My Portion and my Cup

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Reading: Psalm 16
A miktam of David.
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the L
ORD, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
L
ORD, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the L
ORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the L
ORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken
(NIV).

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I keep my eyes always on the LORD — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
In seed form all of the great truths of the New Testament are rooted in the Psalms. Psalm sixteen perfectly illustrates this little known fact. At the start of this psalm David declares, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul writes, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” His words are a rough paraphrase of David’s opening thoughts in Psalm 16. All of Romans chapter seven reflects our great need for our God and Saviour. Without Jesus there is no redemption and no hope for victory over sin. But with Paul we can joyfully conclude, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

We find ourselves in full agreement with David’s words, “LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” Our Saviour is our portion and cup—our food and drink. He alone is our cup of salvation. Unless we eat and drink of Him we die. David eloquently expresses his communion with the LORD; David ate and drank in the LORD and so must we. In seed form David grasped the New Testament concept of communion.

Jesus was echoing David’s thoughts when he said, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:53-54).

Response: Heavenly Father, I want to live my life in constant communion with you. I want to live in your presence and eat and drink of you, Lord Jesus. I know apart from you I have no good thing. You are my portion and my cup. I give you thanks. Amen.

Your Turn: How are you eating and drinking in God today? How does that concept become a reality?

Dwelling with the LORD

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Reading: Psalm 15
A psalm of David.
LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the L
ORD;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken
(NIV).

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Clothed in righteousness — Grey Nuns Park, Ottawa, ON

Reflection
Where are you living? Please note, I did not ask, “What is your address?”

For the Old Testament believer, God had an address. He lived in the Tent of Meeting on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Later this was the location of the great temple built by Solomon. But this entire psalm is based on the premise that we can live in the presence of God. Why else would David ask, “LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?”

It would appear that wherever we are, it is possible to live one’s life in the conscious presence of the LORD. What an awesome privilege. But how is that possible? On an intellectual level, this is a no brainer. God is present everywhere. We are continually living our lives in full view of an omnipresent God.

Am I always aware of His presence? No, not always.

What can I do to change that? The psalmist lists some requirements for living in the LORD’s presence. Apparently, God is vitally concerned with the way we walk out our life of faith—the words we speak, and our interactions with neighbours and friends. The list of requirements found in this psalm is all about practical day to day living, being true to our word, loving our neighbour, and being generous to those in need.

The day is coming when I will meet the LORD face to face, but can I see Him before that final day? Do I see Him in the face of my neighbour?

Response: Heavenly Father, I don’t want to come for an occasional visit. I want to live in your presence now and in eternity. Today, help me interact with others with the knowledge that you are watching every thought, word and action. I’m living with you. Amen.

Your Turn: When are you most conscious of God’s presence in your life?

The Atheist Deceives Himself

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Reading: Psalm 14
For the director of music. Of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
The L
ORD looks down from heaven on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
Do all these evildoers know nothing?
They devour my people as though eating bread;
they never call on the L
ORD.
But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
for God is present in the company of the righteous.
You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
but the L
ORD is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the L
ORD restores his people,
let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
(NIV)

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The forest surrounding Lake Fortune in Gatineau Park — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Apparently, atheism is not a modern phenomenon. Three thousand years ago in David’s time, there were people who said in their heart, “There is no God.” Atheism has a long and ignoble pedigree. I say ignoble because as David observes, it is the fool who says, “There is no God.”

There is a footnote in my Bible indicating that the word translated in this psalm as fool denotes someone who is morally deficient. David goes on to describe this moral deficiency. He uses the words corrupt and vile. In fact there is a complete absence of anything good. But this isn’t just David’s indictment against a few errant atheists; this is the LORD’s view of all mankind. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. In the New Testament, Paul the Apostle quotes from this psalm in his epistle to the Romans as he outlines the depravity of humanity.

Is there a link between unbelief and the sinful state of the human soul? Does sin breed unbelief? There is ample biblical and anecdotal evidence that it does. When Adam and Eve sinned, in an instant, they turned from God seekers to God avoiders. Add a little more sin, and it’s only a short step for a God avoider to become a God denier.

