Scripture reading for June 17th: Psalms 67-72
God delights in blessing his people! The Aaronic blessing begins Psalm 67 as a prayer. God blessing means that he lavishes his best gifts and presence on those He loves and calls to be His children. His face is shining or beaming with a smile of love and joy as He beholds His own people. This smile means abundant provisions of food and water. It means health to our bodies and protection from enemies. It means love and fruitfulness in our relationships and homes and a sense of knowing God and walking in His will. The Hebrew word “selah” follows this first verse and is a term meaning to pause and ponder the thought that has been presented.
Why does God love to bless His people? Surely it is because he loves and delights in His people. This is a good reason and part of God’s revealed truth. But this psalm states another reason for the blessing. God wants to use a blessed people to share the knowledge of His ways on the earth among all peoples. (Psalm 67:2) God desires the worship of all who are made in His image and likeness! He is their guide, ruler and judge! We are blessed to be a blessing! Nothing really belongs to us. We are blessed in order to share and bless others. We must keep the blessing moving and not hoard it to ourselves and our own use!
The result of being a blessing is that the earth will yield its harvest. The harvest ultimately is souls that will come to know and worship the Lord through the witness of God’s people. God wants all the ends of the earth to fear Him! (Psalm 67:6-7) We set up a cycle of blessing when we give to the Lord of our blessings so that others may hear and learn! As we give, we become like God who is the ultimate giver of everything. As we give, God is praised and worshiped and He moves upon the lost and draws them to salvation. As we give, we are blessed by God again with more abundance so that we can give even more to Him. The cycle goes on and multiplies!
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2nd Corinthians 9:10-11
Scripture reading for June 16th: Psalms 60-66
King David was honest with his feelings and heart thoughts as he prayed to the Lord. This series of psalms has a great emphasis on prayer and praise. David has many fears and many enemies who seek his life, and he shares his thoughts with the Lord. As ruler of God’s people he had the burden of many responsibilities. He asked God to hear his pleas. Sometimes he was confident that God did hear, and at other times seemed to wonder if God would hear him. (Psalm 60:1; Psalm 61:1; Psalm 63:1; Psalm 64:1) He was a lot like me in this respect! I am sure you never had these feelings!
The last two psalms in this set are praise songs to the God who is the “hope of the ends of the the earth”! (Psalm 65:5) It is amazing to me that David is so in tune with the revealed heart of God! God’s heart has always been for all men to know and love Him. He desires close fellowship for every individual and will eventually have all nations worshiping Him! (Psalm 66:4) God is the creator, founder of the mountains and roaring seas. He has shown his wonders to all mankind through the daily provisions of man’s needs. He waters the land and brings forth grain in abundance for all peoples, just or unjust! God decorates the hills and valleys and brings joy to His people! (Psalm 65:13-14)
Psalm 66 ends with a declaration of praise to the Lord for answered prayer! David’s doubts and petitions have ended with God bringing an answer! God’s faithfulness and love have produced new praise and thanksgiving from David and from God’s people! He truly answers prayer and is worthy of praise! He is the hope of the ends of the earth!
“”You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the fartherest seas, . .” Psalm 65:5
Scripture reading for June 15th: Psalms 55-59
Friendship is a precious thing. A friend is someone you can trust and confide in. They know you for who you really are and often love you in spite of what they see. They stick with you through thick and thin. They are there for you when you need them and you can count on them to be honest with you. Friendships take time to develop and close friends are rare and precious!
One of the most painful experiences is to have a close friend betray you and turn against you. This causes deep soul searching and deep hurts. David had such an experience that he shares with us today in Psalm 55. He was deeply troubled and in anguish over a betrayal. He wanted to take the wings of a dove and fly away to a secluded place to rest from the storm that he was experiencing. (Psalm 55:6) It would have been more understandable if it was an enemy who had insulted him and turned against him, but it was his close friend. It was a man with whom he had enjoyed sweet fellowship in the presence of God at the temple. (Psalm 55:13-14) He called on the Lord for help and intervention in this very troubling time.
This psalm is interesting in light of Psalm 32 and 51 which describe David’s trial of faith where he ended up betraying his friend Uriah the Hittite! When this psalm was written and about whom we are not certain. It may have been concerning Ahiphohel, his close adviser who sided with Absolom in his rebellion. (2nd Samuel 15:12) It is interesting that David probably reaped what he himself sowed. Betrayal is not enjoyable and brings deep hurt and anguish of soul.
Jesus Christ also went through betrayal. Judas betrayed his own teacher, rabbi, and friend. He enjoyed sweet fellowship with Jesus even at the last supper. Jesus reached out to this one who would betray him and sought to win him over even at the last. (John 13:19-26) In a sense, all the disciples betrayed Jesus by denying that they knew Him and running away. We can get a glimpse into the heart of our Savior and friend of how he might feel when we betray his love. It is amazing how we can enjoy sweet fellowship with the Lord, and then do things that betray Him and cause him anguish!
