I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 116
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living (NIV).
Three years ago this month, on a family level I experienced the power and truth of the following words: For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Some time ago on a Saturday evening, I got a call from my brother. My alert and active, ninety-three-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. Fortunately, this happened while in hospital, as she was in recovery from having a heart pacemaker implanted. Clot dissolving drugs could be administered. But…
But my mother is a hemophiliac—a bleeder. In her case, the clot dissolvers could easily result in a brain hemorrhage leading to death. The doctors needed us to decide on a course of action. The choice was between taking no action and having my mother permanently disabled by the stroke, or administering a remedy that could kill her. This is the dilemma we faced.
We decided to have the doctors proceed with the clot dissolving drugs. We resolved to pray and trust God for the best outcome. And God answered by bringing my mother through with no symptoms of a stroke whatsoever. Zero. Two weeks later she was standing in front of her church, proudly displaying a quilt she had made to mark the 70th anniversary of the congregation. Yes, and just to remind us that this recovery was God’s doing, she had a significant bleeding incident earlier that week from her pacemaker incision. You, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
Response: Father God, I love you LORD, for you heard my voice. Over and over you have answered my prayers. You are a very merciful God. Thank you. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God helped you? Has He answered your prayers? Take a moment to testify.
Reading: Psalm 115
All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
You who fear him, trust in the LORD—
he is their help and shield.
The LORD remembers us and will bless us:
He will bless his people Israel,
he will bless the house of Aaron,
he will bless those who fear the LORD—
small and great alike.
May the LORD cause you to flourish,
both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
The highest heavens belong to the LORD,
but the earth he has given to mankind.
It is not the dead who praise the LORD,
those who go down to the place of silence;
it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore.
Praise the LORD (NIV).
As a sharp contrast to placing our trust in the lifeless idols of this world, Psalm 115 calls us to place our trust in God. Today’s reading begins with a threefold call to trust the LORD. All you Israelites, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. House of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield.
For those who are logically minded, there is a simple equation or formula at work here. Trust in the LORD results in help and protection—he is their help and shield. Our trust or faith in God brings a response from Him. The LORD’s response is both active and passive. He provides help; He intervenes by actively assisting us. From personal experience I know the LORD has been my help. In the nick of time He has provided words of knowledge and wisdom. He has been my constant guide. When needed most, He has opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings. He has sent help in various forms, and in ways too numerous to mention.
But the LORD is also our shield—our passive protection. He protects us from the slings and arrows of the evil one. He shields us from the enemy’s attacks, whether it is from physical harm, or spiritual attacks that undermine our faith through faulty reasoning or deceptive philosophies. The LORD is our sure defense. We can draw strength from this promise: He will bless those who fear the LORD—small and great alike.
Response: Father God, I trust you to be my help and my shield. Keep me safe from the evil one. Thank you for all your help through the years. You have been faithful to keep your word. Amen.
Your Turn: Can you think of instances when God has helped you?
Reading: Psalm 102
A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak
and pours out a lament before the LORD.
Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath,
for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass (NIV).
If you have watched a friend or family member wither away due to the devastating effects of cancer, then you should have no difficulty identifying with the thoughts expressed here in this psalm. An enemy (cancer) is gnawing away at their very being. A sense of hopelessness and despair can easily settle in.
This is when we need God the most, but in our distress He can seem strangely distant. Our cries seem to fall on deaf ears.
But God is still there. Our faith may be shaken, but our LORD remains. Death may come knocking, but our LORD remains. Friends and family may forsake us, but Jesus remains by our side. Bad news does not take God by surprise. Though He is not the author of the bad news, our Lord knows what’s coming around the next bend in the road. He is prepared though we may not be. The Lord’s provisions are in place. Trust Him for that.
When the bottom falls out of your life, God is there to catch you. Trust Him for that. Though I may wither away like grass, I have a Savior who will receive me. Trust Him for that.
Response: Father God, when bad news comes I look to you. I call to you! Be my help when all human help and hope are gone. Lord Jesus, you are my Savior. In this—moment I trust you for that! Amen.
Your Turn: Have you received bad news recently? Have you taken it all to the Lord?
Reading: Psalm 91
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD,
“He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked (NIV).
Trust is a fascinating concept and it is expressed in various forms. In his book entitled, The Silver Lining, the early twentieth century Christian writer J.H. Jowett makes this observation about trust:
It is, perhaps, helpful to remember that the word which is here translated “trust” is elsewhere in the Old Testament translated “careless.” “Be careless in the Lord!” Instead of carrying a load of care let care be absent! It is the carelessness of little children running about the house in the assurance of their father’s providence and love. It is the singing disposition that leaves something for the parent to do. Assume that He is working as well as thyself, and working even when things appear to be adverse.
Do you have a childlike trust and carelessness in the Lord? Are you carefree because you know the Lord cares for you? That’s the lifestyle that Psalm 91 calls us to. If I am dwelling in the shelter of the Most High and resting in the shadow of the Almighty, I have nothing to fear. I can go about my life with a carefree mindset, because the Almighty cares for me. He has me covered. The psalmist says just that: He [the LORD] will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
We live in a world where fear is contagious. Will there be another terrorist attack, a stock market collapse, a recession? Will my marriage survive—my children turn out okay? The child of God lives in a carefree, worry-free, safe zone. Do you trust the Almighty?
Response: LORD God, you are my shelter in a stormy world. I am so safe—so very safe—when I am with you. I want to live each day in the confidence that you care for me as a loving Father cares for His dear child. Amen.
Your Turn: If you truly know the loving nature of God, trust should come easily. Does it for you?
Reading: Psalm 84
Hear my prayer, LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.
blessed is the one who trusts in you (NIV).
All of Psalm 84 is written in praise of a special day—a day spent in God’s presence. Throughout this Psalm there is a longing to be with God—a desire to be close to him. So we hear the Psalmist declare, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.“
If you were to plan for the best day in your life, what would that day include? What would it look like? How and where would you spend your best day? Would the LORD be at the center of it all?
Love is at the core of every special day. Think back to some of the best days of your life—days marked by joy and excitement. If you scratch beneath the surface of those days, you will find love at the core. We are in fact love starved people. We need it as much as the air we breathe. Experiments have shown that the unloved, un-caressed, unspoken to baby will die, even though all its physical needs are met. So when love comes to us, we celebrate it, frolic in it, and throw a party to announce it.
We need love. We need to receive it. We need to give it.
It was love that brought the psalmist to the House of God. It drew him like a magnet, pulled at his heart, tugged at his sleeve, and finally ushered him through the door. Love set him on this pilgrimage. It kept his weary feet moving mile after dreary mile. When he finally reached his goal—the object of his love—in wonder, we hear him exclaim, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.”
The psalmist was pursuing love with the one he loved—the LORD Almighty. Have you spent time pursuing him lately? Is a day spent with him, something you yearn for?
Response: LORD God, I love you. I know that you love me because Jesus showed the extent of your love. He reaches out to me with nail-scarred hands. I want to spend my day with you. Amen.
Your Turn: Is a day spent with Jesus, something you yearn for?