We deny the existence of God to avoid accountability for our sin. We foolishly assume that since we can’t see God, He can’t see us and our misdeeds. Better yet, why not pretend that God doesn’t exist? Then we are at liberty to sin as much as we please without fear of God’s judgment. That sounds like morally deficient reasoning to me. The fool fools only himself.

Response: Father, I want to seek you always, especially when I sin. That’s when I need you most. You have the remedy for my sin—the blood of Jesus. You forgive me and clean me up. Amen.

Your Turn: Does sinful conduct affect or infect your belief system? Does sin cloud our reasoning?

Give Light to my Eyes

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Reading: Psalm 13
 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, L
ORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the L
ORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me
(NIV).

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Curves on the road of life — Gatineau Park, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Have you hit a low point in your life? Are you facing a personal downturn when nothing seems to go right? Problems may arise whether it’s in your career, your finances, your family, or your relations with others. Often difficulty in one area leads to difficulty in other aspects of life. It may seem that circumstances are conspiring to bring you down. Are you caught in a downward spiral?

David begins this psalm in such a state. His life and career appear to be in a death spiral. He pleads with God, “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”

We can learn a lot from David’s response to hard times. First he brought his problems before God. He poured out his frustration, and in desperation he called out to the LORD for help. He didn’t pretend everything was fine, when clearly they were not. Application: Call out to God in times of trouble.

Secondly, David asked for the light of God to shine into his situation. “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…” When we are going through a dark time often we can’t see our way out. Many times the solution is right in front of our eyes, but we can’t see it. We need God to illumine our path. There is a way forward. We need Him to show us. Application: Open your eyes to God’s solution.

Finally, David trusted in the unfailing love of God. He rejoiced in God’s salvation. God is in the rescue business. The solution had yet to arrive, but in advance David sang his praise to God. David reflected on the goodness of God. The LORD had been good and faithful in the past. David knew that God would show him His goodness once again. Application: Trust and praise God in advance.

Response: LORD God, thank you that I can call out to you in times of trouble. Show me the way forward. Open my eyes to the help you are providing and will provide. I trust and thank and praise you in advance. Amen.

Your Turn: Has God rescued you in difficult times in the past? Trust Him to do the same now and in the future.

A Prayer of Blessing

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I will praise Him!

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Autumn glory, sumac ablaze with color — photo courtesy of Liz Kranz

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.
May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the LORD grant all your requests.

(Psalm 20:1-5, NIV)

Discerning our Errors

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I will praise Him!

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Early evening glow on the Ottawa River — photo by David Kitz

But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

(Psalm 19:12-14, NIV)

Who Protects the Needy?

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Reading: Psalm 12
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.
May the L
ORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—
those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the L
ORD.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
And the words of the L
ORD are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.
You, L
ORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked,
who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race
(NIV).

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Fortune Lake, Gatineau Park — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Who cares for the needy? The corporate titans and bank executives don’t. It seems they are far too busy lining their pockets and preparing their golden parachutes to give a thought or a dollar to low paid employees or the poor. The relentless pursuit of profit trumps all other concerns.

Who cares for the poor? The political leaders and power brokers don’t. When called upon, they mouth meaningless platitudes and profess concern. But policy is dictated by those with fat bank accounts and the right connections. They ensure that very little trickles down to those in need. In their hearts these are those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

Who cares for the poor and needy? According to the words of this psalm the LORD does. “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.”

God has always demonstrated concern for the poor. The prophet Amos declared the LORD’s severe judgment on Israel because of their mistreatment of the poor. “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed” (Amos 2:6-7).

Will God judge us for how we treat the poor? Absolutely. God has not changed. He defends the poor and He remains true to His word. Call out to Him in your time of need. The word of the LORD is tried, tested and true. You can count on it.

Response: LORD God, give me a caring heart for those who are poor and oppressed. Help me to demonstrate that care not just in thought but in practical ways as Jesus would. Amen.

Your Turn: What can you do today for someone who is needy or suffering? Let your actions speak.

More about THE SOLDIER WHO KILLED A KING

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Soldier book“An awesome read: captivating, spellbinding, inspiring! Through the author’s masterful writing, the centurion stood out as a real and personable individual…The book also helped me visualize Jesus, my Savior, and his person and work for the forgiveness of my sins, for my daily walk, and for the eternal life he has in store for all who believe.”

