July 17, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 140

We have all been in a situation where we have repented from sin. Think back to a moment when you ran to God and confessed your sin with hopes of never falling into those temptations ever again. What was the outcome of that moment? How did the following days and weeks unfold? Often times we end up not taking any steps after that moment and we fall right back into the same rut.

This Psalm of David is a really cool description of what to do after that moment.  David fell deep into the rut of sin and lost his way. Then he had a moment where he was completely broken before God and he truly repented. He confessed and turned back to the Lord. But as we know that is not where it stops. If we stop there, we fall into the cycle of repeating the same process time and time again.

So in this Psalm David talks about the temptations of the world, and the things that drive us back to those sinful temptations. He lists everything from people in the world that are evil and planning to do harm, to our own hearts that steer us away from God. It is very easy to get hung up on all the negative, but David makes a strong point to emphasize that the Lord will deliver us, preserve us, guard us, give us mercy, steer us away from wicked desires, and so much more. As we turn from sin we must remember that God is there to guide us and take us in the direction we must go. He will bring justice to the wicked because He is truly king.

When we remember that it isn’t just about turning from sin but that it is about turning to God, things will be much more likely to go well.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

July 16, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 139

The Psalm we are reading today is a beautiful meditation on God—namely God’s intimate knowledge of us. It shows us that God knows us personally (v. 1-6), is everpresnt with us  (v. 7-12), and He created us (13-16).

Verse 1 begins by saying: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” (ESV) This is both an amazingly intimate and frightening truth! To know that the God of the universe cares for us and is powerful enough to know and discern our every thought exceeds comprehension. To know that He goes to such lengths to know us should lead us to our knees in adoration! But think about it another way: how often do thoughts come into our minds that we wouldn’t want other people to know, let alone God? How often do you seek to get to know God as personally as He seeks to know you? He knows our every thought; he knows the words we are going to say before they leave our tongue. This should cause us to fear God, but also to worship Him, like the Psalmist does in verse 6: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” (ESV) Thanks be to God, that He has sent Jesus, who redeems our minds and our hearts, so whenever the Father looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus.

Verses 7-12 show that this intimate knowledge God has for us reaches so far that there is nowhere we can go to escape His reach. When we think about our sin, we might have the propensity to wish that we could hide from God because of our shame. But the beauty of the gospel is that God knows our sin and our shame in ways we can’t even imagine, and still wants us anyway because of Jesus!

This Psalm ends in a similar way as it begins. It begins with David recognizing the truth that God searches and knows the heart; it ends with David asking God to keep searching and knowing His heart. Our response is to ask God to search us and know us. The truth is that He already does. When we ask God to search us and know us, it is a purifying request that draws us closer to God. My challenge for us is that we would take a few minutes right now and ask God to search us and know us.

What is God saying to you from this passage?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice 

July 14, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 138

One major thing that stands out in this psalm besides the consistent mentions of God’s steadfast love, is the mentioning of God’s presence in the high kings lives AND those who are perceived as lowly in verses 4-6. The author of this psalm first mentions the kings and how they, no matter what they think about the Lord or where they stand with the Lord, will ultimately acknowledge and even sing of the glory of the Lord. This is not a text supporting universalism but instead showing that they will come in worship before the Lord, for most recognize that their is an authority above them that they are accountable to. If I can be honest, my finite mind cannot wrap around the idea of giving thanks to the one true God who is about to eternally judge them if they don’t know Christ, but I believe it’s somehow going to happen in that moment.

However, the author also mentions the other group of people who are in the opposite spectrum of living, when talking about the lowly in verse 6. Just like the high kings will recognize the Lord’s authority and power, the lowly will see how this great God regarded or cared for them. Again, this doesn’t mean they are automatically accepted into the kingdom but instead, as mentioned all through scripture, He shows more mercy and compassion for those who are lowly in spirit. (See article)

Whatever the case, let this be a reminder that whatever category you fall into or if you’re smack dab in the middle, you will meet your maker like everyone else, regarding Him as the one, true God and seeing His true glory.

The bigger concern here is: will you have Christ as your advocate? Because it’s through the Gospel that you can start to understand that steadfast love the author mentions several times here.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

July 13, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 137

“By the Rivers of Babylon”

I don’t know about you, but depending on your age, the first lines of Psalm 137 may have taken you back to the 1970’s and the Pop/Reggae band Boney-M.

Psalms 137 is a song of lament, sung by the Jews who had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. One of the main tasks of the Levites was to sing songs of praise in the temple. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the forced exile of its inhabitants to Babylon, the captors demanded – “Sing for us the songs of Zion.” The question that the song asks is “How shall we sing God’s song in a foreign land?” We don’t know the fate of the Levites who defied the Babylonian captors’ orders, but we can only imagine. One traditional source says that Nebuchadnezzar killed 80,000 Jews.

While we can feel the anguish in this haunting song of lament, how does it speak to us today? To the Reggae singing Rastafarians, it was a song of protest against the police and those in authority. While we live in a time and a place where we enjoy great freedoms and safety, we are in danger of being carried off into captivity. In II Timothy 2:23-26 (NLT), Paul gives these instructions:

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

Satan desires to carry souls off into captivity. When a person falls into sin, he is carried away from Zion (the presence of God). Our task, as an approved workman, is to “gently instruct those who oppose the truth,” to help those being held captive by the devil to escape captivity and be restored to right relationship with God.

Perhaps as a believer, you have forgotten Jerusalem. In Psalms 137:5-6 the Levite songwriter cries out:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,

let my right hand forget how to play the harp.

May my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth

if I fail to remember you,

if I don’t make Jerusalem my greatest joy.

Today, let us make Jerusalem our greatest joy! Let us long for God’s presence like an exile in Babylon, weeping by the river bank, remembering Zion.

By: Steve Musen — Leadership Team