaller parts because this second voice keeps interrupting reminding us that the act of deliverance from Egypt was God’s Mercy. The act of the Red sea opening was God’s mercy. The act of Israel walking on dry land was God’s mercy and the act of drowning the Egyptian army is God’s mercy.

I don’t know what you have going on today, but try looking for places to show gratitude to the Lord. I went through my morning routine and just added the line God’s mercy was already there and it humbled me and helped me realize just how much of God’s mercy we need.

  • I woke up this morning, God’s mercy was already there.
  • I sat down for breakfast, God’s mercy was already there.
  • I got to go up to a meeting. God’s mercy was there.
  • I got in the truck, God’s mercy was already there.
  • I pulled onto the highway, God’s mercy was already there.
  • I waved to the police officer, God’s mercy was already there.
  • I bought a coffee, God’s mercy was already there!

I was floored by how much I have been walking by the mercy and love of God and didn’t even know it. This Psalm has been a game changer in my thought process this morning as I praise God for things he has done and the things he is doing.

PRAYER

Father, I woke up this morning and your mercy was already there. Every thing I did and every where I went, your mercy was ahead of me. I’m amazed at how easy it is to see your hand at work when I pause to notice! I am grateful that theology and doctrine are the foundation of praise. We praise you because you are worthy of Praise. Thank you for your grace in my life. 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.

A Celebration of God’s Sovereignty (Psalm 135 Devotion)

PSALM 135

Praise the LORD! Praise the name of the LORD; Praise [Him], O you servants of the LORD! 2 You who stand in the house of the LORD, In the courts of the house of our God, 3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD [is] good; Sing praises to His name, for [it is] pleasant. 4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure. 5 For I know that the LORD [is] great, And our Lord [is] above all gods. 6 Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places. 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries. 8 He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, Both of man and beast. 9 He sent signs and wonders into the midst of you, O Egypt, Upon Pharaoh and all his servants. 10 He defeated many nations And slew mighty kings– 11 Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, And all the kingdoms of Canaan– 12 And gave their land [as] a heritage, A heritage to Israel His people. 13 Your name, O LORD, [endures] forever, Your fame, O LORD, throughout all generations. 14 For the LORD will judge His people, And He will have compassion on His servants. 15 The idols of the nations [are] silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there [any] breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them are like them; [So is] everyone who trusts in them. 19 Bless the LORD, O house of Israel! Bless the LORD, O house of Aaron! 20 Bless the LORD, O house of Levi! You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD! 21 Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem! Praise the LORD!

PSALM 135:1-21

A CELEBRATION OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

The difference between Christian and pagan prayer is simple. In pagan prayer, you are trying to tell your god what to do. In Christian prayer, you are asking the real God for His will. In Christian prayer we don’t bend God to our will, if anything He bends us to His. It is like pulling a boat up to the dock. God is the dock, you are the boat, the rope is prayer. As you pull the rope (pray). The boat moves (you), not the dock (God… He is unchangeable).

The Psalm today celebrates God’s sovereignty. That is an attribute of God’s that is hard to imagine because we are really in control of so little in our lives, it is challenging to grasp that He can be in charge of so much. The Psalmist goes out of his way to note that God is in charge of the things that happen under the surface of the water (that mankind at that point could only imagine for no one could observe what was going on in the depths, there were no dive tanks, no submarines, no cameras to tell us about what goes on down there, no researchers with equipment to record the migration patterns of sharks!). God is also in charge of the weather in all of it’s benefits (mists) and terror (lightning). God is in charge of kings and kingdoms (Pharoah and others). This should cause us all to fear and worship God! He is awesome and other than us in a holy, holy, holy sort of way.

His being is significantly different than ours and yet he chooses to reveal himself to us. He demonstrated who he was to Egypt. He chose to love Jacob… and oh how we should love that name by now. Jacob was a trickster who snuck into a dark tent to steal a blessing from his brother, but God loved him anyway! Then we see Jacob’s name changed to Israel later in the verse (v. 4). God loved Jacob too much to leave him the same, so he wrestled with Jacob (Gen. 32), struck his hip and caused him to never walk the same again.

So what does God’s sovereignty mean for us today? We can rest knowing that God is in control of all things. Things we see and know about and things we cannot see from our perspective. He is in control of it all. We can know that He is more powerful than the storm and stronger than the nations that rage around us. He can do whatever He wants… And He wants you even though you’re a sinner from birth. He wants to show you the riches of His grace that you don’t deserve but He freely lavishes upon those who are His children.

Not only does He want you, but He loves you too much to leave you the same. When we come to Christ we repent of our sins and we trust Him to be the Lord of our life. We turn from what we were doing and we submit ourself to Him. You become a part of God’s people by responding to God’s call. Have you done that today? If you have, all this should cause you to marvel that God is so big and yet so accessible to you and I.

