Monday, January 31, 2011

To all 3 of my blog's readers

Hey...if you've been tracking with me through the first 31 chapters of Psalms here in January, thank you! I hope you've enjoyed the journey thus far, and I pray that God has enriched, encouraged and equipped you to keep lifting your heart to heaven throughout 2011.

I'm going to try to post some thoughts for you from the book of Acts in February. If you'll read along with me a chapter a day, we'll cover the whole book by the end of the month. I'm not promising that I can write something here every day, but as the Lord permits I'll share with you.

Blessings in Christ to you!

Lifting Your Heart to Heaven (Psalm 31)

Psalm 31

In many ways this psalm typifies the journey we’ve been on through the first 30 days into the psalms. Again, the circumstances in which David finds himself are dire. He must have felt like the streets of downtown Ridgway after Popcorn Day; trashed, abandoned, puked upon, used and abused. Sorry, but it’s not a pretty sight. Ever been there?

Where does David go when the situation seems helpless and overwhelming? He doesn’t cave in or cower in fear. He doesn’t wring his hands in despair or resign to doubt.

Instead, he lifts his heart to heaven because that’s where deliverance and salvation are found! That’s where he finds refuge in the fortress of God’s name. That’s where he fully expects the God of truth to redeem him. That’s where the greatness of God’s goodness is given to those who trust in Him. That’s where the unfailing love of the Lord is put on display for all to see. That’s where the faithful find that the Lord God is merciful and trustworthy and strong.

David had such confidence because the Lord had come through for him so many times before, and he was sure that in God’s hands he would be kept safer than All State.

Where do you go when the situation looks grim, hopeless and desperate? Lift your heart to heaven! Be strong and take heart, and wait upon the Lord.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

There's Joy on the Way (Psalm 30)

Psalm 30

Who is a God like our God?! Who raises us up from the dead and restores life to our souls? Who gives us victory over our adversaries? Who heals us when we call to Him for help? The Lord our God is He, and there is none other!

Yes, weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. As Christians we know we will face trials and hardships and persecutions. Jesus said as much in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble.” Sometimes trouble results from our own sin, and sometimes it comes simply because we live in a fallen world. We should not be deceived into thinking the Christian life will be easy and carefree.

David certainly had more than his share of trouble. Yet his constant hope was the joy still to come from the Lord. The suffering, though real and painful, would not last forever. The joy would. As Paul put it, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Afflictions will surely come, but joy is on the way! Jesus even endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). Our only hope for help and salvation is the Lord. He has overcome by His atoning death and victorious resurrection from the grave. Only in Him will our sorrow be turned to dancing and our mourning into gladness. Praise be to the Lord our God! May our hearts sing with eternal thanksgivings!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Glory in the Storm (Psalm 29)

Psalm 29

I love a good thunderstorm. Of course, I’d rather enjoy it from the comforts of dry shelter, but to hear the thunder rolling and to see the brilliant flashes of lightning illuminating the sky reminds me of the power and majesty and glory of God.

You may rightly imagine in reading this hymn of praise that the worshippers were gathered as a powerful storm arose in the distance. They hear the thunder and marvel at the God of creation’s power.

His voice breaks the great cedars of Lebanon – trees which commonly measured 120 feet high and 30 feet in circumference. His voice sends Sirion (Mt. Hermon) scurrying in the north. His voice shakes the Desert of Kadesh to the south. In an awesome display of His sovereignty, the One enthroned as King forever lights up the sky and makes the hills rumble with the echo of His voice.

The only appropriate response from the worshippers is to cry, “Glory!” Glory, indeed! And don’t you know it is this same glorious, all-powerful God who gives strength to His people and blesses them with peace? Even in the midst of a great thunderstorm, God is in control. Even the power of the grave is no match for the omnipotent One. “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11). Glory!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Leaping for Joy (Psalm 28)

Psalm 28

It’s been said that God may sometimes ordain suffering so that we might loosen our grip on the things of this world and cling more tightly to the Lord. Hardship often serves to remind us that the world and its pleasures are passing away, but true joy rises in a trusting relationship with Christ Jesus.

We see that truth played out in this psalm. Once again David pours out his heart to the Lord in the midst of a desperate crisis. The troubles he endured didn’t weaken his faith in God, but drove him to find his strength and salvation in Him. David knew his only hope for making it through such sufferings was to call urgently upon the name of the Lord his God.

