Reading: Psalm 37
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
their feet do not slip.
The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
intent on putting them to death;
but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
or let them be condemned when brought to trial.
Hope in the LORD and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it (NIV).*
A few years ago, here in Canada’s capital we saw aspects of this psalm play out in real time. David, the psalmist states, “The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, intent on putting them to death.” A terrorist, with planned intent gunned down Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while he stood guard before the National War Memorial. This cowardly act highlights the contempt of those who celebrate evil, for those who stand for righteousness, truth and justice. The contrast between those who love peace and those who revel in violence is stark indeed.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip.
When evil raises its brutal head, we need not be intimidated. We need to take heart. When we stand on the side of truth, justice and love, we do not stand alone. God is with us. He is on our side. He has our back. As the psalmist declares, we need to, “Hope in the LORD and keep his way.”
The way of the LORD is the way of love. Jesus said to his disciples, “No one has greater love than this—that one lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NET). Jesus then went on to demonstrate that supreme love by laying down his life on the cross for our redemption.
The question we need to continually ask ourselves is what is my motivation? Am I motivated by love or am I driven by hate? Am I drawing close to the God of love and hope? Is my life a demonstration of God’s redeeming love, or am I only concerned about my selfish interests?
Corporal Nathan Cirillo laid down his life in the service of his country. Which god will you serve? Will you serve the god of self, or the selfless God—the God whose hands were pierced for you? The choice is yours.
Response: LORD God, we live in a very troubled world. When evil rises, we put our trust in you. Help me to walk in the way of love. Surround me with your peace. Keep those who serve their country safe. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you honor those who lay down their lives in the service of their country? What makes their sacrifice special for you?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
I will praise the LORD!
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
(Psalm 50:11-15, NIV)*
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 8
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of David.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?
You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth (NIV).*
There’s something exquisitely beautiful about this psalm. Yes, in it we see the glory of the heavens, the sun, moon and stars—the vast array of heavenly bodies. But there’s more to it than that. This psalm is more than a pretty poetic picture of the heavens.
It’s about perspective. In the grand scheme of things David grasps his true size—his insignificance. Beneath a canopy of stars, he has a transcendent moment—a God moment. He realizes the immensity of God. In the material realm you and I are just a transitory flicker across the face of time. That’s why David asks, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (v. 3-4)
In the vastness of the universe, what am I but a speck. Why would God even consider me? But He does! That’s the wonder of this psalm, and the wonder of our God. He is mindful of you and your concerns. God has crowned human beings—you and I—with glory and honor (v. 5). What an awesome privilege; what an enormous responsibility! When did that happen you might ask?
Well, it happened at creation. God placed humankind as the rulers of all creation. That’s a huge responsibility, a responsibility we have often failed to fulfill. But God reaffirmed His love and commitment to us at the cross. Jesus considered you so significant that he bled and died for you. Now that’s significance—eternal significance in the face of God’s own Son.
Response: Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe, thank you for considering me. Thank you for being mindful of my daily concerns. I bring them to you, my majestic, all-encompassing Lord. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you had a transcendent moment—a God moment? How did that happen?
*New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.
Ah, Valentine’s Day! The day when love, sweet love is in the air.
This year I found the perfect card with the perfect message for my bride. And here it is:
The message inside reads as follows:
My wife was thrilled with this card. It speaks to our current situation on so many levels.
What first attracted me to the card was the picture of the dogs. This week dogs have been on my mind. Karen spent a good deal of time watching the 2020 Westminster Dog Show. She usually watches very little television. She’s more of a book reader—a voracious book reader. But the dog show had her glued to the tube. All those purebred pooches strutting their stuff had her mesmerized.
Occasionally, I would drop in on her viewing and add a casual comment. I was somewhat surprised by her unabashed expressions of affection for the dogs. So, when I saw the dog card on the rack among all those other heart festooned creations, I was instantly attracted.
The young pups pictured on the card along with the accompanying message speak to our present reality as a couple. The wrinkled pups with their sagging jowls are a reflection of our soon-coming reality. The jowls and wrinkles are a current work in progress. After 42 years of marriage we’re not young pups anymore.
As for the message on the inside of the card, there’s plenty of truth there too. I am the lucky one. I’m lucky because I married a woman who knows how to love. By that I mean she knows how to put others first.
I admit I struggle with putting others first. Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” It’s in the “above yourselves” portion of that passage where I run into trouble. I confess I have a streak of selfishness in me that runs deep.
I am lucky to have a wife who over and over again has sacrificed to put me and our family above her personal wants and desires. Will I do the same? Sometimes.
