Thursday, October 31, 2013

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 of their accountability to Him.  Having leadership that stands in the gap for those who are powerless, that stands against oppressors and those who commit crimes is essential to the survival of any society.

2. Righteousness.
Not only must leaders be 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 five 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 no 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 an 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 leader 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)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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)

Monday, October 28, 2013

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)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

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)

If these circumstances are ever true of you, you will 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)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Does God care about 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 in Scripture, there are reassurances, and even specific instructions, for 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 God 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."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

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.

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!

Monday, October 21, 2013

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 much overused 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.

"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.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reasons to rejoice and keep your Promises

Read Psalm 65.

Everywhere David looked he found another reason to praise the LORD.  It was this all-encompassing awareness of God that motivated him to keep his promises to the LORD.

The key reasons people make vows to God and do not keep them is they have no awareness of His involvement in their lives and feel no accountability to Him.  At important junctures in life such as weddings, the birth of a child, a life and death situation, or in times of a major stress or need, it is normal for people to pray and make promises.  God hears those prayers (v.2).  Then, as life moves on, they tend to forget and treat those words as unimportant.  However, God does not forget us or what we said we would do.  Indeed, He reminds us of His presence everywhere.

How does God show Himself to be present and powerful?
He forgives our sins. (v.3)
He satisfies our souls in worship. (v.4)
He created the mountains. (v.6)
He created the seas.(v.7)
He paints the sunrises and sunsets. (v.8b)
He controls the water cycle of earth. (vv.9-10)
He provides the growth of crops. (v.11)
He provides the multiplication of the animals in the pastures. (vv.12-13)

Why is the God of heaven so personally involved in these details?  "So that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs." (v.8a)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Don't let evil discourage You

Read Psalm 64.

Do not be discouraged by what unbelievers say and do.  Do not waiver in your faith.

David prayed for God's protection from wicked people who plotted against him.  He described their lies and threats as weapons of war--swords and arrows.  He was innocent, yet they ambushed him with their words.

Even more, these evil enemies had taken time to carefully devise their plans to kill him.  They thought they could execute the perfect crime against David and go undetected.  Obviously, David found out.

"But God."  Not only did David know, but God knew.  This prayer looked to God for action.  The LORD could destroy evil-doers with their own devices.

When God punishes sin, there are two results in verses 9-10 that bring Him glory.
1. Among all people.
The purpose of God's judgment is to strike fear in the hearts of all people.  No one will get away wrong-doing.  Such accountability for personal sin should cause everyone to stop and think about their own fate.  The response should be one of repentance toward God and faith in Him.

2. Among believers.
God's judgment is a reminder to believers that He will eventually deal with all injustices.  That truth alone should cause rejoicing in the midst of persecution.  In the meantime, we take refuge in Him.

Friday, October 18, 2013

For those who are Lonely, Thirsty, and Hungry

Read Psalm 63.

The inscription of this song indicates that David was in a southern wilderness area.  Looking out over the "dry and weary land" provided a perfect analogy of how he felt spiritually.

1. Lonely
Being in the desert, he was away from the place of worship in Jerusalem.  The isolation created within him a desire for the presence of God.  He may have been surrounded with his men and other followers, but no one else could fill that spiritual emptiness inside.  He sought the LORD "early" or "earnestly".  The root word in Hebrew is "dawn".  Spending time with God was the first thing on His agenda for the day.

2. Thirsty
Waking up in the morning in an arid environment, his body craved water.  But just like that, inside he had a thirst for God's presence, His power, and His glory.  Jesus called it "living water" in John 4:10.

3. Hungry
Traveling in the wilderness, food supplies were somewhat limited.  A sumptuous feast would have been a pleasurable thought.  Yet, God alone could satisfy the hunger of his heart.  And, it was not only in the morning time that he prayed and meditated on God's goodness to him.  At night, in bed, when things were quiet, his thoughts reviewed how the LORD had helped him and how God had protected him.

Why did he feel this way toward God?
"Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips shall praise you." (v.3)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

There is Power in Silence

Read Psalm 62.

David was teetering on the edge, just about to fall.  Surrounding him were scoundrels ready to push him over.  But he understood full well "that power belongs to God."  So, he waited.  Twice he stated that he waited in silence for the LORD to deliver him.

