Reading: Psalm 10
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 LORD is King forever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You, LORD, 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).
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 focuses 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?
*New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.
Reading: Psalm 40
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened—
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, LORD, as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly (NIV).
The first half of today’s psalm reading is quoted directly in Hebrews 10:5-7. The writer of the Book of Hebrews saw Jesus as the prophetic fulfillment of this passage. Jesus became the necessary sacrifice for the sins of the world. When God came to earth in bodily form as the babe of Bethlehem, He came clothed in humanity. Jesus came with his ears wide open to the voice of his heavenly Father. He came to do His Father’s will. For Jesus the Father’s will meant going to the whipping post and climbing the hill of Golgotha to die in agony on the cross. That was the sacrifice the Father desired.
Has God opened your ears to His voice? Have you loved God until it hurt? It hurt Jesus to do His Father’s will. If we are Jesus’ disciples, should we expect better treatment than our Master? Often what we hear preached is a sugar-coated gospel that asks little of us. Jesus asked his disciples for their lives. He said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
Have you lost your life for the sake of Jesus? Now, that’s a high calling with a steep price attached.
Are your ears open to God’s calling? There are times when I don’t want to hear God’s voice. That’s why I don’t seek Him in prayer. He may tell me something I don’t want to hear. All too often, I am His reluctant servant. I would rather do my will than His will. He must change my desires. My desires must become His desires. Only then can I serve with joy. Jesus’ desire was always to do his Father’s will. From an early age he was about his Father’s business, fulfilling His Father’s plan for His life.
Whose plan are you following?
Response: LORD God, help me to truly hear and obey your voice. I want to be your disciple, Lord Jesus. Thank you for your great sacrifice by which you purchased my redemption. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you heard God’s voice and walked away? He doesn’t give up easily. He remains faithful. He renews His call.
Reading: Psalm 36
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light (NIV).
As mentioned in my previous post, Psalm 36 is a psalm of contrasts. David compares the wickedness of man with the amazing goodness of God. The opening portion of Psalm 36 touches on the depravity of man. In today’s reading we behold the awesome love and kindness of God.
Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. The beautiful poetry of those words sends me off on a Rocky Mountain high.
God’s love is reflected in the beauty of his creation. He nestled us into a world of incredible beauty and variety. From the grandeur of the mountains to the minute sea fauna, God is there—sustaining all—reigning over all. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
God’s unfailing love stands in sharp contrast to man’s rapacious capacity for hate and destruction. We glory in war, death and bloodshed as though these are great accomplishments, when in fact they are a failure in love and forgiveness—the attributes of God. Yet despite these failures God showers us with His love and goodness. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
It is worth noting that God is the source of the river of delights. Just as any good father enjoys bringing pleasure to his children, so too our Heavenly Father delights in bringing joy to us. He is not stingy in His love, but overflowing with generosity, in many cases providing more than we can handle.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. The LORD is the author and source of all life. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31). Only in Him and through Him do we see the light of day and the light of life. To God be praise forever more!
Response: LORD God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your great love and faithfulness to me. Let your light shine in me and through me today. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been drinking from God’s river of delights?
Reading: Psalm 5
For the director of music. For pipes. A psalm of David.
Listen to my words, LORD, consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.
For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
with you, evil people are not welcome.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, LORD, detest.
But I, by your great love, can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple (NIV).
Are you a morning person? Are you most productive in the morning hours, or do revive after the sunsets? Our bodies move according to their own internal rhythm. Some people love to rise with the chirp of the first songbird, while others are true night owls. Often my wife catches her second wind in the evening as I’m fading into sweet oblivion.
It would seem that David was a morning person. Here in Psalm 5, we read these words from David: In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
David was one of those early birds that began calling out to God at the break of day. He knew God was listening. He made sure that the LORD heard his voice.
Is the LORD hearing your voice in the morning? Are you calling out to Him? Of course, your heavenly Father is pleased to hear your voice at any time, day or night. Is He familiar with your call?
But there’s more to this than just calling out to God and laying out your requests. David waits expectantly. He expects God to respond. He is listening, watching and waiting for the LORD’s reply. Have you built some wait time into your prayer time?
All too often our conversations with God are one sided. They are one sided because we blurt out our requests and rush off into our day. We don’t wait expectantly for the LORD’s reply. We don’t allow Him time to respond.
Response: Heavenly Father, I call out to you. I lay out my requests. Teach me to wait expectantly for you. Open my ears to hear your voice. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you set aside a regular prayer time? What time works best for you?
Reading: Psalm 109
For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me (NIV).
Perhaps you have noticed that we have entered the giving season. I am of course referring to the pre-Christmas shopping binge, when gifts are purchased, wrapped and hidden away for the big celebration. Many rail against this tradition, but in reality the scriptures are filled with admonitions that encourage us to be generous and bless others. Christmas and year-end provide us with wonderful opportunities to do just that. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
If we find no pleasure in giving, we may be suffering from more than a simple case of Scrooge-like stinginess. Soul sucking self-centeredness destroys us from within. It defaces the image of God that is stamped upon us from birth. God our heavenly Father is the picture of generosity. He gave His only Son for us. In light of this sacrifice, there’s something terribly wrong if we can’t spare a dime or a kind word for the less fortunate.
Today’s reading provides us with a negative contrast to the generosity of God. The individual being described withheld his blessing. He loved to pronounce a curse—may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing—may it be far from him.
How generous am I with words of blessing? How generous am I with this world’s goods that have been lavished on me by a gracious Father? During this season I need to check my heart and my bank account, but above all my heart. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Am I generous with words of praise and thanks for those around me—with the clerk at the shopping mall or the life partner who shares my bed? Am I reflecting or defacing the image of God?
Response: Father God, today I want to be a blessing and pronounce a blessing on those around me. I am thankful for the generosity of your love, forgiveness and grace. It’s more than I deserve. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you careful or too lavish with your spending in the Christmas season?