Devotional Thought for Today – 12/01/2020

Praying Psalm 65 | Upward Ever...

AMP and RVR 1960

The Way to Approach God


CONTEXT: This thanksgiving psalm, which is specifically described as a song, praises God for blessing the land with fertility. Israelites probably used it in a time of harvest. It may also have been a prayer asking for and anticipating God’s blessing. The psalmist begins by praising God’s presence and protection (vv. 1–4). He then praises God’s awesome strength and sovereignty over creation (vv. 5–8), and concludes by thanking God for His provision and blessing on the land (vv. 9–13). – Faithlife Study Bible

Have you ever considered the what it must have been like for Abraham, Moses or Paul to meet the living God? While is is most doubtful any of in this life will have an opportunity to walk and talk with God, we all the same need to approach Him on a regular (hopefully daily basis). For some that is just as intimidating, but should it be?

Most commentaries think this to be a Psalm to commemorate a remarkable harvest. David begins the Psalm with a lesson on how to approach God v.1-4 let us break it down:

To You belongs silence [the submissive wonder of reverence], and [it bursts into] praise in Zion, O God;  David is says he and the chosen of Israel are just can not wait to burst into praise and adoration for the coming harvest. This is the heart of man that is required entering into prayer. One that has pre-determined that it will praise and adore God no matter the outcome. 

O You who hear prayer,  David acknowledges that God hears and answers prayers of the faithful

Wickedness and guilt prevail against me; Yet as for our transgressions,
You forgive them [removing them from Your sight].  David says even with all the evil encompassed about me my trust is paced in you. For you alone are the sovereign God above all.

Blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near. To dwell in Your courts.  David acknowledges that he will be greatly blessed by being chosen of God and God’s will being applied to his life. 

As David understood approaching the Throne of Grace understood, it is all about having the right attitude of humility and submissive response to His authority;  Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment]. –Hebrews 4:16

Are you prepared today?


Dr. Steven Lawson, Rightly Approaching God’s Presence 

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/28/2020

Psalm 61:2 (ESV) - Biblia.com

 Psalm 61 –  ESV and RVR 1960 

LEAD ME


CONTEXT: Psalm 61 combines aspects of an individual lament psalm with a royal psalm (about the king). The psalmist petitions God to hear his cry and protect him (vv. 1–2), attesting to God’s past protections as he looks to the future (vv. 3–4). He shows confidence that God has heard his vows (v. 5). The psalmist then petitions God to prolong the king’s life and his line (vv. 6–7), and expresses his intent to praise God’s name and perform his vows (v. 8).  – Faithlife Study Bible

Do y’all remember the bumper sticker craze “God is my co-pilot” I am sure it made lots of money to the slogans inventor but it was biblically unsound. Think about it for a moment do you want God in the pilots seat all large and in charge or relegated to being there just in case of an emergency? 

Many Christians go through life and life’s discouragements with that attitude that God is their co-pilot. I will call upon Him only in case of emergency, how sad it is as if folks want to embrace Galatians 3:3.  

David gets it correct in verse 2 when he cries out to God:

from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,

He will always call on God no mater where he is even to the ends of the earth, whenever his heart is overwhelmed or he feels weak in Spirit. David prays God will lead him (no co-pilot here) to a place that he could never reach alone. 

 Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. The language is very remarkable. It gives us the idea of a man suffering shipwreck. The vessel in which he has been sailing has sunk. He has been plunged into the mighty ocean; and there he is buffeting the waves, struggling for life, panting for breath, and just about to give up all for lost. Suddenly he discovers a rock towering above him. If he can but climb up to the top of it, and get sure footing upon it, the billows will not be able to reach him, and he will be safe. Now, the prayer in our text is the cry of that poor wretch for help. He is so spent and exhausted, that he cannot reach the rock himself. He shouts aloud for the friendly hand of some one stronger than himself, or for a rope that may be flung to him by those who are already safe on the rock, if by these helps he may gain it. Lead me to the rock, cries the poor perishing wretch. “O, lead me, guide me, direct me to it; for I am so worn and spent, that I cannot reach it otherwise. I am at the point to die; and I must sink, and be no more seen for ever, if there is none to help me.” Thus he calls for some one to rescue him from the deep, and to place him on the rock. But what rock? He knows that unless the rock be a high one, he will not be in safety, though he should be on it. The rock, he says, “must be higher than I, or the waves will reach me, and wash me off again.” It is not a rock, the top of which just shows itself above the sea, no higher than a man’s own body, that will save the life of a shipwrecked mariner. Such a rock may occasion the wreck, but it will not afford any help to the sufferers afterwards; it is a rock to split upon for destruction, not to stand upon for safety. Lead me to the rock, or as it is in the Prayer book version, “Set me upon the rock that is higher than I!” …The text having shown us the danger of sin, does not leave us comfortless; it shows us the security of the refuge. We have before remarked, that the prayer of David, as a shipwrecked man, is, to be “led to, “and set upon a rock, that is higher than himself. The expression seems to imply much. The rock that is higher than he, must be higher than any man; for David was a mighty monarch. He implies, therefore, that the refuge he seeks must be more than any “arm of flesh” can afford him; it must be therefore divine. Condensed from a Sermon by Fountain Elwin, 1842.

Today’s questions are simple what are you reaching for and who are you asking for help?

Thanksgiving Proclamations

American Minute with Bill Federer

Thanksgiving Proclamations: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Roosevelt, & more –

During the days of America’s founding, colonies would declare:
  • days of prayer when times were bad;
  • days of fasting when times were real bad; and
  • days of thanksgiving when things turned around.

READ MORE 

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/24/2020

Satellite View of the Americas on Earth Day | NASA

Psalm 57

 Glory and Majesty Over all the Earth


CONTEXT: The title given in most bibles is: To the Chief Musician. Set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave or something very similar.  Of note is the commentary by Agustus F. Tholuck on the title: 

A Psalm composed when David fled from Saul in the cave, which is referred to in Psalm 143, and which, because it is without any other distinction called “the cave, “is probably that celebrated cave where David with his six hundred followers lay concealed when Saul entered and David cut off the skirt of his robe. The king, accompanied by three thousand followers, chased him to the loftiest alpine heights–“to the sheepcotes, “where the cattle were driven in the hottest summer months only–to hunt him in every hiding place. There was a cave, in the darkened cool of which David and his men were hid. Such caves in Palestine and the East are frequently enlarged by human hands, and so capacious that they accommodate thousands of people. This song of complaint was written during the hours of suspense which David spent there, to wait until the calamity was overpass (Ps 57:2); in which he only gradually gains a stout heart (Ps 57:8). His life was really suspended by a hair, if Saul or any of his attendants had espied him! 

Once again in this psalm we find David on the run from Saul. The simplest division can be set up as a prayer v.1-5 and praise v.6-11 although element of both are contained found in both. The verses that connects the two sections are v.5 and 11 for they are identical.  


V.5 and 11 Be exalted above the heavens, O God; Let Your glory and majesty be over all the earth.  – no matter the ailments, persecutions, or the trials David’s steadfastly holds God in His proper place King of Kings and Lord over all creation. 

v.5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens. This is the chorus of the Psalm. Before he has quite concluded his prayer the good man interjects a verse of praise; and glorious praise too, seeing it comes from the lion’s den and from amid the coals of fire. Higher than the heavens is the Most High, and so high ought our praises to rise. Above even the power of cherubim and seraphim to express it, the glory of God is revealed and is to be acknowledged by us. Let thy glory be above all the earth. As above, so below, let thy praises, O thou great Jehovah, be universally proclaimed. As the air surrounds all nature, so let thy praises gird the earth with a zone of song. – C. H. Spurgeon 

v.11 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, etc. Greater words of prayer than these never came from human lips. Heaven and earth have as they imply, a mutually interwoven history, and the blessed, glorious end of this is in the sunrise of the Divine glory over both.  Franz Delitzsch, 1869.

