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.

Lord Of The Whole Earth (Psalm 97 Devotion)

PSALM 97

The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad! 2 Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice [are] the foundation of His throne. 3 A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about. 4 His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles. 5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory. 7 Let all be put to shame who serve carved images, Who boast of idols. Worship Him, all [you] gods. 8 Zion hears and is glad, And the daughters of Judah rejoice Because of Your judgments, O LORD. 9 For You, LORD, [are] most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. 10 You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart. 12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

PSALM 97:1-12

LORD OF THE WHOLE EARTH

I recently taught through Revelation. I continue to be amazed at how consistent the book of Psalms is with the picture we get in Revelation! The Bible really does present one cohesive worldview despite being written by several authors who were occupationally, geographically, and chronologically separated from one another. The type of consistency I see in the scriptures speaks to me of it’s divine authorship (ie.. God wrote it, he used men of different backgrounds, languages, and styles, but at the end of the day scripture is from God.)

I’ve noted three thoughts that I think sum up this Psalm.

  • God is WORTHY
  • Idols are WORTHLESS
  • God Will Deliver Us From WICKEDNESS

GOD IS WORTHY (Vs 1-6): In the Old Testament God had appeared to His People on Mount Sinai. It was a great big and awful in the sense of causing awe display of his grandeur. 

14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not come near [your] wives.” 16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who [were] in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai [was] completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.

Exodus 19:14-19

In the New Testament we get another picture like this, that speaks of His justice and worthiness!  

[Rev 19:1-9 NKJV] 1 After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power [belong] to the Lord our God! 2 “For true and righteous [are] His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants [shed] by her.” 3 Again they said, “Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!” 4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!” 5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying, “Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!” 6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! 7 “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed [are] those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”

Revelation 19:1-9

IDOLS ARE WORTHLESS (Vs 7-9) : We are aware where there will come a day where all the false claims about God, life, etc. are dealt with in extreme fashion. The Lord will make Himself plain. There won’t be any competition of ideas in that day. The God who is, and sees what is will bring Judgment. 

We know that there are no such things as false gods, so how could they ever worship the true God? 

It could be their followers, put off worshiping this farce and worship the one true God. He welcomes worshippers! Many of us have been false worshippers who were worshiping false gods, but then the grace of God found us. We repented of our sins and trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

GOD WILL DELIVER US FROM WICKEDNESS (v. 10-12): We Know that God’s justice will flow at the return of Christ. We also look forward to what is called the wedding supper of the lamb. Where we will no longer be separated from Christ but will dwell with him in glory. 

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for your incredible mercy and grace! Thank you that Jesus is worthy! We look forward to the day when you return to dwell with your people. We long for the moment when you usher in the New Heaven and the New Earth! We look forward with anticipation of your grace, greatness, and glory. Even now come quickly! 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

Proclaim The Good News Of His Salvation (Psalm 96 Devotion)

PSALM 96

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. 3 Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. 4 For the LORD [is] great and greatly to be praised; He [is] to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples [are] idols, But the LORD made the heavens. 6 Honor and majesty [are] before Him; Strength and beauty [are] in His sanctuary. 7 Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, Give to the LORD glory and strength. 8 Give to the LORD the glory [due] His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. 9 Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” 11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; 12 Let the field be joyful, and all that [is] in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the LORD. 13 For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.

PSALM 96:1-13

PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS OF HIS SALVATION

New songs are sung after new occasions that call for praise. When God delivered the Israelites through the Red Sea and drown the Egyptian army, they sang a new song. When Sisera was defeated, Deborah wrote a new song! As long as God is active in the world, all the praise songs have not been written yet. New songs recounts God’s faithfulness to new generations and remind us that God still delights in saving and redeeming his people!

In this song, the whole earth is called to praise God for His coming deliverance. The nation of Israel is to sing this song so that the nations will hear the good news of God, forsake their idols, and come worship Him (The only true God)! In a sense it is a missionary song. It gives God glory for His salvation.

How quick we are sometimes to pray for something. We’ll ask God for safe travel, we’ll have a near miss, and instead of giving God the glory we’ll say something like, “Wow, I guess I got lucky on that one.” Rather than having our conversation seasoned with the salt of the gospel (good news of Jesus Christ). We are tempted to go out of our way and dismiss the fact that God answered our prayers.

