Posted in Devotions

Psalm 56–When I am Afraid

As a small boy, I had the duty of taking out the trash and placing it in the dumpster behind our house.  The time for this chore was usually after dark and after supper.  As a little guy, I knew there were monsters and creatures outside in the dark so that chore was unnerving to say the least. 

In Sunday school one week, this psalm was the subject.  Verse 3 became the very first bible verse I memorized as a child. “What time I am afraid; I will trust in thee!”  Psalm 56:3. The verse became my Montra on those dark nights traveling out to the trash.  The verse carried me through the many traumatic days and nights growing up and even as an adult! It was a verse my children learned as well.

David knew God was the object of his faith and the answer to his fears.  He was hated by many and the target for scorn and destruction.  Still, David based his life and faith on God’s strength and promise. As such, even when things seemed hopeless, David was able to carry on and remain victorious in the Lord.

We can never forget God must be our fortress, shield, and provision.  Then whenever we are afraid, whether at age 8 or as king of God’s nation, we can trust in God to protect, prepare, and provide for our every need–even when we are afraid!

God Bless You

Be merciful to me, my God,
    for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
    all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
    in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
    all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
    they watch my steps,
    hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not[c] let them escape;
    in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll[d]
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 55–David’s Plea Whenever All Seemed Lost

There are days, many of them, in a man’s life when he wants, simply to walk away and fall off the grid.  The forces that we face spiritually, culturally, and personally can both overwhelm and defeat us.  David dealt with that. Chased by Saul, taking over a divided kingdom, Bathsheba and Nathan, Absalom and counting his troops were just a few of the highlighted events of this amazing king that drove him to his knees.

Still, at the end of the day, David always ended up in the arms of the Heavenly Father.  He wanted many times to chuck it and leave; but, always found his way back to God.  There, covered by God’s grace and provision, David became the greatest king Israel ever knew. In a word, that was his distinction–standing in God’s shadow.

In our lives, we were never expected to be perfect. As Paul taught us in Romans, ”God demonstrated His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. If we always make our way back to him, he stands ready to forgive, provide, prepare and protect us–His chosen. As we scan the events in our own lives, like David, it is not the times we fall that define us–it is our willingness to rise and to run back to the one who truly loves and cares for us.

God Bless You

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
    and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
    I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
because of the noise of the enemy,
    because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they drop trouble upon me,
    and in anger they bear a grudge against me.

My heart is in anguish within me;
    the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
    and horror overwhelms me.
And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
    I would fly away and be at rest;
yes, I would wander far away;
    I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
I would hurry to find a shelter
    from the raging wind and tempest.”

Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
    for I see violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they go around it
    on its walls,
and iniquity and trouble are within it;
11     ruin is in its midst;
oppression and fraud
    do not depart from its marketplace.

12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
13 But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
14 We used to take sweet counsel together;
    within God’s house we walked in the throng.
15 Let death steal over them;
    let them go down to Sheol alive;
    for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

16 But I call to God,
    and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
    I utter my complaint and moan,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He redeems my soul in safety
    from the battle that I wage,
    for many are arrayed against me.
19 God will give ear and humble them,
    he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
because they do not change
    and do not fear God.

20 My companion[b] stretched out his hand against his friends;
    he violated his covenant.
21 His speech was smooth as butter,
    yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
    yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain ​you.
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.

Posted in Devotions

PSalm 52–Faith in God’s Vindication

David was on the run. Saul was after David because Saul knew he had God’s blessing.  Still, there were many that tried to gain favor with Saul because he was the king.  Doeg the Edomite was one such man.  He was glad to rat out David at every turn. not only did he inform Saul of David’s whereabouts, but Doeg killed God’s priestly corp.  In the end, Doeg picked the wrong king to follow.

David wrote this psalm to expose the foolishness of both Saul and Doeg.  David knew that though he was on the run, he had God’s protection and faith that God would vindicate him.  As History recounts, God did vindicate David and killed both Saul and Doeg.  God is not mocked.  He will prepare, provide and protect us as His chosen, but will not bless those that live independent of Him.  

