Today’s verse from the Psalms
I thank you for your intervention in my life.
You have given me a story to tell—
a testimony to your amazing grace.
Help me to carry that testimony to a future generation—
a generation that is not yet born.
Today’s quote and prayer:
I am thankful that your Spirit sought me out and drew me to the cross of Jesus.
I bow before you in praise and gratitude.
I pray that you will show the same mercy to many others.
Give me a heart of compassion for those
who have not experienced your saving grace.
Reading: Psalm 78
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning;
in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
So he ended their days in futility
and their years in terror.
Whenever God slew them, they would seek him;
they eagerly turned to him again.
They remembered that God was their Rock,
that God Most High was their Redeemer.
But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
lying to him with their tongues;
their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return (NIV).*
Psalm 78 is a lengthy indictment against the people of Israel for their unfaithfulness to the LORD. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that these were the people of God—His chosen people—yet they responded with lies, unbelief and disloyalty. If this is how the people of God conduct themselves, what are we to expect from those who do not know the LORD?
Unfortunately, the people of God today are not so different from the people of Israel 3,000 years ago. When we look about the church world, we see plenty of division, backbiting and sin. All too often hate rules instead of love. We cover ourselves with a fig leaf of self-righteousness and then proceed to attack those who fail to meet our standard. We do all this while we are trapped in our own secret web of sin. We are determined to clean up the world while ignoring our personal pile of filth.
The words of Jesus from his Sermon on the Mount still ring true today, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:4-5).
But given this deplorable state of affairs, what does the LORD do? The psalmist states, “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them.” Like the people of ancient Israel, we are saved not because of our righteousness, but solely because of God’s mercy and grace.
Response: LORD God, I cannot boast because of my righteousness. You know all my shortcomings. I have an impressive pile of personal sin. Forgive me through the mercy of your son, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been guilty of pointing out the faults of others while ignoring your own? What can you do to change that?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Some good news: The first volume of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz will be published in November, 2020, by Elk Lake Publishing. Two additional volumes will follow in 2021 to complete the three volume set of devotions from the Psalms.
Today let’s remember those who laid down their lives in defense of our country and its freedoms.
Reading: Psalm 44
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge (NIV).*
Psalm 44 begins on a very positive note as the psalmist recalls the goodness of the LORD and the great victories Israel has won because of the LORD’s help. But that was the past. This is now and the triumphs of bygone years are just fading memories. The current reality as described in this portion of the psalm is a depressing litany of disgrace, disaster and defeat.
But now you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies. You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us.
We can all pretend that after we turn our lives over to Christ everything will go well for us. Often it does. After all, isn’t He on our side? Isn’t He working on our behalf for our success? Why would He allow stress, trouble and hardship to come our way?
The truth is the LORD is far more interested in developing our character than our comfort. Character development doesn’t happen without adversity. James, our Lord’s brother has some sound advice on this topic.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
I dislike adversity, but we should greet adversity as a friend—a friend that provokes us to prayer and to overcoming. Hard times push us into discovering God’s grace afresh.
Response: LORD God, help me to see the difficulties I face as stepping stones to victory. I know I need your help, so I call out to you. Change me through the hard times. You are my Savior and my God. Amen.
Your Turn: How has adversity helped to develop your character?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Because of open heart surgery, publication of 365 Days through the Psalms by award-winning author David Kitz has been delayed until later this year or 2021. In due course, 365 Days through the Psalms will be published by Elk Lake Publishing. In the interim, please pray for my return to good health.
Reading: Psalm 40
Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, LORD;
come quickly, LORD, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The LORD is great!”
But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the LORD think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay (NIV).*
David begins Psalm 40 by praising the LORD for rescuing him from the slimy pit of the past. But David ends this psalm with a fresh appeal for God’s mercy. Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
As we move forward, it is only fitting that we take time to praise God for what He has done for us in the past. Let us never forget that the LORD’s faithfulness has brought us to this point. We are not where we are today because of our own cleverness, effort or ability. Every talent we have is a gift from God; every breath we take is a gift from the Giver of Life.
Yet again David appeals for God’s salvation. Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me.
By the grace of God I have experienced an initial point of salvation, just like David, but my salvation needs to be renewed from time to time. We all need to experience fresh surges of God’s grace and love. Grace (charis) in the full New Testament sense means much more than just unmerited favor. It means we are recipients of God’s providential gifting and power to live a maximized life under His caring guidance. There’s something supernatural about grace. It goes beyond human ability or ingenuity because it comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. When we call out to God as David did, we are tapping into an ocean full of help, strength and possibilities beyond fathoming.
May that grace, that charis of God, be with you and upon you in the days ahead.
Response: LORD God, I need you as I face the days ahead. Equip me with divine grace and ability for each day through the love and power of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s grace in the past week—the past year?