Waiting in silence may be the most difficult of all the Christian disciplines.  Suffering in quiet can be agonizing.  It is natural for us to gripe and complain, argue and defend, when being mistreated.  We want to bend the ear of anyone who will listen, just to be heard.  

Kenneth Boa in his classic book, "Conformed to His Image" wrote, "Silence is at odds with the din of our culture and the popular addiction to noise and hubbub.  This discipline relates not only to finding places of silence in our surroundings but also to times of restricted speech in the presence of others." (p.83)

Waiting on God is not just being quiet.  Having poured one's soul out to God in prayer, we then must listen with expectation to what He has to say to us in solitude, from the Scriptures, or from encounters with others.  It involves trusting that He is active on our behalf, even when we cannot see any movement at all.  Our hope must be in Him, not in the circumstances that are seen.  The real power belongs to the LORD.

"He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength....but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:29,31)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Feeling Overwhelmed? Where can you run?

Read Psalm 61.

Even as the great King of Israel, there were times when David felt overwhelmed.  Life happens and sometimes caused his heart to "faint."  He needed a safe place for his soul, one of peace, a dependable spot that did not change with circumstances.  David found that security in God.  Notice the multiple descriptions he used.

1. God is a Rock.
To some Jesus is a rock of offense and rejected.  Psalm 118:22 states, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."  The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:6 that this "stone" is Jesus.  He is the Rock of our faith.  As the Cornerstone, all the rest of life's construction is measured from Him.

2. God is Strong Tower.
In ancient times, cities built walls for protection with towers for various reasons.  Some towers were only watchtowers for lookouts.  However, a "strong tower" was a place where people could run if the city was being invaded.  It would be built out of stone so the enemy could not burn it down or penetrate it.  To be there was to be safe.  In Psalm 144:2 David wrote: "He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge."

3. God is a Shelter.
He described this particular covering as one of a mother bird with open wings where her young could huddle for protection and comfort against a threat.  Who can read this and not think of Jesus' words of lament concerning the city of Jerusalem?  "How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" (Matthew 23:37)

William O. Cushing penned the text that later Ira Sankey put to music:
"Under His wings, O what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life's trials are o'er;
Sheltered protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus I'm safe evermore.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Praying when Defeated

Read Psalm 60.

2 Samuel 8:14 states, "And the LORD gave victory to David wherever he went."  But not this time.

While David engaged in battle in the north, an invasion occurred in the south.  Defeat was not in something he experienced very often.  Because he depended upon God for decisions and direction, this failure pointed to a spiritual problem.

1. His feelings. (vv.1-5)
In prayer, David poured out his honest emotions before God.  He felt God had rejected the nation.  He sensed God was angry with them.  The circumstances were hard and stunned them.  The LORD knew all this a long time before David realized it.  Prayer is not for God's benefit but for ours.  It is a good thing to release those emotions to God.  But to stop there is mere complaining against the LORD and not helpful at all.  There was more to his prayer.

2. His facts. (vv.6-8)
David knew the word of God.  He was able to quote God's own words back to Him in prayer.  Praying according to God's will is dependent upon knowing what God has said.  "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)

3. His faith. (vv.9-12)
If God does not intervene there is no one else to whom he can turn.  He prayed for help.  He prayed for deliverance.  He prayed with confidence that the LORD would lead them to victory.

No matter how bad the situation, there is always hope for those who have placed their faith in the LORD.
"With God we shall do valiantly."

Monday, October 14, 2013

How can you Sing at a time like This?

Read Psalm 59.

It is hard for most people to imagine the stress of living under the threat of assassination every day.  Saul sent hit men to watch David's house and wait for an opportunity to kill him.  David was Saul's son-in-law and the house was where Saul's daughter lived.  How insane Saul had become!

In his prayer, David revealed his understanding of all involved.  He had nothing wrong to warrant this.  The root sin of his pursuers was pride (v.12).  They breathed out lies and accusations believing that there would be no accountability for their words or actions.

"But you, O LORD..." (v.8).  God did not miss a word.  He witnessed everything.  The LORD never lost control of the situation for them, nor for the surrounding nations that rejected accountability to Him.

Thoughts of God's care and concern caused David to begin to rejoice in verses 16-17.  How could he sing at a time like this?  What was there to be glad about?

1. God's power.
The enemy is no match for God.  Our hope is not in our strength and ability but His.  We reach a point where we say, "I cannot handle this."  That is when we gladly lay down our concerns at His feet and cast our total dependence on Him.

