January 2, 2019
PRAYING AND PREACHING THE WORD
The Spirit inspired David to write these verses concerning the futility of the world’s kingdoms conspiring against the Lord and against His “anointed one” (מָשִׁיחַ, mashiyach), which is the Messiah, the Christ. Centuries later, the Spirit inspired the early Christians to pray these verses back to God after Peter and John had been jailed and warned by the Sanhedrin to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. In their prayer, they identified Pilate and Herod along with the Gentiles and Jewish leaders as conspiring against the Lord’s anointed one, Jesus, just as the Spirit had revealed to David (Acts 4:23-31). When they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken and they went out and preached the Word boldly.
PRAYER: Lord, help us not only to read and hear Your Word, but also to pray it and preach it. And not just in dry understanding, but empowered by the Spirit, so that we and those around us are shaken by Your presence. And let us not be afraid when the world’s kings and nations conspire and prepare for battle, knowing that their plans are futile, but Yours are perfect and eternal. Now, send us out again with Your Word and Spirit, in the name of Your Anointed One, Jesus, we pray. Amen.
December 27, 2018
WHO THE LORD PROTECTS AND CARES FOR
The psalmist observed that the Lord protected the foreigner and cared for the orphan and the widow. These are the least of the inhabitants, not only in Israel, but in any nation. They have little in the way of possessions, power or prestige. So, they are often overlooked, or worse, they are used and abused. Yet, the Lord is their unseen protector.
However, the wicked in Israel, who apparently had all that the former lacked, did not have the Lord’s protection. In fact, they had attracted His enmity. The Lord worked against them to frustrate their plans.
I was raised in the house of a widow, the firstborn of four children. My father died of cancer when I was eight. We had little in the way of worldly things, yet we knew the Lord’s protection. I and my siblings are a testimony to this psalm. My mother often prayed the psalms to the Lord, especially that God would be a “Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows” (Psa. 68:5) as He promised.
I wonder what stand the Body of Christ should take concerning foreigners, orphans and widows? Aren’t we called to join our Lord in protecting and caring for the least of these? As the apostle James wrote, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27).
If we find our plans being frustrated, perhaps we should reconsider our stance. Let us stand with the Lord in this.
December 26, 2018
MEDITATING ON THE MAJESTY
David was determined to “meditate” on the Lord’s “majestic glorious splendor” and on His “wonderful miracles.” The miracles seem obvious enough to consider. Whatever is beyond natural explanation, whatever seems to be an interruption or suspension of natural law, so that God is the only explanation, these are miracles, are they not? So, David was determined to consider God’s miracles.
But what of God’s “majestic glorious splendor?” What is this? And what is this “meditation” that David was determined to do? The Hebrew translated “meditation” might also be rendered “to study” or “to talk to oneself.” David was intent on a personal study of God’s attributes. He wanted to meditate on God’s regal and heroic brilliance, the weighty beauty of His Highness. He was determined to stare into the sun of God’s perfection and omnipotence.
There are many things in the universe to think about and study. But David was keen on theology, which is the study of God.
Let us join David in this pursuit. Let us pull our thoughts off the immediate for a moment and meditate on the majesty of our Lord.
December 24, 2018
ADVENT MEANS COMING
O how the psalmist David cried out to the Lord! He held nothing back in his prayers. Like a child insistently crying for his mother’s attention, David made his complaint known to the Lord. He would not be content until the Lord answered.
Have you seen a child in such a state? Nothing will do but his own mother’s touch. Even though another family member tries to comfort the child, his wailing grows more persistent. This is how David prayed for the Lord to “come quickly.”
On this Christmas Eve we remember that the Lord has come. Yet, we also look for Him to come again. As the apostle John closed the Revelation of Jesus Christ, he heard the Savior say, “Surely I come quickly,” to which he replied, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
December 6, 2018
IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US
One of the 15 psalms of ascent, written to prepare the hearts of worshipers as they climbed up to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Entourages of pilgrims like the one that traveled from Nazareth with young, 12-year-old Jesus, would have sung these songs as they came to celebrate Passover.
