Trusting in God

Psalm 5, 38, 41-42

psalm 5 11 NIV sgl

 

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

 

In Difficult Times

Psalm 34

Psalm 34 4 NIV

In yesterday’s lesson, I neglected to point out a story from 1 Samuel 21 that is relevant to today’s reading.  When David ran away from Saul, he escaped to Gath (enemy territory) so Saul wouldn’t keep chasing him. The king’s servants pointed out that David was the man about which they sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”

David took these words to heart and was very much afraid, so he pretended he was insane –  scratching on the doors, and letting his saliva run down his beard. When the king saw this, he thought David was crazy, and sent him away.

David wrote Psalm 34 after this experience.  Here are some verses that stand out to me.

V 3, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”

V 4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.”

V 6, “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”

V 7, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

V 8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

V 12-14, “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.  Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

V 15, “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;”

V 19, “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all’

We need to be quick to praise God for whatever he does for us, just like David did.  It’s easy to cry out to God when times are tough, but sometimes it’s harder to remember to praise Him and let others know what He has done for us.  This is important too.

What I really like about this chapter are the multiple times that David points out that we will experience difficult times, but God sees us through those times.  I like the image conveyed by verse 7. When I’m going through a hard time, it’s comforting to imagine God sending an angel to protect me. This doesn’t mean I won’t have difficulties, but God sees me through.  God is attentive to the righteous.

In verse 8, I picture David saying, “I’ve been through some hard times, but I’ve remained faithful to God, and God has pulled me through.  I want to encourage you to develop a close relationship with the Lord. Once you experience that relationship and experience His helping you through those difficulties, then you too can understand how good God is.”

I have to echo David’s words, because I’ve been there.  So I encourage you too, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

–Steve Mattison
Today’s Bible reading (Psalms 7,27,31, 34, 52) can be read, or listened to, at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+7%2C27%2C31%2C+34%2C+52&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be more Psalms written by David (56,120, 140-142) as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

A Perfect Opportunity for Revenge

1st Samuel 21-24

1 Samuel 24 12 NIV

In today’s reading, we see more examples of Saul’s rebellion against God and his hatred of David.  Ahimelech the priest had inquired of the Lord for David. In his rage, Saul ordered that not only Ahimelech, but all the priests must be killed – so Doeg the Edomite, one of Saul’s goons, killed 85 priests, then went to their town and killed every man, woman, and child (and its cattle, donkeys, and sheep).  In chapter 23, Saul chased David and tried to kill him multiple times.

 

In chapter 24, David finally has his opportunity for revenge.  Saul was again chasing David. David and his men were hiding in the Desert of En Gedi.  Saul and 3000 chosen troops were in hot pursuit. Along the way, Saul needed to go to the bathroom.  He wanted a little privacy, so he stepped into a cave to relieve himself. Little did he know that David and his men were hiding further back in that very cave.

 

If you were David, what would you have done?  Would you have eliminated the threat to your life, and ushered in your reign as king?  To be perfectly honest, I think that’s exactly what I would have done. David’s men encouraged David to kill Saul, but instead, David crept up to Saul, and cut off the corner of Saul’s robe.

 

Afterward, David was conscience stricken and said, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”

 

Wow!  Clearly Saul was a scoundrel, but David spared his life because God had made him king.  I think we can learn a lesson or two from David’s respect for the office of authority, even when the man in the office wasn’t worthy of respect.

 

This is exactly what we’re told to do in 1 Peter 2:13-14 – “For the Lord’s sake, submit to all human authority—whether the king as head of state, or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right.”

 

David’s actions also remind me of Romans 12:17-18 – “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”

 

So too, we need to submit to authority, even when we don’t like the person in authority, or what they are doing.  Also, we need to be intentional about never repaying evil for evil.

 

To finish today’s story, because David had spared Saul’s life, Saul promised to leave David alone, and returned home (for now).  David and his men went up to their stronghold. God had protected David yet again.

Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+21-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 7,27,31, 34 and 52 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

His faithfulness will be your shield

Deuteronomy 32-34, Psalm 91

Deuteronomy 32 46 47 NIV

Even things that were written with a specific audience in mind can contain principles that we can apply, too.  Our look at this section of Deuteronomy this week has shown us a number of these principles.

As we dig into these final chapters, I want to back up a smidge to chapter 31 from yesterday’s reading.  It fits a bit more to mention it here, as a lead-in to the close of the book.  What I thought after reading chapter 31 was this:

How depressing for Moses.

Here he is about to die, and God decides to tell him that, by the way, these people that you served all these years…they’re going to totally screw up and abandon me.  (I believe the phrases God uses include, “prostitute themselves to foreign gods”, “forsake me” and “break the covenant they made with me”)

Clearly God knows what he’s doing, though, as he further prompts Moses to take this information and write a song that the Israelites can sing as a reminder.  (Showing what a great teacher God is, knowing that songs stick in our minds!)

Blackout Poetry

The song of Moses can be found in Deuteronomy 32.  I want to take a look at it by singling out certain words and phrases.  Blackout poetry is a form of poetry in which you take an already printed piece (article, story, anything) and black everything out except the words you want to shine a light on.  In this instance, I think it can help us get a feeling for the heart of God in these words.

Listen

Proclaim … Oh, Praise the greatness

He is the rock…A faithful God who does no wrong

To their shame they are no longer his children…warped and crooked…foolish and unwise

He made you and formed you

Remember

He found…He shielded..cared for..guarded…fed

Abandoned God…Rejected the Rock

Jealous…Angered

“I will hide my face from them,” he said… “They angered me with their worthless idols.”

Fire kindled by my wrath

Heap calamities upon them…wasting famine…pestilence…plague…fangs…venom

Perish

Scatter

“If only they were wise and would understand”

The LORD will judge…and have compassion…When he sees their strength is gone and no one is left

I have wounded and I will heal

Rejoice

He will…make atonement for his..people

 

Speaking of poetry, Psalm 91 is a beautiful picture of God’s protection and provision.  (You can read it here  https://biblehub.com/bsb/psalms/91.htm )  One phrase I want to single out is in verse 4.  It tells us that

“His faithfulness will be your shield.”

In Moses’ song, he says that our God is,

“A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

We are foolish and unwise, weak and broken, and often fail.  But we can depend on God’s faithfulness.  We can trust that he does what he says he will do.  After all of this Moses tells the people in 32:47, and I remind you today:

“They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.”

 

Susan Landry

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+32-34%2C+Psalm+91&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will begin the book of Joshua (chapters 1-4).  Don’t miss out – Be Strong and Courageous – as we charge ahead on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

And if you haven’t started consistent daily Bible reading yet…now is a great time to start.  Come read with us and see God at work – through the books of Old Testament history – and in your heart.

Paul Serves and God Provides

Acts 28

acts 28 31

There has been a lot happen on the way to Rome, but Paul is still a prisoner. What, I wonder, were all the other prisoners doing? Were they mainly sitting around and only doing something when told to? We can see from chapters 27 and 28 that Paul couldn’t just sit by if there was something he could do to help. Paul had a servant’s heart. He served during the storm by encouraging the other 275 on the ship. He served by convincing them to eat and not give up. When they are shipwrecked on Malta, Paul immediately continues serving. He gathers wood for the fire. The natives are doing this, too, but I bet Paul is tired like all the others who had to swim for safety. He doesn’t let exhaustion stop him from serving. Paul serves again by going to see Publius’ father who is sick. He prays, lays hands on him, and heals the man. In a sense he has served everyone he came in contact with. He serves his own crew by serving and healing the natives because they, in turn, supply them for the next part of their trip! Paul was a blessing to everyone around him and he blessed them by having a humble and serving heart that prompted kind acts.

While Paul is serving and blessing, God is providing protection and opportunity. God gets Paul an audience by protecting Paul from the snake bite.  God also gets Paul an even larger audience by giving him the ability to heal “the rest of the people on the island who had diseases.”  Later, we see that God protects Paul in Rome from a miserable prisoner’s existence by providing a sizable rental property and a simple guard to watch over him. It seems sizable because this allows him to testify about the kingdom of God and Jesus to “large numbers.” God has provided Paul with suitable accommodations and the opportunity to witness to Gentiles and Jews while imprisoned in Rome for the next two years! For “two full years” he was “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”

There seems to be a correlation between Pauls’ serving and God’s providing. What could this mean in our own lives? I personally would love to be a blessing to others as Paul was. Wouldn’t you? And what could be better than knowing God is protecting you and providing opportunities for you to make a difference for Him?

On a side note, I would like to point out that while it isn’t mentioned in this chapter, Paul did speak to Caesar. According to Philippians 4:22, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.” Obviously, there was some success there for God among some Gentiles, some Jews, and some among the kings at least! This was Paul’s purpose. (Acts 9:15)

-Melissa New

 

Blessings or Curses (Numbers 24-26)

September 8

talon-thur

Photo of Mountains in Israel By Beivushtang at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3485696

By Talon Paul

If you are like me and have read through this entire section, you are probably tired of reading all of the names listed and the counting of individuals for war. This information was very important to the Israelites, but has become “back-burner” information for us today in 21st century America.

Although it is very strenuous to read this section, there is a very important story in chapter 24, which is extended on from chapter 23. Here we see a man named Balaam being commanded by Balak to curse the Israelites who are passing through his land. However, when they get up to a high place to see over all of Israel, Balaam can only cast blessings down on the people, thanks to God. Why is this so important?

While the Israelites were complaining about their lives, going through the motions of everyday life, God was protecting them without them even knowing it. They had no idea that just over the mountain was a man being unable to curse them because God intervened.

The same is true in our lives. When we are in the midst of all the struggles of life and are busy doing everything we need to, God is still protecting us, whether we realize it or not. Although we may not be able to see what He is doing immediately, we know that He has promised to protect His people. God is doing wonders for you right now; do you believe it, even though you can’t see it?