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your sovereignty. Too often I am tempted to pray pagan prayers where I try and convince you to do things my way. What I really need is to see things your way. Like an ancient sailor observing life in the ocean from the top, I confess that I have no idea what is really beneath the surface of this world, I only know that you hold it all together. I am grateful that you care for even me and should love even me. You are worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. 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.

Night Church! (Psalm 134 Devotion)

PSALM 134

A Song of Ascents. Behold, bless the LORD, All [you] servants of the LORD, Who by night stand in the house of the LORD! 2 Lift up your hands [in] the sanctuary, And bless the LORD. 3 The LORD who made heaven and earth Bless you from Zion!

PSALM 134:1-3

NIGHT CHURCH

My mother-in-law needed some help cutting down a tree in her yard. I didn’t know that she needed some manual labor and so we had showed up to her house (over an hour away) and I was wearing nicer clothes. Never-the-less, I offered to help my brother-in-law out with cutting down the tree. The only problem was that 20 seconds into cutting this tree down, the chain on the saw broke. My brother-in-law set about to fix the chain. I wasn’t one to be detoured from getting something done by a lack of a saw so I picked up an ax and worked my way through cutting off every limb and cutting everything to the length it needed to be for pick up. After about an hour and a half I had sweated through all my nice clothes and I was near exhaustion. At that moment my brother-in-law came out of the air conditioned house and said he had fixed the saw. I told him most of the work was done but that he could make a couple of cuts on the trunk of the tree to finish the job. It took him all of thirty seconds. During those thirty seconds, my mother-in-law got home and saw her son cutting up the tree and assumed he did all the work. She bragged on him and told him how thankful she was that HE had cut the tree up and got it out of her way. She went in and brought him out a nice big glass of iced tea…. I was beyond thirsty, but she didn’t bring me anything. Fortunately I was too tired to say anything or I might have gotten myself in trouble.

It felt awful to think I was doing so much for my mother-in-law to help her out only to have her throw her gratitude on someone else, who quiet frankly didn’t contribute a whole lot to the process. (Although if the saw was working he would have cut most everything by himself. He is a hard worker. He just happened to be hard at work on fixing the saw).

As we read this psalm there are two places where a petty ingratitude can creep in. The travelers have finally made it to Jerusalem, to the temple, but it is night. The long journey is over and it can be tempting to rush off to bed rather than to thank the Lord for his provision all along the way. How often to we ask for “traveling mercies” when we are going places and when we arrive safely we forget to tell the Lord thank you!

The other place ingratitude can creep in is on the night shift in the temple. The priests and workers are praising God. Most of the people won’t recognize their work because they will be there in the day time, not evening, but these travelers note that someone has stayed up late for them and kept the light on. They have come all this way and someone has stayed up to make sure the temple is open for worship so that no one is left out. These weary pilgrims can stop and praise God along the way, even at night.

Too often we want to give God’s glory to something less deserving. We attribute the success or fortune in our lives to things like our own charisma or ability rather than God’s favor or blessing. We should be quick to recognize his work and thank him for so many answered prayers along the way.

We are often tempted to think that certain parts of ministry aren’t as important as others. But often it is the seldom seen sides of ministry that yield the most fruit. I’m convinced that if we remain faithful to God in the small things, we will see Him do big things!

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for the night shift in the temple. Thank you for the ones who came back to turn on the lights for weary travelers coming in who just wanted to give you glory and praise. Thank you for a church building lit up and aglow at night that stands as a witness to you. A beacon of hope as those weary travelers who pass by on their way to and from the city beside us. May we not grow weary in doing good, but live full, and true, and good testimonies 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.

Supernatural Unity (Psalm 133 Devotion)

PSALM 133

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant [it is] For brethren to dwell together in unity! 2 [It is] like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. 3 [It is] like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing–Life forevermore.

PSALM 133:1-3

Supernatural Unity

I live in the south, but I grew up in the north. The summers are hot in both places, but the humidity is a real difference maker. The altitude can also make an impact.

Last summer we went to see some of the mountains where I grew up. We drove one of the scenic highways and found snow a few hundred yards off the road. We got out, hiked up, and had a snow ball fight in the middle of summer! It was incredible and refreshing.

This summer we didn’t go to the mountains. We stayed close to home. We saw some of the hottest days at the beach. The fair skinned part of my family came home with sunburns so bad I teased them for looking like lobsters (it was bad). Then a picture popped up of our snowball fight on the mountain. I thought, how refreshing would that be right now!?!

Of course I knew it was an impossibility, the mountain we had seen the year before was a hard four day drive away. But really though, how cool would it have been to experience both the beach and the mountain top in the same day. If it gets to hot at the beach you step out to 12,000 feet on the mountain and if it gets to cold there you step back on to the beach.