Cliff Kentel, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Regina, Saskatchewan

“Story has a way of capturing our attention and enabling truth to move from head to heart. David Kitz creatively unpacks the events of Passion Week as seen through a Roman centurion’s eyes.  Through vivid word pictures, we see the whip-sliced back of our  Savior and hear the pounding of each nail that affixed him to the cross. We walk these lasts steps of Jesus’s earthly ministry, leading to his death, burial, and triumphant resurrection from the dead. Kitz Better helps us to do as the apostle John encourages: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1)

Dean Ridings, author of The Pray! Prayer Journal and communications director of Navigator Church Ministries

For more information regarding the author and his live dramatizations visit https://davidkitz.ca/centurion.php

For more information regarding book purchase from the author visit https://www.davidkitz.ca/bookcart/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

or

For more information regarding U.S. book purchases visit https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Who-Killed-King-Retelling/dp/0825444853/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537465478&sr=8-1&keywords=the+soldier+who+killed+a+king

 

 

 

 

When Our Faith is under Attack

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Reading: Psalm 11
For the director of music. Of David.
In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”
The L
ORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them.
The L
ORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.
For the L
ORD is righteous, he loves justice;
the upright will see his face
(NIV).

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A forest refuge, Gatineau Park — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Do you feel like your faith is under attack? It seems that everywhere there are people who are mocking those who have faith in God. Believers are openly ridiculed. We are blamed for every war since time immemorial. We are told that science has rock-solid evidence, while God followers rely on concocted myths handed down by unscrupulous manipulators.

The enemy is firing arrows of accusation, doubt and distrust from the shadows at the upright in heart. The very foundation of our faith, the word of God—the Bible—is being attacked as outdated, unreliable and historically inaccurate. Along with David we ask, “When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The righteous can do what David does in the first line of this psalm. David says, “In the LORD I take refuge.” For David, God was not a mystical concept. God was a rock solid reality. David had a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD. The LORD was David’s helper, healer and deliverer. In the tough times of life, God was there—was present in David’s life. The LORD brought victory for David over Goliath and over every enemy that exalted itself above God.

The same can be true for you. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11). Remember the LORD is on his heavenly throne. Nothing takes Him by surprise. The LORD is with you and He is watching your response. We need not be intimidated; we need not flee. We need to stand our ground like David and like Paul the apostle. The LORD is with us.  

Response: LORD, you are my refuge. Help me to stand my ground when my faith is under attack, and help other believers to do the same by the grace of Jesus. Our faith rests on you, Lord. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you have a memory bank full of experiences with the LORD that you can draw on?

Defender of the Fatherless

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Reading: Psalm 10
(Verses 12-18)
Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account?”
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
The L
ORD is King forever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You, L
ORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror
(NIV).

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Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
From the beginning, it has always been so. At the start of life there is a father. Without a father there is no life. Ponder those words for a moment.

Of course those words are true of a mother as well. But today’s psalm focusses on fathers. To be more accurate, the psalmist calls attention to the fatherless. Apparently, fathers aren’t just needed at the beginning of life; they are needed throughout life.

There are voices in our society that question the need for fathers. Life can go on without them. In some cases, life is better without them. But I would argue that that’s not life as life should be—as life was designed to be from the beginning. Our prisons are filled with fatherless men. A huge chunk of the misery, distress and degradation in this world is caused by the absence of fathers—men who fail to assume their role as fathers.

A good father—an active, involved father—makes a world of difference in the life of a child. As a public school teacher I saw the truth of this every day. The well-fathered child of either gender has advantages beyond compare on every social, economic and intellectual scale. We need fathers. I need a father—a perfect Father.

That’s why we can draw comfort and encouragement from this psalm. Twice the LORD promises to be a helper and defender of the fatherless. Jesus came to introduce us to our Father—a Father who cares.

Response: LORD God, father me. Thank you for caring. Help me become the father I need to be. Amen.

Your Turn: Has your father made a difference in your life for good or bad? Are you being Fathered?