Where to Turn for Consolation

Today’s reading: Psalm 90:1-95:11

My selection: Psalm 94:19

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

My reflections: Grief, pain, sadness, and confusion weigh down every human heart at some point. Suffering is the lot of all in this fallen world.

What distinguishes the Christian is how he handles that suffering, the cares that weigh down his heart. The psalmist sets an example of finding consolation from the Lord. How? Through what is traditionally called the ordinary means of grace: prayer, God’s Word (especially the preaching of it) and the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper).  These imply both personal activities, family activities, and congregational activities.

My challenge: What cares weigh upon your heart today? Seek the Lord’s consolations.  Do not neglect the means of grace.  May your soul be cheered in Him.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 96:1-102:28

Clear-minded and Single-hearted

Today’s reading: Psalm 86:1-89:52

My selection: Psalm 86:11

Teach me your way, O Lord,

that I may walk in your truth;

unite my heart to fear your name.

My reflections: Two potential problems affect the psalmist here. He is aware of them both and he prays for the Lord’s assistance that he not be tripped up by either of them.

1. Ignorance of God’s way.

2. Ambivalence that results in a lack of fear of the name of the Lord.

To walk in truth before God depends on knowing His way. The Scriptures give us clear light to know His way and for that we can be very thankful. But knowledge of the Bible alone is not enough. The believer, who knows himself, realizes he also needs a heart that is unwavering and undivided so that he will not stray from the fear of God.

My challenge: This is my prayer today: “Lord, help me to know your word and to be watchful of my heart that I not grow complacent or presumptuous but walk in truth and in fear before you.”

Be faithful to study God’s word.  Be vigilant of your heart.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 90:1-95:11

What Matters?

Today’s reading: Psalm 80:1-85:13

My selection: Psalm 84:10-12

10 For a day in your courts is better

than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

the Lord bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does he withhold

from those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,

blessed is the one who trusts in you!

My reflections: So what does matter really? According to this psalm, what matters is to be in God’s presence and to serve Him in even the most humble way. It is enough to be near the Lord and to have the lowest position in His house. Why? Because in this there is blessing which eliminates every other longing.

How are we likely to miss this truth? Typically, we seek greatness in the wrong things, that which is temporal or that which is false or both. The ladders we climb are leaning against the wrong walls.

My challenge: Seek what matters: to be at peace with God through Jesus Christ and to serve Him in your calling without regard for personal glory and honor. It is enough. It is more than enough. It matters. It is all that matters.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 86:1-89:52

National Hero

Today’s reading: Psalm 78:1-79:13

My selection: Psalm 78:5-8

5      He established a testimony in Jacob

          and appointed a law in Israel,

     which he commanded our fathers

          to teach to their children,

6      that the next generation might know them,

          the children yet unborn,

     and arise and tell them to their children,

7           so that they should set their hope in God

     and not forget the works of God,

          but keep his commandments;

8      and that they should not be like their fathers,

          a stubborn and rebellious generation,

     a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

          whose spirit was not faithful to God.

My reflections: National histories typically have national heroes and villains. In US history, the former have generally been men like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King. The latter include Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Israel is different. Their national hero is God. He is the only One who is always perfect, just, wise, powerful, and gracious. Of course, the history of Israel has its human heroes, too. But they are painted as very human and their depravity seeps out in the story. Noah got drunk and exposed himself. Abraham lied. Moses was punished for anger and for dishonoring the Lord. David committed adultery and tried to cover it up with murder.

God is the true hero of Israel’s history and, in reality, of all human history. In Isaiah 45:22-23 the call goes out:

22 “Turn to me and be saved,

all the ends of the earth!

For I am God, and there is no other.

23 By myself I have sworn;

from my mouth has gone out in righteousness

a word that shall not return:

‘To me every knee shall bow,

every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

My challenge: God is worthy of the worship of every person on earth. In Him and Him alone, there is salvation. Ultimately, everyone will recognize Him. Those who have turned to Him will be saved. These will come from the ends of the earth. Praise Him for His coming glory. May it be soon.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 80:1-85:13

How the Powerful Rise and Fall

Today’s reading:  Psalm 73:1-77:20

 My selection: Psalm 75:6-7

 6      For not from the east or from the west

          and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,

7      but it is God who executes judgment,

         putting down one and lifting up another.

My reflections: Undoubtedly, the topic of political power and social influence is never far from the lips of most of us.  The media loves a good scandal involving high profile people in politics, religion, the arts, etc. We wonder how people with such feet of clay manage to gain such prestige and power.  We are tempted to think the world is out of control.
Here we are reminded that God is in control of those who think they are in control.  Ultimately, it is God who oversees the rise and fall of men.  We vote but it is God who determines who is ultimately elected.

My challenge: Are you stressed about who gets elected as our leaders?  They are the ones God wants in place even though they may appear to be serving an agenda contrary to His.  No one gets a position without God’s permission.

Trust Him. Pray for them.  Like us, they will one day have to answer to the Judge of all the earth for their management of what He entrusted to them.