In fact, he felt that if God didn’t answer his cry for mercy then he would have met the same fate as those who experienced God’s judgment. Yet, he believed that the Lord would indeed hear his call for help. And so David burst forth in a cry of praise to the Lord, his strength and shield, the fortress of salvation for His chosen ones. Even his heart “leaps for joy” and he couldn’t help but to give thanks to Him in song.

Friend, we can take the same joyful, grateful confidence in prayer because God does not turn a deaf ear to the desperate cries from His people. Why not turn your suffering into a chance to trust in the strength of the Lord, and see if your heart doesn’t leap for joy as He carries you through?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

One-Thing Desire (Psalm 27)

Psalm 27

We have a growing 11-year-old boy who works up a mean appetite at school. By the time he gets home there’s just one request on his lips: “Give me something to eat!” He’s not satisfied with a little cracker, a single baby carrot or a corner of a cookie. His one-thing desire is food, and lots of it.

David writes this psalm having worked up a mean appetite for God. His one-thing desire is to dwell in the house of the Lord, meaning to live continually in the light of His presence. He’s not satisfied with a surface-level acquaintance with God or keeping religious traditions; he wants to know God deeply.

The reason David’s craving is so intense is because it’s fueled by knowing that the Lord is his light and his salvation. The Lord is his safety against the advances of the enemy. The Lord is his stronghold and shelter.

As God reveals Himself as our light and salvation, He feeds our hunger to know Him even more, to abide in Him fully and enjoy the rich blessings of His presence. He makes our hearts unafraid even when the enemy closes in. He instills confidence in Him even though the spiritual war rages all around us. When the day of trouble comes fear does not overtake us, for our trust is in His goodness, His provision and His protection. We wait upon Him with confidence and supernatural courage. May the Lord give us a one-thing desire to dwell continually in the light of His presence.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Find Love! (Psalm 26)

Psalm 26

I have quite a few handwritten notes in the margins of my study Bible. Usually they’re certain insights the Lord has given me as I’ve read through Scripture, references to other passages, or applications the Spirit has impressed to me. One such note in the margin beside this chapter reads “Find love!”

In verse 2 the writer opens himself to the searching and convicting light of the Lord. In view of the false accusations against him from his enemies, David earnestly begs the Lord to test him and make sure that his own actions are pure. He’s not claiming to be sinless, but he knows that through his trust and abiding fellowship with the Lord, God will vindicate him.

The Bible tells us that in Christ we are reconciled to God. That means we’re without blame in His sight, holy and free from accusation (see Colossians 1:21-23). That’s our hope in the gospel, our confidence in Christ, who has redeemed us, made us righteous and steadies our feet on level ground.

As I pray for the Lord to examine my heart and my mind, I pray that He finds love. Since His love is ever before me, my earnest desire is to walk always in His truth. I want to love the Lord passionately, with all my heart and mind and soul and strength. I want to love His church zealously. And I want to love the lost with the compassion of Jesus. Love disarms every enemy. Love keeps us walking in the pathway of His truth. Love delights the Father. O Lord, test me, and find love!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pleading for God's Guidance (Psalm 25)

Psalm 25

Last year for Christmas my parents bought me a GPS. I think maybe Amy talked them into it. She’s ridden with me enough to know that if I veer off the main roads in search of a better way, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t turn out well.

The same thing happens in our spiritual walk. If we think we can find a better way than God’s way, there’s a really good chance it won’t turn out well for us. And make no mistake about it, there are plenty of voices in this world distracting us from the narrow way, clamoring for our attention and affections, tempting us to compromise and seeking to see us stumble into sin.

Psalm 25 is like the navigational system directing us back to the pathway of Christ. If you’ve veered off the straight and narrow and seem to have lost your way, make the words of this psalm your earnest plea to the Lord for His guidance. Pledge your heart and soul to Him anew this day. Trust in Him without wavering. Plead with Him to show you His ways and teach you His paths and guide you in His truth.

The best part is that because the Lord is good, because His mercy is new every morning, His grace greater than our sins, and because He is loving and faithful toward the humble, He will take away all your sins. He will guard your life and rescue you from your affliction and distress. He will instruct you in the way you should go without fail and without disappointing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bowing before the King of Glory (Psalm 24)

Psalm 24

I think one reason, maybe the main reason, that people refuse to acknowledge God as the creator of the universe is because they don’t want to be held accountable to Him, or anything else for that matter. The Big Bang Theory and other alternative creation theories provide convenient but dangerously deceptive ways of explaining how our world came to be without holding us accountable to its Creator.

The Bible, however, clearly and repeatedly declares the Lord God to be the Architect and Builder of the heavens and the earth. The whole earth belongs to the One who made it, who sustains it, who reveals His glory through it and who holds all men responsible for their actions.

The Israelites in singing this psalm not only recognize the Lord their God as the Creator, but they welcome His reign over them. They rejoice in the Lord Almighty as their King of glory, and are glad to make way for His rightful entry into their gates. They also realize they must come with clean hands and pure hearts, undivided in their devotion to Him.

Are you welcoming the reign of the King of glory over your life? Will you be among those who ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in His holy place? Let the sacrifice of Jesus be your cleansed and purified life as you bow in joyful worship in His presence. He’s your only hope for salvation.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Led by the Good Shepherd (Psalm 23)

Psalm 23

You’ve been waiting to get to this psalm. So have I. Since we’re here, let’s soak in it for a while. I know you’ve read or heard this psalm hundreds of times, but today read it through thoughtfully, line by line, as you meditate on the Shepherd. Think about who He is and what He does for His sheep.

And make sure you consider how Jesus took up this shepherd imagery in John 10. He knows His sheep by name, and they know His voice and follow Him. He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for them, only to take it up again!

How should we respond? Well, when the Lord is your Shepherd He’s all you need. You want for nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. When the Lord is your Shepherd you don’t fear anything. You know He is with you even through the valley of the shadow of death. When the Lord is your Shepherd you’re not anxious for anything. You trust in His provision, His power, His promises and His presence. When the Lord is your Shepherd you’re blessed in abundance. He fills your cup to overflowing with the full measure of His goodness and mercy, watching over you all the days of your life and assuring you of that glorious hope we share of dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.

Do you really know Him as your Shepherd? Are you resting in His loving care for you? Are you listening to His voice and following where He leads?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

When You Feel Forsaken (Psalm 22)

Psalm 22

Reading this psalm first through Israel’s eyes you feel for the anguished soul who cries out for God yet finds no immediate relief. You feel his pain as he suffers physically and emotionally through the attacks and taunts of the violent.

Then you have to read this psalm through the eyes of Jesus. Indeed, this psalm finds fulfillment in the cross. Jesus echoes the words of verse 1 as He suffers the agony and humiliation of crucifixion. The description of the psalmist’s distress finds uncanny resemblance in Jesus’ own misery on the cross.

But please don’t miss the hope held out by the psalm writer. Despite his wretched condition, his hope was anchored in the Holy One enthroned on the praises of Israel. God had delivered the generations before who trusted in Him, and he was certain that God would come through once more.

Yes, so did God deliver His own Son! The agony of the hour was unbearable, but glory was on the way! Friday may be a dark and gloomy day of despair, but hold on, dear friend, Sunday is coming soon! The grave could not hold the King of kings. Death is no match for the power of God that freed Jesus from its grip and broke the chains forevermore. 

That deliverance is ours, as well, Christian! Those who cry out to God in trust will be saved and will not be disappointed. His face is not hidden, even when you feel forsaken.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Praising God for Answered Prayer (Psalm 21)

Psalm 21

It’s been said, “If you pray for rain, carry an umbrella.” Are you truly expecting God to answer your prayers?

Read together with Psalm 20, this psalm reveals the Israelite community rejoicing with thanksgiving because the Lord indeed answered their prayers. God gave the king the victory in battle for which they prayed. God showed off His great salvation. God granted him the desire of his heart and did not withhold the request of his lips. God poured out His blessings upon the king – and thus upon the entire nation of Israel – in overflowing abundance. It seems He not only answered their prayers, but put His glory on display in the way He did it.

This psalm, then, shows the people of God shouting for joy and lifting up their banners in the name of the Lord, as they said they would do in Psalm 20:5, because God answered.

What is the key to such answered prayer? Look at verse 7. It’s faith! They asked in faith for God’s help, believing that He would not only hear their prayer, but answer. They trusted in His unfailing, steadfast love, knowing that when the Most High sets His loving affection and protection upon His people, they will not be moved. The enemy may plot evil but cannot succeed against the strength of Almighty God!

