Archive for Daily Devotions

Psalms Devotion 3: A Roller Coaster of Emotions

HARP Psalms

There are many grand locations that we can all remember. Or on a good night we can see the vastness of the stars and see that this world, this universe, is a whole lot bigger than us. David, maybe even in the midst of trouble and strife, may have looked up one night and just realized how amazing God was. This is Psalm 8: a meditation on the glory of God (Ps. 8:1). David then turns back to himself. He is small, indeed, in this universe.

So who are humans? Why do they matter so much so much to God? Psalm 8:5-8 says that we are the lowest form of intelligent life; not even coming to close to matching the power of angels. Yet God has given us the right to rule over the entire earth. Genesis 1-2 tells us that God loves us and care for us because of how we were created. We where created in relationship to God.

This mighty God of creation is also Yahweh (LORD), the covenant making God of the people of Israel. He is the God who has shattered armies to redeem his people (Ps. 9:1-2). He is the one who has promised to make David king and will see this promise fulfilled. So while there is evil in the world, wicked nations raged against God and his anointed (Ps. 9:5-6; see Ps. 2), it is not they but God who sits upon the throne as the eternal righteous judge (Ps. 9:7-8).

The God of creation and the God of redemption, one and the same. He created and loves his people! What amazing thoughts! You would think after you’ve meditated on these two psalms that nothing could ever shake your confidence again.

But then we read Psalm 10. A psalm which has no title. It merely begins, with the painful words “where are you God?” I am in danger, surrounded on all sides by the wicked, where are you God? Why have you hidden yourself from me (Ps. 10:1-5)? Every Christian will go through suffering, some greater than others. In the midst of this suffering it’s important to have good Bible infused theology. We need to realize our dignity before God and to remember that this is the God of his eternal covenant. That doesn’t mean we do no cry out in times of trouble. What  and in point of face it does mean we cry out because we know someone is listening. Not only is someone listening but He can actually do something about it.

In these Psalms the ultimate answer to all our questions is Jesus. He is the one who is God but was made lower than the angels in his incarnation (Heb. 2:6-7). He is the one who creates the universe with God the Father (John 1:1-3). At Jesus’s name every creature will bow down and worship him (Phil 2:9-10). Jesus accomplished a greater Exodus at the Cross. Jesus is the righteous judge who forgave his people. Jesus is the one who was abandoned by God at the Cross so that we would be accepted. Jesus was made like us, suffered like us, because he loves us. Let us hold fast to our good king especially in the midst of suffering!

Reading Schedule

Sunday – Psalm 2
Monday – Psalm 3
Tuesday – Psalm 7
Wednesday – Psalm 8
Thursday – Psalm 9
Friday – Psalm 10
Saturday Psalm 5-10

Psalms Devotion 2: Trouble, Trouble, and more Trouble!

HARP Psalms

We have walked through the double doors of the Psalter: Psalm 1 & Psalm 2.  What do we find when we do?  We walked through the door of Psalm 1 which reminds us of the choice before us all.  There are but two ways to live — choose the right path, sustained by the Word of the LORD.  We walked through the door of Psalm 2 which tells us that in taking that path we are following the LORD’s “Anointed” — God’s appointed King, God’s Only Begotten Son, which as the rest of Scripture reveals, is Jesus, before whom all the rebellious and wicked rulers of men will one day fall.

Maybe, we walked through these double doors with a spring in our step.  By grace, yes, we’ve chosen the right path and no wicked, earthly power will be any match for King Jesus. Right?  Right!  So, all will be smooth sailing.  Right?  Wrong.  The Psalter is such a brutally but beautifully honest book.  No fake, plastic, prosperity preachers were the Psalm writers.  They lived in a real world and their prayers and songs reveal that, because they are are honest and Holy Spirit inspired.  Let’s give thanks because that’s the world we live in, a world of trouble, and in this world we need help.

As you read and meditate on Psalm 3–7 this week, give thanks, because in your struggles you are not alone.  Not only is the LORD is with you, but also the saints too.  There have been many other saints who have trod these paths before you; others are treading them now and others will after you.

Notice this, let it sink deep into your soul.

In Psalm 3, agonize with King David.  Not only do pagan kings shake the fist at the LORD and His anointed (Psalm 2), not only do those “out there” rage and plot in vain, sometimes those close to heart do as well.  For David, it was his own son Absalom (for the sad, sad backstory for this psalm see 2 Sam. 7, 11-18).

In Psalm 4, 5 and 6, notice that David faces trouble at night (4:8), in the morning (5:3), and again in the evening (6:6).  In other words, troubles of all kinds can be unrelenting.  “24/7” we say.