2. God's love.
His love is steadfast, faithful, and does not change.  His love for us is not dependent upon our circumstances or our behaviors.  Even when we were sinners and estranged from Him, it was His love that sent Jesus to die and pay for our sin.  We are His very own.  Twice.  Once by creation.  Second by redemption.

3. God's protection.
When He allows us to experience some difficult days, it is to remind us of our inability and to demonstrate His all-sufficient grace.  The LORD is more than able to take care of His property.

"I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning."  Now, that is the way to start a new day!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Can morality be Legislated?

Read Psalm 58.

The purpose of law is not to legislate morality but to protect the nation from immorality and injustice.  Judges and those who make decisions on behalf of the people were ordained by God to be His representatives on earth.  Pretending to be neutral, or amoral, will lead to the destruction of a society 100% of the time.  It is only when right judgments are made that the people benefit and the nation is spared.

Without belief in accountability to God, without knowledge and adherence to His word, decision-makers are left to themselves and their passions to deem what is right or wrong for the culture.  Depending upon the culture, laws to govern judgments are made by fiat from a ruler, a type of majority from a legislature, or a majority of votes from the people.  This can have devastating results for those who have been mistreated, criminalized, or who merely wish to live quiet, peaceful, unhindered lives.

Anything goes.  Everything becomes acceptable...unless you are a believer.  Christian worldviews are unacceptable and ridiculed.  Why are they not equally okay?  Because behind the immorality and injustice is the Evil One who energizes and directs all things against the knowledge of God.

Humanism depends upon the so-called innate goodness of mankind.  The Bible teaches us the opposite.  In David's descriptions of these unjust judges, he denounced them as devising wrongs, creating violence, and that they were wicked from birth.  As judges, he declared them to be deaf and dangerous.  His graphic and brutal prayer was that God would stop their mouths, de-fang their power, and cause them to suddenly be gone.

In verse 11, David reaffirmed the certainty that the righteous before God will be rewarded and that God is the ultimate Judge of all things.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)

Friday, October 11, 2013

What to pray in a Crisis

Read Psalm 57.

David found a remote cave where he would be safe from the pursuit of King Saul and his army.  But this hiding place could not provide the inner peace and security he truly needed.  For that he turned to God.

1. He prayed for mercy. (v.1)
Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.  God is a God of mercy.  In His loving-kindness to us He forgives us and protects us.  Not because we deserve it but because that is who He is.

2. He prayed for God to fulfill His purpose. (vv.2-4)
This situation did not catch God by surprise.  He is able to even use the evil deeds of others to complete His purpose and plan for our lives.

3. He prayed for God to be exalted. (v.5,11)
The ultimate purpose of life and every circumstance is to bring glory to the LORD.  We do not always know how that will happen or when.  The quest for the believer is do nothing that would distract from God receiving His glory and full credit for the outcome.

In the meantime, David reaffirmed his personal commitment to the LORD.  While outside there was the threat of death, inside his faith was stable.  He began to sing praises to God.  Then, he looked forward to giving thanks for all the LORD had done for him to those who do not know Him yet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Faith when there seems no way Out

Read Psalm 56.

This song recounts the time David ran from Saul's attempts to kill him, only to find himself taken captive by the Philistines (1 Samuel 21).  As the enemy held their prize catch, they daily waited and plotted how they would destroy him.

Afraid?  Yes.  Humanly speaking, he faced certain death.  The mighty warrior cried.

It is in those times when our faith in God is all we have that we discover, or learn anew, that God is all we need!

Here are some of his insights from having gone through this near death experience.
1. Fear and Faith. (vv.3-4)
These are opposites and in the middle of a crisis a believer can have both at the same time.  Fear causes us to focus on all the bad stuff that could happen and destroy our hope.  Faith looks beyond the circumstances to what the all-powerful God of heaven can do.  David's commitment was, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid."

