Thursday, February 26, 2015

King Forever

READ Psalm 9-10

David shows that he is just like us in Ps 10:1: “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Just like you and me he, when times are really bad he wonders if God is truly there. He wonders if God has forgotten him and is no longer concerned for his troubles. You and I are prone to those same feelings are we not? When we are hurting badly we wonder if God really cares what’s happening.

But there is a lesson here from David also. Notice, even though he has some doubts, even though he questions, he still cries out to God in the midst of his distress. He still believes that God will ultimately hear and save him. He still keeps faith that God is in control and will finally come to his aid. Though his head wonders if God is absent, his heart holds fast to the truth of God’s steadfast care and love.

“The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.” (10:16-17)

Prayer: Father, you are the eternal Creator who also shows everlasting love to your children. Help us to remember that promise from your Word. Help us to hold fast to that truth even in the midst of dark valleys and the seeming triumph of evil. You are “king forever and ever.” Help us to believe it and act like it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do You Hate ISIS?

READ Psalm 7-8

Do you hate ISIS? Is your mind filled with the desire that they will get what they deserve? What about those who are your adversaries, who do evil things against you? Do you desire to see them punished? Or is there in you a realization that there is another way out for them?

David spends the first few verses of Psalm 7 talking about his enemies/oppressors who are seeking to kill him. He does want their evil to come to an end (9) and understands that God is his ultimate protector (10) who does bring righteous judgment (11) and even causes the evil oppressors to be caught in their own traps (14-16) .

But then he mentions another way for “the evil of the wicked [to] come to an end.” There is the possibility of their repentance (12). These wicked ones could turn from their sin and turn to God and receive his forgiveness and cleansing. God is a God who forgives sinners, no matter how bad (see Paul, thief on the cross, John Newton and me).

Wouldn’t that be far better for ISIS and your personal enemies also? Not only would it be better for our enemies, it would be better for us if, in our own hearts, we desired their repentance more than we wanted to see them punished. But, you say, it’s so difficult to think that way. You’re right, but we have the mind of Christ and he will enable us to be that kind of person if we trust him (Philippians 4:13).

Prayer: Father, you tell me to love my enemies. Let’s just be honest. Lord, that’s so hard it is beyond my personal ability to do it. So please, Lord, give me the grace that I need to love those who hate me and hate you. Please help me to desire to see even the worst sinners repent and know your grace and love.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

You're my son, act like it!

READ Psalm 5-6

In 5:8 David prays a prayer that is a theme throughout Scripture, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness.” In the 23rd Psalms David spoke of the Lord, his Shepherd, who “leads me in paths of righteousness for his name 's sake.” And in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us to pray “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” i.e., lead us in righteousness.

This is the true desire of every heart that knows God, to live a life that glorifies and pleases him; to walk a straight path before the Lord (8b) not turning to the right or left away from God’s intended leading. David’s heart was clearly hungry for this kind of righteous living.

We must remember that we have been made righteous by the work of Christ on the cross. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) We do not seek to live a life of righteousness so that we can become righteous. No, rather we live righteously because we are righteous in Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:9)

Simple illustration: when my dad said, “You’re my son, act like it,” he wasn’t exhorting me to do something to make myself his son. No, he was reminding me to live out who I really was. So the cry of our hearts today for God to lead us in his righteousness is from a deep desire to demonstrate who we truly are in Christ.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the righteousness we have in Jesus our Savior and Lord. Thank you that you took us in our unrighteousness and transformed us by your grace to true righteousness. Help us…lead us…cause us to live out that righteousness daily.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Growth Through Suffering

READ Job 41-42

 At the end of God’s declaration of his might and power to him Job utters one of the most profound statements that any many has ever said, “I had hard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (42:5-6).

It occurred to me how often this scenario is true. For the person of faith one of the surprising blessings in the midst of the crucible of suffering is how much we grow in our personal relationship with God. We seem to be able to learn so much more about God’s sovereignty and grace in very difficult times than in times that are pain free.

I’m so thankful this is true. And I’m so thankful that God is the one who gets to pick when those times come and not me. If the option were left to me I would opt for no suffering. But God, in his grace, loves me enough as he did the apostle Paul to let me have those thorns in my flesh to show me his grace is sufficient for even my deepest pain. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.

Prayer: Father, your grace is sufficient for every sorrow and trouble. Your power is perfected in my weakness. Help me to firmly know ahead of time that suffering will show me more of you. Help me to humbly seek you when the difficult times come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stop & Consider

READ Job 37-38

Elihu challenges Job to “stop and consider the wondrous works of God.” (37:14) He has listed some of these wondrous works and we would do well to be reminded of God’s awesome power in all of creation. God is in control of all things which is evidenced by his omnipotence over thunder (37:2), lightning (3-4), snow (6), mankind (7), beasts (8) winds (9), ice (10), clouds (11-12). Brothers, stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

Then God speaks out of the whirlwind (38) and reiterates his sovereign power over all things, some of which Elihu has mentioned: creating the foundations of the earth (4), its measurements (5), its cornerstone (6), the limits of the sea (8), clouds (9), the morning (12-15), light (19), snow and hail (22), rain (25-28), ice (29-30), constellations (31-33), clouds (34-38), animals (39), birds (41). And the list continues into Ch. 39. Brothers, stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

OK, guys, all creation declares the glory and power of God. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). Take a moment, in the midst of your busy day, and worship.

Prayer: Father, you are great and awesome in your might power and majesty. You alone are sovereign over all things. You alone are God. Help us to worship you and humble ourselves before you as we ought.