Jesus Himself made some bold promises to us regarding prayer. Check out John 15:5-8 or Matthew 21:21-22 for starters. And make sure you have your umbrella handy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Confidence in Prayer (Psalm 20)

Psalm 20

There are millions of things you could put your trust in. Some trust in stocks and some in bonds. Some trust in jobs and some in luck. Some trust in abilities and some in education. Some trust in power and some in popularity. Some trust in government and some in themselves. But we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Everything else will eventually wear out, fade out, burn out or run out. The only confidence we have in prayer is the confidence we have in the name of the Lord our God. We can approach His throne of grace with great boldness in the name of Jesus, knowing that in Him we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So I wonder, what would happen if we prayed these first five verses for our fellow believers? What might God do in response to our sincere prayers for victory in the lives of others, as Israel here pleads for victory on behalf of their king?

For pastors, for Sunday School teachers, for missionaries, for deacons, for committee members, for greeters, for ushers, for church clerks, secretaries and treasurers, for pew sitters and the homebound – God, give great victory to your people today! Answer them in their hour of need. Help them rise up and stand firm. Show off your power and love through their lives, and we’ll rejoice in the saving power of your right hand! For we trust in your name alone, O Lord our God!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

God Is Speaking - Are You Listening (Psalm 19)

Psalm 19 

This beautiful psalm highlights two distinct ways God speaks into our world. One is through the declaration of His glory in creation. The other is through His written Word. Both reveal the greatness of God and draw us humbly to Him.

Honestly, I can’t understand how anyone could gaze upon the countless stars at night or peer into the spacious skies without being blown away in awe. Studying the world’s design, how could anyone conclude this all came into being by random chance? How could anyone not see there is indeed a mighty Maker and Sustainer of all things?

And as if the voice of creation were not enough to draw us in worship to God, He speaks even more clearly through His Word. God wants us to know Him, and His Word tells us more about His love, His mercy, His grace, His power, than the skies would have space to begin to say.

And consider closely the rich blessings God pours out into the hearts of those who receive His teaching. His Word revives the soul, makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes and endures forever. His Word will keep you from sin and teach you how to live to please the One who has redeemed you and calls you by name. There’s great reward in keeping His commands. Live in the Word of God today, and let His Word come alive in you. God has something to say. Are you listening?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Song of Deliverance (Psalm 18)

Psalm 18

You’ll be tempted to rush through this psalm. Don’t do it!

Instead, try to put yourself in David’s sandals, praising God for His mighty deliverance. Remember that David had many enemies, but God delivered him from them all.

This psalm comes straight out of 2 Samuel 22 where David glorifies God for hearing His cry for help and saving Him from his foes. When you look at the victories God gave David in 2 Samuel 21, you see that he was at war with some pretty big dudes – in fact, descendents of the giants. God saved him from one guy who carried an 8-pound spear. He saved him from another man of “great stature” who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.

Time and time again God rescued David from the hand of his enemies. No wonder he burst forth in this song of deliverance, giving praise to the Lord, his rock, his fortress, his strength, his deliverer, his refuge, his shield, his stronghold and his salvation.

He’s done the same for you, dear friend. The giants of worry, fear and doubt may threaten to undo you, but they cannot overcome you when you let the Lord fight your battles for you! Call upon the Lord who is worthy of praise, and trust Him to save you from the enemy. Lift your heart to heaven and you’ll find yourself singing your own song of deliverance!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Safe in the Shadow of His Wings (Psalm 17)

Psalm 17

A mother bird is fiercely jealous for her young. She guards them under the cover of her wings. She keeps them from danger, from predators and from themselves. She unfailingly provides for their needs. She is their shelter, their lifeline. Without her protection they would surely not survive.

That’s how God cares for His own. Left alone we would surely not survive. We would be devoured by the deadly enemy. We would be ambushed by those with evil intent. And we would be so quick to fall into many dangers, toils and snares.

But by His grace God cares for us like a mother bird watching over her young. He protects those who seek refuge in His strong and mighty hand. He provides faithfully for our needs. And yes, He will deliver us from the adversary and vindicate us in His righteousness.

