Posted in Devotions

Psalm 27–Seeking and Dwelling in God’s Presence.

David was a great and Godly King; as king, he had it all.  David had wealth, power, fame, unity, and loyalty from his nation.  Still, David knew that dwelling with God as his master, and allowing God to lead Israel was what were the most important duties for the king.

David knew God was his leader, He had no illusions that he had risen to power and prominence on his own.  So, David was grateful for God’s leadership and simply wanted it more than anything else.  Interestingly, when Solomon became king after David’s death, Solomon wanted God’s leadership and wisdom more than anything else as well.  That allowed Solomon to be the wisest king and wealthiest king in the history of Israel.

Like these two great kings, we need to seek God’s leadership and favor over any other treasure.  We need God more than wealth, power, fame or adoration from others.  What’s more, Jesus told the people in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  The things that Jesus alluded to were food, shelter, clothing and security.  Those were the things any king or person wants most in life.

We need to embrace God’s leadership in our daily lives and as we do allow him to bless and keep us as He did David.

God Bless You

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked advance against me
    to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
    above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
    I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
    do not turn your servant away in anger;
    you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
    God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
    the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
    lead me in a straight path
    because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
    for false witnesses rise up against me,
    spouting malicious accusations.

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 26–We Are Different Because God Changed Us

One of the great things about following the Lord is that it causes us to want to live differently.  Interestingly, that desire flows from our love for God and not from our obligation to God.  David was singing to God, I am different because of You, Lord.  

David was ready to stand and be judged not to gain favor with God, but because God’s love changed David’s desires and actions in life.  That selfless nature causes our lives stand out.  David said, “Put me on trial God! I will pass the test.”

David knew that his life and lifestyle were not what saved him.  David was not afraid, however, to be judged.  He knew His life showed a love for God and not for himself. 

That same selfless nature sets us apart.  If we walk with God, we will look different and act different than the world. That look and those actions will draw some to Christ and make us enemies to others.  Neither response, however, is the motivation for what we say and do.  We live to honor God because we love Him.  We love Him because He first loved us and gave us eternal life.

God Bless You

Declare me innocent, O Lord,
    for I have acted with integrity;
    I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me.
    Test my motives and my heart.
For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
    and I have lived according to your truth.
I do not spend time with liars
    or go along with hypocrites.
I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
    and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
    I come to your altar, O Lord,
singing a song of thanksgiving
    and telling of all your wonders.
I love your sanctuary, Lord,
    the place where your glorious presence dwells.

Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
    Don’t condemn me along with murderers.
10 Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
    and they constantly take bribes.
11 But I am not like that; I live with integrity.
    So redeem me and show me mercy.
12 Now I stand on solid ground,
    and I will publicly praise the Lord.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 25 Part 2–God’s continued Grace and Leadership

We are all sinners, saved by grace.  Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.  David was no exception.  In Psalm 25, David reminds us that while we do sin, we do not have to make sin our lifestyle.  We can seek God and follow Him.  we can also remember that while following the Lord, even when we sin, we simply confess our sin and seek His forgiveness.

If we will choose God as the lead and seek to follow Him each day, then the Father will forgive our sin and protect, prepare, and provide for our needs.  David does not promise a life of ease, instead, David speaks specifically to facing trials and consequences, and then David seeks God’s forgiveness and leadership.

David also reminds us that if we will follow the Lord and place our lives in His care, God will give us a full and meaningful life on earth, and eternity with Him in Heaven.  Jesus also reminds us of that same promise in Matthew 6:33 and in John 10:10.  It is the promise and hope that if we will seek God and HIs kingdom, then He will provide all we need to have a great life.

Help me Lord to follow Your lead.

God Bless you

For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

12 Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
14 The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
18 Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
19 See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

20 Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord,[c] is in you.

22 Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 25 Part 1–Trusting God is Key

David was a wise King.  Since he was wise, David knew that he was a successful king because he had always trusted God.  It was David’s trust that delivered Goliath into David’s hands. It was David’s trust in God that caused him to rise through the ranks as Saul’s warrior and Son-in-law.  It was David’s trust in God that carried him through the years of persecution and fugitive status.