Our job is singular, trust God and follow His lead.  Then in the best and worst of times, we can be assured that we are living according to the Father’s plan, and the Lord will complete His mission in us.  That is as good as it gets.

God Bless You

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
    Why do you boast all day long,
    you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
You who practice deceit,
    your tongue plots destruction;
    it is like a sharpened razor.
You love evil rather than good,
    falsehood rather than speaking the truth.[c]
You love every harmful word,
    you deceitful tongue!

Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin:
    He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent;
    he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see and fear;
    they will laugh at you, saying,
“Here now is the man
    who did not make God his stronghold
but trusted in his great wealth
    and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree
    flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
    for ever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
    in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
    for your name is good.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 50–God Does Not Need our Stuff

There is always such confusion regarding sacrifice and repentance within the body of Christ.  God has never needed the stuff of sacrifice.  This is not a discussion only about the days of old where people sacrificed doves, sheep, and bulls.  This also is a discussion of our walks since Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

Sacrifices for God’s chosen people were done to provide an opportunity for men to realize their sin had a cost.  Those animals were never sufficient to erase the sin in men’s lives.  Christ was the only sacrifice that could ever erase the blackness Sin created.  But the psalmist reminds us that God has plenty of stuff.  The cattle on a thousand hills, all the birds, all the insects everything in the world is God’s.

What God always wanted and still wants today is a repentant heart.  The funny thing is that even a right heart is for our benefit.  When we submit to God’s leadership, He can transform us into His image and prepare us to live with Him in all eternity.  Further, as we trust God, He can then intercede, prepare, and protect us from the enemy’s attacks.  None of that is possible if we live a life independent of God and His leadership.

God Bless You

The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
    speaks and summons the earth
    from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
    God shines forth.
Our God comes
    and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
    and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above,
    and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people,
    who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    for he is a God of justice.[a][b]

“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
    I will testify against you, Israel:
    I am God, your God.
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
    or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
    or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine,
    and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
    for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls
    or drink the blood of goats?

14 “Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
    fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call on me in the day of trouble;
    I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 49–The Best Legacy We Can Leave

The old saying goes, “There are only 2 things that are certain, death and taxes!” The psalmist helps to bring that perspective forward as He looks at life circumstance.  He reminds us that though we may face difficult times, ultimately God is in control.  When men think that their wealth and position may buy some extra time, life, or favor, one need only look at the graveyards and mausoleums spread across the land. Rich or poor, no man can carry their wealth beyond the grave.   

The reality is that life is never about it is never about what we collect, instead life is and will always be a focus upon what we leave.  If our sum and total of what we leave behind is land and money, then it will be passed to others that will use as they see fit.  If however the legacy of ones life is bringing folks to the Lord and building character into your family, that legacy will remain for generations.

The genealogies in the bible, speak volumes about the ones that came before.  The lines between Adam and Noah, the lineage of David and Jesus all show a string of folks that were not perfect but considered their legacy of character to be the primary end.  

In our lives, we can do nothing that lasts any more than to share Christ with all that will listen and build godly character into those we love.  If people see great character in those we leave behind, we will have done an amazing thing.  Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 22:6 that if we will raise a child in the way they should go when they are old, they will not depart far from it.  

Wealth and position are great gifts, but loving God and pouring into others will leave a legacy that spans far beyond the brief life we enjoy.

God Bless You

Why should I fear when evil days come,

    when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.
10 For all can see that the wise die,
    that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
    leaving their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses[b] forever,
    their dwellings for endless generations,
    though they had[c] named lands after themselves.

12 People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
    they are like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
    and of their followers, who approve their sayings.[d]
14 They are like sheep and are destined to die;
    death will be their shepherd
    (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
    far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself.
16 Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
    when the splendor of their houses increases;
17 for they will take nothing with them when they die,
    their splendor will not descend with them.
18 Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
    and people praise you when you prosper—
19 they will join those who have gone before them,
    who will never again see the light of life.