To write new songs we must be aware of God’s good news applied to our lives and invite others to praise God too. New Songs in this sense give God all the glory for answered prayers and deliverance of His people. It ties our modern world to the truth of God’s character and His Word. As time goes on, those new songs become our old songs as we recount God’s more recent activity in our lives, but they still serve to help us see God in all of our circumstance and give Him the Praise He deserves.

I couldn’t help but be enamored with Chris Tomlin’s song, “How Great is our God” this morning as I was reading this Psalm and so I’ll share a few lines of the song to stir your heart to worship. This melody will be on my mind all day no doubt.

The splendor of a King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see
How great, how great is our God

– Chris Tomlin, “How Great Is Our God”

PRAYER

Father, How great are you! You are worthy of all praise, honor, and glory. You have saved my life from heart disease and Covid Pneumonia in the last few years. You have done great things in my life, the most important thing you did was to save me from my sin. I ask that I would always be passionate about your gospel and proclaiming your name! Help us not be shy about trusting you and let us be quick to give you all the praise, honor, and glory that others may see you and come worship you too! 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.

Unbridled Praise (Psalm 95 Devotion)

PSALM 95

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. 3 For the LORD [is] the great God, And the great King above all gods. 4 In His hand [are] the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills [are] His also. 5 The sea [is] His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry [land]. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7 For He [is] our God, And we [are] the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As [in] the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with [that] generation, And said, ‘It [is] a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ “

PSALM 95:1-11

UNBRIDLED PRAISE

A few years ago I broke out in a rash from head to toe. Every inch of my skin was on fire with an unsatisfiable itch. I was in agony. It was beyond my control. As much as I tried to put “mind over matter” I couldn’t. My body was apparently responding to something I ate. Finally the doctors subdued my symptoms with some medication but it boggled my mind how my body could have such a loud response to something in my diet. (We still don’t know exactly what caused it, but we suspect a pesticide on one of the plants I ate was to blame)

When we meditate upon the LORD, who He is, what He has done, and His enduring character it should provoke us to unmitigated praise. There is room for a loud response to God. When we see just a little bit of who He is, it should provoke a reaction in our heart that is all consuming! If a little bit of chemical in my food can cause a rash, then understanding that God made the world and everything in it should cause us to break out into loud joyful praise.

Today as we open up Psalm 95 we see the psalmist call us to a loud response of worship to the praiseworthiness of God! We may be used to mild mannered singing or responsive readings, but those won’t do in this moment. The Psalmist calls for us to shout joyfully! Sure there are worshipful moments of quiet reflection and meditation that fit the bill of worship… but there are also times and celebrations that call for unbridled praise! There are moments were we are to let our praise be loud and obnoxious!

The Psalmist shares truth after truth in rapid succession and our hearts should be leaping out of our chest to praise God and say amen! One of my habits when someone else is praying is to amen the words they use to express the sentiment of their heart. It’s as if I’m saying, “That’s my prayer too Lord!” So when we hear these words describe the goodness and faithfulness of God our hearts should be leaping with unbridled praise, “Yes! Amen! It’s True!”

There is room for joy in the Christian life, indeed we are commanded to joy! Indeed Paul wrote these words chained to a prison guard in Rome, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)! And he tells the Thessalonians church to, “Rejoice always” (I Thessalonians 5:16). This doesn’t even take into consideration the numerous psalms that call us to praise God and shout for joy!

I hope you are able to see all that you have to be grateful to God for and it spills into loud, joyous praise of the LORD! I hope the Lord puts a melody in your heart and you are provoked to praise. I hope that even when you don’t “feel it” that you do your best to offer God your best praise and in doing so come away from moments of personal and corporate worship encouraged and blessed!

PRAYER

Father, you are worthy of worship! You are worthy of all of our loudest praise! I am grateful that you lead us like a shepherd! I am grateful for your kindness and mercy that has been poured out upon us today! I choose to rejoice in your goodness and kindness today! 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.