The good news today is that our Savior did not take flight with the wings of a dove! He could have called on legions of angels to rescue Him. (Matthew 26:53) Instead, He bore our betrayals, sin, and rebellion and loved us so much as to die in our place! Take time today to ask for His mercy and forgiveness of your betrayals. Invite Him to be you special friend who will stick closer than a brother! Enjoy sweet fellowship with one who will never betray you!
Scripture reading for June 13th: Psalms 50-54
David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of his friend, Uriah, is recorded in scripture in 2nd Samuel 11-12. This was a dark blot on the life of a man that had walked closely with God for about 50 years. King David had decided to stay home from the war with Israel’s enemies to rest and relax. He let his eyes wander as his heart grew cold and ended up in bed with his neighbor’s wife. She became pregnant and instead of an abortion, David decided to try to frame his friend. When this didn’t work, he had his friend aborted! There is nothing new under the sun! The human heart away from God is desperately sick and full of sin!
Today’s reading contains the record of David’s confession and repentance from these sins. Both of these sins required that the perpetrators be stoned to death under God’s law. (Leviticus 20:10)(Leviticus 24:17) What is remarkable about King David’s confession of these sins, is that he considered them to be against God alone. God granted David forgiveness and grace under the law because of a broken and contrite heart! How we need this kind of heart today! Jesus Christ is forgiving sins today for those with a broken and contrite heart.
A broken and contrite heart takes responsibility for sin. It admits to breaking God’s law instead of denial and blame of someone else or even God. (Psalm 51:3-5) David even recognized that he was sinful from birth. We are born in sin because of Adam’s sin! We come by it naturally! We can only be delivered supernaturally by God’s mercy through Jesus Christ!
Repentant hearts also recognize the importance of truth in them. (Psalm 51:6) Jeremiah states that the heart by human nature is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9-11) God searches the hearts of men and knows the truth about what is in them. God wants to wash our hearts and cleanse them. David asks to be cleansed with hyssop. While in Egypt, the Israelites used Hyssop branches to sprinkle the blood of the sacrificial lambs on the doorposts of their houses to keep the death angel from striking the first-born. David asks God for a clean heart and a hiding of his sins from God’s face!
Broken hearts desire the joy and salvation that comes from God’s grace of forgiveness. (Psalm 51:9-12) God gives a pure heart and a right spirit. This right spirit is a spirit of brokenness and dependence on God’s grace. All pride in human effort and ability is set aside and humility comes in it’s place. There is joy and rejoicing and a willing spirit to follow the Lord and be taught of Him.
All of this brokenness leads to a life of humble service and witness! Those who are forgiven much, love much. Out of this love they want to do God’s will and praise His Name! (Psalm 51:13-15)
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart , Oh God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Scripture reading for June 12th: Psalms 42-49
Many nations have armies and air forces armed with weapons that help to protect them. America has one of the finest and best equipped armies in the entire world. We have a great air force which has a wide variety of weapons to strike the enemy from afar and soften the opposition before ground troops go into harms way. We have a military intelligence system that gathers information about the enemy and battlefield for the air force and ground forces. But in spite of our great army and ability to protect our nation and people, there is yet a much more fearful and powerful force of protection recorded in today’s reading!
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3
God’s ability to protect His people and help them in trouble is well documented. He delivered David as a shepherd boy from the lion and the bear and then from the giant, Goliath. He was able to deliver an entire nation from slavery in Egypt and then to protect them from the most powerful army on earth as they were being pursued. He caused the Red Sea to close over the enemy army after His people walked through this sea on a dry bed! Bring on those powerful armies! Our God is a refuge and strength! Fear not!
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall’ God will help her at the break of day. Nations are in an uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts His voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah Psalm 46:4-7
The source of strength is found within the Holy Place in the temple of the Most High God! God’s presence is likened to a river of refreshing and life-giving water. All who were inside the city and belonged to God, would have this source of water and life available to them. God’ s presence makes all the difference! In the midst of confusion of the nations, God’s voice melts the earth, causing kingdoms to fall. God is in charge and with His people. He Himself is their fortress and protection during judgment and war!
“He makes wars to cease to the ends of the earth, He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, He burns the shields with fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:9-10
The final verses of this psalm tell of God’s final victory over all opposition. God will ultimately bring peace to this troubled world. We must silence our lips from fretting and fear and unbelief! God is in control! He alone is to be worshipped and honored! He alone is a refuge and strength to depend on!
Scripture reading for June 11th: Psalm 36-41
Some people seem to be depressed all the time. A heaviness and a cloud of negativism hangs on their life and their conversations. They can’t seem to move into a positive attitude. They seem to live in a pit that holds them in spiritual bondage. They are oppressed and in need of deliverance! When I talk to someone with this attitude, I sometimes tell them to take their open hand and slap their face and say to themselves, “sober up–you are drunk on the circumstances!”
