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Friday, November 25, 2016

Refreshing Peace: A Psalm 4 Devotional

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8, NASB

God anointed David as His chosen king over Israel. Absalom, his son, in disobedience and rebellion, tried to usurp God’s chosen king. David fled from Jerusalem while many of his counselors and soldiers sided with Absalom. Through this frightful time, David could have feared and lost heart. Instead he provided a testimony and gave instruction.

In Psalm 4, his song and prayer to God, we hear David’s distress and his confidence in Jehovah. His confidence in God hearing his cries of distress are evident. David’s recognition that God is righteous and the source of his own righteousness shows he knows from whom his blessings come and who is all-powerful.

After addressing God in verse one, David spoke to all people, not just his pursuers. He taught that God sets apart the godly man, the person who seeks Him. David gave himself as example that God hears and responds to the person who seeks after Him, the person who is set apart for Him.

David explained how to be a godly person, one whom God sets apart. He gave six commands to people who want to be God’s child.

·         David said to tremble and be in awe of and fear God. This comes from recognizing who God is. Trembling is a physical reaction and an internal reaction to the mightiness and greatness of God.
·         He told the people not to sin, but to follow the LORD and His commands. To sin means to miss the mark. God created the world and established its morals of right and wrong. When we sin, we deliberately rebel against God and His commands, laws, and precepts. Sinning is desiring what you want more than what God wants. It is turning away from God.
·         David instructed people meditate in their heart about God and His Word. Meditation requires quiet and calm so he suggested being in bed (lying down) or the bed chamber. Jesus taught His disciples to pray in their closets, their quiet place.
·         Be still in mind, heart, and body to ponder on God. Let no distraction come between your inner self and your meditations on and with God. Being in a quiet place like a closet or bedroom aids in being still in body, mind, and heart.
·         Offer sacrifices of righteousness to God, which can only be done when that person is in right standing with God through His forgiveness of the person’s sin. Righteousness is more than following the laws God set in the Old Testament. It comes from God, the source of righteousness, by a person’s confession and repentance of sins and God’s removing the guilt of that sin from that person’s soul so no wall remains between him/her and God. The penalty of sin is death – permanent separation from God. God provided His Son to die our death penalty so we can be righteous and come into His presence – be His children. When we are righteous, we can be in the presence of God and offer sacrifices of righteousness.
·         Trust in the LORD. Be secure and have absolute confidence in the LORD for your safety. Though people can hurt and kill your body, nobody can destroy the soul of a child of God. Trust in the LORD brings boldness in faith knowing nothing can separate you from the LORD.

In God, David found his greatest blessing. For David, God was of greater worth than abundance of grain and new wine. Being in the presence of God, being made worthy by His righteousness, gave complete joy, contentment, and peace to David. Knowing and having this – a saving relationship with God – gave David perfect peace so he would rest from his worries and sleep, getting complete refreshment. He trusted God to guard him. He let down his own guard, which allowed him to get perfect refreshing rest because of the perfect peace that trust in God gives.

Do you have this perfect peace? Can you let down your guard knowing God is protecting you and providing for you a greater bounty than what the world and your striving can give? If you seek this kind of relationship with God, do what David taught.

·         Meditate on God.
·         Be still and know Him.
·         Tremble and know Him.
·         Receive His forgiveness and do not sin.
·         Offer sacrifices of righteousness.
·         Trust in the LORD. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Preponderant Predicament or Peace and Praise

“Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing be upon Your people. Selah.” Psalm 3:8, NASB

The Predicament

Psalm 3 is David’s heart’s cry to the Lord when his son, Absalom, and many of his followers sought to overcome him and take over his kingdom. His counselors, soldiers, and friends followed Absalom and his self-motivated retelling of David’s sins – keeping quiet about Tamar’s rape and about his adultery with Bathsheba. Anger prevailed over the myriad of people.

David could have despaired, but he learned in the past the LORD was his strength and deliverer. He cried out to Yahweh telling Him his troubles. David laid it before the Lord; he told his predicament. We can do the same thing.

The Promise

David next claimed the promise of God to be His shield, his glory, and the one who lifts his head. He claimed God’s strength and protection with faith. He trusted in the LORD and what He would do for him. David realized God would hear and answer Him from His high and exalted throne, the holy mountain. He honored God and gave Him glory even before God acted. David recognized and called God his glory giving Him reverence and honor. He knew the LORD would exalt and set him back on the throne. God’s anointing remained on him. Do we claim God’s promise and give Him glory before He acts?

The Peace

David’s trust in the LORD’s strength and faithfulness was great enough that he slept in peace and woke refreshed the next day. Just as the Psalm 23 states, He understood God had everything under control and he could rest peacefully. The LORD was on His throne and David did not need to be afraid though tens of thousands surrounded him. Is our trust in the LORD so great we can sleep in peace, arise refreshed, and not be afraid against insurmountable numbers?