In this verse, the psalmist revealed his intimate knowledge of Jerusalem, although built on the hills of Zion, Moriah, Bezethah, and Acra, it was surrounded by hills at even higher elevations, such as Mt. Olivet to its East. This gave visiting pilgrims who arrived from the East an excellent view of the Temple Mount, which sat on hills surrounded by valleys and then higher mountains surrounding them. No wonder Jesus loved praying on the Mount of Olives. It gave Him a wonderful view of Jerusalem.
The psalmist compared the mountains that surrounded Jerusalem to the way the Lord surrounds His people. One can almost see him sitting on the Mount of Olives writing this psalm. Indeed, wasn’t it the Spirit of God that inspired him? And wasn’t it Immanuel, the Lord Jesus, who loved sitting in the same spot when He came?
Have you considered how the Lord is with you today?
November 24, 2018
BIBLE THEMES MAKE THE BEST SONGS
Although Psalm 119 has no autograph, it is almost universally accepted by older commentators as being of David. Verse 54 moves me to agree. Who else would write of his God-inspired songs, but King Saul’s favorite song writer and lute player, David?
I have to agree with David about the best theme for songs. Romantic love might be the most prolific theme for modern songs, but teens soon turn twenty. And agape love, which is God’s kind of love, is a better theme. Regardless of “where we live,” no matter the circumstance, biblical themes make the best songs. They encourage us and bring joy, moving our focus from worldly things to things above. They give us voice to offer the highest praise to our God and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
I love music, especially the songs inspired by Bible themes. Don’t you?
November 18, 2018
HALLELUJAH FOR GOD’S GREAT LOVE!
God’s unfailing love does not quit. It is not based on our condition, but on His own character. In our rebellion and sin we spurned His love, yet God’s love did not waver. It is unfailing. Even unrequited, God’s love for us burns bright. The darker the hateful night, the brighter His powerful love shines. Overcoming sin, death, hell and Satan to reach us, God’s love is powerful. Sending Christ, His only Son, the power of God’s love is demonstrated in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. His chesed-love is faithful, making promises and always keeping them. Willingly entering into covenantal-love with us, so that He never lets us go, even though we are prone to wander.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord for God’s great unfailing, powerful and faithful love!
October 29, 2018
THE DISCIPLINE OF THE EYES
David wrote this psalm, beginning nearly every verse with the personal pronoun, “I.” The psalm shows his desire to have a predetermined and settled code of conduct in facing certain situations that might tempt him to sin. In verse 3, he declared a determination to practice a discipline of the eyes. When anything vile and vulgar crossed his path, he would refuse to look at it. The Hebrew word here translated “vile and vulgar” is “belial,” which can also be rendered “wicked, ungodly, evil, or worthless.” David couldn’t help it if something “belial” appeared before him, but he could refuse to set his eyes upon it for any length of time.
The temptation to look too long has plagued us from the beginning. Didn’t Eve gaze at the forbidden fruit too long, seeing that it was “pleasant to the eyes” (Gen. 3:6)? And so, she and Adam seeing it, decided to eat it, plunging all of humanity into darkness.
Holy Spirit help us to be determined as David was to discipline our eyes. We can’t help what the world and its media parades before us, but depending on Your divine power, we can decide in advance to avoid looking too long. We can refuse to set our eyes on belial.
October 14, 2018
THE LORD GOD IS OUR ALL IN ALL
The Lord God is our sun. He gives light that we might see His paths of righteousness. The Lord God is our shield. He protects us from the evil that would harm His beloved. The Lord God gives grace. He strengthens and empowers us freely. The Lord gives glory. Nothing done for the Lord is forgotten. He remembers and rewards every sacrifice done by faith. He does not withhold good from us, but gives bountifully to those who do right. The Lord God is our all in all.
September 26, 2018
PRAYING ACCORDING TO THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
David connected his prayer requests to God’s attributes. He called on God to answer his prayer based on God’s wonderful unfailing love. He appealed to God’s plentiful mercy as the basis for asking God to care for him.
We can do the same. God described David as “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). I think we can be pursuers of God’s own heart too. How? Connect your requests to God’s character. Not as some sort of formula, as if it would force God’s hand. But as a means of seeking God’s face and God’s heart when you pray. For we can depend on God’s unfailing love and mercy. They are wonderful and plentiful!