But in your reading, in your meditation, don’t stop there.  For notice more keenly, that for David, “trouble triggers prayer” (D. Ralph Davis’ paraphrase of Eugene Peterson, in The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life).  Might that be one of the very divine purposes of the troubles we face in this life?  So that we might cry out to him in the evening, and then morning and evening again?  That we might pray with the Psalmist:

Oh LORD, my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me! (7:1)

And follower of Jesus Christ, know this, one day you will be delivered from every enemy of your soul and you will sing with the Psalmist:

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. (7:17)

May your troubles — may our troubles always trigger prayer.  As you read through Psalm 3–7, consider your specific struggles, hurts, and troubles; consider how David prayed; and pray!

 

 

Reading Schedule

  • Sunday – Read through Psalm 1 & 2
  • Monday – Psalm 3
  • Tuesday – Psalm 4
  • Wednesday – Psalm 5
  • Thursday – Psalm 6
  • Friday – Psalm 7
  • Saturday Psalm 3-7

Psalms Devotion: 1. Two Ways to Live – One King of Kings!

HARP Psalms

I suppose the Psalter could have begun with any psalm – a psalm of explosive praise, a declaration of the great mercy of our God, an explanation of how to worship God, etc. But it begins with Psalm 1. Why is this psalm first up? Because it brings clarity – there are but two ways to live. There are two humanities. And there is ever a choice before us. Which congregation will we belong to? How shall we then live. What path will we follow. Where will we gain our sustenance? Ultimately, as the second psalm makes clear – who will be our King? Who will be your king?

A lady who had lived to the unheard of age of 104 was asked what was the best thing about being 104. Her succinct answer was filled with much wisdom – “No peer pressure.” The draw of the World is strong. It’s alluring. But it’s deadly. Psalm 1 shows what is to drive us and direct us (vv. 1-2). It describes the beauty of a believer’s life (vv. 3-4), and reveals our blessed destiny (vv. 5-6) – all in contrast to the wicked. The choice to make is clear. What will be our choice in 2016?

Psalm 2 then helps us to see that despite the howls, the taunts, the boasts, the plans, and the wicked deeds of even the most powerful kings and leaders of this earth; they are nothing. God is the only true Sovereign and our Sovereign God and Father would (and now has) set our God, the Son, on the throne as the King of kings. When we choose the way of the righteous we, by grace, choose King Jesus. We “kiss the Son.” We take our refuge in Him! The World hates him and will hate us. But there is little reason to be intimidated for our Beloved Jesus has defeated evil on the cross and will one day eradicate it in a holy rout on the last day. And never forget between that first advent and the second, He reigns and there is no true refuge except in him! And that includes 2016.

Reading Schedule

Sunday – Read through Psalm 1 & 2
Monday – Psalm 1
Tuesday – Psalm 1
Wednesday – Psalm 1
Thursday – Psalm 2
Friday – Psalm 2
Saturday Psalm 2

Additional Reading: Matt. 7:13-14, Rom. 12:1-2, John 10:1-18, Acts 4:23-31; Rev. 1:12-20, and 4:1-5:14

Psalms Devotion: Introduction

HARP Psalms

This first Sunday of the new year we begin a new devotional study together. After spending a couple of years in some fine catechisms (New City Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism) which provided us a good summary of the teaching of the Bible, we will spend this year working through a specific biblical book, the book of Psalms.

When you look at the book of Psalms, not only are they wonderful as individual psalms. They run the whole of life, giving voice to our joy and our pain. The Psalms were also the songbook of the early church and our denomination. Even more, we can see that the Psalms were also carefully edited and place into a collection that helps us see Jesus more clearly.

We see five books of the Psalms mirroring the five books of Moses. Psalm 1 starts with the blessed man of God and ends with Psalm 150 a “fireworks of praise” at the conquest of God’s Messiah who reigns forever. The saddest Psalm, Psalm 89 seems to be penned around the time of the exile where Psalm 90 in book 4, the only Psalm by Moses takes us back to God’s redemptive work at the Exodus to give us hope during the Exile.

Week by week we will suggest psalms to read, sing, and pray through in your individual and family devotionals. As we do, we will also focus week by week on one or two of these or themes found in the selections for the week. There are different ways you can use these devotionals. You can read the material provided and use the prayer starter with the psalms in view. If you have more time you could read through the material and psalms; then you can meditate on them, slowly turning them over in your mind; and then you could go on to the suggested additional readings expanding your prayer time accordingly and close out your devotional time in song, singing through a psalm (we will include musical settings of these in our liturgy or here in the devotional section often through the year). Or, if you would like to go even further, you can journal through the psalms. One commentator suggests reading the psalms and with each section then asking yourself 3 questions:

  • What did I learn about God for which you could praise or thank him? (Adore)
  • What did I learn about myself for which I should repent? (Admit)
  • What did I learn about life that I can aspire to, ask for, and act on? (Aspire, Ask, Act)