The Pursuit

With this faith, and the strength and wisdom of God, David awoke and called on God to go to battle for him. The battle was the LORD’s, and David did not fret. The LORD would pursue and prevail against David’s enemies. David said the LORD struck the enemies on the cheek, like a lion whose jaw was hit and broken. They could not roar and injure his reputation and authority. God disarmed David’s enemies. David said, too, God shattered the teeth of the wicked, those who spoke truths about David for hostile purposes. Just as a broken toothed beast cannot bite and injure a person, a toothless person cannot speak lies anymore. First the enemies experienced God’s contempt, then received His punishment. Who did David have to fear with God as his salvation? Who do we have to fear with God as our Savior?

The Profession and Praise

David closed with one final addition to his psalm. He returned the praise and glory to God. David professed, “Salvation belongs to the LORD.” He trusted in the LORD. David recognized for him at that time, God’s blessing to him was salvation from his enemies and their lies, deceit, and betrayal. David’s blessing from God was that he did not have to take revenge upon Absalom. He left the matter to the LORD in His wisdom and power. Do we trust God to take charge of our lives and situations? Do we see our blessing is not fighting for ourselves?

David’s relationship with God was such that he could go directly to Him and cry out his misery and fear. His relationship was such that he knew the LORD well enough he could claim His promise and trust Him in advance. David, in his inner being could rest in peace knowing God had the situation under control. He could wake fresh and ready to face the day and see the LORD go before him and handle the matter. The LORD would lift him back up onto the throne over Israel. David could watch as God pursued his enemies. He received salvation and blessing by the hand of the LORD. David trusted in the LORD in a bad situation and gave Him glory.

Peace for You

Maybe you are going through a difficult time right now. God is waiting to give you peace and rest. He is waiting for you to trust Him and let Him fight your battles. Call out to Him and receive His blessing of peace, rest, and victory. God is greater than anyone or any circumstance you face. He comes from Zion, the throne higher than any other, to bring victory to you. Have you placed your trust in Him? Salvation belongs to the LORD. He gives it freely to all you believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Will you call out to Him like David?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Conspire, Contempt, or Confidence: A Psalm 2 Devotional

“How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 2:12b
From the Bible’s beginning in Genesis 1 and 2, we hear of God’s plan for a Savior of humankind. David was familiar with this. He advanced God’s plan for a Messiah - a King and the Son of God, in Psalm 2. For David, the Messiah, presented in first and second person, is the bringer of judgment and refuge. He exemplifies the other side of God’s righteousness – justice.

David experienced non-Hebrew nations’ rulers and kings’ conspiring to usurp God’s decrees. These rulers felt His decrees were bondage and chains and they stood against Him. God, from His throne, with this prophecy, declared through David His contempt for them with laughter and scoffing. He told of His anger and consuming fury terrifying the rebellious people.

God told David’s hearers and readers a greater King than earthly kings reigns. He installed His King on Zion, then Jerusalem and His heavenly home, the New Jerusalem upon Christ’s return. God gave as His King’s possession the nations to the very ends of the earth. His anointed King has dominion over earthly leaders. This King shall break with His strength the rebellious nations. He will shatter them until they become dispersed among all the peoples of the earth and have no nation to which to be a citizen. Just as the Father, Son, and Spirit created humanity from the earth, the anointed King of God can smash and shatter the earthenware, humanity made from earth.

David spoke to the rebellious kings and judges and to every person of all time. He commanded:
·         Show discernment. (to the kings) – have insight into who you are and Who God is and be prudent.
·         Take warning. (to the judges) – receive this instruction and chastening from God.
·         Worship the Lord with reverence. (all people) Reverence is mental and heart action. It comes from fear and respect of God due to His great might and knowledge – Who He is – and because of His love of all people.
·         Rejoice with trembling. (all people) Trembling is a physical reaction. It comes from fear and awe of God – Who He is, what He’s done, and what He can do.
·         Do homage. (all people) Homage is an intentional public physical action. It is bowing or kneeling before God. Homage gives special honor and respect publicly.

Much better than these commands, David reveals the covenant God has with His people who worship, praise, and honor Him. He cried out, “How blessed (happy) are all who take refuge in Him!” The Messiah redeems the souls of these people and saves them from condemnation – eternal separation from God (Psalm 34:22).

What David proclaimed about God’s anger against the kings, rulers, and judges who schemed to rebel against God, applies to each of us today. Whenever we rebel against God and His truths, we become like those rebellious leaders. God laughs in contempt at us for daring to think we could overrule and overpower Him and His decrees. We are just earthen vessels, whereas He is the Creator. God condemns rebels with His burning fury and wrath. He destroys them. The LORD's provision of His Son as the sacrifice for our sins means we will not receive eternal punishment and separation from Him.  God made Him our refuge from eternal punishment, and from temptation and sin. We can worship God with reverence and rejoice with trembling when we have a relationship with Him that recognizes His greatness and love and our finiteness and sin. When we come before the Lord with this kind of relationship – as our Refuge, Savior, and King – then we understand and gladly show homage to Him.

To which do you relate -
conspiring against God, 
contempt of God, or 
the confidence of God as His child?