Jesus told His disciples they would experience troubles and persecutions along the way, as will we. But He also said, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Lift your heart to heaven, dear follower of Christ, calling upon His name and resting in His peace, whatever circumstances may come. And know He will hide you safely in the shadow of His wings. He is fiercely jealous for His own!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Victory in Jesus (Psalm 16)

Psalm 16

There is no fear even in death for those who belong to the Lord. As Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” It’s a far better deal for us when we depart and go to be with Christ! We need not fear the grave because Jesus has won the victory over death, and that victory is ours in Him!

As you read this psalm, read also through Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 and take note of how he applies these verses to Jesus’ resurrection victory. God did not abandon His soul to Hades or let His flesh see corruption, but raised Jesus up and exalted Him at His own right hand. “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it!”

“Death has been swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Christian, let your heart and mind and soul soak in the great truths of this psalm. Know that you have a beautiful inheritance in the Lord. Bless the Lord for His counsel and guidance. Rejoice in His continual presence. He will not abandon your soul to death, but will make known to you the path of life, fill you up with joy in His presence and grant you pleasures from His right hand forevermore.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Never Shaken (Psalm 15)

Psalm 15

I can’t help but think of Edgar Sork when I read this psalm. I’d only known Ed for a year before he passed away, but all I knew of him answered the question of this passage positively.

O Lord, who may dwell in Your presence? An essential question for all, no doubt. In other words: Lord, what kind of person is bound for heaven? What do You desire of those who are saved and will inherit eternal life?

Take a long, hard, honest look at the way this psalm answers that question. What are the marks of a man who will live forever with the Lord? Does this describe you?

To be sure, salvation is not based on our works. One may be able to keep this list fairly well, but no one will ever measure up to God’s perfect standard. Only through the righteousness given to us in Christ Jesus can we be made perfect.

Salvation is a gift of God’s grace received by faith, not of our own works, lest any man should boast. Through that faith the Spirit of God begins to change us, empowering and enabling us to do the good works which God has prepared for us.

I read this psalm at Ed’s funeral because his life displayed the character and deeds of one whose life Christ has changed, a man who was never shaken, a man who will dwell and is dwelling eternally in the presence of God.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Salvation for Fools (Psalm 14)

Psalm 14

What floors me is that God took the initiative to come to us. It sure wasn’t because we were out looking for Him! It sure wasn’t because we were so good God looked down from heaven and was impressed with our righteousness. The glorious grace of God is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! What a demonstration of divine love!

The apostle Paul takes part of this psalm and uses it in Romans 3 to say that every single person is under sin, that we will all be held accountable to God, and that we are not even close to being able to measure up to His perfect standard. It sure doesn’t take long for any of us to look in the mirror and see how true this is! We know that we have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We’ve all been fools in this way.

It’s the fool, however, who keeps refusing to receive the one and only remedy for sin: Jesus Christ. It’s the fool who continues to reject the one source of salvation, the one hope for rescue from sin and death and hell. It’s the fool who fails to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

But God has indeed brought forth salvation out of Zion. With a love undeserved and unfathomable He sent His Son to save us. He gave us the gift of everlasting life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Because of the cross we’re forgiven for our foolish sin. Because of the empty tomb we’re raised up with Him in glory. Through faith in Christ even fools can be saved.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

But I Trust in Your Love (Psalm 13)

Psalm 13

Here’s an interesting study for you sometime: Search the Bible for the use of the word “but.” You’ll find some of the greatest revelations of God’s mercy, grace and purposes in what follows that little word.

In this psalm the writer expresses frustration with God’s timing. Have you noticed that God does not always spring into action and resolve our situations the moment we think He should? Maybe you’ve asked God for help for a very good reason, but He hasn’t done anything about it. If God seems distant, if it seems as though your prayers aren’t going anywhere, and if it seems like God’s enemies are gaining the upper hand, you can relate to this psalm.

And I hope you’ll come to the same conclusion as David. Even though God did not respond in David’s timing, even though he felt God had forgotten him, even though he was under great duress and sorrow, and even though his enemies seem to have defeated him, don’t miss David’s confident trust that God would yet be there for him.

Maybe you’re in the middle of a desperate situation and God has yet to act. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. Don’t think He doesn’t care or that He has abandoned you. Trust in His unfailing love, and your heart will follow with rejoicing. Keep lifting your heart to heaven. Keep singing to the Lord. You know He’s been good to you, and He always will.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When Vileness Is Honored Among Men (Psalm 12)

Psalm 12

It can often seem, because of the prevalence of moral decay in our culture, that the godly have vanished from the face of the earth. It can seem that everyone lies, that no one can be trusted and that evil people are winning and flaunting it. It’s a sad commentary that “what is vile is honored among men.”