2. Tossing and Tears. (vv.8-11) 
I picture him pacing in his imprisonment during the day, tossing and turning at night, weeping over the situation.  Yet, his faith in the LORD strengthened him with two truths.  First, God sees the personal suffering of people and keeps exact records.  The imagery is that He counts every tear and stores them up for that day of reward and rejoicing in His presence.  Second, God is not mad at him.  God is not the enemy.  "God is for me."  He is on our side.  Nothing happens in the life of the believer that does not come through the filter of the Father.  His goal is our good and His glory.  (Romans 8:28)

3. Light and Life. (vv.12-13) 
What can a person do who is feeling (or literally) trapped?  David discerned there were a several important things for him to practice while he waited on God.
-"I must perform my vows to you, O God."
It was time to behave like one who believed in the LORD.  God expected it of him.  He needed to do it.  Others were watching to see how he would respond.
-"I will render thank offerings to you."
It was time praise God, even when he did not feel like it.  Three times in this psalm he wrote, "in whose word I will praise."  In the book of Acts, Paul and Silas sang praises to the LORD when they were jailed and God performed multiple miracles as a result.  There is power in praise.
-He visualized his deliverance, not his demise.  Notice how he speaks of his deliverance in the past tense as if it already took place.  That is confident faith.  And, why would God deliver him?  So that this faithful man could continue to live for God.

Hard circumstances?  Yes.  But we keep on going, not somehow, but in His strength, in His light, in His life.
There is hope!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

How to have personal Peace in a time of Crisis

Read Psalm 55.

Someone once said, "Adversity on all sides in one of God's ways of getting our full attention."

Everyone has experienced what David describes in this Psalm as he pleads for mercy.
-I am restless
-I moan
-My heart is in anguish
-The terrors of death have fallen upon me
-Fear and trembling come upon me
-Horror overwhelms me

His wish is that he could escape by just flying away to some safe place of peace.  But running from problems only compounds and complicates them.  David is being painfully honest about his feelings, but that does not move him at all from his faith in the LORD.  God will deal with those that caused the problem.  In the meantime...

1. "Cast your burden on the LORD..."  
Literally, that means to "throw it down".  When someone says, "I cannot handle this", they are correct.  When life is too much for us, it is not too much for Him.  Cast your dependence on the One is who bigger than your problems.  Our human nature keeps straining to pick it back up.

2. "...and he will sustain you."
God is more than able to take care of that which concerns us.  He will provide, not always what we want, but what is needed.   His plans are designed to bring glory to Himself through us.  The process, though painful, is an opportunity for us to grow spiritually and demonstrate to others what true faith in God looks like.

3. "...he will never permit the righteous to be moved."
The Apostle Paul urged believers to not be anxious about anything but to pray instead.  He wrote that the result would be "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)  When this is true, people will look at you and say, "I do not know how you can be so calm during this crisis."  It won't make sense to them.  That is an open door to share your faith.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What to do when trapped in Distress

Read Psalm 54.

Do not miss the inscription of the song.

David ran for his life from King Saul.  He found refuge in the Wilderness of Ziph.  In this rugged terrain of mountains and hills, there were natural caves.  The Ziphites were of the tribe of Judah, like David.  Surely, he would be safe surrounded by kinfolks.

But in 1 Samuel 23:19-20, the Ziphites went straight to Saul to report David's hiding place, complete with directions on how to get there!  King Saul wasted no time in pursuing and surrounding David.  If ever there was a time to feel betrayed and panic, this would have been it.

What did David do when it looked as if there was no way out?  He looked up.  God is more powerful than any army.  He is able to overrule any and all human authorities.  It was a simple matter for God to cause a Philistine uprising at that exact same time, prompting Saul to order a retreat.

1. David cried out to God. (vv.1-3)
His first response to the crisis (not the last) was prayer.

2. David knew that his life was ultimately in God's hands. (vv.4-5)
In a battle it helps to have an army.  But, the help he truly needed was not more warriors on his side.  "God is my helper."  It was his faith in the LORD that sustained him.

3. David took action steps in response to God's deliverance. (vv.6-7)
How many times God has answered prayer for someone only to see them go back to life as usual?  This robs God of His glory!  Not so of David.
-He presented to the LORD a freewill offering.  He called it a sacrifice.  This was over and above his tithe.
-He publicly expressed his gratitude to God for this answer to prayer and for what the LORD had done.
-And, he wrote this song for the entire nation to sing.

Today, over 3,000 years later, we read and identify with him.  When surrounded by problems and distress, the God of heaven waits for our dependence on Him.

"Call to me and I will answer you..." (Jeremiah 33:3)

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Response to those who think they do not need God

Read Psalm 53.

The atheists national holiday must be April 1 according to King David.  So, what does life look like apart from God and what should be the prayer of those who believe?

