affliction, character, faith, God, God of miracles, hope, Jesus, meditate, miracles, Most High, persecution, perseverance, power of God, psalmist, purified, remember, remembering, Suffering, tested, the LORD
Reading: Psalm 77
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph (NIV).
Psalm 77 began with the psalmist in a state of anguish approaching despair. He was filled with questions for the LORD—questions but no answers. This brings us to our reading for today. After pouring out his complaint, the psalmist recalls the mighty works of the LORD.
“To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
When in doubt, remember. In a time of suffering, remember. When troubles assail from every side, remember. What should we remember? Remember the God who performs miracles. Remember that He is your personal redeemer. The blood Jesus shed was for you. The resurrection he accomplished was for you. The forgiveness he offers is for you.
During trying times, I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.
Our faith isn’t tested and purified in the good times while the choir sings sweetly in the background. Faith is tested and purified in the furnace of affliction. There’s no lineup of volunteers signing up for affliction. The gospel that is often presented today is branded as affliction-free. But Jesus gave no such promise. He promised persecution to those who leave all to follow him. (See Mark 10:29-31).
Paul, the apostle, makes this assertion: We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
As you face difficult times, reflect on the ever-present, never-changing, miracle-working power of God.
Response: LORD God, you are at work on my behalf even when I can’t see it. I believe in you, the miracle-working God. May my meditation center on you and your word, because your word brings light. Amen.
Your Turn: Does God have your attention when you are in trouble or pain?
Reading: Psalm 26
Vindicate me, LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
and have not faltered.
Test me, LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love
and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful,
nor do I associate with hypocrites.
I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds (NIV).
The opening lines of Psalm 26 certainly catch my attention. David claims to have led a blameless life—a rather audacious statement in my opinion. But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to invite God to test him. David pleads, “Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.”
Now that takes some nerve. Do I really want the LORD to examine my heart and my mind? If I underwent a heart and mind exam, what would my test scores be? Most of us would shy away from being tested by God, but David’s response is completely different. He is clearly saying, “Bring it on!”
How could David be so self-assured—so confident—to the point of sounding arrogant? Actually, David’s confidence was not so much in his own performance, but rather his confidence was in God. He states that he is mindful of the LORD’s unfailing love. He is relying on the LORD’s faithfulness. David knew the unfailing love and faithfulness of God, and this wasn’t merely head knowledge—a bit of mental information. No. David knew God experientially. He experienced the LORD’s unfailing love. He experienced the faithfulness of God over and over in his life. As a youth he slew a marauding lion and a bear. He brought down the mighty Goliath. He fled for his life, but ultimately triumphed over the madness of King Saul. David knew his God experientially in the grit of battle and the daily humdrum.
What about you? Do you have a memory bank full of great experiences with God? If the answer is no, why not ask God for a deposit today? If you put your faith in Him, He will not let you down.
Response: LORD, examine my heart and my mind. I want to grow in my knowledge of you and my confidence in you. Help me to have a pure heart and mind before you. I want to experience your presence in my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced God’s love and faithfulness recently? Do you let Him examine you?
Reading: Psalm 3
A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.
LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”
But you, LORD, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the LORD,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, LORD! Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people (NIV).
When do you most need God?
The answer to that question is easy—when I’m in deep trouble. It’s natural to call out to God when I’m in some great or urgent need. A returning veteran from the First World War said it best, “There are no atheists in the trenches. When the artillery shells start exploding to the right and left even unbelievers discover how to pray.”
The context of Psalm 3 is of great significance. David finds himself in the midst of a life threatening tragedy. He is fleeing from his palace in the nation’s capital, because his son is conspiring to murder him and seize the kingdom from his hands. Here is the great delta—the extreme low point in David’s life.
How does David respond? With utter confidence in God! Yes, he calls out to the LORD for deliverance, but he does so with complete assurance that God will answer. There isn’t the slightest hint of doubtful desperation in his voice. Having prayed to the LORD, he boasts in his ability to sleep, because he knows God will answer.
How could David be so confident—so self-assured? Actually, David’s assurance rested entirely on the LORD, not on himself. David had a wealth of experience with God. In his mind, the LORD was tried, tested, and true through the ups and downs of life.
He knew something we need to know. God will come through. He will bring salvation and deliverance!
Response: LORD God, save me from all my troubles. I put my confidence in you. You reach down to me at the low points in my life. You have never abandoned me. Amen.
Your Turn: Take a moment to reflect on the goodness of the LORD. Has He saved you from deep trouble in the past?
Reading: Psalm 119
You are righteous, LORD,
and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live (NIV).
In the spring of 2015 my son bought his first new car. He was understandably proud of his purchase. The vehicle boasted great handling, exceptional fuel economy and almost zero harmful emissions. What’s not to like about a diesel-powered car like that? Volkswagen engineering was ranked among the best in the world.
Less than a year later, the illusion of zero harmful emissions came crashing down. Volkswagen had installed specially designed software to make sure its vehicles passed emissions tests, but real world, on-the-road results were totally different. The thorough testing that consumers rely on had been subverted.
Fortunately, God’s laws cannot be subverted. Humans may try, but the judge of all the earth knows all; He sees all. We can never pull a fast one on God. Today’s reading from Psalm 119 makes that perfectly clear. You are righteous, LORD, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. The psalmist then goes on to make this assertion: Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.
God’s word and His promises have been road tested by us, His people. They stand up in real life situations. The Bible—God’s word is designed to be applied. It doesn’t just work in the test lab. It works in the laboratory of life—day-to-day life, where it really counts. That’s why spending time in God’s word is so important. It becomes the roadmap for life—an abundant life—the life Jesus promised to his followers.
Response: Father God, your word and your promises stand true for all eternity. Help me to believe and live each day through the wise application of your word. Give me understanding that I may live. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you tested God’s word? Did it work for you in real life situations?