Where Is Your God?

Today’s reading is Psalm 42.

Twice, the psalmist is asked, “Where is your God?” Once when he’s in the drought. Once when he’s in the flood. There is nothing worse than feeling abandoned by God except possibly when the people around you are reminding you that you are abandoned by God.

“If you and God are so close, why isn’t He doing something about your situation?” “If your God was real, why is He letting this happen to you?” “If you really are God’s child, wouldn’t He take better care of you?”

And in this, we find Jesus. Isn’t this the temptation the devil offered in the wilderness? “If You are the Son of God, turn this stone to bread.” That is, “If You really are God’s Son, surely He wouldn’t let You starve.” “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself off this pinnacle. God will save You.” That is, “If You are really God’s Son, surely He wouldn’t let you get beat to death.”

And isn’t this what the people at the foot of the cross were saying. “If you are the Son of God, come down.” “He trusts in God, let God deliver Him.” All of this is just another way of asking, “Where is your God?”

So, let’s not be surprised when people ask us the same thing today. God doesn’t always work exactly as we expect. He certainly isn’t going to kowtow to the enemies and act at their beck and call just to prove Himself to them. Therefore, they will accuse us of being abandoned. Worse, they will accuse our God of not even existing. “Where is your God?” they will say.

One day He will answer. And His reply, if they have not given their allegiance to Jesus before that day, will be more than they ever bargained for.

Let us confess Jesus as Lord and bow our knee to Him before that day.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why is it so easy to get discouraged when folks in the world around us deny God’s existence?
  3. What tempts us to doubt God’s existence or care at times?
  4. What advice would you give to help us grow our faith in God who cannot be seen?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Thank God for the New Covenant

Today’s reading is Psalm 42.

This son of Korah has apparently been carted off away from the temple of the Lord. He isn’t able to perform his Levitical duties. He can’t serve as a gatekeeper or serve in song in the worship of the Israelites. He feels cut off from God because he can’t get to the temple. I read how disheartened and despairing he is. It’s moments like this I’m thankful for the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

In John 4:21, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” I recognize, of course, Jews could turn toward the temple from any location and pray to God. I have no doubt they recognized a sense in which God was with them everywhere they went. However, when worship was so temple centered, it left the feeling that when one couldn’t get to the temple, one couldn’t get to God.

I’m thankful for our New Covenant. I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice ripped the veil before the Most Holy Place. I’m thankful that I live in a covenant in which by Jesus I am able to stand in the Most Holy Place before God wherever I am. Its why Paul and Silas could be beaten and lying in a prison, but still sing praise and pray to God.

We are never separated from God. He is always with us. We can pray to Him from anywhere. We can worship Him in any location. We don’t have to despair because we can’t get to a temple. We are the temple. God is with us, in us.

Praise the Lord for the New Covenant in Jesus Christ.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 42.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. No doubt, part of the psalmist’s feeling disconnected from God had to do with being disconnected from the people he used to worship with. See vs. 4. If you weren’t able to worship with the church this Sunday, would you feel like this psalmist? Why or why not?
  3. Why is worship so amazing and something to look forward to? Why is it something to miss when we don’t get to do it?
  4. What are some other reasons you are thankful for Jesus and His New Covenant?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

If You Don’t Like the Weather…

Today’s reading is Psalm 42.

I was born in Mountain Home, Idaho. I don’t remember anything about it. We move to England when I was two. I remember a little about that. We moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina when I was 6, I remember that a lot better. Since that time, I’ve lived in 11 different cities for at least six months. In every place I’ve lived (and most places I’ve visited), people have tried to clue me in to what their home is really like. And in every single place someone has said to me, “That’s one thing about this town. If you don’t like the weather, just wait around for five minutes, it’ll change.” They say it like it’s the only place in the world where that happens. But I assure you, where you live is not the only place in the world like that. The world is just like that.

In fact, Israel must have been like that. In the first half of Psalm 42, the psalmist is like a deer panting for streams of water in a drought. But by vs. 7, he’s in the middle of a flood. “Deep calls to deep” brings to mind the chaotic waters at the beginning of creation. There is so much water the psalmist is now overwhelmed by the waves and the breakers. They go over him. He went from dehydrating to drowning in a matter of seven verses.