1. The Pervasiveness of Sin. (vv.1-3)
No God means there is no ultimate accountability for life and personal actions.  A person deems themselves as their own master, their own god, and can make up their own rules for life.  In doing so, one becomes a fool in morals and philosophy.  Corruption and injustice are the results.  "There is none who does good, not even one."  The Apostle Paul quoted these verses in Romans 3:10-12.  Sin separates us from God and motivates us to make foolish decisions.

2. The Perplexity of Sinners. (vv.4-5)
Without God people live lives of paradox.  On one hand they are ever seeking "to know," but on the other hand they are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  On one hand they want so-called intellectual freedom, but on the other hand they reject and mock God's word and anyone who believes it.  The Apostle Peter called this type of thinking willful ignorance (2 Peter 3:5 KJV).  There is no fear in the fact that God has rejected them!  In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me."  There are not multiple ways to heaven; there is one.  Jesus is truth personified.  To reject Him is to exist without ever understanding life.

3. The Prayer of the Believer. (v.6)
David looked forward to the day of God's deliverance, not only for himself, but his nation.  That would be a day of restoration and joy.  Fortunately, believers today can read and know how this story will turn out.  While the world continues to erode in their foolishness, it is all in preparation for the revealing of Jesus in His power and glory.  What a day that will be!

"Come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20b)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

When evil people Attack

Read Psalm 52.

How do you respond when people say bad things about you?  How do you feel when those same people hurt others whom you love?  Quickly, get God's perspective and do not try to go it alone.

In 1 Samuel 21-22, David ran from King Saul's death threats.  Along the way he stopped for a visit with the priests at Nob for food and weapons.  Doeg, who worked for Saul, witnessed this and reported it back to the King.  Then, Saul slaughtered every priest, man, woman, child and animal in Nob.  Surely, Doeg had been rewarded and promoted as a result.

David, in writing this song of remembrance, looked beyond the personal betrayal and the resulting holocaust with a spiritual perspective.

1. What was David's perspective of Doeg?
He was not only a betrayer, he was evil; a pawn in the hand of Satan.  This evil man boasted about what he had done.  His mind loved to plot evil and to destroy.  He trusted in his abundance of money as a refuge.

2. What was David's perspective of God?
Doeg and these disasters did not change the character of God one bit.  His love continues to be consistent and unmoved (v.2a).  God did not miss, nor overlook, Doeg's doings.  Severe judgment would come (v.5)

3. What was David's perspective of himself?
He could have blamed himself and wallowed in guilt, but none of this was his fault.
-He used this time to grow spiritually. (v.8a)
-His trust in the LORD never wavered. (v.8b)
-He expressed thanks to the LORD for taking care of this evil. (v.9a)
-He waited upon the Lord but not in solitude.  He surrounded himself with other believers. (v.9b)  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

2 Demonstrations of Forgiveness

Read Psalm 51.

All sin is ultimately against the LORD.  The penalty for our sin was paid for by the blood of Jesus on the cross.  Therefore, true forgiveness is available only from God.

Guilt is designed to prod us to seek God's forgiveness.  Inside, we feel dirty, unclean, even damaged.  The inscription refers to 2 Samuel 12.  King David was guilty of adultery, murder, and cover up.  But God loved David too much to allow him to get away with sin.  Notice the words David used to describe his need of God's mercy and help.
-wash me (v.2)
-cleanse me (v.2)
-purge me (v.7)
-heal me (v.8)
-create in me a clean heart (v.10)
-renew a right spirit within me (v.10)
-restore me (v.12)
-uphold me (v.12)
-deliver me (v.14)

Now forgiven, notice also that David looked forward to serving God once again with a clear conscience.
1. "Then I will teach transgressors your ways." (v.13)
Forgiven people want others to experience what they have.  Every believer in Jesus has an authentic story to tell of what God has done for them.

2. "Then will you delight in right sacrifices." (v.19)
Even in the Old Testament, sacrifices and offerings were to represent a humble, repentant, and grateful heart.  Merely going through the motions of ritual was never acceptable to God.  But when our hearts are clean, our offerings delight Him.

Telling and giving are two ways we demonstrate that we have been forgiven by God.

Friday, October 4, 2013

God is talking. Listen in.

Read Psalm 50.

All day long, God is speaking.  He is not silent.  What is He saying? (vv.1-4)

1. Concerning the Owner (vv.5-11)
Everything belongs to Me.  What you are offering to Me is only what I gave you.

2. Concerning the Offering (vv.12-15)
I am self-sufficient.  I do not need anything.
What I want from you are expressions of your appreciation and thanks.  Then, your offerings will mean something and your prayers will be answered.