David’s psalm 38 is such a record of depression and desperate circumstances. David is sick in body with festering wounds because he has sin and guilt in his life. He has back pain that penetrates his being. (Psalm 38:5-7) He is feeble and crushed in anguish of heart. People avoid him because of his wounds and there are those that are plotting his ruin and destruction. He has trouble hearing and speaking in response to those who hate him! God is called upon to help, and quickly! (Psalm 38:22)
In Psalm 40, David states that after patiently waiting on the Lord, He heard his cry and responded by lifting him out of the slimy pit that held him. He set David’s feet on a firm rock and put a new song in his mouth, a song of praise to our God! The man who trusts in the Lord will never be put to shame!
Some practical advice for dealing with depression and heaviness comes from these psalms. First, David told the Lord exactly how he felt in body and soul. Honest evaluation and casting on the Lord all our cares is a good thing to do. Notice how the Psalmist always comes back to faith and belief in the Lord. (Psalm 38:22. 40:17) Second, patience is necessary in trials. The psalmist could not help himself–he had to wait on the Lord patiently! (Psalm 38:15) (Psalm 40:1) Even though he asked that the Lord come quickly, God’s time is not always the same as ours. (Psalm 38:22) Last, David sang a new song of praise after the rescue. Praise and testimony of God’s goodness and deliverance always blesses the one who does it and then blesses the Lord who came through!
Even before the answer came, the psalmist was praising God! Why not apply these truths today if you are in a pit? God loves to save and deliver! Action on the word of God always brings new life and opportunity to move out of the slimy pits of life! If necessary, give yourself a little slap to remember not to be drunk on your circumstances!
Scripture reading for June 10th: Psalms 31-35
The Psalms reveal a lot about the character, power and majesty of the God we worship. God is the subject and object of these writings quite often, and Psalm 33 is especially rich in revelation! It is one of my personal favorites! It begins with music–singing, shouting, and instruments played skillfully! It is fitting to begin with praise and worship when we contemplate the majesty of God!
God is first commended for His word. The word of the Lord is right and true! God can be depended on to do what He has said. God’s word is absolutely rock solid. He made the heavens by His own word. When he spoke, the psalmist states, God breathed out the starry host! When we think of the vast universe with it’s countless stars, galaxies, and star clusters, stretching out for billions of light-years, we can only worship in awe and holy fear! He speaks and out of nothing, stars appear! What power and amazing understanding is on display daily! His word holds the universe together as well and is the agent that brings faith to those who will hear Him! (Romans 10:17) (Colossians 1:17)
God is in total control of the earth and all it’s peoples! He knows how to stop nations and people from interfering with His plans. His plans and purposes are established firmly forever! The nation that serves the Lord will be blessed because that is his plan and purpose! God is watching over mankind and knows everything that is happening. He knows the hearts of all men and is looking for those whose hearts are sold out to Him. He will show Himself strong for them! (Psalm 33:18-19) He will save them and preserve them! His unfailing love moves Him to bless and give His people what they need and desire!
As we contemplate the truths of this psalm, we gain an understanding of the magnitude of the God we worship! Faith begins to grow that He is truly in control! No purpose or plan of his can be stopped! He knows how to stop nations that are going against Him. He knows how to bless people who are sold out to Him! That’s the place I want to be! I want God watching out for me to save and deliver me! What about you?
“We wait in hope for the Lord’ He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22
Scripture reading for June 9th: Psalms 25-30
From our reading today, I have chosen Psalm 29 to comment on. This psalm contains an unusual phrase about the Lord. He is pictured as ‘enthroned over the flood’. The word used here for “flood” is “mabbul” which is used exclusively of the world-wide flood described in Genesis 6-9. I was curious about this thought. Why is the psalmist caught up in this idea of the flood? What is David thinking about in this psalm that he would see God as enthroned as King forever in connection with this flood?
This psalm begins with David exhorting the ‘mighty ones’ to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. In the previous psalm David had cried to the Lord to save him from wicked men and God had answered him. We are not sure if these mighty ones are his “mighty men” or the mighty angels that attend to the Lord and cry “Holy,Holy,Holy” before his throne. We do know that all creatures owe worship to the Lord of glory! His holiness makes him awesome to behold and to think upon. There is none like Him!
We don’t know if David was near some body of water, but possibly a thunderstorm broke loose as he was writing this psalm. David spoke of the voice of the Lord in the thunders. It was majestic and broke in on his consciousness. Perhaps a bolt of lightning struck one of the cedars of Lebanon and splintered it, reducing it to a smoldering pile of sticks right before his sight. These cedars often grew over 100 feet tall and over thirty feet around. The power released to break the tree would make a real impression and cause anyone to worship or fear! David sees the violent thunderstorm with thousands of lightning strikes as a manifestation of God’s mighty power and experiences God’s power to shake the earth. David realizes that he is small and God is mighty and that all in God’s temple are crying “Glory”!