20 People who have wealth but lack understanding
    are like the beasts that perish.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 47–God is Awesome, and Here is Why!

When I launched into this morning’s study, I had no idea that this psalm was on deck.  What a great Psalm for Easter Monday.  The Psalmist is pumping people up to praise God.  Why, because God is awesome!  

Why is God awesome, you may ask…First, because He is King over all the earth.  Easter settled that once and for all.  We often forget this is a spiritual war. As we look at the world, we see constant reminders that leaders come and go.  But the battle for eternity was fought and ended on Easter morning.  Christ’s resurrection restored the relationship between God and men.  That time splitting event forever declared God as ruler over all the earth.

Second, God rules the nations.  We lose so much sleep about what is to become of our world.  God reminds us that He has been dealing with the rise and fall of empires since Babylon! He has watched so many people attempt to prove their deity and power, only to fade away like a vapor.  He has and is still large and in charge; and as leaders push their way into the spotlight , God simply rules with the absolute Authority He has always possessed.

Finally, God is awesome because he does make our relationship personal.  Romans 10:9 tells us that if we will confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that the Father raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved.  Revelations 3:20 personalizes it even more, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door–then I will sup with him and he with me!”  I quiet dinner-for-two not a corporate picnic for thousands.  

In our lives, we get so caught up in the troubles of today, that we forget that we are God’s chosen and as part of His family we will live eternally with Him as His children and heirs.  That makes the earthly rulers of little import.  This rise and fall of nations become a small footnote.  God is Awesome.  He rules the day and has claimed us as his own.  We are blessed beyond measure because he cares for each of us personally now and for eternity.

God Bless You

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.
He subdued nations under us,
    peoples under our feet.
He chose our inheritance for us,
    the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.[b]

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
    the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing to him a psalm of praise.

God reigns over the nations;
    God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
    as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings[c] of the earth belong to God;
    he is greatly exalted.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 46–God as our Refuge

There is a hymn that was written by Martin Luther, It is called “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”. It is one of the best known and most sung hymns in history.  It is a great reminder that God is indeed our refuge and strength.  Amid the spiritual war that occurs in our lives and in our world, God remains the fortress, the anchor, and the refuge in men’s lives.   

It is so easy to rely upon other things to provide the protection and the provision for daily living.  We look to our wealth, our skills, our position, and our cleverness to navigate life’s different twists and turns.  When we do, we are so often disappointed.  The psalmist reminds us that it remains God that protects and provides.  Further, It is God that can literally melt rock, starts and ends wars, saves and ends lives and suffering.  It is that God that takes personal interest and care in our individual lives.

We, like the psalmist, must embrace the reality of God’s sovereignty and power.  We can rely upon His protection, preparation, and provision for our lives. When we do seek Him, God becomes our mighty fortress.  He walks with us through battle and provides shelter from the onslaught of enemy attacks.  On this weekend of Easter, we can see at the cross God’s ultimate reminder of His love and provision for our lives.  We need only accept His gift of salvation and allow our Lord to be the mighty fortress for our daily battles!

God Bless You

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”​

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 44–When It Seems God is Not There

This psalm is a difficult one to read.  It is the great regret of what was and what is now.  The psalmist recounts the days of old when God was Israel’s warrior and protector, but then, he looks at current state when Israel is a shambles and a joke to the known world.  The psalmist is truly grieving and no longer wants His nation to be a joke.  He is calling on God to reassert control and make His presence known on Israel’s behalf.

There are never easy answers to God’s plan or His timing.  We often scratch our own heads in wonder about why God does what He does.  We evaluate our lives and wonder why as we follow the Lord faithfully there are trials and temptations.  Each of us know God could make the bad go away and make life amazing and fun. 

After all, our Father has cattle on a thousand hills.  Still, God allows difficult ​times that are life altering and faith stretching. Sometimes, we are pushed beyond our limits and question God’s very presence and love during the trial.

Take comfort in knowing that we are not the first to question God and His plan.  He has heard the question through the ages posed by great and small over issues involving life, family, finances, health, career, and so many other things.  Like Job, many times God does not give us the why’s.  We must be content knowing He is in charge and never caught off guard.  The Lord will complete His plan in His way, and in His timing.

We will have our Heavenly Father at our side until He either returns to get us or when we die and go to be with Him.  Either way, we must continue to trust God through good and through difficult days.

God Bless You

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
    our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
    in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
    nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
    and the light of your face, for you loved them.

You are my King and my God,
    who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.[d]

But now you have rejected and humbled us;
    you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
    and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
    and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
    gaining nothing from their sale.

13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
    the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
    the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
    and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
    because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

17 All this came upon us,
    though we had not forgotten you;
    we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
    our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
    you covered us over with deep darkness.

20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
    since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
    and forget our misery and oppression?

25 We are brought down to the dust;
    our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
    rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 42–Loving God Like a Thirsty Deer

There is very little that will capture our focus more than thirst.  When one becomes extremely thirsty, it diverts us from thinking about almost anything else.  That overwhelming urge is what the psalm writer was trying to capture.  He longed after God’s presence like a thirsty and giant deer longed for a drink.  This was no teacup kind of longing, it was a big gulp, Rt 44, Bucee’s extra large kind of thirst.

The Psalmist was emphasizing that we need to be as desperate to be in God’s presence as a traveler would have been on the hot and dusty Israel roads.  We often look at our time with God as a 3-hour commitment on Sunday morning and an occasional thought for the day when convenient.  Imagine if you only drank water as often as you spent time with the Lord–Desert!

We need to remember that our spiritual needs are so much more real than even a drink of water. We must seek and follow God as if our lives depended on it, because our lives do depend on God!  We must truly desire to be with Him and to be like Him in our daily walks.  If we will, He will gladly transform us into His image and prepare us for an eternity where we will never be thirsty again. Jesus said it best to the woman at the well. John 4:13, “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

God Bless You

As the deer pants for streams of water,
    so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
    under the protection of the Mighty One[d]
with shouts of joy and praise
    among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God my Rock,
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
    oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
    as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,

    my Savior and my God.

Posted in Devotions

Psalm 41-Trusting God and One’s Critics

It is so essential to focus on our vertical relationship with God as a priority to the horizontal relationships with friends and family.  One does not need to replace the other, however, if we have a right relationship with God, we can deal with the ever-changing relationship with others.  In this psalm, David felt abandoned by friends and made a spectacle by his enemies.  In that position, David places his focus and perspective on God.  

Others wish the king dead and have all but abandoned him; while he knows that as God’s anointed king, the Lord will neither berate nor abandon David.  He loved God above all others and was ready to accept God’s outcome. Still, David knew God loved him and accepted the king warts and all.  David held on tight to the confidence God built into him over the years.  It was not one big event like Goliath that convinced David.  Instead it was several daily wins and times of desperation that showed God’s faithfulness.

Neither David nor us as God’s chosen can forget the many times God has shown Himself faithful and committed to us.  God leaves us countless markers on our life timeline so that we can look back and remember His faithfulness. David then encourages us to cling to those markers when all seems lost, and as we face death and loss.  Those reminders can be game changers when everyone and everything has seemingly turned against us.

It is our job to remember and recount all the times God has remained faithful and cling to the truth that our Father is the same yesterday, today and forever.  He will never leave us, nor will He forsake us.  That is His promise and it will not ever change!

God Bless You

Blessed is the one who considers the poor![a]
    In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
    he is called blessed in the land;
    you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
    in his illness you restore him to full health.[b]

As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
    heal me,[c] for I have sinned against you!”
My enemies say of me in malice,
    “When will he die, and his name perish?”
And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
    while his heart gathers iniquity;
    when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
All who hate me whisper together about me;
    they imagine the worst for me.[d]

They say, “A deadly thing is poured out[e] on him;
    he will not rise again from where he lies.”
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
    and raise me up, that I may repay them!

11 By this I know that you delight in me:
    my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
    and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.