Today’s question is two fold are you feeling the pressure of hostile forces closing in on you? Are you crying out like David v.1 Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious and merciful to me?  I pray if that is the case you are (as we all should be daily) proclaiming, God’s Glory and Majesty Over all the Earth. 

The War on Thanksgiving (and other resources)

The War on Thanksgiving

The War on Thanksgiving

Will Americans still be celebrating Thanksgiving 100 years from now?

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in America. The moment, which deserved wider recognition, was celebrated in an excellent speech by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.

“A great American anniversary is upon us,” Cotton said on Nov. 18. “Regrettably, we haven’t heard much about this anniversary of the Mayflower; I suppose the Pilgrims have fallen out of favor in fashionable circles these days. I’d therefore like to take a few minutes to reflect on the Pilgrim story and its living legacy for our nation.”

Cotton delivered a fitting tribute to the Pilgrims and their story of faith and perseverance, which is so intertwined with the Thanksgiving holiday and the values we cherish most.

Perhaps predictably, the speech was attacked by media outlets and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who hurled an ad hominem attack at Cotton on Twitter...

READ MORE 


OTHER RESOURCES AND NEWS:

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/23/2020

How Do I Strike Back at Betrayal? | Christian Questions Bible Podcast

PSALM 55

Betrayal or Broken Trust


CONTEXT: In this individual lament psalm, the psalmist is not simply afflicted by enemies—he has been betrayed by a close friend. He begins by asking God to hear him and deliver him from his enemies (v. 1–3). He then describes his inner anguish and expresses a desire to flee (v. 4–8). He prays for justice as he asks God to destroy his enemies (v. 9–11). The psalmist then explains that he suffers because of a close friend (v. 12–14). He continues his call for justice (v. 15), confident that God will hear him and redeem him (v. 16–19). He describes the betrayal by his friend (v. 20–21). Finally, he encourages everyone to cast their burdens on Yahweh (v. 22) and expresses confidence that God will destroy his enemies (v. 23). Faithlife Study Bible 

The Betrayal: v. 1-14 For it is not an enemy who taunts me— Then I could bear it; Nor is it one who has hated me who insolently exalts himself against me—
Then I could hide from him. 13  But it is you, a man my equal and my counsel,
My companion and my familiar friend; 14 We who had sweet [b]fellowship together, Who walked to the house of God in company. 

– at some point in our lives everyone will be betrayed! Maybe not stabbed in the back like David here or as Jesus was by Judas but you can bank on it happening. Hopefully the worst experience will someone promising to do something for you and failing to follow through.  Yet far to common today is adultery, embezzlement, and even murder. 

What do we do when a close friend a co-worker, a relative greatly disappoints or “stabs us in the back?”  Do we seek retribution, take matters into our own hands? David had the answer:

Solution: v.21-22 Cast your burden on the Lord [release it] and He will sustain and uphold you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken (slip, fall, fail). 23  But You, O God, will bring down the wicked to the pit of destruction;
Men of blood and treachery will not live out half their days. But I will [boldly and unwaveringly] trust in You. 

– Our human nature demands that we get pay back for any ill we perceive against us. God says cast all those feelings of anguish (burdens) upon me and I will deal with them. The Word of God tells us to  Never repay evil with evil,  for good reason, we destroy our testimony before the nations. Besides do we think God is so small He can’t handle our individual problems? 

Maybe you are feeling betrayed today, I pray you will cast your burdens upon the Lord that He may lift you up and sustain you through this troubled time. If you are someone who has betrayed another, I pray first you repent and ask God’s forgiveness, second if possible do the same with the one you have offended and lastly cast your burden also upon the Lord asking that He may restore a right Spirit in you. 


