Psalm 78 begins with a beautiful picture of what a community of faith should look like as they strive to cross generational boundaries and be faithful to pass on the most important things to future generations. Then the psalmist gives a brief summary and commentary describing the wonders God showed to the Israelites during the Exodus and beyond.
As I read through Psalm 78, my heart swells as I identify with verses like:
“But they continued to sin against him.” (v17)
“Despite all this, they kept sinning…” (v32)
“How often they rebelled against him…and grieved him…” (v40)
Then we get verses 38-39. Oh, what a beautiful verses!! “Yet he was compassionate; he atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them. He often turned his anger aside and did not unleash all his wrath. He remembered that they were only flesh…”
Even in the midst of constant disobedience and disbelief in the wonders He performed for His people, God was compassionate and often turn his anger aside. Amen, and thank you, Lord!
As I read, my heart is moved. Thank you, God, for being patient with me, too. Thank You that You are “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” (Psalm 103:8) Thank you that you are not finished with me yet. (Philippians 1:6)
“I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking him in his temple.”
~ Psalms 27:4
This verse became a frequent prayer of mine several years ago. Sadly too often, I find myself coming back to this prayer after having allowed my gaze to move off of God and onto something temporal. I need this prayer, often daily, to remind me where my priorities should be focused. It’s a prayer to realign my priorities within my heart and mind, as well as, for strength to ensure that which my heart and mind determine as priority will be lived out in my schedule.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
~ Matthew 6:33
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
~ Colossians 3:1-2
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
God, may I be so captivated by You that seeking You is my top priority.
“Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore the joy of your salvation to me, and sustain me by giving me a willing spirit.” ~ Psalm 51:1-2, 10, 12
Even though he was king and a “man’s after God’s own heart, David’s life was not completely glamorous (Acts 13:22). His life was filled with great turmoil… some due to other people and some due to his own chooses in life. Regardless though, the honesty of his prayer life has always resonated with me.
The two phrases “according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion” bring me great comfort because forgiveness for my sin is not based on my worthiness but on God’s faithful love and abundant compassion. Even with all of David’s wealth, fame, and power, he bowed before God’s mercy and grace.
God, thank You that Your love, compassion, and grace are greater than all my sin!
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” ~ Psalms 139:23-24 CSB
Another one of my longtime favorite verses. Mostly because of the vast amount of times I find myself praying it as a prayer of confession and repentance.
It was also the theme verse for LifeWay’s 2016 VBS: Submerged.
One of my favorite things to do with children is to put motions to Bible verses. I find this helps them (and me!) remember the verse better.
Sometimes we reduce our salvation to going to heaven when we die. Of course, heaven is part of our salvation, but the depth of our salvation is vast. Psalm 18 mentions several key attributes of God regarding in our salvation: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, and Stronghold.
Each of these attributes are meant to be help us as we go through life. Life has a lot of ups and downs, and at different points in life, we have specific needs only God can fill. In difficult times, for example, we rely on God to be our refuge, or when circumstances or people come against us, we need God to be our fortress or deliverer.
Jesus said “I have come to give you life to the fullest.” Other translations say “life abundantly.” Part of God’s plan for giving us abundant life is His provision and protection for us during this life. This shouldn’t be misunderstood, however, as protection from bad things or difficult circumstances. In fact, Jesus said much to the contrary: You will have suffering in this world. (John 16:33, emphasis added) Even here, though, Jesus immediately followed this warning with a victorious statement that should bring peace and comfort to every follower of Jesus: Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
God, help me to rely on You when I face troubled times as my Protector because You have conquered the world.
“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (CSB)
Have you ever been really thirsty? Maybe after a long workout or run. Maybe working out in your yard on a hot summer day. Maybe you’ve been oversees or in a desert area of the US. Do you remember what it was like when you finally got that first sip of water? For most of us, that feeling of quenched thirst is an incredible relief. What’s interesting, though, is that as relieving as that drink of water was, at some point afterwards your thirst returned. You needed another drink of water.
Our bodies were created to yearn for water. In fact, water is a necessity for life. It’s no surprise that Jesus used water as a metaphor for Himself, calling Himself Living Water. Ever since humanity’s relationship with God was broken by sin, our spirits deeply yearn to be reconciled with their Creator.
David cries out “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” (Psalm 63)
What a picture! For me, too often my spiritual thirst wanes. I long to be close to God, but the things of the world distract my attention away from the only One who can completely satisfy.
God, may my spiritual thirst for You match the intensity of my physical thirst.
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (CSB)
Do Not Be Afraid
Do you remember a time when you were afraid? Fear comes in many forms often as a result of something unknown such as fear of trying something new, fear of being in a new places, fear of something uncontrollable, fear of a strange noise in the middle of the night, and many others. We all feel fear at some time and in some way.
Moses had passed away, and Joshua had taken on the mantle as Israel’s leader. He was standing face-to-face with a whole world of questions and unknowns. Could he be as good of a leader as Moses? Would God’s people follow Him even when things get tough? Could he lead God’s people to take the land God had promised?
God instructed Joshua to be courageous and not be afraid. God’s gave two primary reasons Joshua had no grounds to be fearful of what was ahead: 1) God’s promise to be with him (v 5) and 2) Joshua had “God’s Word” to lean on (v 7-8).
These are the same promises we have as followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself promised He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and Peter reminds us we have “all we need for life and godliness” through the indwelling Spirit of God and the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3)
We must be careful, though, not assume our trust in God guarantees all things will work out in the exact way we want. No, our courage is based on our trust in God who is working out His plan.
Psalm 56:3 gives us a great prayer: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
God, when I am afraid, help me trust that You are with me and have given me all I need to be courageous.