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THE THREAT OF GOD’S SILENCE
Prayer puts our faith at risk.
When we “pray to God in faith believing” and nothing happens or the results are different from what we expected or there is no answer at all, the tendency is to question the goodness and wisdom of God. We often doubt the need for prayer when we don’t get what we want.
As we begin to read Psalm 28 David seems to be having a problem in his prayer life. “I pray to You, O Lord, my Rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me.” Notice the way he begins: “I pray to You!” His prayer is direct and intense. But there is something very important to be noted here. In this moment of need David, in no uncertain terms, lets us into his heart. Prayer was not just part of his life. It was at the center of his life. He was completely dependent upon the Lord for help. “You, O Lord, are my Rock!” This prayer, though we do not know specifically what David was praying for, arose from a definite need at a specific time in his life. Perhaps years later, when he wrote this psalm, he could not remember specifically what his request was. But he could not forget that he had a need that only God could meet. And God met that need and granted his request.
In this prayer we hear his cry and see his hands raised to God demonstrating his dependence on Yahweh. And his prayer was answered. “Praise be to the Lord,” he finally shouted, “for He has heard my cry for mercy.”
God always answers us – but on His terms and in His time.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to depend only on You – not on ourselves or others – when we face our greatest needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 28:1 To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit.
THE POTENTIAL IN PRAYER
Understanding the Word of God is important. But applying the Word of God to our lives is essential if we want to become who God wants us to be. Sin, we know, is a barrier to our relationship with God. It keeps us from enjoying His presence and power in our lives. In Psalm 19 we discover three important facts about sin and its consequences.
“How can I know the sins lurking in my heart?” asked the Psalmist. What a question! If we want to know how we look, we have at least three options: We can look into a mirror, ask someone to tell us how we look or search the Word of God. Only His Word, however, will give us a true picture of who we are, our sinful condition and the consequences that await us. We will quickly discover our faults and failures and see ourselves as God sees us. His Word will become our mirror whenwe hold up our lives to it, compare our lives with its teachings and ask God to reveal our sins to us. Then, with the Psalmist, we can pray “Cleanse me!”
But there is another request from the Psalmist: “Keep your servant from deliberate sins.” To be cleansed is not enough. We need His power and protection to live the life that God would have us to live and become who He expects us to be. Through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, God will answer this prayer. But we must be sincere when we pray and willing to surrender our lives to the Lord and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, guard us and have control of us.
Prayer: Help us, Father, to read Your Word, know Your Word, accept Your Word and live Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
THE OBJECT OF OUR DESIRES
We often hear phrases such as “I just didn’t have enough time,” or “I ran out of time,” or “If I only had more time.” Time seems to elude all of us. Yet all of us try to regulate our lives by time. We wear watches, have clocks and are time sensitive.
One of the most interesting facts about time, however, is that it reveals our priorities. If we say that we love our wife and children, yet have little time for them or to be with them, our words are meaningless. If we say that we love our Lord and Savior, yet have no time for church or take no time to serve Him, our behavior mocks us and cancels our words. Our priorities are what matter. Our priorities are known to us and visible to others by the time we spend on “things.”
Psalm 24 makes a bold statement: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” It reflects the words that introduce us to God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!” This verse states that God was the Creator. Furthermore, this psalm states that the earth and everything in it belongs to Him. If so, He is to be the priority of our lives and everything we do is to be an act of worship – honoring Him in all that we do.
This psalm clearly announces the Kingship of God. We are quick to recognize God as Creator but that is not enough for Him. As our Creator-King, He has every right to expect us, His subjects, to place Him first and foremost in our lives. We know He is our priority when we honor Him by what we do with our time.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to make You the priority of our lives by being obedient to Your Word and serving You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 24:1 The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Sir Walter Scott was a prominent novelist and poet whose writings were well known, respected and read throughout the world. As he approached death he called for his son-in-law and said, “Bring me the Book!”
Knowing that he had a massive library, he was thoroughly puzzled by the request and had no idea what the title of “the Book” might be. Realizing that there were more than 20,000 volumes in Scott’s library, he asked, “What book?”
