Saturday, October 13, 2018

The leadership every nation Wants

Read Psalm 72.

This is David's prayer for Solomon as the crown was passed from father to son.  How does one pray for a national leader?  There are no less than nine requests made for the new king.

1. Justice for the poor and needy.
All authority to mete out justice comes from God.  Human judges are to represent God with the knowledge that they are accountable to Him.  Having leadership that stands in the gap for those who are powerless, who stands against oppressors and those who commit crimes is essential to the survival of any society.

2. Righteousness.
Not only must leaders correct what is wrong, they must lead according to what is right.

3. Prosperity.
Good leadership creates an environment for growth.  The people then are refreshed by them and "flourish" personally and financially.

4. Peace.
Living quiet peaceable lives is the goal of a civilized society.  Those who govern have the God-given responsibility to protect the people from internal strife and international threats.

5. Expanded Influence.
This is the essence of all leadership.  The prayer here is that based upon the first four above.  The leader would be so respected, so blessed, and so supported by his own people that he would be equally received and revered by other nations.

6.  Long Life.
"Long live the king."  That is not only a good sentiment for well-wishing, long tenures of God-honoring leadership is a blessing to the people.

7. Abundance.
With great productivity comes abundance in resources.  Great amounts of resources give leaders and the nation plenty of options for expansion, protection, and meeting the needs of the people.  When the nation is enriched the people should be as well.

8. Fame.
When a nation has such leadership as described here, it becomes well-known and attractive.  The reason is that everyone wants to live in a place like this and follow this type of leader.

9. Blessed.
This kind of leadership and this type of society does not come through self-help efforts.  It is a "wondrous" thing that comes from God alone.  He blesses such leaders and nations in order to reveal His glory, not theirs.

"Righteous exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people."  (Proverbs 14:34)

Friday, October 12, 2018

A God for all Seasons

Read Psalm 71.

Here the unnamed song writer made an assessment of his life.  A need for safety and stability appears to have prompted it.  He looked to God for refuge and rescue from those who sought his harm.  A good scare or tragedy causes us to stop and take stock of where we have been, why we are here, and, most importantly, where we are headed.

1. From Birth. (v.6)
"You took me from my mother's womb."  Birth is no accident.  As Psalm 139 explains in detail, the LORD superintends even conception and formation.  People are born with a God-given purpose to fulfill.  The Psalmist cannot recall a time he did not "lean" on the LORD.

2. From Youth. (vv.5, 17)
All during his days of growing up, the LORD provided for him in two strong areas.
-"For you, O Lord, are my hope."  No matter what happens in life, God never changes.  He is always there and has our future secured.
-"O God, from my youth you have taught me."  The only way to know and experience God's purpose of why we are here is be taught by Him.  It does not come to us naturally.  Time must be invested in knowing what God has said in His word.  "The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple." (Psalm 119:130)  As we invest that time, we discover the Holy Spirit helping us to make application for life-change in order to live in a way that pleases God.  "These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10)

3. To Old Age. (v.18)
A lifetime of learning God's word and living according to His purpose has influence.  The charge is to tell the next generation of God's power, how He answered prayer, and how He intervened to provided refuge and rescue.

"You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?" (v.19b)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

I need help and I need it NOW

Read Psalm 70.

Many of the Psalms were written as reminders to the nation.  They would sing them at particular times of travel, worship, or celebration.  This one was to be sung "for the Memorial Offering."

1. The cry is for urgent help. (vv.1 and 5)
He needed deliverance and he needed right away.

2. The cry is for protection from hurt. (vv.2-3)
His enemies sought his harm and even his life.  They ridiculed his faith.  The prayer was for God to deal with them and put them to shame.

3. The cry is for victorious hope. (v.4)
He looked beyond his circumstances by faith.  "God is great!"  Indeed, God is greater than the threats.  God is greater than those who plot against him.  The victory is assured either way.  So, let the people of God rejoice, be glad, and sing.

"When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles." (Psalm 34:17)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Waiting for God to Act

Read Psalm 69.

David felt overwhelmed.  He cried until his throat hurt and his eyes were nearly swollen shut as he waited God.  One his chief concerns was how this stress affected those around him.  He became alienated even from his own family.

When he tried to worship or humble himself in prayer and fasting, his adversaries used those very things to mock him.

Yet, through it all David's faith never wavered.  He trusted God to act on his behalf at exactly the right moment.  "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.  At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness." (v.13)  God will not be a minute late in providing His deliverance.  Waiting is the hardest part.