Six Things to Remember When You Are Bullied (Psalm 94 Devotion)

PSALM 94

[Psa 94:1-23 NKJV] 1 O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongs–O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O Judge of the earth; Render punishment to the proud. 3 LORD, how long will the wicked, How long will the wicked triumph? 4 They utter speech, [and] speak insolent things; All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves. 5 They break in pieces Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage. 6 They slay the widow and the stranger, And murder the fatherless. 7 Yet they say, “The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob understand.” 8 Understand, you senseless among the people; And [you] fools, when will you be wise? 9 He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see? 10 He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct, He who teaches man knowledge? 11 The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they [are] futile. 12 Blessed [is] the man whom You instruct, O LORD, And teach out of Your law, 13 That You may give him rest from the days of adversity, Until the pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the LORD will not cast off His people, Nor will He forsake His inheritance. 15 But judgment will return to righteousness, And all the upright in heart will follow it. 16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the LORD [had been] my help, My soul would soon have settled in silence. 18 If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up. 19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. 20 Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, Have fellowship with You? 21 They gather together against the life of the righteous, And condemn innocent blood. 22 But the LORD has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge. 23 He has brought on them their own iniquity, And shall cut them off in their own wickedness; The LORD our God shall cut them off.

PSALM 94:1-23

SIX THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN YOU ARE BULLIED

Teenagers have the potential to be vicious and mean. A lot of kids don’t feel good about themselves and in order to feel better, they start making fun of someone else. Middle and High School students already feel an extreme amount of pressure to fit in and so when someone criticizes them for their clothes, shoes, hair style, makeup, being too fat, too thin, being too smart, or not smart enough it really strikes home. They need our encouragement!

I remember when I was in the ninth grade. I had a bully. He was an upperclassman and for some reason we were in a class together. One day he said, “Hey stupid” and I made the mistake of looking up. From that day on, he just called me “Stupid” like it was my name. I already had enough stuff going the wrong way in my life, I didn’t need the added drama. 

I hated my bully. I was ready to settle things with a fight. One day I threw my books down and was ready to punch him, thankfully one of the coaches caught me and stopped me before I did. I poured my heart out about what was going on and the coach was able to put a stop to it. 

Generally our thoughts towards bullies aren’t good and we may have thought about ways to settle the score, get even, or just had a bit of a smile at the thought of something bad happening to them. We don’t like injustice. What the coach did was a great thing and it helped me. There were other bullies through the years who have come and gone in my life. I wish I had known Psalm 94 (or at least how to apply it in my life) back then. I think it would have helped. 

In Psalm 94 we have a guide on how we should think and pray about the bullies in our lives. Here are six takeaways I drew from this Psalm to help us pray and consider God and the bullies in our lives:

  • Remember God’s CHARACTER (v. 1-2) – God alone is the judge. He is in a place to juge and render punishment. We are told that there is a day coming where we will all stand before God. Are you prepared for that day? The psalmist is saying, I wish it were today!
  • Remember God’s TIMING (v. 3-7) Revelation 6:9-11 is a good cross reference here. It may look like evil is winning the day, but there will come a time when we all stand before God and give an account for our lives. Nothing a bully has said or done will escape God’s notice, but nothing we have said or done will escape his notice either. We will all pay for our sins in one of two ways, either we will pay for them in an eternal Hell forever (Matthew 25:41-43), or we will plead the blood of Jesus who has transformed us from death to life. There will be some on that day who were bullies, but because of God’s patience (2 Peter 3:9) enter in as saints, like the apostle Paul (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
  • Remember God KNOWS (v.8-11) – The psalmist concludes that people who think God doesn’t know or care what goes on are biologically ignorant because the God who made the eye’s and ears certainly sees and hears. They are historically and geographically ignorant because nations have risen and fallen from power under his watch. And they are Psychologically ignorant because God knows their very thoughts and their thoughts cannot help them escape the grasp of the LORD. There are no hidden sins. The truth will come out.
  • Remember God’s BLESSINGS are Ultimate (v.12-15) – Sometimes I have a hard time remembering that this world is not my home. I am not supposed to settle down and get too comfortable. I was made for another place and Jesus has gone ahead to prepare a place for me! When He is ready, He will come back and get me and it will all be right.
  • Remember God Stands with the AFFLICTED (v. 16-19) – 2 Timothy 4:16-18 is a good cross reference here. We must remember that God stands with the afflicted. Even though we may feel alone, we are not alone. Our friends may turn their back on us or forget us, but God will never forsake his own.
  • Remember God’s JUSTICE Will Prevail (v. 20-23) – Justice will prevail. This should cause us comfort. God will set it all right on the appointed day. This should also cause us pause to examine our lives to see if we have afflicted anyone. Have we been a bully to others?