OTHER RESOURCES

How can I overcome the pain of betrayal?
The Difference Between Judas and Peter
What does the Bible say about trusting others?

Sunday Sermon Series – Revival of Holiness

Northwest Baptist Church: Oklahoma City, OK > Pastors' Roundtable

Ezra 9-10


CONTEXT

Ezra being informed, by some of the princes who complained unto him, of the marriages of many of the Israelites with the people of the land, the Canaanites and others, was greatly grieved and distressed, Ezra 9:1-5, upon which he made a confession of their sins to God, with great shame, sorrow, and contrition, and deprecated the evils which they deserved, Ezra 9:6-15.

Upon Ezra’s prayer and confession, it was proposed by Shechaniah, that those who had married strange wives should put them away with their children, which they swore to do, Ezra 10:1-5, and proclamation was made throughout the land for all to meet at Jerusalem in three days’ time, and accordingly they did, Ezra 10:6-9 when, at the exhortation of Ezra, all agreed to it, and persons were appointed to see it done, and the work was finished in the space of three months, Ezra 10:10-17 and a list of the names of those is given who had married such wives, and now put them away; of the priests, Ezra 10:18-22, of the Levites, Ezra 10:23,24, of the other Israelites, Ezra 10:24-44.  – John Gill’s Commentary


SERMON

A Revival of Holiness – Ezra 9 &10

Other Resources

If you enjoy Pastor Sills sermon, here is a link to the rest of his series on Ezra. https://christchurchfareham.co.uk/our-sermons/sermon-series-ezra-spiritual-restoration-in-jerusalem-and-fareham/

 

Geoff Thomas Sermon on Ezra 9 man of Prayer

 

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/21/2020

Logos.com

AMP and RVR 1960

BENEDICTIONS

CONTEXT: In one of my theology classes we studied Biblical decision Making. Part three of the process has in itself three parts, Prohibition was does the Bible say we can not do, Principles things the Bible clearly guides us to do and lastly Patterns (or examples) of people we can follow to guide us to a decision that Glorifies God. In this instance God has instructed Moses to tell Arron that this is the pattern or way he shall prayer over and bless the nation of Israel. It is a principle, that most “Christian” pastors follow today in their benediction to the congregation.  

Why chose to follow this principle it is not commanded as a church ordinance?  The Heidelberg Catechism tells us that our only comfort in life and in death is that we “belong to (our) faithful Savior Jesus Christ.”   So let us look at another common benediction used  by many, Paul in writing to the church at Thessalonica the second time; closes chapter two with:

 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting comfort and encouragement and the good [well-founded] hope [of salvation] by His grace, 17 comfort and encourage and strengthen your hearts [keeping them steadfast and on course] in every good work and word.

I hope you can see it, You have just delivered or heard the word of God preached and then Okay its over LEAVE! Seems rather abrupt and uncaring. But when we take Paul’s words or any of the multitude available, and use them to ask God’s Blessing upon the congregation we bring closure to the service. 

Before I close I wish to make one final point Benedictions do not have to be for Church Only.   Maybe you are visiting a hospital, veterans,  or even our elected representatives, be a Boaz ,Ruth 2:4, and leave them “the Lord be with you.”  Maybe you have a friend  or co-worker feeling down in the dumps, nothing wrong with leaving them with a blessing/benediction Psalm 115:15,  May you be blessed of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  Lastly if you are a parent or grandparent  consider closing your daily prayer time with something like this regarding your grandkids: 

‘May the Lord preserve thee from all evil:  may he  preserve thy soul.  May the Lord preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore;  Amen. ‘  Psalms 121:7-8

It is also my prayer for you today. 