David continued to trust God in the reuniting of Israel after Saul’s death.  David even trusted God after his sin and after the division in the king’s household.  David’s trust in the Lord was the common denominator in all the events his life.

Close Up An American One Dollar Bill Featuring The Saying “In God We Trust”.

We need to have that said about us as well.  The ultimate eulogy for each of us would begin as “Smitty trusted God!” I do some things well, but, if I could master simply walking by faith and trusting God with every aspect of my life; then like King David, God would bless me.

I want to take each struggle and each victory and be able to lay them on the alter and allow God to be master over them.  It is only at the point we release our lives to the Lord, and walk by faith that we are truly able to live abundantly.  We cannot be afraid, proud, or stubborn. Instead, we need simply to model faith in our daily walks and watch God fill us and use us in ways we never dreamed imaginable!

God Bless You 

In you, Lord my God,
    I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, Lord, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
11 For the sake of your name, Lord,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 24–We Are In His House!

We are stewards in this life.  We are called to trust God and honor Him.  David is doing that very thing.  As he looks out over the earth, this mighty king is humbled because He is in God’s Kingdom. 

When one takes time to look at the wonders of nature, we can only live in awe at the intricacy and beauty that is this creation. We see from the tops of the highest peaks to the depths of the deepest seas, God shows His greatness and love for us in all He has produced.

David reminds us that this is His house and we need to have the right hearts to enter it, and we need to treat the Lord and His house with great respect.  So much of our lives cause us to focus upon our stuff and our needs.  We errantly seek first our priorities and our desires over the priorities and desires of others.  We also put our desires and needs ahead of the desires and needs of God. 

We must remember, as David remembered, that this is all God’s stuff and we need to hold on to it loosely and live gratefully that he allows us each access.  If we will, then He would bless us beyond measure and would allow us to grasp the wonder of His creation.

Jesus said it best in His Sermon on the Mount, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. Then all these things, (Food, clothes, shelter, security, and peace) will be added to you!  We need to live as though we are guests in our Father’s house and show God and His creation the reverence and respect they deserve.

God Bless You

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.[a]

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob.[b][c]

Lift up your heads, you gates;
    be lifted up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord strong and mighty,
    the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
    lift them up, you ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
    The Lord Almighty—
    he is the King of glory.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 23 Part 4–My Shepherd’s Loving Pursuit

The New Living Translation of the Bible highlights God’s character trait of tenaciously pursuing His chosen.  David says, “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” What a wonderful reminder that God does not give up on His own. 

David took some big steps away from God during his life.  He made choices that could have ended his reign and his life.  God, however, pursued David to the end and established David and his lineage as the house of the Messiah.  It was not the king’s behavior that caused success, it was God’s unfailing love and pursuit of David that established the kngdom.

That same tenacity follows us, as His chosen ones.  John 3:16 says it best, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. So that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting Life!”  It is God’s sacrifice and love that establishes our place in His kingdom.  We do not have to; nor could we do enough or behave in a way that would earn us that salvation. 

We simply ask and receive His gift of salvation. Then, like David, we can watch God lovingly pursue us all the days of our lives. Further, we can be assured that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! What a blessed assurance.  What a great God!

God Bless You

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 23 Part 3–The Lord Our Shepherd in the Valley

It is Valentine’s Day, and the occasion sparks all thoughts of love and romance.  After nearly 30 years of marriage, I am reminded that the one that loves you in the dark and difficult times is the one that will love you forever.  

David is grateful that his Shepherd, our Lord, meets our needs, directs our paths, and sustains us.  But the greatest gift our Shepherd provides is protection in the darkest places, from the most dreaded enemies, at the most difficult times.

Peter, standing and gaping at Moses, Elijah, and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration said what we all would have been thinking…”Hey Lord, Let’s build some homes and stay here!” We all long for the moments of complete peace and safety where good always wins and evil is nowhere to be found.