Tomorrow’s reading:  Psalm 78:1-79:13

Purpose in Old Age; A Purpose for Old Age

Today’s reading: Psalm 69:1-72:20

My selection: Psalm 71:17-18

17 O God, from my youth you have taught me,

and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

18 So even to old age and gray hairs,

O God, do not forsake me,

until I proclaim your might to another generation,

your power to all those to come.

My reflections: Elderly folks are sometimes heard to express a sense of uselessness in this world. Their physical abilities are often increasingly limited. Their interests in various activities may be lessened. Life can seem to be a mere matter of survival. What is there to live for?

Here the psalmist rejoices in God’s faithfulness to him over the years of his life. He sets as his goal to proclaim the wondrous deeds of the Lord to another generation. Only the elderly can have the perspective that comes with having lived for many decades. One may read history of a bygone era but there is a special view of history that comes through the eyewitness accounts of our elderly relatives and friends.

My challenge: If you are elderly, are you taking opportunities to pass on to another generation the wondrous deeds and might of God that you have experienced? If you are a younger person, are you making an effort to glean from the wisdom and personal experience of a lifetime of faith that is stored in the minds of the senior saints in your life?

Take advantage of the opportunity to grow in the Lord by interacting with someone at least 20 years older or younger than you.  If you are my age, you will find it increasingly difficult to even find people 20 years your senior.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 73:1-77:20

One Day at a Time

Today’s reading: Psalm 65:1-68:35

My selection: Psalm 68:19

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah

My reflections: God’s faithful support comes to us day by day. Just as His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22) so is His strength which bears us up. He is our salvation. He does not give us a lifetime of grace in advance but daily bears us up. Therefore, it is necessary to come daily to Him for fresh strength; It is necessary to be renewed daily in our minds to think and act in godly ways.

My challenge: As you see His daily faithfulness, say with the Psalmist “blessed be the Lord, who daily bears [me] up” or sing in the words of the old hymn:

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 69:1-72:20

Spiritual Drought: Getting Through It

Today’s reading: Psalm 58:1-64:10

My selection: Psalm 63:1-4

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,

beholding your power and glory.

3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,

my lips will praise you.

4 So I will bless you as long as I live;

in your name I will lift up my hands.

My reflections: David seems to refer here to a period of spiritual dryness. His circumstances were difficult, assuming this may have been set in the time of his flight from King Saul when he was in the wilderness of Judah. [See the title of the Psalm]. Difficult and stressful circumstances can certainly rob one of time to pray and meditate on God’s word resulting in spiritual drought.

What does David do in response to this condition?

1. Recognizes his spiritual dryness. He is perceptive enough to know that this is not normal nor acceptable. He wants to bask in God’s presence every day. [Psalm 27:4]. That is not happening.

2. Calls out to God. He expresses his longing for God in prayer. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

3. He goes to the sanctuary and looks upon the Lord, beholding His power and glory. He does not avoid the place where God’s people come to worship Him. Rather he goes to the place God has designated for His people to worship and find reconciliation with Him.

4. He praises God and commits himself to doing that as long as He lives.

My challenge: If you are in a time of spiritual drought, be glad that you are able to detect that. Retrace David’s steps to be revived in heart and refreshed in soul.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 65:1-68:35

Confession of Sin to God

Today’s reading: Psalm 51:1-57:11

My selection: Psalm 51:1-2

1 Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

My reflections: If David committed a series of most despicable sins, he models here a most thorough response to his guilt. This response includes:

1. Recognition of the heinousness of his sin. In vs. 4, he says to God, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” His sin of course, resulted in the destruction of a marriage, the murder of a husband, the lying and cover-up that followed, and the death of the baby born to Bathsheba. But beyond this David sees that his sin has been against the Holy God of Israel. No excuses. No blame shifting. He calls it what it is: sin and evil against God and before God.

2. Request for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration that is undeserved. David asks for mercy, that he not be given the sentence he deserves but that the Lord restore to him the joy of his salvation and not take from him His Holy Spirit.

3. Anticipation of future service to God. David commits to use his restored position to serve God even more fully. Those who have experienced great forgiveness and cleansing from sin are most enthusiastic in proclaiming the gospel. [See Luke 7:47; Mark 5:20].

My challenge: Do you confess sin as thoroughly as David? Let his confession be a model for you in seeking to go from sin and guilt to restoration and service.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 58:1-64:10

Don’t Just Do Something; Stand There!

Today’s reading: Psalm 46:1-50:23

My selection: Psalm 46:10-11

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

My reflections: In the midst of trouble, such as wars or floods, our natural human default position is to forget who God is and to be overcome by fear. We easily lose sight of the fact that God dwells in a stable, unmovable place. As nations rage and kingdoms totter, His voice melts the earth. He brings wars to cease.

We easily forget that He is with us.

Instead of frantically running in all directions, God tells us to “be still, and know that I am God.” He still rules over all. The trouble around us is just another opportunity for Him to be exalted among the nations. It is just another opportunity for us to re-learn that the Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our fortress.

My challenge: Think today of the peaceful calm that reigns in heaven, around the throne of God. Consider how God is present in the turmoil of your life. Let Him be exalted in your heart, mind, and words.

Tomorrow’s reading: Psalm 51:1-57:11