PRAYER

Father, Thank you that you care for the bullied and oppressed. I confess that there have been times in my life when I was bullied, but Lord if I’m honest, I know that there were times in my life where I was a bully. Thank you for your patience in my life. I am grateful that you hear our prayers and meet us in our affliction. I am grateful that you are a God of justice and that justice will prevail. I am grateful that you are also a God of grace, because I so desperately need your grace! Thank you for Jesus Christ and the Cross where you could serve a just sentence for my wicked deeds and and make me righteous before you. You made grace possible. I praise you for your glorious gospel of grace! 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 LORD Reigns (Psalm 93 Devotion)

PSALM 93

The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The LORD is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne [is] established from of old; You [are] from everlasting. 3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, The floods have lifted up their voice; The floods lift up their waves. 4 The LORD on high [is] mightier Than the noise of many waters, [Than] the mighty waves of the sea. 5 Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever.

PSALM 93:1-5

THE LORD REIGNS

I am blessed to pray with people everyday. Many times when someone comes to me for prayer, they are facing a crisis or an emergency situation. Sometimes it is a health crisis. Sometimes it is financial. Sometimes it’s relational between spouses or parents and children. Sometimes it is the loss of a loved one. The point is that we are often provoked to prayer when something has gone wrong or is going wrong. We need relief from the stress, strain, loss or hurt that we face.

Many times we pray to God for answers. Sometimes we even try to tell God how to answer. I am grateful that God hears even these sorts of prayers. He tells us to, “cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). However in Psalm 93, the psalmist takes a different approach. He begins with praise for God’s might, splendor, and holiness. He mentions the floods of life (perhaps we could describe those floods as the problems, anxieties, and heartaches we experience). Then he kicks back up and reminds us that God still reigns! God is still on his throne! His testimonies are still true! He won’t be shaken!

What I think encouraged me most out of Psalm 93 today is that God’s “testimonies are very sure” (v. 5a). Sometimes due to our circumstances, it is hard to believe that God is in control or that He holds the whole world in His Hands (understood in verse1b). God calls us to faith and yet we seem very uncertain, hesitant to even trust God or search for His will. Yet, in the Bible we have testimony after testimony of God’s faithfulness.

To be sure, He is a God who baptizes His people. (The whole Old Testament is full of stories of how God brought his people through the water). We may go through floods, storms, and choppy seas that threaten to undo us, but when God is with us, there is nothing that can come against us. There are No promises that the floods will never come, but there are promises that when the flood comes, if our house is built on the rock of Jesus Christ, we will stand.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” (Matthew 7:24-27).

So how doe we respond to a God who is bigger than the flood? We trust His word (His testimonies) more than we trust the voice of the floods (v. 3a)! We prove that God’s testimonies are sure by taking God at his word in the midst of our troubles. We let the character of God, not our circumstances dictate our praise.

Reading Psalm 93 brought another song to my mind today as I meditated on taking God at His Word. It’s the song that I’m sure I’ll be humming all day as I am reminded of God’s sovereignty beyond our circumstances.

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Refrain:
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus – Louisa M.R. Stead 1882.

PRAYER

Father, I am grateful that your throne is higher than the restless floods that rage. I am grateful that your word is surer than the floods that surround me. I am grateful for your word and that every time I have trusted your promises, you have lead me through the waters that threatened to undo me. Your testimony’s are true! I can’t help but remember your hand upon me as I faced open heart surgery at age 39. You are worthy of all praise honor and glory! I trust in your promises! Your testimonies are sure! I echo the hymn I quoted here today, “oh for grace to trust your more.” 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 Love Sundays! (Psalm 92 Devotion)

PSALM 92

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath day. [It is] good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, 3 On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute, And on the harp, With harmonious sound. 4 For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. 5 O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. 6 A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this. 7 When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish, [It is] that they may be destroyed forever. 8 But You, LORD, [are] on high forevermore. 9 For behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For behold, Your enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. 11 My eye also has seen [my desire] on my enemies; My ears hear [my desire] on the wicked Who rise up against me. 12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the LORD is upright; [He is] my rock, and [there is] no unrighteousness in Him.