He could sing praises in the midst of the pain because of the certainty of God's love, care and plan.  This song was never meant to be a complaint but a testimony to others.  "You who seek God, let your hearts revive.  For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." (vv.32b-33)

When these circumstances become our reality, we are in the best company imaginable.  For so they treated Jesus.  No less than three verses in this Psalm were later identified in the Gospels with the persecution and sufferings of Christ.
Verse 4-John 15:25 "But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: They hated me without a cause."
Verse 9-John 2:17 "His disciples remembered that is was written, 'Zeal for your house will consume me.'"
Verse 21-Matthew 27:48 "And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it him to drink."

"That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." (Philippians 3:10)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

God's care for those in Need

Read Psalm 68.

God helps those who cannot help themselves.  It is sinful pride that causes us to think we can live without dependence on the LORD.

David wrote this song so that the nation would be reminded of God's power.  His enemies are powerless against Him.  They will be scattered, driven away, melted and will perish.

Notice the specific groups of people in verses 9-10 who gain the LORD's special attention for defense and assistance.
1. Fatherless.  Those who have lost their parents or who have been abandoned by them can discover that God is available to meet their needs as a faithful heavenly Father; something many of them never had.

2. Widows.  In several places, Scripture provides specifics regarding the care of these women.  It is stated here that God is their protector.  Those who would mistreat or seek to take advantage of widows will in fact find themselves experiencing reprisals from the LORD Himself.

3. Solitary.   There are so many who live alone; single adults and the elderly.  They may and will experience times of loneliness, but no one is truly ever alone.  The LORD is omnipresent and is always available to those who seek Him.  His steadfast friendship supersedes what any other companion could supply.

4. Prisoners.  As they pay for their crimes, they not only lose their freedom but their livelihoods.  Time is lost to produce any income for their future.  But when an incarcerated person who has paid their judicial debt is released they need help.  God can open doors of opportunity for them and restore those lost years.

"In your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy." (v.10a)  

And, then to all of us we have these words of confidence for everyday:
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation."

Monday, October 8, 2018

4 Reasons to praise the LORD today

Read Psalm 67.

The source of all blessings is God's grace.  He extends to us what we do not deserve and what we cannot earn.  In the first verse, the psalmist reminds us that His grace to us is personal and relational.  He sees our need and our capacity in light of His purposes for us and responds...with His smile ("his face to shine upon us.")

While this song is one of praise, to be accompanied by stringed instruments, it is also missional in nature.  He called for everyone in the world to sing along.

Why should the LORD be praised?
1. God's saving power is extensive.
The personal knowledge and worship of God was not limited to Israel.  This wonderful "good news" is available to everyone.  As the promise was made to Abraham in Genesis 12, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  The prophets preached that the Gentiles would worship the LORD.  Jesus' charge to His followers is that we are to teach all the nations.

2. God judgment is equitable.
He will correct every wrong.  When the LORD judges sin He does it "right."  Ultimately, all wrong-doing and evil is against God.  He keeps accurate records of all disobedience of words, thoughts and deeds.  His justice will prevail.  Unless there is personal repentance of these and faith in the blood of Jesus for forgiveness, there is eternal punishment waiting.

3. God's guidance is effective.
He will lead us to do what is right.  It may seem that the nations are out of control.  Certainly, Satan and his demons are at work to bring degradation and upheaval worldwide.  But the LORD is sovereign and all these things are working toward the climax of God's purposes.  His plan has been given to us in writing to know and to encourage us.

4. God's provision is evident. 
Our mental and physical strength to work comes from Him.  The opportunities to earn come from Him.  The blessing upon our work for income and increase are His.  He not only has promised to meet our needs, He does!

Praise HIM!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Here is the Test-imony

Read Psalm 66.

"There is no testimony without a test."  The psalmist has come through the test and made an "A".  In verses 10-12, he described it as coming through a fire, like a carrying crushing burden, and making it through a flood of water.  He saw the results of his prayers.

The word "awesome" (ESV) has to do with reverential fear and respect.  In Scripture it is how mankind is to react to the person and power of God.  The jaw drops in astonishment and we declare Him to be full of "awe."

In verse 5, we are invited to witness the mighty hand of God at work.  He performed miracles in the past by drying up the Red Sea for Israel.  He is active now as He observes and is aware of every move of people in all the nations (v.7).

"Yet" (v.12b).  The purpose of the test was not in the fire, the burden, or the water.  The purpose was that by coming through those things he would see the faithfulness of God and give Him glory.

God is good.  And, as a result of passing the test "you have brought us out to a place of abundance."

How did the psalmist respond?
He wrote a song so we could sing along with him and praise God.
He presented a special thank offering to God.
He recommitted himself to fulfill his promises and live for God.