As we close our week of devotions together, it’s fitting to end with the words of David himself. Known for his incredible Psalms (though he surprisingly didn’t write them all), David is a perfect example of what it means to be a worshipper of God.
In the first verses of Psalm 138, we see David connect to Psalm 136. “Give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness”. David follows the pattern of thanking God for who he is before thanking God for what he had done in his life.
This is key. God didn’t have to do anything for you for him to be worthy of praise. He gave you life and breath. He gave his Son. He gave you the hope of eternal life. Our creator did it all. Regardless of the blessings he has brought to you in your life (which are awesome, please don’t misunderstand me), God has earned gratitude and praise from you. He deserves it. Don’t forget to show gratitude and recognize that he is God when you come before him in prayer.
David follows in verse three showing how God answered prayer in his life. This wasn’t the first, nor the last time David called and God answered, but I love how simple this prayer is.
“On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” (v 4 Ps. 138)
How beautiful is that? I called and you answered. That is such a rich picture. David is wanting everyone to understand the power of prayer. More importantly, he wants God to know that David heard God answer his call. God wants to know when we recognize how he works and moves in our life. It brings him joy when we get it. It’s like a father seeing his kids opening up a gift he gave them. Our father loves it when we love the gifts he brings us.
Reading down, David proclaims that all of the kings that have heard God’s word shall praise you. I believe this is a calling to us as well All of us that have tasted and seen the works of God are called to sing his ways–because his glory is great.
But for us, we know more of the story than David did. Which gives us an even greater calling. We have the Son of Man who died on a cross, was raised from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God. Jesus gives us access to the throne room. He is our victor. Our forerunner. Our king.
Though David never met Jesus, he still understands the power that the anointed one holds…
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. -Psalm 138:7-8
I can’t help but think that David is seeing a picture of the Christ at the right hand of God in this. As Jesus is a descendant of David, it is incredible to see the connection between these two men.
The right hand of God delivers us as well. How gracious and miraculous is that?
I have loved going through these scriptures with you this week. I hope your devotions continue to draw you closer to the LORD and his Son. I hope you feel inspired to praise and sing to our God. He hears each moment. And, he will answer your call.
Our final song is: See a Victory by Elevation Worship. Because, I think David would bring his drum and sing this one with us.
I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving. We are continuing in Psalms today with Psalm 136. Here, we see a proclamation of God’s great works for this people through history. The author expresses how the LORD struck Egypt and brought freedom to Israel (Ps 136: 10-11). That same God also parted the Red Sea, overthrew Pharaoh and his army, struck down famous kings, and gave the land of those kings to Israel.
The author is proving that the LORD is righteous and steadfast. The God of Genesis 1:1 who created all things endures forever. He ALONE is the God of Heaven. He is the one who performed those miracles the author exclaims in this Psalm. And, he is the same God that the apostles honored and praised. He is the same God that our Messiah, Jesus, relies upon, heeds to, and loves.
This same God will rescue you too. He isn’t finished yet. As long as you have breath in your lungs, God isn’t done with you. He gave each of us a purpose. It’s our job to bow low and follow his lead.
Start with giving thanks. If you take anything away from these devotions this week, I hope that you recognize that God has earned every ounce of gratitude and praise we can give.
After thanking him, remember this: “You are the only you God has.” (Sadly, not my quote. I wish I could take credit for this, but alas). This means that you have work to do! You have to walk through the seas God parts for you. You have to be willing to move. Be brave.
Today’s song doesn’t directly quote this Psalm. However, it encourages you to pray for God to move in your life as he did for the Israelites discussed in Psalm 136. Pray that God will mold you into the man or woman you need to be for him. He knows what’s best for you.
Listen to “Canvas and Clay” originally written by Pat Barrett. My favorite version is sung by Katie Torwalt (The live version). If you have time, listen to both!
“When I doubt it Lord remind me, I’m wonderfully made. You’re an artist and potter. I’m the canvas and the clay…“
You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 136 and Ezekiel 47-48
and have compassion on his servants.” -Psalm 135:13-14
Who better to be thankful for than God?
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Ah yes, the day where Americans all over come together, filled with gratitude as they gather with their families. It helps that amazing food is normally involved…
I hope you are enjoying your thanksgiving morning and that your hearts are full of gladness. There is SO much to be thankful for this year, good health, family, job security, new friendships, the list is endless.
My encouragement to you today is to not forget to be grateful for the one who brought you all of those blessings and more today. God is worthy of our praise! He deserves it!
The Psalmist for Psalm 134-135 does an incredible job expressing his love and spirit of thanks for the LORD.
“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the Lord.
May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion.” Psalm 134
Wow, what an exhorter this author is. I wish I could have been there to raise my hands with him when he first proclaimed those words.
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for he is gracious.
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession. Psalm 135: 3-4
God is gracious. He freed the Isrealites. He raised his Son from the Dead. He knows you by name! And he has a spot for you at his table to come and dine with him.
So, today, as you likely gather around a table with a feast of your own, praise the LORD and thank Him for the table he has for you in the Kingdom of God. And get excited for how rich it will be.
Today’s song is a classic. “Thank You, Lord” by Don Moen. It’s a perfect morning energizer.
With a grateful heart, with a song of praise, with an outstretched arm, I will bless your name… Thank you, Lord!
This morning, we are reading Psalm 132-133. The author of these Psalms calls upon God to remember David, his afficitions, his praise, and the promises that God gave him. We get a taste of David’s endurance and God’s faithfulness to him and the people of Israel.
I read these scriptures as a prayer. This author is intimate and transparent. They desire for God to rise up for them. And he is specific about it. He asks God to remember the promise he gave to David and to keep going. Wow. I admire the spiritual confidence of this author.
The idea of calling upon God in this way is tricky. We should never go to God with demands and tell him what to do for us. “Okay, God. You WILL do this.” Nah… I don’t think that will get us anywhere. We can never forget the privilege it is to be able to sit at our Father’s feet and pray to him. We can thank the Messiah for that–along with so much more.
However, I think this Psalmist is doing something right. He is praying in a way that we likely don’t do enough. We praise God for what he did, what he’s doing, and what he WILL do.
The LORD wants us to remember. Hebrews 1 is another amazing biblical example of this idea. The author of Hebrews exclaims the faithfulness of so many of those that came before him–all to the glory of God.
By the author asking God to remember David, the author is expressing to God that he believes, relies, and wholeheartedly trusts in him to work and move. The author is expressing that he is right where David was–open and available to God.
I want to pray like this. I want God to know that I am excited for him to fulfill the promises he made to the men and women who walked with his Son, our Lord Jesus first. I want him to know that I am making him my resting place as they did. I will always remember.
Our God never fails. He is faithful. He is true. And he always will be.
Today, we will be reading Psalm 129-131. I immediately resonated with Psalm 129 where the author expresses being attacked for their youth. All of us understand the feeling of being underestimated. It’s humiliating. Assumptions are made before you have the opportunity to be heard. We are placed into boxes before we get the chance to prove ourselves. Honestly, it’s frustrating.
Isn’t it amazing that God values young minds? He is righteous. This makes him just. He is able to cut through every stereotype and see the man or woman that you are made to be.
However, being a young mind myself, I have a tendency to be impatient. This idea takes us to Psalm 130.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered. Psalm 130:3
While we are bogged down by our own shortcomings and societal stereotypes, God stands for us and forgives. Instead of trying to rush my life to measure up to the world, shouldn’t I wait on the LORD?
That is so much easier said than done. This author of Psalms says “My soul waits, and in his word I hope”. Our souls should be steady in God. As we eagerly hope for the Kingdom to come, we should have settled patience now.
But, in this waiting, should we sit with our hands behind our backs doing absolutely nothing? Of course not. Waiting on the LORD means trusting and relying upon his wisdom in our lives, and understanding that he knows what is best for us.
In this waiting, you can hear his voice more clearly. You can see him move in your life with clarity. Resting your heart on God means that you will be more available for him to intercede on your behalf.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me. Psalm 131:2
Allowing yourself to be filled with peace is what leads to spiritual maturity and growth. It places you one step ahead of the people who underestimate you unjustly.
Today’s song is Wait on You by Maverick City Music. Listen to all 9 minutes and 24 seconds. It’s worth it.
Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength… that’s what happens when you wait!
Today, we will be reading from Psalm 126, 127, and 128. Wow, what an incredibly rich set of scriptures. As a worship leader at my local church in Nashville, I am always convicted to meet God in a deeper place when I read Psalms. These authors understood the honor and glory that worship brings to the LORD.
I am in awe of the authenticity and vulnerability of these authors. I have always wanted to be able to worship like David — I hope to worship with him in the Kingdom.
These specific Psalms are short in nature but packed for exaltation and prayer to God. I was specifically drawn to Psalm 126.
“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;” -Psalm 126: 1-2
Have you ever been filled with so much joy that you can’t help but laugh? It’s the feeling where in that moment nothing else matters. All of the anxieties, worries, and struggles vanish in that brief time. I would like to think of this as a taste of the kingdom– where joy will be at home every morning.
Today, my message is simple and short. Be a dreamer in God. Pray that he draws you closer to him. Pray for his plans for you to be made evident! And when he shows up (He is never late afterall), remember to give him the glory he is owed.
Our God is a doer of great things. He has done so much for you. From raising his Son from the dead to bringing breath into your lungs, God has worked in your life. And he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Today’s song is “Great Things” by Phil Whikham. Is it theologically perfect? No. However, I believe it expresses the heart and mind of the author of Psalms who was brought to laughter from God’s providence. Yes and amen.
As a child of God, it is your duty to understand how to bring praise and worship to the LORD as a sacrifice to him. Worshipping our God should not only give you joy but also bring joy to our incredible God and to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
The past two years have been a whirlwind for all of us. I don’t have to write it to remind you of the turmoil that our world has been in. In this historic time, its natural for us to become down–depressed even. It’s easy to think that hope is lost.
This week, I encourage you to remember that we have a never failing — never ending — hope. In this series, I remind you of who you are– who God has made you to be — a worshipper for him. Our King has never lost a battle. He never will. I remind you that this world is going to fail you–it’s not the Kingdom of God. But, I urge you to remember that his kingdom is coming. Let’s worship while we wait for our coming King.
We call out to Dry Bones – Come Alive…
Each day, I am going to relate this devotion to a song in worship that connects to the scriptures we are focusing on. Today our song is, “Come Alive” by Lauren Daigle. I hope this song fills your heart as much as it does mine.
“Come Alive” is taken from Ezekiel 37.
3 He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:3-6
God always has a way of showing up doesn’t he? Our God is never late. And he proves that over and over again. In Ezekiel 37, we see a picture of hopelessness. I envision these bones to be turning to dust. If I saw this, I would be drawn toward the idea of death—nothingness—pure loss. But, somehow Ezekiel sees these bones as an opportunity for God.
Ezekiel calls upon the LORD to make something out of what seems like nothing. The prophet believed so deeply in the giver of life that he had the courage to ask God to renew life in these bones!
As a modern-day believer, I become convicted when I open my Bible and get a taste of the spiritual confidence that the men and women of the scriptures had. They didn’t just see and hear— they ran forward in action!
After Ezekiel makes this act of faith, we see that these bones weren’t nothing! They belonged to the people of Israel. Before Ezekiel’s eyes, stood the men and women who sacrificed it all in order to achieve freedom. And, they did.
Okay, I get where your head is likely going… “Les, what dry bones do I have that need to come alive?”
For us, these scriptures are less about physical resurrection and more about being wholly rejuvenated in Spirit. How many people–this may include yourself–are giving the bare minimum for God? How many of you feel how hard it is to get up on Sunday morning? How many of you are simply…tired?
This feeling is what leads us to having spiritually dry bones.
We have to ask God to make us alive again in him. And we must pray for our spiritual brothers and sisters that they do the same.
“We call out to dry bones, come alive, come alive.”
My prayer for you this Sunday is that you become spiritually alive – totally revived. I pray for your churches this morning, and for your pastors. Let us ask God to fill us with the breath of life–in order to be renewed, and to be strong once again.
While we have been thinking about the importance and beauty of God’s word in Psalm 119, we have also been reading Ezekiel. I want to lead you on a speed run through Ezekiel 25-36.
For the most part, Ezekiel is given a message of judgement against the nations. These nations are those who have harmed the people of God. Many of the Minor prophets got similar messages which could be summed up in modern words as, “You have hurt and abused God’s people, and he will give you justice.” The nations that are judged in these chapters are Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt. He spends quite some time on both Tyre and Egypt, and even speaks to their kings directly. The praise he gives in his lamentations over these nations is rather grand. Read Ezekiel 28:11-19. God had blessed the King of Tyre, given him so much, and yet look how far he fell! I hope you can see why a number of people have thought that God started talking about Satan here; an angelic powerful force from the beginning of the world falls to the pit because of pride. I don’t think the text is specifically talking about Satan, but that the King of Tyre represents the satanic spirit and lives his life parallel to the Satanic fall. In these laments, I don’t think God is necessarily mocking their fall. I don’t think he wants to bring the evil back on their head (see 36:11), but the nations and their rulers acted pridefully and never sought the good of his people. God does not allow that to go unpunished.
And so God sends in his man. So now we get to see the Israelite King or General or War Hero who vanquishes his foes and becomes King over the Kingdom…
No, God didn’t work that way. God instead says, “I will strengthen the arms of the King of Babylon and put my sword in his hands.” (30:24) God used Babylon. The same Babylon that would later take his people into captivity, the same Babylon that would later be used as the image of the proud nation, as the one who exiles the people of God. What is God doing using Babylon?!
He’s doing what God always does; His will.
God is smart enough, wise enough, powerful enough, good enough, loving enough, to take all the broken pieces and people in this world, with their free will and desires and urges and traumas and prejudices and hatreds and pains and hopes…
And God can use it for the good of his people
and the working of his plan.
Babylon acted in freedom, maybe even sin, and God can take that and make it work for him.
God can give true freedom to love him or reject him, to walk in righteousness or sin, and he can still work out his will in people.
You have this freedom. In Ezekiel 33:10-16, God tells his people, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Are you living a life of wickedness, separated from God? I stand, like Ezekiel, as a watchman(33:7), begging you to see the truth. To turn from that sin and live! If you choose to believe in the God of this prophecy, the God of the Torah, the God of all Scripture, who gave us these words and the Word, made flesh in Jesus Christ, If you choose to follow him, then the promise from Ezekiel 36 will happen in you. “ Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (25-28)
May you trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ.
May you turn from sin and judgment.
May you turn to righteousness, hope, and love.
May you have YHWH, the one true God, be your God today.
Psalm 119 is a beautiful testimony to the words of God. The psalmist meant to refer to the Torah, the first five books, called books of the Law.
But is that ALL that the psalmist spoke about?
The psalmist referred to what he believed were the words of God, but that is because he only regarded the first five as God’s revealed word. However, the church has come to recognize more than that. First, we believe God revealed himself to Moses in the Torah, and that through a lengthy editing process we have those first five books in their form today. However, other books, books of history, like Joshua and Ruth, were also recognized as being inspired by God. Note how that sentence was worded. It was not that “the church claimed they were inspired” or “the church or councils chose them for the Bible.” The church and church councils only recognized the inspiration already in the text. We saw it in the books of the prophets like Isaiah and Malachi, in the apocalypse of Daniel, and even in the Psalmists own words of 119! Later, we would recognize God’s voice in the writings of Paul, in the Gospels, in other letters, including the letters of Peter, John, and the apocalypse given to John.
These 66 books compose the Scriptures, in both Old and New Testaments. When we read Psalm 119 and the psalmist’s passion for, meditation on, and memorization of scripture, for us this covers ALL these books. The psalmist was this passionate about Leviticus, how much more should our soul sing when reading the Gospel account of the salvation of humanity! How much more should we rejoice in committing to memory the words of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. (John 1)
Read Psalm 119 (or, hopefully, re-read it!) and focus on what we have seen over the past few days:
As you read Psalm 119, see the artistry of one who so deeply loved God’s words, and allow it to show you the beauty of God’s scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
As you read Psalm 119, praise God for the fact that he would reveal himself in the scripture and how much more he would reveal himself through his beloved Son Jesus Christ.
As you read Psalm 119, recognize the Torah’s important role in beginning the Revelation of God to his people, and may it propel you to continue to walk in God’s way through the life and teachings of the fulfillment of the Torah in Jesus.
As you read Psalm 119, pray, meditate and memorize God’s words so that they may be a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path, and that you might keep your way pure.
As you reads Psalm 119, may you fall in love with the words of God, the Word of God, and ultimately, with the God who loves you.
Before you click away, don’t be scared, turned off, or apprehensive of the words “spiritual discipline”! It’s a shorthand term for something like “the practices and habits that, when performed in love for God, move our hearts and minds to such a place that God can change us.” You can see why “spiritual disciplines” is easier. Psalm 119 has, implicitly and explicitly, four of these practices running through the text. If continually done, these practices and habits can put us in a place to live the best kind of life, the kind of life God wants us to live.
First, the psalm itself is a prayer. The psalmist is constantly calling on God. God is the “you” in the psalm. “You have ordained your precepts” and “By keeping it according to your word” are both ascribing worth and prestige to God. He is the God who gives precepts. He is the God who gives his word. The ground of every discipline is prayer, speaking to God and allowing space for him to speak back. In verse 147 this is the most clearly said. “I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words.” The psalmist speaks and is ready to listen. The psalmist has cultivated a prayer life in God as he opens the pages of the Torah and begins to read.
Second, an extremely important spiritual discipline is Bible reading. While we should be open to hearing God’s voice in a miraculous vision from heaven, in speaking in tongues, and in prophecy (all which may have a place in the Christian life), the most common and most sure way to hear the words of God is to open a Bible and start reading. What an amazing gift it is that we can do this on computers, tablets, and in our homes. The psalmist would have to wait to go find a scroll in the temple to be able to read or hear the words of the Lord. The psalmist delights in the commandments of God. (See verse 47) Twice in two verses (47-48) he says that he LOVES the commandments of God. How can we love a book we never read? The psalmist knew that the only way to ground his life in truth was in God’s words. “Your Law is truth.”(142) He also knows that it’s not just a truth “out there” that we assent to and merely know, but truth that we can live by. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”(105) Do you read the word of God to know truth and to know how to live truly?
The third and fourth discipline is also founded on this one. Simply reading God’s word is necessary to be able to spend more time with it.
And spending time with God’s word is the way to define “Biblical meditation.” Meditation has grown in popularity in the west in the past few years. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Yoga, meditation is quieting the inner voice so that enlightenment and oneness may connect you to everything else. (At least, that is the claim of these philosophies and beliefs.) In these practices, one wants to detach and empty oneself from the world. In modern, western meditation, self-emptying is a part, but so that one can fill up with visions of the future they would like to make manifest, or they speak words of affirmation over themselves. You focus, but the focus is on you.
In Biblical meditation, you engage your mental faculties on God. You pour over his words. You take words into your mind, but so that they can travel the 18 inches from you brain to your heart. “I will delight in Your commandments, which I love. And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, which I love; and I will meditate on Your statutes.” (47-48) The psalmist loves God’s word, so he wants to allow them to rumble and roll around in his head and heart. Meditation is allowing the words to tumble in your mind. To read with love is different than to read to understand. When I read a love letter from my wife, I don’t parse every word to make sure I have the proper tense of the verb. But I do mull over the words in different ways. Each turn of phrase leaves a sweet taste in my mouth as I sound them out. When we were apart before we got married, every “I miss you” text felt like a dagger. And the same is true for the words of the Torah. We mull them over and feel the pain when we are no longer with the Father who loves us and the God who made us. The psalmist in his delight of God meditates. “I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.” (15-16) It seems the psalmist reads early in the day so that the words can be there all day long. “How I love Your Law! It is my meditation all the day.” (97) And meditating on God’s word, focusing on his words to the exclusion of everything else, is both facilitated by and facilitates the final discipline.
How many verses of scripture do you know?
Did you know that by 10-13, most Jewish boys were expected to memorize the Torah?
Someone said recently “Well, they memorized their whole Bible!” And I said “Yes, but it was shorter!”
But, I don’t have the Bible memorized, not even an entire book. I do have sections down, many verses memorized. But I could always learn more.
Meditation helps memorization and vice versa. When we read a verse in the morning and spend time thinking about it, and allow it to be the focus of our thoughts through the day, then we will have an easier time memorizing. If we memorize verses, then we will be able to have then stick in our heads.
The psalmist clearly did this. “I have treasured Your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against You.”(11) The psalmist treasured up the words of God in his heart, meaning they were not just known but acted out. BUT, to be acted out, they must be known, memorized. In the midst of temptation the psalmist wasn’t fumbling around for a Bible, or a scroll. “The snares of the wicked have surrounded me, but I have not forgotten Your Law.” (61) The way of life was know to them. He understood that it was vital to memorize God’s law. It was life or death! “My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your Law.” (109) He knew that following the words of God was because God was the one who gave him life through his birth (73) and the one who gave him new life every day. (93)
Brothers and sisters,
May you connect with God through prayer in a new and powerful way today,
May you hear his voice as you read his words, in this and every book of the Bible,
May you hold his words in your mind,
And as you have them memorized, may they transform your heart.