3. Concerning the Others (vv.16-21)
Because of your rejection of Me and your sinful behavior, you have no rights.  Therefore, I rebuke you and charge you in judgment.

4. Concerning the Options (vv.22-23)
If you continue to disregard Me, there is only severe and eternal punishment awaiting.
If you choose to live a life of thanksgiving to Me for who I AM and what I have done, there is eternal deliverance for you.

Are you listening?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What money cannot Buy

Read Psalm 49.

The psalmist was bothered by some people of wealth had cheated him.  It appeared that they thought they could buy their way out of any difficulty.  Money had given them power.

So, this song was written to provide a perspective of wisdom and understanding to life.  Money cannot buy and control everything.  Exhibit A is death.  At that final moment, it will not matter who the person was or what they had accumulated.  Like all living things on earth death is certain.

Therefore to build one's life on temporal values that one day will all be left behind, is called "foolish confidence" (v.13 ESV).  In Hebrew that means stupidity, folly, silliness.  Why would anyone place their faith in things that will not last?  There is not a shred of wisdom in ignoring eternity and accountability to God!

Wise people know better.  "But God" (v.15).  He stepped in and paid the price of our ransom from the captivity and bondage of sin.  "In him (Jesus) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace..." (Ephesians 1:7)

The root problem with all man-made, demonic inspired faith systems is pride.  Some put their faith in government.  Some choose to trust philosophies.  Some depend upon religious traditions.  All think they know better than the One who created them.  All of them willfully choose to ignore their sin problem and that one day they will stand before the LORD.  There will be no excuses then.

Job reminds us, "Naked I came from my mother' womb, and naked shall I return."  Hebrews 9:27-"And just as it is appointed to die once, and after that comes judgment."

We have this one life to do what is right and respond to God's love and forgiveness.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Take a look Around

Read Psalm 48.

The praise continues into this song.  But what or who is being praised?  The view moves back and forth.

1. Taking a temporal look.
The beauty and setting of the city of Jerusalem literally stopped people in their tracks.  The writer tells of  enemy forces marching against the city from as far away as Tarshish (Spain).  But when they came to the mount and look up, the shear splendor of the walls, towers, and structures caused them to turn back.  The nation sang about the blessings they enjoyed.  They praised God for their buildings.

2. Taking an eternal look.
Yet, it was not the bricks and mortar that thrilled the people of Jerusalem.  They knew that that all the walls in the world could not protect them.  It was the unbelievers who saw only the temporal things.  The believers in the LORD had a spiritual perspective.  They praised the God of heaven for His provision of the beautiful structures, but even more they exalted His power and authority that protected them.  The LORD had made Himself known in their city (v.3).

3. Taking a personal look.
Prior to the historical incident involved, they had heard of the power of God, but now they had seen it with their own eyes (8).  What they had heard was true.  He all-powerful, no one can successfully come against Him.  He puts to flight every false way.  He is worthy of praise.  But their concern did not stop there.  They wanted to be sure the next generation knew and placed their faith in the LORD.

Look around today. Where have you seen God's protection?  Where has He provided?  Be sure to let others know about it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Let the praise be Loud!

Read Psalm 47.

This is going to get loud.  For generations, clapping and shouting were not considered a part of traditional worship.  But as Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is a time and place for everything.  The very first verse of this song exhorts the congregation to physically and vocally to respond with joyful volume!

1. "For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared..." (vv.2-4)
Those who refused to respect and respond in obedience learned the hard way.  God "subdued" them at His command.  The people who fear God enjoy His love.  Clap and shout for joy!

2. "For God is the King of all the earth..." (vv.5-7)
He is sovereign and in control of this world.  "The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; in the turns it wherever he will." (Proverbs 21:1)  It may not seem like it as we view world events, but the worsening turmoil is leading to a climax and revealing of the King of kings (Revelation 19).  We can read the end of the Book and know how the story will turn out.  Clap and shout for joy!

3. "For the shields of the earth belong to God..." (vv.8-9)
In the meantime, the LORD is our protection.  This world, and we, are His property.  "The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein." (Psalm 24:1)  Our security is assured by the One who loves us and gave Himself for us.  This is worthy of some clapping and shouting!

Make some noise for God today.