Truly we are living in the midst of a generation that knows no bounds to perversion and immorality, to deceit and greed. And these are traits for which many stand up and applaud!

Case in point: The 2010 People’s Choice Award for favorite pop artist is a young woman known as Lady Gaga whose lyrics and lifestyle define the word “vile.” The Award for favorite movie went to “Twilight,” where the vampire world takes a glamorized center stage. And the number one TV comedy Award went to “The Big Bang Theory,” a show whose laughs are generated through the lens of all things sexually immoral.

This is what America “honors” in our day. Are you aware that our elected Illinois representatives recently passed a bill approving civil unions for gay couples? Do you realize that for nearly 38 years now a mother has had the “right” to legally kill the unborn child in her womb?

Yet the Lord hears the groans of the faithful, He will arise and protect them from this generation forever. Against the vileness of our culture, His words are pure and flawless.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Trusting Christ in Crisis (Psalm 11)

Psalm 11

Think about a time you’ve faced a real crisis in your life. Maybe it was a life-threatening illness, a job loss or financial hardship. Perhaps it was a divorce or the death of a loved one.

People are always watching to see how those who claim the name of Christ respond when troubles come our way. When things seem to be falling apart, they want to know if you’ll crumble or if your faith in God will strengthen your stand.

How have you handled crises in your life? Did you lift your heart to heaven or wallow in the mire? Did you run to the Lord as your refuge or try to manage on your own? Did you trust in His sovereign grace or let worry and despair eat you up?

Could it be that the next trial that comes your way may be a test to measure the depth of your trust in God? Are you really depending on Him in all things? Are you certain that the Lord in heaven is in firm control of everything and that absolutely nothing you will ever go through is greater than His omnipotent ability to carry you through?

O righteous child of God in Christ, the Lord will never take His eyes off of you! That doesn’t mean He’ll exempt you from the crisis, but it does mean that He loves you and will see you through. In fact, He may even refine your faith in Him through suffering, proving it genuine and increasing your joy in Christ Jesus. Trust Him in your crisis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Calling the Wicked to Account (Psalm 10)

Psalm 10

I fear for those who arrogantly reject God and mistakenly think that they will not be held accountable for their wicked deeds. Our world is full of such men and women. From leaders of nations to ordinary citizens, a prideful heart dismisses God from all his thoughts. He boasts in his own prosperity. He takes advantage of the poor, ambushes the innocent and lies in wait to crush the helpless.

All the while he thinks he’ll get away with everything. He thinks he’s invincible and that nothing will shake him.

And since the psalmist knows that God is a just God, a defender of the fatherless and the oppressed, he pours out his complaint to the Lord wondering when God will arise and come to the help of the helpless.

Don’t you wonder the same thing sometimes? “God, you see the oppression of the poor. You see the persecution of Your people. You see how the wicked mock and revile Your name. Why aren’t You doing something about it? When will You rise up and bring down the wicked in your justice?”

Yet even as we plead with the Lord for help on behalf of the afflicted, we can also trust in His compassion and deliverance. He knows what’s going on, and He’ll soon enough vindicate those who commit themselves into His hand, calling the wicked to account.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Never Forsaken (Psalm 9)

Psalm 9

Enthroned forever. Righteous Judge. Refuge for the oppressed. Stronghold in times of trouble. Destroyer of the wicked. The Lord Most High.

Such are the characteristics of a God who inspires unwavering confidence in His ability to uphold His people when they seek His help against the attacks of their enemies. What a comfort to know that when the Lord is for us, none can stand against us! None!

No wonder the writer opens this psalm with an attitude of wholehearted praise and exuberant gladness in the wonderful deeds of the Lord. God had never let His people down in the past, and David believed He would come through for them again. Surely those who trust in the Lord Almighty and seek Him for help will never be forsaken!

Just as God had chosen Israel to be a light to the nations, He has chosen His church to shine out the light of Christ to the lost world. Keep trusting Him, dear friend. Keep seeking Him for help. Keep running to Him as your stronghold. Keep praising Him and proclaiming His wonders to the nations.

