July 19, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 142

Do you ever feel troubled?  Ever feel weak? Ever feel like the world is against you?  Ever feel like you are in deep difficulties and have nowhere to turn?  Take heart, you are not the first and you are not the only one there now.  In Psalm 142, we get a glimpse into the life of David at a time when his fortunes are at their lowest.  It is also at a time when his troubles likely feel the most unfair.

Psalm 142 happens during the time David was on the run from King Saul.  If you don’t remember that account, you can read about it in 1 Samuel chapters 18-31.  1 Samuel 19:11-12 records:

11 Saul sent men to David’s house to watch it and to kill him in the morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed.” 12 So Michal let David down through a window, and he fled and escaped.

The synopsis here is that as a young man, David was very faithful to the Lord; so much so, that he was able to kill Goliath which led to Israel’s victory over the attacking Philistines.  David’s courage in the Lord became legendary, and he became even more revered than King Saul. Saul’s desire to be praised and admired above everyone around him (i.e. his pride) caused him to hate David for his popularity in Israel.  Saul’s envy of the favor David enjoyed from God and Israel drove him to the point of madness—to the point of murder. He wanted David dead, and he determined himself to make it happen. As a result, David had to go on the run to stay alive. After a long time of running for his life, he found himself hiding alone in a cave.  He was being hunted like an animal for the success he’d been granted for his faithfulness to the Lord.

It’s one thing to have to deal with the consequences of sin, which David also had to face later in his life.  It’s another thing altogether to be hated and persecuted for doing what is just and courageous before the Lord.  But in this unfair and incredibly difficult time of his life, David zeroed in on his only hope – that God would hear him, have mercy on him, and rescue him.  That’s what this Psalm is about.

Take notice of what we can learn from David during this intensely difficult situation:

  • Notice his approach to his problems: In verse 1, David calls out audibly to the Lord.  He starts with where he knows the answers reside, his heavenly father.
  • Notice his inner state:  Verses 2-3 shows he has a complaint (things are unfair), he’s in trouble, and he is feeling spiritually weak.  He has real problems, and he knows it. You sense his desperation when reading these verses.
  • Notice his outside relationships:  Verses 3-4 show he has enemies who have set traps for him, he has no one with him, he has no one concerned about him, and he is convinced no one cares.  David feels totally alone.
  • Notice his external circumstances:  Verses 3, 4 and 6 show he faces a dangerous path. He has nowhere safe to go, and his enemies are too strong for him to face on his own.  His circumstances are overwhelming. Saul and his army are determined to kill him. It is far more than he has the ability to handle.  
  • Notice where he finds hope:  Verses 1, 5, and 7 shows that he only sees hope when he looks to the Lord.  He takes his complaint and troubles to the Lord. It is God who is his refuge.  It is God alone who can bring freedom from the “prison” his problems have placed him into.
  • Notice how he plans to respond to God’s help:  Verse 7 says:

“Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name.  Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.”

He was looking for God’s intervention in his impossible situation, so that he could be free to praise Him.  He looks forward to a future when other Godly people will be drawn together with him because of what God has done.  Even in the middle of David’s most difficult circumstances, his focus is on how to honor God. This may be part of the reason God described him as “a man after his own heart”.  

So back to where we started, does any of this sound familiar?  Unfair persecution? Overwhelming circumstances? People out to get you?  No way out? Ever been there? Maybe you’re there right now. If so, David is pointing you toward the answer.  Get alone, take it to God, and start picturing the time when you can praise God for what He’s done for you!

By: Mike Wilson — Leadership Team


July 18, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 141

Psalm 141 is an amazing prayer for our world today. It is clear that David, in this Psalm, is in the midst of unrighteous people—people who might cause him to loosen his tongue or participate in sinful activities.

We all have those friends and co-workers, right? Well, maybe not co-workers since I work at a church, but you get my point. We all have those people in our lives that as we hang around them, all of a sudden, we find ourselves speaking and acting differently. This may or may not be a bad thing, which is why we need biblical community. However, it’s when these friends make inappropriate jokes and celebrating poor life-decisions, that we find ourselves wanting to fit in and ultimately giving approval—if only through our silence. It is the warning of Romans 1:32, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

David is actively praying against this. How many of us need to “set a guard” over our mouth? I long ago memorized Ephesians 4:29, and still struggle to live by its wisdom, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Because sin may be fun for a season, David compares it to “delicacies.” However, the delicacy of sin is, at best, a fleeting pleasure. David recognizes the kindness in the rebuke of a righteous man. He compares it to the refreshment of oil on his head.

Verses 3–7 are a great picture of the sanctification process. This kind of prayer is how a person takes a step toward becoming a true disciple of Christ. Additionally, David prays for protection in verses 8–10. These are great things for which to pray. We are entangled in a world where sin reigns. It is impossible to completely insulate ourselves from unrighteous people (nor should we). Thus, we need God, through His Holy Spirit, to help us in troubled times.

If you have had a hard week, or if you’ve felt beat down with the struggles that come from living in a sinful world, this Psalm is for you. Today, take a moment and pray through each verse of this Psalm and write in the comments how God is challenging you. My prayer for each of you is that the Lord would “hasten” to your call, and “give ear to your voice.”

By: Tyler Short — Connection Ministry Associate

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