When the sun is gone, evil seems to be everywhere, and death and doom stand lurking at the door;  that is when God, our Shepherd, does His best work.  He provides safety in places where none exists. He provides peace in the eye of the storm. He banishes fear from what would seem to be the scariest places.

David loved the Shepherd that provided green grass and quiet streams; but he knew that Shepherd loved him because David feared no evil and enjoyed a banquet right before the onslaught of his hapless enemies.

That same Lord is our Shepherd. He loves us and protects us in the middle of the enemy’s attacks and our greatest fears.  His love provides peace in the storm and safety in the battle.  We can always count on the Lord to stand as our protector, fortress, and loving Father.

God Bless You

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 23 Part 2–Our Shepherd the Provider

There simply is no wrong way to say it. The Lord is my Shepherd–My needs are met.  Jehovah Jireh, God  my Provider, there is no other source of provision that is more personal or more perfect than God.  As the Creator, no one can understand what makes His creation thrive any better than the Lord.

Each of us, as His chosen seem to go to great lengths to assist and direct Him to meet our needs. We are never short of suggestions on what, where, and when things should happen to complete us.  David understood that that was not the way, instead, we need to follow the Shepherd’s lead.

The Shepherd provides us lush meadows–not dried out straw. He provides calm and gentle springs, not brackish or algae ridden water nor he lead us to a raging, dangerous rushing river. The Shepherd restores our soul and spirit; He does not tax it nor vex it. The Shepherd provides a “Freaking Feast” for us while our enemies get ramen noodles.  He anoints us while the rest are smelly and parched.

God’s provision is finely tuned to our exact needs and path.  We will never out guess the Lord nor will we contrive a better plan. Knowing that, we need simply to listen to His voice and follow His leadership.  If we will, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow us ALL the days of our lives!”

What a great Provider and what a great Shepherd!

God Bless You

The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
    he leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
    bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
    for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 23 Part 1–God Our Shepherd

One of the Bible’s most famous chapters, the 23rd Psalm is a great personal insight into David’s love and knowledge of God.  As a shepherd, warrior, fugitive, and king, David had a unique insight into the character and devotion God has for His chosen.  As David wrote out the scripture, He probably envisioned days that he sat out on a hillside, watching those silly animals.  He knew how truly helpless they would be without a shepherd.  

David, while picturing almighty God as his shepherd. thought about all the different ways a shepherd tends a flock.  As he considered the lengths and depths, the king was humbled by God’s great love for us.  Further, David knew that God as a shepherd touched all aspects of our lives.

Tomorrow we will look more closely at the role God our shepherd takes to prepare, provide and protect us.  For today, we need simply to remember that God does watch and care for us with great love and focus.  He will complete His plan for us and lead us to eternity in the most loving and watchful way.

God Bless You

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 22–A View to the Cross

There are a group of psalms that have a prophetic side. They look at David’s heart toward God, but also give the reader glimpses of our Savior’s heart.  Psalm 22 includes many aspects from the scene at the cross. The opening verse echoes Christ’s urgent cry to the Father as he was being crucified.  The comments from the crowd about letting God rescue him mirror David’s words.  His thirst from the cross all were forecast hundreds of years before in this psalm.  

We must never forget that Christ’s life and death were planned from the beginning.  God knew that a day would come that allowed the Father to demonstrate His love for us.  As Paul so clearly stated, “God demonstrated His love for us; in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

David received a glimpse and shared it with us. His prophetic words stand as a stark reminder that nothing in our lives is really left to chance.  We can take comfort in the hope that as God promised Christ’s sacrifice, He also promised Christ’s return. We live lives of purpose knowing that God is transforming us in preparation for an eternity with Him.

It is a comfort to see the prophetic psalms.  We can rest assured that God is neither surprised nor outguessed in this spiritual war.  The Lord has had a plan since the dawn of time, and is working that plan until His return.  If we, like David, can rest in the security of God’s supremacy; them God will give us a full and meaningful life on earth, and an eternity of fellowship in His presence when we join our Father in Heaven.

God Bless You

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[c]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.