He kept His covenant with Israel, and He’ll keep His covenant with His church. Against His power and justice, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance. His people will never be forsaken.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Still Captured By God's Care (Psalm 8)

Psalm 8

I remember our pastor at Trimble Bible Church where I grew up asking the congregation to think about our favorite psalm one week and come back the next ready to share about it. I was just a boy, but I clearly remember this Psalm being my favorite. Too young, however, and too shy to speak up in the middle of all those adults and say it! I regret that, because I’m sure it would have been an inspiration to them to see a young boy learning to love the Word of God!

Thirty years later, though, and I still love this majestic song. So I’m saying it now that this psalm still humbles me to the core when I think about the glory and the love of the Almighty Creator. When I think about the brilliance of the heavens and realize that the One who created the starry host and brings them out one by one and calls them each by name is the One who is also mindful of me, who cares for me, who loved me enough to send His very own Son to take my place on the cross, who calls me His very own child – my soul falls prostrate before Him in worship and gratitude and adoration.

Let the wonder of God’s glorious creation take hold of you. Consider the beauty of the mountain peaks, the vastness of the ocean’s depth, the limitless reaches of the galaxies – whatever spurs your awe of God’s design – and marvel at His handiwork. Then know that this majestic, omnipotent God knows your name and cares deeply for you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tell It to the Judge (Psalm 7)

Psalm 7

Have you noticed how many of the Psalms this week have emphasized the writer finding refuge in the Lord? David needed the Lord’s protection from his human enemies who wanted to tear him to pieces like a lion. How much more do we need the Lord’s help from our adversary, the Devil, who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour?

In this chapter the context refers to a time in his life when David was slandered by a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Is there really anything worse than someone deliberately and maliciously raking your name and reputation through the mud? Spreading lies and saying false and unflattering things about you, about your family? And even if the rumors prove untrue, hasn’t damage already been done? Don’t you long for justice to prevail in such circumstances?

So did David. I imagine he would have loved to take matters into his own hands and seek revenge. But instead he left the vengeance to God. He understood that the Lord his God would ultimately save him while executing righteous judgment upon his enemies.

Friend, if you’re tempted to “get even” with someone who’s done you wrong, follow David’s example in this psalm. Take the matter to the Judge who will take care of it and give you cause to sing praise to His name.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Seeking Spiritual Healing from Sin (Psalm 6)

Psalm 6

Sometimes our most passionate prayers arise out of our most miserable circumstances. Sometimes those miserable circumstances arise from our own reckless sin.

Along with Psalms 32, 51, 130 and others, it is helpful to read this one as a cry from a man who sees the folly of his sin. He recognizes that his sin has brought tremendous misery upon himself. He’s faint, his bones are in agony and his soul is in anguish. He needs physical and spiritual relief from the well of God’s steadfast mercy, and he needs it fast!

Have you ever been there? Realized that the reason you’re in the mess you’re in is because of your own foolish disobedience to the Lord? Because you did your own thing when you should have done God’s thing?

David not only knew the agony of his own foolishness, he also knew that the only hope he had for help was in the One against whom he had sinned. So he poured out his heart to the Lord, pleading for the mercy that brings physical, emotional and spiritual healing to a sin-sick soul. And by faith he knew that God had heard and accepted his prayer. He was certain that he would experience the forgiveness and deliverance he desperately needed.

On some days the best prayer you can utter may simply be: “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am so weak.”

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Praying for an Unwavering Walk (Psalm 5)

Psalm 5

Wow. You really want to know what the Lord thinks about those who are full of violence and deceit? You really want to know how the Lord feels about those who continually rebel against Him? You really want to see what will become of those who reject God’s ways and boast in themselves?

David’s plea in this psalm is for God to lead him in the way of righteousness because of his enemies. He doesn’t even want to think about wavering from the ways of the Lord because he knows what fate awaits the wicked, and he knows what joy and blessings await those who love the name of the Lord.

And note that David approaches the Lord not in his own merit, but in holy reverence and humility through the measureless mercy of God. He comes before Him in the morning pouring out his requests to his King, and then waits in expectation for God to answer and vindicate him.

And though he is sure the Lord will deal justly with the rebellious and unrepentant who seek his harm, David is fully convinced that the faithful in Christ will be glad when He spreads His protection over them and surrounds them with His favor as with a shield.