PSALM 92:1-15

I LOVE SUNDAYS

There is just something about Sundays (I’m kind of grateful this Psalm fell on a Sunday)! I hope you enjoy getting out of bed, getting ready to come to church and worship the Lord with your brothers and sisters in Christ! We need Sunday morning worship! This Psalm talks about the benefits of worshiping the Lord together. 

In the Old Testament the Nation of Israel worshiped the Lord together on SATURDAY, known as the Sabbath. In the New Testament, however, the day of worship for the church became SUNDAY so we could honor the day Jesus rose from the dead. “Now after the Sabbath, as the first [day] of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb” (Matthew 28:1). In the early church, Sunday had come to be known as the LORD’s Day, the day that Jesus had risen from the dead. It was the day that the New Testament Church met to Fellowship and worship the Lord, memorializing His resurrection and celebrating new life in Christ (and the fact that we are a “new creation” – 2 Corinthians 5:17).

“Now on the first [day] of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight”(Acts 20:7).

“On the first [day] of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10).

This time of coming together is a time of corporate remembrance. Throughout the week we are bombarded with information. Sometimes it is information we need to process like a cancer diagnosis, a tragic car wreck, or sudden loss of a loved one. We need to figure out how we feel about it. It’s tragic news that often produces grief. We search for meaning and hopefully turn to the Lord for comfort and strength that may even be beyond our understanding. 

We acknowledge that we are bombarded with messages all week from coworkers, billboards, movies, tv, shows, songs on the radio, politicians, face book, and more. Many of these voices compete against the voice of God in our lives. They tell us to covet: If we just had this car or that truck with that transmission. We need to put in more overtime to afford this or that or pay off our debts. They play on our anxieties through the stress of mounting bills, relational strife with our children, puzzlement over how to help our aging parents, or a quarrel with our spouse. They play to our pride: you deserve a break. They play to our laziness: You need to sleep in. Or maybe they encourage us in the right direction: You can be a godly father or mother to your children! You can love in your actions, not just your words.

Each week all of these voices encourage or discourage us and point us to or away from our purpose in God. We need Sunday to come together and be recentered on what matters most! We need to hear one another singing about the faithfulness of God. We look across the pews and we see those who are facing similar struggles or who have been through them. We sing and we remind each other of the grace and goodness of God. We share in Sunday school lessons, share prayer requests, and absorb the same message from God’s word. We give of what the Lord has entrusted to us to demonstrate we still trust Him to provide for our needs. We are brought to a place of examining our lives and seeking God’s will not just that day, but for everyday in the coming week. It is a moment to recenter and remember who life is all about.

To seek to honor the LORD and rest from our labors, we are confessing that we can’t do it all, we are limited. We rest in the fact that God is not limited. When we close our eyes to sleep he is in control. When we rest for a day from our labors, He is in control. We remember we were put here on this earth not for all the striving, overtime, stress, relational dysfunction… but that we are here to worship Him! We recenter our lives. Without it, we often fall into disarray and pursue the wrong things.

The LORD Is certainly worthy of all of our praise. I hope you are able to meet with the people of God today to sing His praise and share in His word. I hope you are lifted up and encouraged. I hope you are blessed and a blessing to others. I hope you have opportunity to be still and hear from Him today.

PRAYER

Father, Thank you for the church. We are grateful to gather together with saints to praise your name. (What a small taste of heaven this is). Thank you for the diversity of testimonies that will be in the room today as we sing your praise. We all have lived different lives apart from you but have seen your grace displayed to us through Jesus Christ. We are new creations, conformed to the image of your son Jesus Christ, we celebrate your glory and grace today in the resurrection of Jesus. 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.