It is at this point that David speaks of the Lord as enthroned over the flood. This violent storm has brought the great flood of Genesis to his remembrance. He realizes that God is judge and in control over wind and storm! Our lives are truly in His hands and He is a King to be honored and worshiped. This same King promised to never destroy the world with water again. (Genesis 9:15-16) What a God and King!
“The Lord sits enthroned over the flood, The Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to His people, the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11
Scripture reading for June 8th: Psalms 19-24
God wrote two books: nature and the Bible! Psalm 19 tells of God speaking to all mankind through the glory of His creation! (Psalm 19:1-4) Creation cries out concerning the goodness of God to all people of every language and culture. All mankind draws it’s existence from what God has provided through creation. It is evident to those who will listen and learn that creation did not just ‘happen’. It was created with order and precision that could only come from high intelligence and great wisdom and power. The sun in it’s daily circuit performing it’s duty of warming the earth and providing heat and light with dependable accuracy is but one example of God’s glory!
In addition to nature, God also gave man His law or word. (Psalm 19:7-11) The law of the Lord is perfect and right revealing God’s holiness and glory. Those who will be instructed by it and warned by it will find revival of true life. Light will enter their souls and wisdom for right living will bring joy to each heart. It is truly more precious than pure gold and sweeter to the soul than honey. It is able to discern hidden errors and keep man from willful sins that would cause him to be lost forever from the Lord. The psalmist prays for acceptance of his words and meditations of his heart to the Lord who is his Rock and Redeemer! God truly has spoken our language and understands what man needs and His love has provided it to those who will partake!
Psalm 20 and 21 remind those who trust in the Lord that He will defend and protect them and that they will ultimately triumph over their enemies. Life here on earth is warfare. It often appears that the wicked and our enemies have power and equipment stronger than ours. They trust in ‘chariots and horses’! We, however, trust in the name of the Lord our God! When we do, we will enjoy victory! (Psalm 20:7-8) God is our strength and the source of all victory and blessing! We can only praise Him who will defeat our enemies! (Psalm 21:8-13) We are confident and will stand firm in His unfailing love!
Psalm 23 tells of a great Shepherd, the Lord, who will lead and protect his people. This Shepherd will provide safety and green pastures to His people. They will not need to fear, even when the ‘valley of death’ is ahead of them. God our Shepherd is with us and leads us forward to a table of eternal blessing! Oh, what language of encouragement to God’s own!
Psalm 24 tells of God’s ownership and rulership over all the earth and universe. He is the King of Glory! This King wants all who come to Him to have clean hands and a pure heart! (Psalm 24:3-5) When we go humbly to the Lord and ask for forgiveness, He shows us mercy. He has provided the sacrifice for our sins in His Son, Jesus Christ! The doors of heaven open for the King of Glory! Will you open your heart’s door for this amazing King to come in? (Revelation 3:20)
Greetings in the Wonderful Name of Jesus Christ, the object of our worship! When many people think of worship, they think of singing hymns or spiritual songs. Some people think of a church service with a choir, instruments, and people following a worship leader. Some people just want to sit outside on a nice day and enjoy nature. Whatever your worship ideal, spend time today honoring God in worship.
Psalms is the temple worship book of the Old Testament Jew. This was compiled over 1000 years of time and represents a variety of authors and different worship styles. Most is poetry set to music and was accompanied by instruments. There were several kinds of musical instruments mentioned in the Psalms. The sounding trumpet was to praise the Lord! There was the harp which King David played. The lyre was a stringed instrument, similar to the guitar or mandolin. (Psalm 150:3-4) The flute and resounding cymbals are also mentioned as well as the tambourine. (Psalm 149:3; 150:5)
During times of worship, people might kneel or bow down. Sometimes they stood to honor the Lord and His Word. Sometimes they would raise their hands or clap their hands. They would sing the Psalms or they might sing a “new song” to the Lord that came from their hearts by the Spirit. At times, they would dance and shout or sing before the Lord with loud voices and passionate dance. David was judged to have made a fool of himself by dancing before the Lord! He vowed that he would get even more undignified than that for the Lord, thus rebuking his embittered wife Michal. Sometimes they would be still and simple recognize that God was God. However you want to express your honor and devotion to the Lord will be accepted if it is done in a spirit of humility and true worship. God is always looking at the heart of the worshiper. He desires honest worship from a pure heart!
May you have a wonderful life of worship, beginning today! God is truly worthy of all our worship. We can lovingly give Him our full attention, devotion and love! When we worship, we join the hosts of heaven!
In His Glorious Worship, Pastor John