That’s kind of the picture here in verse 3. Hermon is the tallest mountain in the region and is in the far north of Israel. The air is cold at the top. Zion is the hill where Jerusalem is and it is quite often arid and dry. They are so far apart that the “dew” of Herman can’t really water Zion. But that is the point of what the Psalmist is saying. When we dwell in unity (v.1) it’s like all the geography between us doesn’t matter. It’s like being refreshed by cool mountain air in the desert.

Unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ is something we should strive for. Even when it seems like it’s a long way off, in God’s timing it may be closer than you think. God blesses the unity of his people. Today I am reminded that unity is worth striving for. It doesn’t take any effort for people to become at odds with one another, but unity takes work.

(On a little bit of a side note, Psalm 133 is perhaps my favorite Psalm to preach outside of Psalm 23. I shared some more detailed notes and illustrations here).

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for those incredible days that I enjoyed with my family. One at the beach and one on a mountain top. I am grateful for both experiences and how they have taught me about geography and more importantly about unity in the local church body. I pray that we would be a united people. I pray that we would look out for one another’s interest and seek each other’s well being. Give us insight into our neighbor’s lives and how we might bless and encourage them. 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.

I Just Want To Be Closer To You! (Psalm 132 Devotion)

PSALM 132

A Song of Ascents. LORD, remember David [And] all his afflictions; 2 How he swore to the LORD, [And] vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; 4 I will not give sleep to my eyes [Or] slumber to my eyelids, 5 Until I find a place for the LORD, A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; We found it in the fields of the woods. 7 Let us go into His tabernacle; Let us worship at His footstool. 8 Arise, O LORD, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your strength. 9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your saints shout for joy. 10 For Your servant David’s sake, Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed. 11 The LORD has sworn [in] truth to David; He will not turn from it: “I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body. 12 If your sons will keep My covenant And My testimony which I shall teach them, Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired [it] for His dwelling place: 14 “This [is] My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 15 I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation, And her saints shall shout aloud for joy. 17 There I will make the horn of David grow; I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed. 18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.”

PSALM 132:1-18

I JUST WANT TO BE CLOSER TO YOU

I have a little girl. I love her and she loves me. At dinner time she often clamors to have the seat right next to mine or across from me so she can see my face. She loves to be right next to me. I enjoy putting my arm around her. I love talking with her. I love hearing about her day. I love her fun little questions and jokes. We really like hanging out together.

That’s the way David felt about the Lord. He loved the Lord. He wanted to be near the Lord. He spent great effort to prepare a place for the temple. He wanted to be physically near the Lord’s presence as he possibly could (God is present everywhere, but he was specially present with the ark of the covenant in the tabernacle and later the temple) .

The psalmist uses the name, “Mighty One of Jacob,” which recalls another Old Testament character. Jacob wrestled with God (Gen. 32) and from that day forward he walked with a limp (and probably a smile)! This Psalm is all about the intense desire to be in the presence of God, even when it costs you something (and the subsequent blessings of being near God as well!)

I got to thinking, I love Sundays because I love the LORD. Its a day that we get to draw near in a different way than we do through out the week. I love reading God’s word and studying with many of you. Because in God’s word I hear from Him and meet with Him! I love studying, preaching, giving, and living out my calling because I love God. Like David I want to be near him in every way I can. Like Jacob, I’ve been touched by him in a way that causes me to never walk the same.

I understand burnout in ministry. I imagine I’ve been closer than I’d like to admit. There were moments where the load was too big to carry on my own, but it didn’t stop me from trying. Burn out is what happens when we forget to go to the spring for ourselves and we get tired and thirsty trying to carry living water for everyone else. It’s ministry from bottom of a dry bucket rather than ministry from the overflow of what God is doing in our lives.

This psalm should challenge us to examine our lives and our routines. Are we just going through the motions? Do we invest in our relationship with God merely when it is convenient or do we sacrifice (Discipline ourselves) for the sake of growing in our relationship with God? It takes sacrifice to be consistently with the people of God, it takes discipline to draw near to God on days that it would be easier to skip reading in the scripture. It is all so much easier when your endgame is just to sit a little closer with the Lord because you love him.

PRAYER

Father, I just want to be near you! I just want to draw close to you today. So often when it seems like you are far off and I think you’ve moved on me, I pick up my head and notice that I’m the one who is out of step with you! Thank you for your incredible grace and mercy that is so abundant in my life. There are moments where I just have to confess that all I can see is your blessing and unmerited favor. Keep me from trying to deliver to others that which I haven’t taken time to experience myself, Renew me each day in your spirit. Energize me in your grace. May my passion burn hot for 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.