“Need you ask?” replied the literary genius. “There is only one Book, the Bible!” Sir Walter Scott, author of many books and owner of thousands of books, spoke wisely. He knew personally the Author of the Book of books, the message it contained and its importance.
In this psalm the writer declares convincingly that “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul.” Perfect because it contains God’s message of love, forgiveness and redemption and in it we find everything that is necessary for our salvation.
The author also wants us to know that it can be trusted – that its contents are reliable and dependable. So, he adds that “the decrees – or teachings – of the Lord can be trusted…to revive the soul.” Only God’s Word can bring joy to our hearts, guidance for our journey, light for our path, wisdom for our decisions and eternal life through Christ.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, we stand in awe before You, rejoicing in Your Word and the hope we have in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
Knowledge is one thing. Knowing is quite another. We may know about someone and yet not know that one as a person. We may know the “vital statistics” about a person and never know the “hidden stories” kept deep inside. To get to know someone usually involves the other person disclosing some personal, sensitive and previously unknown things.
David wanted to know God. Really know Him. So he prayed: “Show me, teach me, lead me.” He knew of God but wanted to understand what it meant for Him to be the Lord of his life. Notice what he did.
First, he said: “Show me!” Here he asked Got to “reveal” Himself so David could actually see what He was like. If, we like David, want to see a true representation of what God is like we need to look deeply into His Word. It is impossible to know God apart from His without mastering the content of His Word.
Secondly, he said, “Teach me!” If we have truly repented we will want God to teach us His ways, come to understand His will for our lives and become obedient to His teachings and commandments. And God will show us His way if and when we truly desire it. But, only then.
Finally David courageously said, “Lead me in Your Truth.” He realized that he could not be successful in his walk with God if he was not willing to completely surrender his life to Him. He didn’t ask God to “be there when I need you,” or “answer when I call.” No! He wanted God to open His eyes to the eternal truth and then he would willingly follow Him.
Prayer: Father, may we willingly open our minds and hearts to Your truth, to learn from You and then serve You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 25:4 Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
TEACH ME AND LEAD ME, LORD
Success in the Christian life begins with our being willing to be willing. It is our willingness, our innermost desire, to want to know God, understand Him and do His will that makes the difference in who we become, what we live for and give our lives to.
David set the example and gives us an excellent program of being willing to be willing to become a “man after God’s own heart.” He asked God to “Teach me how to live, O Lord, (and) Lead me along right paths.” This short, simple and specific prayer exposes David’s desire: to know God and to make Him known.
When he asked God to “teach” him, David was pleading for God to give him guidance. This prayer did not arise out of need to confess his sins. It came from a deep desire to have an intimate relationship with God – to experience Him as a friend and confidant. David was well aware of the fact that if he did not allow God to be his teacher, he would not enjoy God’s protection and would not be “led along right paths.” And if he did not travel on “right paths,” he certainly could not make God known to those seeking Him.
David, in this verse, also prays for “victory over his enemies” who were waiting to destroy him. David knew that if God was with him no force was powerful enough to harm him or hurt him. Regardless of whom the enemy might be, those who believe in God have nothing to fear. No one or no thing can undo the work of God. What He has done will withstand any attack of Satan.
Prayer: Give us Your assurance, Lord, that as we know You and do Your will, You will always guard us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 27:11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
SEARCHING FOR GOD
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God!” Do they really? When the writer looks into the heavens does he really believe that He can actually see God? Does he see an outline of God in a constellation? Are there stars shining somewhere that actually point to God’s eternal residence?
No. This psalm, more than any other, reflects the beauty, splendor, power and handiwork of God. He is speaking of the revelation of God in the world of nature. His belief in God as Creator is not an argument against the theory of evolution. For him, Creation reveals the Lord’s royal majesty, sovereignty, power and design. He simply declares God’s existence and presence and wants to praise Him in worship and wonder.
We see God’s glory each morning when we are awakened by a majestic sunrise that erupts from the darkness of the night. We see His handiwork each time we look into the face of a rose, watch a bird in flight or see the crashing of waves. All of creation clearly and convincingly announces the greatness and glory of God.
