Today’s thought from “365 Days through the Psalms.”
Lord, help me draw close right now.
Reading: Psalm 141
A psalm of David.
I call to you, LORD, come quickly to me;
hear me when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
Set a guard over my mouth, LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
do not let me eat their delicacies (NIV).*
Like so many of the psalms, Psalm 41 is a conversation with God—a prayer to the LORD—the Holy One. Prayer should be part of our daily routine, as routine as getting out of bed in the morning, and as regular as our evening meal. David, the psalmist, expresses this thought with these words: May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
In his revelation of the throne room of God, John saw our prayers being offered as incense before Jesus, the Lamb of God. And when he had taken it [the scroll], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people (Revelations 5:8).
I find it fascinating to view our prayers being offered up in a tangible way as incense—a pleasing aroma to the LORD. See Numbers 15:1-15.
David continues his prayer with this petition: Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Often my mouth gets me in trouble. I say I’ll do something, and then don’t follow through. I let others down. In frustration I blurt out words that I later regret. James, the brother of Jesus, provides us with this advice. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19-20).
I need a guard over my mouth. This is true in my daily conversation with others, but it’s also true of my conversations with God. I think we often pray rash prayers—prayers that in His mercy God does not answer. I think I know what is best for me only to discover after the fact, that what I thought would be a blessing is a huge detriment. My prayers can be mixed with the stench of human flesh.
Response: LORD, I want my prayers to be like sweet incense to you. Help me to pray according to your will. That means listening for your voice before I blurt out my requests. Guide my thoughts. Speak to me and through me as I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Your Turn: How careful are you with your prayers? Can we be too cautious in prayer?
*Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations (NIV).
When you grow up on a prairie farm, as I did, you appreciate the traditional aspects of Thanksgiving all the more. You are reminded each day that the food on your table does not simply come from a store. You are actively engaged in producing the nourishment that sustains your own life. Though today may be a long way from Thanksgiving, I know I need daily reminders to be thankful. How about you?
As a youngster I sat down to many a Thanksgiving feast, and almost all the food found on that groaning table was home-grown. I watched those vegetables growing in our garden in the hot summer sun. I even pulled the weeds from around those peas. And those mashed potatoes, I helped my mother hill those tubers in the spring and then dug them up after the frost hit in the fall.
My brother loved growing pumpkins, and mom would turn his favorite into the best pumpkin pie east of the Rockies. And how can you eat pumpkin pie without a mound of whipped cream on top? Well let me tell you, it tastes even better, when just that morning you milked the cows that produced that sweet rich cream. Oh, and that huge turkey—we’ll miss that pompous strutting gobbler out by the hen-house. But I’m sure we’ll get over it, somehow. For now, let’s just dig in.
Let’s all dig in, and give thanks to the God, who made all this possible. This sumptuous feast has been brought to you by Him. Now that’s Thanksgiving!
The great God in heaven has been kind to us. He has answered our prayers. He brought the warmth of spring and the rain of heaven. He caused his face to shine upon us. The rich earth responded to his touch. It brought forth its bounty, and now around this table we have gathered together as a family to celebrate God’s great goodness to us.
As the psalmist declares, “It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” So today with joy-filled hearts we enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. We give thanks to him and praise his name.
Response: Heavenly Father, thank you for all your kindness. You have been so good to us! Help us to maintain an attitude of gratitude all year long and not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Amen.
Your Turn: What blessings from God’s hand are you most grateful for? Say a prayer of thanks right now.
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 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?
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is cities.
Last year on this date we returned home to Canada after a three-week stay in Japan. One of the cities we visited was Yokohama. At the end of World War II, Yokohama like many Japanese cities lay in ruins due to the American bombing campaign. As you can see from the photo above, there is no evidence of that destruction visible today.
Today’s verse from the Psalms speaks about God rebuilding a city.
This verse reminds us that God gets behind rebuilding projects. He rebuilt the city of Zion after Babylonian invaders destroyed it. But God’s love is not confined to the people of ancient Israel. Through the mercy and redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God’s love is now available to all—to people of every nation under the sun.
God is in the business of rebuilding cities and broken lives.
Response: LORD God, the enemy has laid waste to areas of my life, my city and my country. But you are building a home of righteousness. I want to be part of your great building project. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there something that needs rebuilding in your life or community?
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is praise.
If I did a quick one-question survey of Christians, here is the question I would ask:
Why do you praise God?
Here is the answer I would expect most often:
Because He answers my prayers.
Yes, we praise God because He hears and answers prayers. He has been doing it for thousands of years and He will continue to do it for eternity.
God’s faithfulness to answer our prayers calls us to praise Him.
Response: LORD God, I praise you because over and over again you have answered my prayers. You see me and listen to me. What a privilege it is to be your child. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God revealed Himself to you through answered prayer?