Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

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(We will read the second half of the longest chapter of the Bible on Sunday – but feel free to actually read the whole thing both days – it is full of good stuff!)

What comes to mind when you hear the word purity? Because we currently live in a fallen world where sin is part of our human nature, we are all impure. Think about it… what about your thoughts? What do you think about? Are there any sins that don’t start with a thought? I’m sure we could learn a whole lot about someone if we could read their thoughts, because the thing about our thoughts is that they are essentially hidden from the rest of the world. And this is why it can be so dangerous. What starts to be a single almost innocent thought can then eventually or suddenly develop from good to bad to ugly. So when would be a better time than now to examine our thoughts and heart. God knows our thoughts, we can’t hide anything from Him, remember? Our thoughts do matter. They reveal what is in our heart. 

 

Thankfully, we can find in Psalm 119 how to stay pure. 

 

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

 

Psalm 119: 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Because God’s word should be our treasure in life we should hide it in our heart and meditate on it so that we can obey it and therefore stay pure. So let’s see what Philippians 4:8 says. “ And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This makes staying pure a little harder, not only should they be pure, they should be honorable as well.

 

 I am so glad this verse made it into our Bibles because it has certainly helped me. When I was little I used to have trouble falling asleep from worrying, until my mom wrote out Philippians 4:6-8 and hung it up next to my bed. Suddenly I had a way to check my thoughts. A thought checker. If it doesn’t align with Philippians 4:8 throw it out of your mind. And even more than that, I was able to memorize it and because of that I’ve been able to use it throughout the years. 

 

Starting some habits can be really helpful in controlling your thoughts. But the first step is to really know the scriptures so you know what is right and wrong. Because how else can we know what the Bible says if we don’t take the time to study, meditate, memorize, and know what it says? Also you will need to commit to memorizing scripture so that when the time comes that they are needed you will be able to pull them out of our pocket and meditate on them. 

Here are some great verses to memorize and hide in our hearts.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 “ Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way  you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

 

Romans 8:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for your. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Or 2 Corinthians 6:6, Romans 8:6, or 2 Corinthians 10:5, and many many others. 

 

So the next time you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, make it a habit to test your thoughts and make sure they align with Philippians 4:8.  When they don’t, affirm that it is a thought that doesn’t align with God’s word and toss it out. Just like Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter was a stumbling block for him, you might choose to say something in response to it to help combat it. Then, ask God to renew your mind and help you strive to live a life pleasing to Him. Lastly and one of the most important steps, meditate on scripture. Choose a specific verse that is personal and recite it over and over again. 

 

So how can a young person stay pure? By living according to God’s word. By meditating on Scripture and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A1-88&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1 and Psalm 72 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

What Never Changes

Psalm 111-118

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In our Bible reading there were too many great psalms to choose what to write about today.  I decided to narrow it down to Psalm 118.  But even within Psalm 118 there are too many great verses to choose what to write about today. I will share a few thoughts…but spend some time in the psalm and see what strikes you most.

We do not know who wrote Psalm 118, nor for what occasion.  Perhaps part of the power of this psalm (and many others)  is that it feels like it could be written for each one of us in any number of situations we find ourselves.  It makes sense.  The psalms are a picture of God and His relationship with man.  God is God – from before history began to an eternal future.  And mankind hasn’t changed that much over time either.  He is still good.  And His love still endures forever.  And, it is still our duty and joy to give thanks to Him.  Some things never change even in a world where everything else is changing faster than we can keep track.

Psalm 118 both begins and ends with this lasting declaration:  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1 & 29).  If it sounds familiar, it may be because that verse is also repeated in 4 other psalms.  Sounds like God thinks it would be a good thing to remember!

It can be easier to give thanks for God’s goodness when we are in a happy, contented, easy place.  But the psalmist writes of many struggles, anguish, trials, battles and oppression that have surrounded him.  Verse 6 says, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  Verse 13 says, “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.”  If you are ever feeling stuck, it is a great time to pray to see more clearly God’s goodness and love.  Then, give thanks.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+111-118&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 1-2 and Psalm 37, 71 & 94 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Surrender – to a Great God

Psalm 131, 138- 139 & 143-145

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Throughout these chapters we see surrender, submission, exultation, and countless reasons to put our trust in God. Recognizing God’s glory, David humbly came before God and put his hope and trust in God while praising Him all the way.

 

By learning about who God is, we can then begin to see why He deserves all our attention. God’s attributes are a great place to start. God is omniscient, he knows everything. There is nothing you can hide from Him, ask Adam and Eve. “You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3) God is omnipresent, he is always present. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipotent, all powerful. And therefore worthy of all our praise and worship. In reading Psalms we can see nothing but how Great our God is. God knows me better than my family does, or even my best friend, He knows all the hairs on our head, and even the number of tears we have cried. He knows where we are and is present at all times. These attributes of God should be such a comfort to us because He is such a loving God whose kindness reaches all. “The LORD will vindicate me; your love, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8) His love endures forever. The same loving God we see throughout the Bible loves us. God loves us so much that we can be certain He has our best interest in mind. 

 

“When I called, you answered me, you greatly embolden me.’ Psalm 138:3

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

 

Many times in the Psalms we can see this similar wording over and over again but I think it is important to point out that it starts with you seeking God first, and once you do and call on Him, He will answer. The fact that God cares about me enough to listen to and even answer me shows how Great a God He is. 

 

We are God’s workmanship, servant, and masterpiece. We are His people, and He is our God. Our creator, He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and because of that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So find your worth in God and trust in Him, who, unlike the world, will give you the truth. 

 

It is so fitting that David ends Psalm 139 with a beautiful surrender to God. David sets the example of opening your life up to God and letting Him lead you in this walk called life. God deserves all our trust, hope, and praise. “May they sing in the ways of the LORD for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Psalm 138:5) Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how much God is deserving of all our praise because in reality he deserves so much more than we could ever give Him. Follow David’s example. Ask God to teach you His will and His ways. Ask Him to search your heart and thoughts. Then surrender to Him and give him all your praise and worship. 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+131%2C+138-+139%2C+143-+145&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 26-29 and Psalm 127 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

In the Healer’s Hands

Psalm 30 

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Living in the time that the world is currently facing, I connected with Psalm 30 in a deeper way than I would have previously. With fear, chaos, and anger running rampant with the COVID-19 outbreak around the globe, an overwhelming hunger and desire for the intervention of God becomes more apparent. When we are captivated by this whirlwind of emotions, the future becomes clouded by a veil of uncertainty. It becomes almost impossible to visualize and focus on anything aside from the noise. Almost like the static that you hear on an old tv when a channel doesn’t work. It begins to consume us. It’s debilitating. 

 

When we allow all of the tragedy that has invaded our world to be at the forefront of our mind, we give up the opportunity to spread the Word of God. We can’t focus on reading our Bibles, praying, or even fellowshipping (via Zoom, of course). All we can focus on is what is right in front of our eyes. The “bigger” picture is completely eliminated from view. 

 

The problem with this is that we are focusing on something that, while horrific, is completely out of our control. And because we are so burdened by it all, we aren’t taking the time to come before the LORD and put all of this in his hands.

 

We are choosing to not depend on the ONLY being who can actually bring healing and peace upon the world. 

 

So, today, I urge you. Read Psalm 30. Make it your prayer. Pray it into existence. We serve a God of healing. We can rejoice and be glad in his goodness and mercy he pours upon us. He will restore the Earth. We can take confidence in that. 

 

Leslie Jones

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+30%2C+2+Samuel+24%2C+1+Chronicles+21-22&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 108-110 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Call to Worship

Why we Should Give Praise to the LORD

Psalm 95, 97-99

 

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I got so excited reading Psalm 95 today because of my enduring joy and love for worshipping God in song. Growing up, music was something that I would consider a “constant”. It kept me grounded in some of the most difficult moments of my life, and it helped me celebrate my greatest victories. When it was hard to pray, or if I struggled to read my Bible like I should, worship was still a peaceful, easy place for me to meet with God. As I got older, worship was where I developed my deepest relationship with God. It has always forced me to be vulnerable and open. 

 

But as I have grown in faith and maturity, I have discovered that coming to the LORD in song has absolutely nothing to do with how it makes us feel. That is a plus of course–what we gain from pouring out our heart to God is incredible. But ultimately, coming before the LORD in praise and worship is something we should do because God has earned it. 

 

Let’s think about it. When we go to church…Or in our current case, when we watch our church services online. Most of the service is centered around teaching, edifying, even sometimes, convicting us. Worship is a specific time to give back. It’s about adoration and proclamation. 

 

O come, let us sing to the Lord;

    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!   (Psalm 95:1)

 

What a special opportunity we have to come together in unity to shout to the LORD with gladness for all of his goodness and mercy that he has poured upon us. That is amazing! And it is something we shouldn’t take lightly. 

 

So whether you are musical or not, I urge you to take some time to make a joyful noise to the LORD. It is one of the greatest gifts you can give to our God who has everything. And that is a gift worth giving. 

Leslie Jones

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+95%2C+97-99&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be a little bit of everything: 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22 & Psalm 30 as we continue with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Trusting in God

Psalm 5, 38, 41-42

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I have always connected with David’s ability to cry out to the LORD. He isn’t afraid to depend upon him. He is willing to ask God directly to be delivered from his enemies. Even though David clearly expresses his weaknesses, he holds so much confidence in God that he is still willing to come before him and pray. 

 

When we think about the faith that David had, I think it’s easy for us to say, “Well, of course, we should ask God to conquer our battles.” And that is true, we serve a God who wants us to come to him. Through the sacrifice of his Son, we have the ability to come to God and ask him to intercede for us.

 

But when reality sets in, we have a tendency to become overwhelmed and ultimately rely on ourselves. We forget to turn to the one who created us for help. I think this is because it’s easier for us to fathom solutions to our problems that we can come up with on our own. 

 

It’s difficult to trust in someone to fight for us that we can’t even fathom. 

 

And yet, David still decides to trust God. So much so that he is praying that others follow suit. 

 

I find all of this relevant with the struggles that are currently overtaking the world. With hunger, disease, unemployment, and fear continuing to rise, it is natural to become overwhelmed. We want to fight for some sort of solution. We have to find some way to cope. But in all of this fighting, we likely end up crippled by fear. 

 

If our first action is to trust in God, our result is very different. We serve a God who will place a hedge of protection over us. He will provide healing for us. Because he loves us that much. A God who can move mountains is the same God who will make you stronger if you choose to come to him. 

 

David saw the glory and mercy that could come from following a path that would lead him to the LORD- a path of righteousness. Imagine what the world would look like if all of us stopped allowing the noise of society to consume us and rested in God. 

 

So, in the fear, in the hunger, in the waiting, let’s choose to take all of that emotion and let it drive us closer to our creator. Let us become a people who are willing to unapologetically depend upon God to fight our battles. 

 

Ironically, if we take refuge in our Almighty, we will see Victory. 

 

-Leslie Jones

 

Today’s reading can be read or listened at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+5%2C+38%2C+41-42&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 22-23 & Psalm 57 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

The Power of Prayer

A reminder to trust in and rely upon our communication line with God 

Psalm 26, 40, 59, 61-62, 64

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How many times have you faced a situation in your life that caused trouble, evoked anger, or instilled fear? All of us have had these moments, sometimes more days than others, but These Psalms show us that prayer is the most powerful tool that we have as followers of Christ in all sorts of situations and for all purposes.  The things that we are looking for in times of trouble are all things that God can give us if we choose to come before him. In Psalm 26, 40, 59, 60-62, 64, David is a perfect example of how we should be praying to our father persistently, fervently, and earnestly.  David prays for protection, deliverance, justice, and simple intervention in his life, but he also prays to praise his Father and pledge his dedication to him.  Prayer is not just a last-ditch effort for us when things get rough.  Rather, we should model our prayer lives after the example set by this great person of faith who has gone before us.  

Prayer is an open line of communication with God, which allows us to have a beautiful relationship with our father, who is always there to listen to us and hear what we have to tell him. Sometimes, the best time to come to our father in prayer is when we don’t feel like we have a specific reason to pray.  We don’t have to save our prayers for supplication in a time of need.  Prayer can be a wonderful, calming, and empowering thing when it doesn’t come from a place of necessity.  Even when we think we have everything under control, we still need God to intervene in our lives, and even when we are at our lowest point, we still have countless reasons to praise God.  If you feel like you don’t have as strong of a connection with God as you wish you would have, use what you know from the man who God led to conquer a giant.  He is always there for you.  In your prosperity and your weeping, he is always on the other side of the line.  Praise him in the good and in the bad.  Ask for his help in the good and in the bad.  There will always be a reason for both of those things.

I am looking forward to continuing to dive into the Word with you all this week. Consider this an introduction to the remaining devotions we will be walking through together. I leave you with this call to action: 

I wash my hands in innocence,

    and go around your altar, O Lord,

singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,

    and telling all your wondrous deeds.

                               Psalm 26:6-7 NRSV

Let’s strive to have an insatiable faith for God like David. Let us learn to depend upon him, trust in him, and sit at his feet in prayer. And, when he does intercede for you, praise his name. For he is worthy of our thanksgiving. 

-Leslie Jones

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+26%2C+40%2C+59%2C+61-62%2C+64&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 19-21 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan