See a Victory

Psalm 137-138

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. 

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 137-138 and Daniel 1-2

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136

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…

-Leslie Jones

You can read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 136 and Ezekiel 47-48

Thank You, LORD!

Psalm 134-135

“Your name, O Lord, endures forever,

    your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.

For the Lord will vindicate his people,

    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! 

-Leslie Jones

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 134-135 and Ezekiel 45-46

Pray Like This

Psalm 132-133

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’s song is Faithful Now by Vertical Worship.

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 132-133 and Ezekiel 43-44

Wait on You

Psalm 129-131

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! 

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Psalm 129-131 and Ezekiel 41-42

Filled with JOY

Psalm 126-128

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.

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 39-40 and Psalm 126-128

Come Alive

Ezekiel 37-38

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.

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 37-38 and Psalm 123-125

Achieving Spiritual Confidence Begins with Believing

Luke 10 & John 10:22-42

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. -John 10:27-28 NRSV

Rejection is something that all of us have, or will, face in this life. And, I can honestly say that it never feels great. You know that feeling where you feel like your stomach hits the floor? For a moment, it’s hard to catch a breath. In that moment you feel like you’ve lost it all. As humans, we want people to believe in us. We want to be trusted in, relied upon. And, we also hate the loneliness that comes from people choosing to walk away from us or not abide in our words. 

So, what must it have felt like for our Messiah to constantly face people who were unwilling to believe him? How did he have the strength to continue to persevere? We see in the ministry of the Son of Man, the Perfect Man, an ability to consistently rely upon the Word of his father. We see in Jesus complete confidence in God and his plan for Jesus’s ministry. And, over and over, we see Christ giving all glory to God. Jesus knows with complete clarity where his power is coming from and how important it is.

Can you imagine knowing you are the Son of God, proclaiming the gospel that you know without any doubt is true, and having your Jewish brothers and sisters threaten you with stoning? 

Fear, dismay, sadness. I can say if I had been in the shoes of Jesus at the end of John 10, I would be overwhelmed with emotion. The steadiness that we see in the Lord is astonishing, and takes an exuberant amount of courage. 

32 Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?”

Wow. Jesus has just laid out his cards. He is saying, “Look this is who I am. I have been sent by my father to do his good works. You have seen many of these works. And you are going to stone me now?” He is making it clear that by stoning Jesus, the Jews are going against the glory of God. WOAH. What an argument. Its clean, simple, and most importantly, transcendent. 

Although we see that Jesus escapes being stoned that day in John 10, we all know that he did have to endure the cross for us. The perfect man that did it all right covered our sin with his blood. And then, God raised him from the dead. Because of that, we have been grafted into an eternal kingdom where righteousness will reign! 

But in this life, we will continue to face rejection. We will always have people that don’t believe us. And no, we aren’t going to be perfect. But because of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, we have the ability to also trust in and rely upon the Word of God. We have the opportunity to serve and be loved by our Creator. How beautiful is that? 

When we choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we learn what it takes to be spiritually confident. Trust in God. Trust in his Word. Proclaim his good works. That is where true confidence begins. 

-Leslie Jones

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Luke 10 and John 10:22-42

Tomorrow we will read Luke 12-13

In the Healer’s Hands

Psalm 30 

Psalm 30 12 NIV sgl

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

 

psalm 95 1

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

 

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