Pray hard, dear friend, that God will lead you in His righteousness and keep your walk unwavering. He’ll deal soon enough with the wicked.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting Through the First Time (Psalm 4)

Psalm 4

Ever notice how hard it is to get connected with a live person when you have to call the phone company or nearly any other corporation these days? Isn’t that frustrating?! It seems like you spend the first ten minutes answering automated questions as they try to route your call to the right department. Then if you make it through that maze you have to wait on hold for the next available representative, who they say will be with you shortly, but you know you have plenty of time to grab lunch and get back before they answer.

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t put you on hold when you call upon His name? Aren’t you glad that He doesn’t force you to navigate through a maze of automated instructions before answering? Aren’t you glad that His line is never busy, and that you always get through the first time?

The psalmist knew that God had come to his rescue plenty of times in the past, so he prayed with confidence knowing that God would indeed listen to his prayer again and answer him.

Faithful Christian, you, too, can call upon the name of the Lord with confidence through Jesus Christ. He’s there for you! Remember how the Lord has delivered you in past distress. Know that God has set you apart for Himself. His attention and affections are set on you! He loves you more than you’ll ever know! The light of His face is shining upon you! And He’ll answer your desperate cry on the first ring.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Remarkable Faith in Terrifying Times (Psalm 3)

Psalm 3

If troubling and distressing circumstances seem to have you surrounded, welcome to David’s world. In Psalm 3, David’s foes include his very own son and a host of traitors with him who are taunting him and wanting to take his life. The temptation for David would be to abandon faith in God and to fret uncontrollably over the danger.

But David displays remarkable faith in terrifying times. His confidence in the Lord remains steadfast though his enemies are raging against him. David resolutely trusts in the protection and power of the Lord to whom he calls with expectation for salvation.

The Lord is his shield, his glory and the lifter of his head. Why then should he be afraid of the many thousands who have him surrounded when the Lord is on his side? David even managed to get a good night’s sleep knowing that God heard his prayer and would come to his deliverance.

Friend, why should we fret and worry and fear when the Lord is our shield, our glory and the lifter of our heads? Yes, the threats are real, the danger is real and the situation is beyond our control. But, salvation belongs to the Lord! Lift your heart to heaven, cry to Him for help, and get a good night’s sleep.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trusting in the King of Kings (Psalm 2)

Psalm 2

How foolish it is for even the most powerful rulers in this world to fight against the Almighty King in heaven.

This Psalm reminds us of the sovereignty of our God who sits enthroned on high, His authority, His power, His justice and His salvation. Those who rebel against Him are like a feeble band of sheep assembling themselves together to fight a pack of lions. They don’t stand a chance.

Indeed, God’s Chosen King, the Holy and Anointed One who is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, will rule victoriously over all the kingdoms of the earth! He is the Son who has become heir of all things and ruler of all nations. He is Jesus, the radiance of God’s glory, the image of the invisible God, the One who has created and sustains all things by the word of His power. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and He will snap His enemies’ mightiest weapons of war into pieces like rotting twigs.

God is not threatened in the least by the most devious and malicious schemes of man. Neither should we. Our trust is in the King of kings. He has the final and ultimate say. His kingdom will prevail, and we are richly blessed and eternally secure by taking refuge in Him.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting Fresh (Psalm 1)

Psalm 1

Are you ready and willing for God to start a fresh work of trust and obedience in your life this year? Would you like for Him to bless you with greater joy and sweeter peace, and to make you more useful and more fruitful for His glory?

This Psalm offers a telling description of the man who lifts his heart to heaven and receives God’s abundant and eternal blessings, while warning the wicked of God’s judgment.

Stated negatively first, such blessing comes to the one who does not pursue the ways of the ungodly world. He does not follow the foolish advice of godless people. He does not share the mindset of those who reject God’s commands.

Instead, the one who receives the blessings of the Lord finds his delight in the Word of God. To him the words of Scripture are treasures far more valuable than silver or gold. The words of God taste sweeter than honey, for they provide flawless counsel, they guide in the way of truth, illuminate the path of righteousness and unfold the revelation of God’s salvation in the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They are truly words of joy and delight to all who seek God.

If you want this to be the year you find a truer and greater happiness than you’ve ever known before, lift your heart to heaven in 2011, starting fresh by soaking day and night in the Word of God.