This Psalm reveals a God who communicates to us through the majesty of His creation. The fact that He speaks openly to us through the work of His hands is a gracious expression of His love and His desire for us to know and worship Him. Although sin has attempted to hide His glory it is still with us and cannot be denied!
Prayer: How great You are, O Lord, our Creator and Redeemer, our source of hope and eternal life. We thank You for our salvation and making Yourself known to us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
When we are born, we know nothing, have no plan to follow and must be taught how to live. Before us are opportunities and options, choices and consequences that await us. Unfortunately, we do not have any “second chances” in life to live our lives over again. No matter how deep our desire may be or how desperate we are, we cannot relive one second nor retrace one step. Each step is final and every second gone forever.
David, however, says that the Good Shepherd will “lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Note carefully that He does simply want us to understand what righteousness is, but that He leads His own “in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” – so we can avoid many tragedies in life.
This is very important. The “righteousness” that David is speaking of here is not an end in itself. If it were, it would lead us to a state of “self-righteousness” – not godly righteousness. God does not want us to stray or walk in paths that are unrighteous because they will lead us to defeat and destruction, sin and shame. He wants to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Nothing is more important for us. Why?
Because of the Shepherd’s name – His reputation – is at stake. Like it or not, His name will be respected or rejected by the way we live. Our lives say it all.
Alexander the Great once said to one of his soldiers, “Your name is Alexander and my name is Alexander. But you are bringing disgrace to my name. Change your name or change the way you live.”
Prayer: Enable, us Father, to walk righteously in Your power for Your Name’s sake, to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:3 He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
The word “want” in this Psalm covers anything and everything that we might ever desire. It is all inclusive – covering the mental, physical and emotional as well as the spiritual areas of our lives. And if a “want” is important to us, we need to realize that it was important to God before we ever recognized it.
David left none of our “wants” beyond God’s grace and mercy. Even the important need to “lie down” in “green pastures” beside “still waters” so our “souls” could be “restored” is important to the Good Shepherd! It is so important to Him that He often makes us take time to replenish and refresh ourselves.
There are times when He intervenes in our lives and causes us to “be still.” Why? Not only does He want to guide us but He often has to guard us from ourselves. Jesus said, “Come apart and rest awhile.” If we refuse to “rest awhile” we may “come apart” and then need Him to be put us back together again so He can use us.
The Good Shepherd loves and cares for His sheep. He not only guides them but guards them. His protection brings His peace and with His peace comes His promise to make us “lie down beside still waters” where He will “restore” us – refresh and renew us.
In our frantic lives God expects us to rest in Him, trust in Him, take time for Him and worship Him. If we do not follow His pattern He may even force His rest upon us in ways we would not choose. We need the benefits that come from resting in Him and with Him.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to recognize our need to be alone with You and be renewed, refreshed and restored. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
OUR SOURCE OF SECURITY
Life is unpredictable. Rarely does a day pass without someone or something interrupting our best laid plans. We look forward to days without worry and nights that are peaceful. Then, suddenly and without our permission, we are jolted into the realm of the unknown and the unexpected. We strive to be safe and secure but we have no assurance that tragedy will not strike without warning.
Psalm 23 is no doubt the world’s most loved psalm. The helpless image of sheep who want to stray from the flock and their need for protection by an ever present and always watchful shepherd gives us comfort and calmness. We all need and want that kind of Shepherd. It gives hope and assurance that we will never be left alone during the dark hours of life and that we will never have to face dangerous valleys or dimly lit pathways by ourselves.
In this psalm David presents a picture of God that reveals His love, His loyalty and His presence. As long as we live we can say He is “my” shepherd – not “a” shepherd or “someone else’s shepherd” but “my” very own shepherd who watches over me and every step we take.
And finally, when we are face to face with the certainty of death after the uncertainties of life, we know that He is – not might be – but actually is with us as we “pass through” the dark valley of death and enter into eternity where we will enjoy His presence forever!
Prayer: We are grateful to You, Lord, for giving us Your peace, presence and protection, today and every day and that You, our Creator, are also our Shepherd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.