Lord, please help me be an “always” kind of guy, who honors his wife and those around him, not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year. Amen.
Now here’s a little advice from this old dog for other men, both young and old who may be reading this post. Over the years I have found that showing honor and putting my wife first has its rewards. It keeps me out of the doghouse.
Reading: Psalm 91
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (NIV).
Let’s be honest. We all want it. We all want satisfaction. For our sex-obsessed society that can only mean one thing, but in reality personal satisfaction encompasses so many facets of life. I want a satisfying meal when I sit down to dinner this evening. I want satisfactory service at the restaurant, at the auto repair shop and on the plane that I’m catching tomorrow. Above all else I want a satisfying life.
This may come as a surprise to many people, but the simple truth is God wants to give you a satisfying life. Here is the long list of promises that the LORD promises to undertake on your behalf. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation”
In summary, we will be protected and rescued. Our prayers will be answered. We will know God’s presence in times of trouble. And just imagine this; the LORD will honor us. Consider for a moment the implications of that. Furthermore, we are promised eternal salvation, and in the here and now, we will have a long and satisfying life.
That sounds like an amazing offer and it truly is. But there are two conditions attached. We need to say, “The LORD is my refuge.” In other word we need to confess our dependence on God, and then we must make the Most High our dwelling. We need to live in God, not our own little world, but rather His world with our minds and hearts set on Him. That will take a decision that is renewed daily. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Are you ready for that kind of satisfaction?
Response: LORD, you are such a good God. I don’t deserve your goodness and love and yet you continually pour out your blessings. I love you, LORD. I want to dwell in you now and always. Amen.
Your Turn: What do you think it means to dwell in God?
Reading: Psalm 118
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation (NIV).
Are you left handed? Today in western cultures being left handed presents some challenges since many devices are designed with right-handed people in mind. Try finding left-handed scissors next time you’re at a store. Good luck with that! Oh, and if you find them, expect to pay three times the price of a right-handed model. Often lefties don’t have it so good.
Even today in Middle Eastern cultures being born left handed presents an enormous challenge. The right hand is used for eating food; the left hand is used for personal hygiene—bottom wiping. You dare not reverse that assigned role. Toddlers are strictly trained in this cultural practice. Usually left-handed children are forced to switch so they conform to the social norm. Making this switch plays havoc with the developing brain and often results in speech impediments such as stuttering, since this transition requires a complete rewiring of the child’s brain.
The Bible was written by Holy Spirit inspired authors, but like authors today they were not blank slates. They wrote from their cultural perspective to the people of their time. As a result, readers today can easily miss or misunderstand concepts that were readily understood in their original context.
The significance of the right hand is one of those culturally important concepts that we often pass over with little thought. The Bible is replete with references to the right hand or specifically God’s right hand. So what’s the big deal, we think to ourselves. But in Middle Eastern culture the right hand holds great significance. This is the hand of righteousness, honor and blessing. Thus, there is immense significance in this statement: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
Response: Father God, extend your right hand of blessing over me. Work on my behalf. Show me your mercy, your power and glory. Again and again I will give you thanks, for you answered me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you like the psalmist? Has the LORD spared your life for a purpose? Has God lifted His right hand to save and bless you?
I will praise Him!
Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn will be lifted high in honor.
(Psalm 112:6-9, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 75
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A psalm of Asaph. A song.
We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near;
people tell of your wonderful deeds.
You say, “I choose the appointed time;
it is I who judge with equity.
When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns.
Do not lift your horns against heaven;
do not speak so defiantly.’”
No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt themselves.
It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
In the hand of the Lord is a cup
full of foaming wine mixed with spices;
he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth
drink it down to its very dregs.
As for me, I will declare this forever;
I will sing praise to the God of Jacob,
who says, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,
but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up” (NIV).
I find the opening verse of this psalm to be very thought-provoking. Let’s take a moment to consider it: We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.
They are meaningless expressions to those that believe this command from the LORD is a meaningless expression. “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7, NIV).
The Common English Bible translates this command with these words, “Do not use the LORD your God’s name as if it were of no significance; the LORD won’t forgive anyone who uses his name that way” (Exodus 20:7, CEB).
God’s commands are not meaningless expressions. There is power in the name of the LORD. Perhaps we need this reminder. It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another.
Response: LORD God, I want to treat your Name with the respect and honor it deserves. Please forgive me if I have misused your name in any way. I pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Why do you think the LORD makes a big deal about His name? Why is it important?