July 26, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 91

This is a beautiful and an incredibly intimate Psalm. It describes the confidence that a believer has in the Father. It is understood that this is the thanks being poured out by the Israelites for their deliverance from Egypt and God’s constant faithfulness.

The reason I want to emphasize the intimacy of this passage of scripture is because often times we read the words on the page simply looking for direction. We can sometimes miss the closeness of God through His word when we stop paying attention. This Psalm, just in verses 1-6, describes God as our shelter, refuge, fortress, the one we trust, deliverer, and shield. Each of these are descriptions of protection. Our Father has our best interests in mind and desires to protect us. This does not mean that hard things will never come, rather it means that when they come, there is protection and refuge.

I am reminded of the goodness of God, and the gift of being close to Him that He has given. I hope today you are reminded that we can be close to God. He desires an intimate relationship with you. When we stray away, we leave our fortress, and our shelter and we are hit by the harsh elements of the world.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

July 25, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 90

In 1964, rock band, The Rolling Stones sang “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime is on my side, yes it is.”

However, lead vocalist, Mick Jagger may not be feeling that way in 2017, paying child support to 5 different women for 8 different kids after a self proclaimed hard life of partying.

If we’re completely honest with ourselves, Time is really not on anyone’s side. That is but the One who created it and is over it. This Psalm stresses time and how easily it passes. From mentioning “days” to “years” to “all generations” to the “everlasting.” In fact, v. 4 says:

For a thousand years in your sight

are but as yesterday when it is past,

or as a watch in the night.

A thousands years is like yesterday to God. What did you do yesterday? What do you remember about it? I had 2 discipleship meetings, lunch with someone who visited our church over the Summer, got caught up on some emails, made future Fall plans with our welcome team and talked apologetics with a guy called into ministry ending with a great Men’s Bible Study on Biblical manhood. I also know that I didn’t get to see my kids except the first hour that I was home, so after coming back at 9:30pm I snuck in some kisses while they were sleeping and prayed for them knowing that if I wake them up, then my beautiful wife will not be a happy camper (rightfully so). I ended the evening with a great devotion in Job, and some writing and reading. As you can see, I can remember yesterday pretty darn well.

Now ask me about a stereotypical day last year, last month, even last week and I can’t tell you with any great detail. But God, well, from the time that the Byzantine empire was in war as Islam and Christianity continued to spread (sadly under a former Roman empire that pushed relics and politics more than Jesus at times) in year 1000 AD to 2000 AD where the internet age was booming and Britney Spears ruled the world. Just think about everything that happened in between a thousand years. The wars, the expansion of civilizations and world powers coming and going. That was like yesterday to God. He knows that like I can describe a day to you because God is truly outside of our idea of time.  As Augustine said in his classic “City of God”:

“God, in whose eternity is no change at all, is the Creator and Ordainer of time.”

It’s really hard for us as finite beings to wrap our minds around the infinite but one thing we do know is that if God thinks in the eternal, we must do our best to do the same.

That’s why verse 12 says:

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

We must start in our heart to think eternally and be wise with the number of days that God gives us and steward them for eternal purposes. I may not remember the event of a day last year, last month or even last week but I will be accountable for what I do eternally on those days. Will you join me in using the most of our time for eternal impact with the Gospel because, “Tiiiiiiiiime is not on our side”… but the One who created and ordained it is.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

July 24, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 89

This Psalm is filled with amazing life and truth for us. I encourage you to read and meditate on every word, but for the purpose of this post, I would like to focus on verse 1:

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. (ESV)

One of my main takeaways from this verse that I want us to think about today is: A mouth that sings of the steadfast love of the Lord must have a heart that sings of it as well (Luke 6:45). The context of this verse, as the ESV Study Bible states, is “The theme of this opening section is straightforward: in raising up David and his line to be kings for his people, God has displayed his steadfast love and his faithfulness.” This Psalm is saying that God raising up king David is a sign of God’s faithfulness and goodness to His people.

While this Psalm talks about king David, it is applicable for us as well. The psalmist and the people who would sing this would still need a heart that trusted and loved God in order for their words to be true. And that’s the point, right? That our words before God would be an overflow of our hearts and not just lip-service?

Some questions to think about:

  1. How much time do you spend thinking about God compared to other things?
  2. How does your level of excitement/joy in God compare to your levels of excitement/joy in other things (friends, family, sports, hobbies, etc.)?
  3. What is something you can do today to stir your affections for God?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

July 22, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 88

If I had to title this Psalm it might be “Psalm 88: The Definition of a Bad Day.” The misery and lament of this Psalm is overwhelming—obviously a continuation of a season of sorrow.

As I read this lament, I am wrapped by a word picture that’s used in verse 4 of “the pit.” The Hebrew word here is bor and literally refers to a cistern, but is used metaphorically for “the grave.” The bottoms of cisterns were filled with muck from water runoff. As people entered cisterns to re-plaster the walls, retrieve grain that was stored if it could no longer hold water, or if they were imprisoned like Joseph or Jeremiah, they would never be able to get out on their own. The muck would suck their feet and the more they moved they more they would sink.

Is this where you are right now? Are you hurting and the more you struggle the more it seems that you sink down becoming “like a man without strength?” This Psalmist takes it one step further by saying that God has put him in the “lowest pit” (6) because he feels the wrath and weight of God.

As we read this Psalm we see a man seemingly challenging God’s goodness. We see this a lot in scripture, especially with the Prophets. However, it is important to note that this Psalm is written from an entirely human perspective. Absolutely no theological correction is made here, it is simply the cry of a broken heart. For example, look at verses 10–12 and answer these rhetorical questions from a human perspective, then from God’s perspective. Humanly speaking, when a person dies God can no longer show His wonders, or receive praise from that person. However, we know that death is not the end, and in Christ, we will eternally witness the wonders of God and praise Him forever.

This lack of theological correction is fairly unique to this Psalm. Although most lament Psalms end in a reaffirmation of God’s goodness, character, promise, or some other hopeful idea, this Psalm does not. It ends on a note as depressing as it had been throughout. However, we do not esteem the accuracy of the words of this Psalm, because much of it is figurative, repeatedly saying, “I’m hurting so bad. I feel so stuck. I might as well be dead. Where are you God?” This vivid and illustrative language is descriptive of a hurting person crying out to God, rather than a theological treatise on suffering. What we do esteem is the fact that this hurting person is honestly going to God in the depth of their suffering and crying out to Him.

Let’s face it, Christian culture is often overly positive and doesn’t have the theological depth or honesty to deal with the hurt and melancholy this life produces. With platitudes of “All things work to the good,” we push people past pain too quickly and fail to grieve with hurting people. Obviously, God redeems hurt, which is why Romans 8:18 is a verse I memorized a long time ago. But when a person is hurting, instead of ramming theological correction down their throat, it may be better to weep with them before sharing what God can do to redeem suffering (see John 11:35). In those moments, let’s honestly pray as this Psalmist did, “O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You.  Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry!”

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate