Surrender – to a Great God

Psalm 131, 138- 139 & 143-145

Psalm 145 5 NIV sgl

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

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

A Scrapbook of God’s Goodness

Psalm 81, 88 & 92-93

Psalm 92 4 NIV

 

“For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!…

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed in strength.  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.”

Psalm 92:4,5 & 93:1

 

I love the idea of keeping a Covid-19 scrapbook/journal/photo album to chronicle what you want to remember about this time in your life.  Sometimes a picture says 1,000 words and many emotions.  Some things are harder to capture in a photograph and you might want to add some of your own words.  But, here are some starter questions to get going – some of which were inspired by the snippets of Psalms above.

How did you spend your days?

What changed in your life?

What stayed the same?

What brought you joy?

What works of His hands made you smile?

How did you see God move?

How did you search out God’s thoughts?

What Bible verses meant the most to you during this time?

When or how were you reassured of God’s majesty and strength?

 

The Psalms can be viewed as the poets’ scrapbook of their lives and how they witnessed God at work.  What made them rejoice?  What made them mourn?  How did they see God?  What did they learn about themselves?  About their Creator?  About their world?  About those who reject God?  These are all still great questions to be considered today.  And it is well worth the time to look into the Psalms to see their answers as you work on your own.

I will talk less today so you have more time to work on your personal or family scrapbook.  Even if you don’t make a physical project, take a few minutes to answer some of these questions – or make your own questions.  A great starter is to scroll through your pictures to see what works of God make you glad – and thank Him – and share them.

OK – I will start.  The photo which accompanies this post was taken last weekend during a family hike.  So many things that made me glad – the warmth of the spring sunshine, family time – with no devices, and the health and ability to enjoy the rebirth and beauty of God’s creation.  The wild flowers growing off the path reminded me of God’s loving care and that He is still watching over us and I do not need to worry but I do need to seek Him & His Kingdom  (Luke 12:27-31).  I know, I am not quite as poetic as the psalmists, but that is okay.

Now it’s your turn.   You can post a comment below or share some pictures and thoughts with family and friends.   However you do it, just like the psalmists, take the time to ponder and share what the LORD has done for you.

Marcia Railton

Interesting Side Note- did you catch the Psalm in today’s reading that actually mentions the very modern problem of everyone on their own devices?   Hint – read Psalm 81 again – in the NIV.  Then, make sure you are not in that sinking boat.  Listen to the LORD.  Keep reading His Word and seeking Him as the psalmists did.  He has many treasures He is wants to reveal to you!

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+81%2C88%2C+92-93&version=NIV

In tomorrow’s Bible reading, 1 Chronicles 7-10, we will finish off the introductory genealogies and start in on the stories of the kings of Israel saved for us in the Chronicles.  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

What are You Looking For?

Seek the Lord!

Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19 & 21

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Today’s reading contains my absolute favorite Bible Verse, Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” I love this verse because of its beautiful reminder to seek the Lord daily. Growing up as a Christian my whole life, there is an added need to make my faith my own. And with that comes the importance of having a relationship with our Creator. But no matter what walk of life we are on, we all need to be striving to seek the Lord in all that we do. 

If you make God your main priority in life, He will see you through the rest. Although this doesn’t mean you won’t have any more problems, you can be reassured that God will be by your side the whole way. Continually seeking the Lord.  It’s so simple, and we have all heard it a million times yet its significance is still so important. So how do we continually seek the Lord?

 

Worship- As great as worshiping with other believers can be and is, spending time alone with God in worship can be just as beneficial, if not more. Whether it’s turning on worship music or meditating and praying Psalms, take the time to unplug from the world and plug into God. 

Psalm 95:1-2  “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

 

Reading the Bible – Dedicating time each day to read His word will realign your focus on God over and over again and is the best way to learn more and grow closer to God. God has given His word to you! Don’t leave him unread! 

 

Memorizing and meditating on scriptures-   Keep your focus in alignment with what is important. One way to do this could be to place a couple of your favorite Bible verses around your house to encourage you to continually seek the Lord throughout your day. Soon you will be thinking of Bible verses from memory. 

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Pray- Just like any relationship between two people, there needs to be communication. Consistent communication. Turns out, the same is true for a relationship with God. When was the last time you talked to God, and I mean really talked, like spilled your heart out to Him? We have an amazing opportunity to talk with the Creator of the universe. And the most amazing part, he hears you. He’s waiting for you to open up your heart to him. 

Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” 

Psalm 27:8 “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’

 

Call on Him- The outcome of seeking God- he will uphold you. When you seek the Lord wholeheartedly, you invite Him into your life, and He will touch every angle of it. That is how our lives can be transformed into  living for Him and His glory. God’s plan for you starts with you looking to the Lord as your strength and foundation every day. .  

Jeremiah 29:”Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you…”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

Psalm 91:14-15 “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Lastly, another verse from today’s reading, Psalm 10:4 “ In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 

 

Let’s learn from this wicked man and not make the same mistakes he did. Make room for God in your lives, He can be found when we seek Him wholeheartedly. It’s our job today, tomorrow, and forever.

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+6%2C+8-10%2C+14%2C+16%2C+19%2C+21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 1-2 as we continue seeking God in His Word on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Opening My Eyes and His Book

psalm 119 18

FREE THEME WEEK –

Today I do not have an amazing, earth-shattering verse to tell you about that will change your world.

Rather, I want to tell you that when you faithfully seek God, and His wisdom, truth, and love in His Scriptures, He responds in what may feel like earth-shattering ways that will change your world.

Let me give an example from just a few weeks ago, with a little background information first . . .

I have been working on reading 5 Psalms a day (as suggested by Pastor Jeff Fletcher in the Grow16BibleReading devotion a few months ago – https://grow16biblereading.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/just-two-choices/).  I have always been impressed with Pastor Jeff’s spiritual wisdom and figured if this was one of his techniques for growing, then I wanted to try it, too.  He explained, “Whatever day of the month you are on, read that (numbered Psalm), and then add 30 and keep going up by 30.  That way, in 30 days you will read all 150 psalms. On the first day of the month read Psalm 1, 31, 61,91 and 121, the next day read Psalm 2,32,62,92,122.”   Jeff spreads his Psalms out through the day so that his whole day is immersed in Psalms.  I like that idea, but am currently just working on being faithful with all 5 in the morning, along with the Proverb of the day and the Grow16 devotion chapter.

But, this particular morning I was already into the nitty-gritty of my day – my cute daycare kids had been dropped off in my home daycare, my husband and kids were off to their scheduled activities, and I was . . . clipping coupons and finding the best grocery shopping deals.  If you’ve ever tried it – you know it takes some time.  While I have always been frugal with my finances, my couponing goes in spurts – because of the time it takes.  Currently, I am trying to make a dream trip to Israel a reality so I am in super-saver mode which for me includes getting out the scissors and Sunday ads and digital coupons.    As I was snipping and clipping I was wondering if it was all worth it – should I actually be spending my time doing other (probably, more valuable) things?

WAIT – STOP!   All of a sudden I remembered – what about my morning Bible reading – how did that get missed?  Of course there was more valuable things to be doing than saving $1 on 2 boxes of General Mills cereal!  I put my scissors down and curled up in my favorite Bible reading corner of the couch.  I love having digital versions of God’s Word readily available at my fingertips and able to quickly do online searches to find just what verse or topic I am seeking out.  But, for daily Bible reading I am a huge fan of the comfortable, marked-up, leathery Word of God in my lap.

So, with a bit of guilt for not doing it sooner, I was flipping pages to begin with my Psalms of the day. I can not explain why my eyes FIRST took in one single verse from Proverbs 13 – it wasn’t even the 13th of the month.  Besides, I always start with the Psalms first.  The verse was not highlighted or at the top of the page.  There was nothing that should have pulled my attention to this Proverb.  Nothing – But God.  My eyes read: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Proverbs 13:11  WHAT!   I read it again and again -now with tears in my eyes.  I had JUST been questioning if my time couponing was of any value at all – and God sends me “accidentally” to this verse.  God sure got my attention – because He deserves it – so much more often than I willingly give it.   God told me – “Make sure you don’t steal your coupons – but go ahead and save your money little by little – it’s okay if it takes some time.”  Little by Little.

That morning I received God’s reassurance and promise – FIRST – keep FIRST things FIRST.  Come to Him and His Word FIRST – with every little need and worry and question.  And He is Big Enough to provide all we need.  Faithfully seek Him daily.

This was written thousands of years ago – for me at that moment in time.  I wonder how many others through the ages have found THAT specific verse at just the right time for them.  And then, to consider, that is just ONE tiny snippet of the truths stored up for each of us that seeks Him.

That verse – Proverbs 13:11 – probably isn’t THE verse you just needed to hear this morning.  I don’t know what your questions and needs are today.  But God does.  God directed me to the answer I was seeking that morning.  And, he has – and will – do it again and again.  The answer may not always come quite so immediately – but remain faithful – it will come – because He is faithful.

Our God is Big and Mighty and He lives and breathes in His Word.  Open it up and take in God.  He is not a foreign, distant God.  He has the answers and He wants to share them when His children come humbly and faithfully before Him.   He is waiting for me and you to draw near to Him.

Sit down and open up His Book – so He can reveal Himself in marvelous ways.

Marcia Railton

 

Alone?

FREE THEME WEEK – Psalms!

Psalm 22 1

This week we are looking at seven different types of psalms.  The first was a psalm of wisdom and the second was a royal psalm.  The third type of psalm is a lament psalm.

Life is not always easy.  I know that’s a real shocker for most of you but it is true.  Bad things happen.  People fail tests.  Relationships go sour.  People get hurt physically, emotionally, spiritually.  Sometimes people suffer in unimaginable ways and sometimes people die.   Sometimes it’s hard to find the words to express our pain during difficult times.  Sometimes this is true for individuals and sometimes it’s true from communities.

There are musical styles that express pain.  The blues are all about coping with pain.  Taylor Swift has written a song about every breakup she’s ever had.  Play many a country music song backwards and you get your truck back, your dog back and your woman back.

God doesn’t expect us to ignore pain or paint a pretend smile on our face and act like everything’s great when it isn’t.  Fortunately, God provides us a language to help us work through pain.  Psalms of lament.  The Bible is full of psalms of lament both for individuals and for communities.  The book of Lamentations is an entire book of laments after the fall of Jerusalem and their exile into Babylon.

Psalm 22 is an example of a psalm of lament.  I won’t include the whole psalm here but I’ll share enough for you to get the idea:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

This is a person who is clearly in pain.  Their pain is multiplied by the fact that they feel that God is no-where to be found.  “God, where are you?”  “God I’m hurting.”  “God can’t you see how badly I’m suffering here?”  “God, why aren’t you listening to my cry?”  “God, I need you, O I need you!”

If these words sound familiar to you, it may be because these are the words that Jesus cried out while he was being crucified.  Jesus suffered every way that we suffer and his greatest suffering came when he felt God’s absence.  There are times in our lives when God seems so close and so real and those times are wonderful.  But there are also times when God feels so very far away. Psalms of lament take our feelings of suffering, of abandonment, of God’s absence and help us to give words to them.  It also helps us to know that we are not alone in feeling alone.

9Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

The one who is suffering here pleads their case before God.  “You’ve been there my whole life”  “I’ve trusted you since I was a baby”  “God, come here… I’m scared, I’m all alone.”  Whether it is physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain or often a combination of all three, it hurts when you feel like you’re all alone. The Psalms of lament help us to find the words to cry out to God out of a mixture of faith and fear.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

Even though his situation feels hopeless… even though it seems like she is doomed, yet there is hope.  As bad as it feels, as alone as she seems, as desperate and lost and needy and broken, there is hope that one day things will be better, that one day there will be a chance to testify about God’s faithfulness.

Bad thing happen to God’s people too.  We don’t have to pretend that everything’s great when it’s not.  Don’t just read the happy psalms.  Just like Jesus committed Psalm 22 to memory so that when he was at the point of deepest agony he had the words to pray his pain to God, learn to pray the psalms of lament, both for yourself and for those you love who may also feel alone in their suffering.

-Jeff Fletcher

 

You can read the whole beautiful Psalm of lament here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+22&version=NIV