And that is life. Sometimes we are so drained and exhausted, emotionally, physically, spiritually. At other times, we are simply beaten to death by the rough breakers of life. We are being tumbled over as life hits us with one wave after another.

In both cases, we feel forgotten and abandoned. We think God should be doing more. Or God should be doing something we can see and feel. However, like the psalmist said even in the midst of this flood, “By day God commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” We may not feel it. We may not sense it. But it is happening.

Hang on to the Lord. He hasn’t left you. You will praise the Lord again.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 42.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Is the weather crazy where you live?
  3. What is the difference between times of life that feel like a drought and times of life that feel like a flood?
  4. What advice would you give to others to rely on God during either kind of time?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Who Is in Control?

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

Underneath Psalm 41:8 is an interesting claim. The ESV says the friends claim a “deadly thing” has been poured out on David. The word for deadly is similar to the word “Belial.” It is the word that means “worthless” (1 Samuel 25:25) and can also mean “destruction” (Psalm 18:4). It contains an underlying idea that David’s sickness is actually caused by demonic or unclean spirits. This actually brings up an amazing point we find in the Psalms.

In the ancient Near East, we learn that when folks from other nations wrote psalms, poems, laments, they often attributed their sicknesses and troubles to evil spirits, jinn, demons just as David’s enemies here do. But take a look at to whom David attributes control over his illness. Once again, David believes his illness is theosomatic. That is, he believes it is God’s discipline for his own sins.

I know it gives us just a bit of trouble to place God as the ultimate power behind all the things we read about in the psalms. However, the great blessing of that realization is God is the one in control. He is sovereign. If God is the one who is ultimately behind all these, then God is the one we must turn to when we face them.

No, this doesn’t mean every sickness we face is God’s specific discipline for a specific sin. Further, it doesn’t mean God is simply striking people with sickness right and left. But it does remind us God is the one in control. God is the one who can provide the healing. God is the one who can provide the deliverance. David’s sickness was not under the control of Belial, therefore David wasn’t going to die.

Whatever we face, whether it is because of our sins or just because of time and chance, it isn’t under the control of the enemy. It is under the control of God. Turn to Him. He is the one who can deliver. He is the only one who can deliver. He will deliver.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this conversation.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Why are you glad that God is in control?
  3. Why is it hard to hang on to God when we are really sick or when enemies attack?
  4. What advice would you give to encourage others to hang on to God even when life is difficult and painful?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

My Enemies

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

It hurts when you find out friends are actually enemies. To your face they say nice things, behind your back they spread secrets and lies. When you are around, they feign care about your life. In their hearts, they wish you were dead. When you are providing the meal, they eat your bread. When you are in your sickbed, they abandon you.

Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Hurts like crazy, doesn’t it? David knew what that was like.

Friends are great. We all need them. But always remember who your actual hope is. God is the best friend. When friends fail us, God never will. Even when our friends become enemies, though they hurt us, they will not shout in triumph over us.

God always wins. Therefore, when we are with God, we always win. Hang on to your truest friend no matter what.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this conversation.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What benefits and blessings do your friends provide you?
  3. Why does it hurt so bad when friends betray us?
  4. What advice would you give to help us make God our best friend?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Lord, Be Gracious

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

Based on David’s description of the Blessed Lord as the one who cares for and delivers the poor and needy, he describes the request he had made beginning in vs. 4: “O Lord, be gracious to me.” He comes back to the main request in vs. 10: “But you, O Lord, be gracious to me…”

In this first book of Psalms, David has requested the Lord be gracious to him eight times, not counting these two requests (see Psalm 4:1; 6:2; 9:13; 25:16; 26:11; 27:7; 30:8 [“merciful”]; 31:9).

It is so hard to accept this grace and mercy, isn’t it? When we can look back and see our sins, when we are convinced our troubles are the result of our sin, when others are reminding us of our sin, mercy and grace are hard to seek.

On top of that, mercy and grace are just difficult to seek. Most of us don’t want mercy and grace. Most of us just want God to be patient with us. “Hang on, Lord, I’ll prove I’m better than my sins.” “Just watch and see, Lord, I’ll show you I deserve Your favor.” It is hard to ask the Lord to just be gracious to us, to give us what we don’t deserve. We so desperately want to deserve it.

Of course, this recognition that we can’t earn God’s favor doesn’t mean there are no conditions. Even David says God will uphold him because of his integrity (vs. 12). In this psalm, as in 26:11, we have a sinner who has integrity. In other words, we are sinners who deserve judgment, but we can submit to the Lord’s righteousness. We are not totally depraved or utterly incapable. God does expect sinners to turn to Him in integrity. He does expect us to meet conditions without which He will not save us. The condition is not, of course, sinless perfection. It is not earning the favor. But neither can we expect to be saved by God if we decide to continue to walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand in the paths of sinners, or sit in the seat of the scornful. We must walk in integrity. We must walk the Lord’s path. Yes, we will fall. But the Lord is gracious.

Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What comfort do you get from the Lord’s grace and mercy?
  3. What struggles do you have with seeking the Lord’s grace and mercy?
  4. What do you think of the difference between earning grace and meeting conditions to receive grace?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Who is Blessed?

Today’s reading is Psalm 41.

A very common perspective on Psalm 41:1 is to simply see another beatitude adding to the ones we’ve highlighted before. This one teaches that the man who considers the weak and poor will be blessed by God. That is certainly possible. However, what if this beatitude is just a little bit different? Can I suggest a different perspective?

Did you catch how Psalm 40 ended? “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” Now, to be transparent, the words translated “poor” in Psalm 40:17 and Psalm 41:1 are two different words. However, the concept of the “poor and needy” at the end of the last psalm and the “poor” at the beginning of this one are the same.

When you have just read about God taking thought for someone who is poor and needy at the end of one poem and the next one begins with a praise of the one who considers the poor, who is the one considering the poor? Doesn’t it just make sense that it is God? It does to me.

Then in Psalm 40:1b-3, we see a description of the One who considers the poor and needy. We see a picture of the one who is taking care of David when he is weak, poor, needy. God delivers the weak in the day of trouble. God protects the poor and keeps him alive. God sustains the needy on his sickbed.

This psalm is a praise of Yahweh for caring for David. It is not a praise of David for caring for the poor. And what a fitting end to the first book of the Psalms. David has been through so much in these poems. He has been attacked. He has been sick. He has been near death. He has been overcome by sin. But God has brought him through and delivered him from it all.

Blessed be the Lord!

And praise the Lord because He’s our Lord too!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 41.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. What do you think? Is Edwin right that the statement is about God? Or do you think it is a beatitude about those who take care of the poor? Why?
  3. What other reasons do we have to praise and bless God? Consider especially things we’ve learned through this first book of the Psalms.
  4. How does this picture of God give you comfort?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Blessed is the Man

Today’s reading is Psalm 40.

Here it is again. “Blessed is the man.” Sisters, please, don’t be upset. Women in this setting will be blessed also. These psalms are written from the king’s perspective. While they have application to all of God’s followers, male and female alike, they are primarily about the king.

But it is good to see a survey of this blessed person so far.

Psalm 1:1: “Blessed is the man [whose]…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

Psalm 2:12: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

Psalm 32:1: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Psalm 32:2: “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity…”

Psalm 33:11: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”

Psalm 34:8: “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

Psalm 40:4: “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!”

What more is there to say? We may not be the king. But we can be this person. And we will be blessed.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 40.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Which of the “blessed” statements in the psalms so far is your favorite? Why?
  3. What comfort do you get from these beatitudes in the psalms?
  4. What do all these beatitudes have in common?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

My Sins and My Relationships

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

As we learned yesterday, Psalm 38 is a huge comfort when I’ve sinned. It reminds me in no uncertain terms that I can go to God, turn my sins over to Him, and find salvation. However, I don’t know how you read it, but this psalm doesn’t cause me to say, “Oh, cool, I can sin all I want.” In fact, it makes me want to avoid sin as much as possible.

Why? Because I see from this psalm how sin impacts my relationships.

First and foremost, it puts distance between my God and me. I’m no longer walking hand in hand with Him. We aren’t facing everything together. In fact, instead of God and me taking on the world, spreading His kingdom, finding victory, God has to take a break, turn my way, and start trying to get me back on to His team. When I sin, I’m messing up my relationship with God and wasting His time and mine. We could have been accomplishing great work together, instead, it comes to a screeching halt until I get back in gear.

Second, it impacts my relationship with friends and family. Now, we can argue all day long whether the friends, companions, and nearest kin who started standing aloof were right in their response. But, be honest, even if at the end of that discussion we all agree those folks were wrong, is that going to take away the hurt and damage our sin caused the relationships? Of course not. Better to avoid the whole thing by avoiding the sin.

Third, it gives ground to my enemies. You better believe that the enemies of God’s people are on the lookout. They are looking for anything they can latch on to in order to see God’s people fall. They are sharks who smell blood in the water. When I sin, I give them reason to discredit me, reason to discredit my God, and reason for them to rejoice at my demise. I don’t want that. Do you?

Finally, it messes up my relationship with myself. I want to spend my days in joy. Sin forces me to wallow in sorrow. Sure, I had some momentary pleasure in just about every sin I’ve ever committed. But I can tell you with 100% conviction, there is not a single sin that I ever committed that I look back on now and say, “I’m glad I did that.” Not one. This idea that you’ll enjoy your sin for a while and then turn to God later and get the best of both worlds is bogus. It just isn’t true. When you realize what your sins have done, you’ll realize the best sin’s world has to offer is despair, demise, and death. You’ll wish you had avoided it. I promise you. I’ve been there, I know.

Yes, it is fantastic that God will forgive me and welcome me home as His child and not just as a servant even when I’ve gone off into the far country and spent my inheritance recklessly. But is it really getting the best of both worlds to sin for a while and then turn to God for forgiveness. Nope!

If you’re wallowing in your sin right now, turn to God. He’ll forgive you. But if you’re in God right now, don’t turn back to sin. You’ll regret it. I promise.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. How have sins impacted your relationships with others?
  3. Why is “sowing your wild oats” and planned repentance a really, really bad idea?
  4. Are you a sinner who needs God’s forgiveness? If so, what sins have you committed?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?

Not in Anger, Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 38.

Even though I’ve read another psalm that begins with almost this exact same first verse, I’m completely stunned by it. I was stunned by it at Psalm 6, but I’m even more stunned by it here in Psalm 38. I’m more stunned here because there was no sin in Psalm 6. Now, in Psalm 38, David knows he is a sinner. He knows his own sin is part of the problem. He knows he actually deserves all the other problems he is facing. He is certain all those other issues are actually God’s discipline for his sin.

But how does he start? By telling God how to handle his business! I mean, I can hardly even process that. I want to be able to explain this, to outline reasons why this is okay. But, frankly, I’m scared to try to quantify this because I might get it wrong and lead you to pray something you shouldn’t. The only thing I can say is this is grace. This is what mercy looks like.

God has every right to be angry at David. He has every right to judge and punish David. And for David to come to him in that moment and try to set limits on God’s anger and discipline? What on earth is David thinking?

But, wow! What comfort this brings me. When sin is the foundation of my problem, the very last thing I want to do is come to the Lord. I want to hide from Him. I want Him to forget about me. I am afraid to start making too much noise lest He turn His gaze on me and decide to take final action against me and my sin. But David? David knows there is only One who can do anything about his sins. And so, even though his sins are the root of the problem, He turns to God and asks Him for more mercy and grace.

And God lets him!

Please, don’t miss this most important part. In all your study of the psalm about its genre, its verses, its words, its connections to other passages, don’t miss the most important part. This psalm exists! Not only did David write it, God included it in the psalter.

When I sin, and I have, I can come to God and ask Him not to punish me like I deserve. Wow!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 38.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this psalm.

Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family

  1. What are your initial reactions to the psalm and the written devo above?
  2. Are you shocked by Psalm 38:1 at all? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think Psalm 38 is saying every time I’m sick it is because of sin? Why or why not?
  4. How does David actually confront his sin according to Psalm 38:18?
  5. What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this psalm and our discussion today?