Today’s verse from the Psalms.
Lord, thank you for saving me from death.
Reading: Psalm 73
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds (NIV).
I love the brutal honesty of the psalmist. I always like to think I am the smartest one in the room, but the truth is I am very capable of wrong-headed thinking. And wrong thinking often leads to hurtful words or unwise actions. Take a moment to consider the psalmist’s confession: When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
That’s brutal honesty. Are we that honest with God when our reasoning goes off the straight and narrow rails? Or do we justify our thoughts and blame God or others when we are ticked off?
We need to come into God’s sanctuary to have our hearts and minds tuned into the LORD’s thinking. The LORD reminds us that He knows the big picture. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).
When we are in God’s presence, we can have our affections adjusted. All too often I have my priorities all messed up. What about you? The amazing truth about God is that He loves us despite our mess ups. The psalmist knows the power of that love. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
What a patient, loving God we serve! This should become our humble confession: Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Response: LORD God, I want to have your perspective. I want to see as you see. Set my thoughts on the right path. Remind me to take time to be with you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you get your affections in tune with God? What steps do you need to take?
Reading: Psalm 71
In you, LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long (NIV).
I must confess that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with rocks. I grew up on a farm on the Canadian prairies and annually the rich soil produced two crops—a crop of grain and a crop of rocks. Grain crops such as wheat, barley and oats were welcomed—the rocks not so much.
Simply working the soil in spring would bring the rocks to the surface. It was our job as children to help our dad to pick those rocks and haul them off the fields. For the most part it was tedious work. That’s the unpleasant part of my relationship with rocks. But as for the rocks themselves, for the most part I liked them. They came in a huge variety of shapes, colors, sizes and textures. I found them fascinating.
For the psalmist, the LORD was his solid foundation—his rock of refuge in a changing world. Hear his prayer: Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
In the shifting circumstances of life, it is essential that we have those things that remain solid and unwavering. From our childhood onward we need a rock of refuge from the storms of life—a rock to which we can always go in good times and bad.
It’s wonderful when we can say with the psalmist, “From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you.”
Response: LORD God, thank you for being my solid rock. Your faithfulness has steadied me in stormy times. You have been my help and strength, my shelter and fortress. Amen.
Your Turn: How has the Lord been a solid rock for you? Do you find yourself drawing closer to the Lord as Christmas approaches?
Of David. A psalm.
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob (NIV).
Psalm 24 begins by establishing the sovereignty of the LORD. He alone is to be worshipped because the LORD is the Creator of all things. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
David then goes on to ask two very pertinent questions. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
Can anyone approach this great Sovereign God? Are there any preconditions that we need to meet? According to David, the answer is yes. The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.
David, I have a problem with that answer. You see my hands aren’t always clean, and my heart isn’t always pure. How then can I approach the LORD? In fact, my problem is a universal problem. In Psalm 14:2-3, we read this indictment against humanity: The LORD 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.
Is this generation seeking the LORD? With rare exceptions the answer is no. It has always been thus. The harsh words of Psalm 14 ring just as true now as they did in David’s time. But there are those who break the mold of this world—those who have received the forgiveness and cleansing of God. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Those who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God may freely approach the throne of God. I want to be numbered among that generation.
Response: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your suffering and death on the cross. Your blood cleanses my hands and purifies my heart. Today I want to seek you. In your great mercy reveal yourself to me. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you a God seeker? On what basis do you approach the Sovereign LORD?