RESOURCES:

What Is a Benediction?
May the Lord Bless You and Keep You
The Benediction

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/19/2020

Psalms 51 | NKJV Reading - YouTube

AMP and RVR 1960

CONTEXT:  There is little doubt or argument among scholars that this is both a Psalm of David and one of repentance and praise. Some interesting things (at least to me) the title says To the Chief Musician so this was never meant to be a private calling out for repentance and reflection. David intended it for a public worship service.  The Psalm is divided into two parts with v. 1-12 the prayer of repentance and the remaining six verses, v.13-19 praising God for anticipated forgiveness and restoration. 

Of course  the “Model Prayer” in the Bible is the one prayed by Jesus found in Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4.  That does not preclude us however from looking for other patterns or examples of righteous prayers in the bible as examples we should follow. Here in Psalm 51 David provides just such an example. 

This Psalm is often and fitly called THE SINNER’S GUIDE. In some of its versions it often helps the returning sinner. Athanasius recommends to some Christians, to whom he was writing, to repeat it when they awake at night. All evangelical churches are familiar with it. Luther says, “There is no other Psalm which is oftener sung or prayed in the church.” This is the first Psalm in which we have the word Spirit used in application to the Holy GhostWilliam S. Plumer.

This is the most deeply affecting of all the Psalms, and I am sure the one most applicable to me. It seems to have been the effusion of a soul smarting under the sense of a recent and great transgression. My God, whether recent or not, give me to feel the enormity of my manifold offences, and remember not against me the sins of my youth. What a mine of rich matter and expression for prayer! Wash, cleanse me, O Lord, and let my sin and my sinfulness be ever before me. Let me feel it chiefly as sin against thee, that my sin may be of the godly sort. Give me to feel the virulence of my native corruption, purge me from it thoroughly, and put truth into my inward parts, that mine may be a real turning from sin unto the Savior. Create me anew, O God. Withdraw not thy Spirit. Cause me to rejoice in a present salvation. Deliver me, O God, from the blood guiltiness of having offended any of thy little ones; and so open my lips that I may speak of the wondrous things thou hast done for my soul! May I offer up spiritual sacrifices; and oh! let not any delinquencies of mine bring a scandal upon thy church; but do thou so purify and build her up, that even her external services, freed from all taint of corruption or hypocrisy, may be well pleasing in thy sight. Thomas Chalmers.

As many of you know I am not much for “Modern” worship music. I just feel it falls short on context. But Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me is a prayer worthy of repeating daily by all of us, so today I will make an exception. 

Devotional Thought for Today – 11/18/2020

Legalism and Smoking. - One Christian Dad


The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend and somehow we got into a discussion on prayer. He mentioned that a while back he had been asked to give the closing prayer at a meeting of his churches leadership and when he finished one of the deacons leaned over and said ‘you did that wrong, you forgot “In Jesus Name”.’ 

I hope y’all can immediately see the twofold problem with that comment.  First “In Jesus Name” is not some mystic, magical, saying that is mandatory at the end of every prayer.  Second, demanding such a thing is unbiblical and legalistic. 

Neither the word legalism or legalist are found in the bible; yet sadly they are found in many evangelical churches today. 

A legalist or legalism appears in the church when someone:

      • Places more emphasis upon God’s Laws than upon fellowship with God himself
      •  Keeping the letter of the Law but ignoring the Spirit of the Law 
      • Adding to the Laws of God with man’s rules or traditions 
      • Tries to keep the Law to obtain Salvation
      • Tries to maintain salvation by good works (keeping the law)
      • Finds contempt in others who do not have the same holiness (law keeping ability) as them 

Legalism is a sin. Yet it is overlook in most all churches. A newcomer to the church may arrive with baggage (ex-convict, recently divorced, etc.) and they will be looked upon as different for their past by the legalist but woe to anyone who questions the legalist motives. 

Jesus had no use for legalists and called them out, telling them Luke 11:37-54 their day of judgement was coming.  Do you know a legalist in your church? Pray for them, for woe unto them on judgement day.


RESOURCES: 

Legalism Defined

3 Types of Legalism – Ligonier Ministries

What does the Bible say about legalism?

What is Legalism and Why is it so Bad?