July 21, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 87

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

This was the ending of the 1939 classic, Wizard of Oz. Isn’t this true? We often have a longing and appreciation for our homes. They are often places of comfort, security, and happiness.

In this Psalm, the people of Israel are celebrating the city of Jerusalem: their home.

Verse 3: O city of God, what glorious things are said of you!

Not only is there a celebration of the city of Jerusalem at that time, but there is a celebration for the future of Jerusalem.

Verse 6: When the Lord registers the nations, he will say, “They have all become citizens of Jerusalem.”

Revelation 21 gives us a picture of this New Jerusalem, where all who are in Christ Jesus from every nation will be citizens of Jerusalem.

  • There will be a shout declaring God’s home is among his people.
  • There will no tears, no death, no sorrow, & no pain.
  • The Lord will make all things new.

We can look forward to our great new home with the Lord where we will say:

Psalm 87:7 …All my springs are in you. (ESV)

And the Lord will say:

Revelation 21:6 …To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (ESV)

There’s truly no place like home! Take a moment to thank the Lord for giving us eternal life with Him.

By: Lucas Taylor — Worship Ministries Intern

July 20, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 86

As I read this Psalm, I can’t help but pray, “Father, make these words be true of my heart.” I hope that you will pray something similar. This Psalm is a beautiful example of what it looks like to have a heart that is truly focused on God. And the good news is that because this is the type of heart that God wants us to have, He will help us get it! I encourage you to take some time to read it with a humble and teachable spirit.

The first thing I notice in verses 1-7 is the confidence that David has in coming to God in prayer. Verses 1-4 showcase David’s argument for why he is worthy to have God answer his prayers: He is someone who loves God and trusts God, and is therefore confident that God can answer his prayers. While it is prudent for us to come humbly to God because of our sin, we must also have confidence before God because of Jesus Christ. It is not a contradiction to both tremble before God because of your sin and be confident before God because of Christ. The two must coexist, because to have one without the other is to misunderstand the Gospel. To not tremble before God because of your sin is to take your sin lightly; to not have confidence before God because of Christ means that you either minimize or don’t understand the forgiveness offered to you through the cross.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name. Ps. 86:11 (ESV)

Verse 11 is one that you should memorize, make as the wallpaper on your phone, write on your mirror, or all of the above. It’s such a wonderful picture of what following Christ should look like. We should be constantly asking God to lead us and teach us how to follow Him. Following Him closely should lead us to fearing Him and revering Him above all other things in our lives. What do you find yourself fearing instead of God? To put it another way, what are you worshipping/driven by other than God?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

July 19, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 85

This Psalm teaches us a few important things about REVIVAL.

First off, Revival is not just a “thing” of the past.

This Psalm starts off with God’s people speaking in the past tense (v. 1-3).

You were favorable…
You restored…
You forgave…
You covered…
You withdrew…
You turned…

And then verses 4-7 , God’s people beg and plead with the Lord to do it all over again.

Restore us again, O God of our salvation.
Will you do it again?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
Grant us your salvation.

I read these verses and I’m reminded of God’s people today. How we yearn for the good ol’ glory days of revival within our nation and around the world ourselves. How we can get discouraged at times and ask if God will bless us again. The statistics are grim, The unchurched and dechurched have grown in numbers while the proclaimed Christians have decreased. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/

But does this mean that God won’t do it again? Only God knows. What WE know, is that He hasn’t changed in our lives, no matter the circumstances and no matter the perceived fruit from your witness. God calls us to be faithful while bringing about the fruit Himself. In fact, verses 10-12 are especially encouraging when getting into the “woe is me for nobody loves Jesus anymore” mindset.

10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
12 Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.

There’s a close link between the steadfast love we continue to show and share with the Gospel and faithfulness to what He has asked us to do with the Gospel. The church needs to be just as faithful in such seasons and times when they don’t exactly feel the love or see the fruit right away. God is still going before us. We just have to make sure that we are listening to His voice, and not others in the world or even deceptively within ourselves. If we don’t allow God to speak peace to His people, then we will turn back to foolish ways (v. 8). So don’t be discouraged thinking back to the glory days of America, your childhood or youth group church experience or even last month’s feel good service or mission trip. Be faithful to the Lord for He will revive His people again.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

July 18, 2017

Today you should read: Psalm 84

Do you count it a privilege to come before God in worship? This is a Psalm celebrating the ability to worship in the temple. It is focused on a specific temple, and is a reminder of the significance of being welcomed guests in God’s own house.

We often forget the significance of being in the presence of God. This Psalm describes the overwhelming joy that people had being able to go to the temple (God’s dwelling place). You and I have the privilege of being the dwelling place of God if we know Him. How significant is that? Do you count it an honor and a privilege? Do you realize that we do not have to travel or find a specific place to meet with God? Even if every church building was destroyed tomorrow, God is not without a dwelling place. The God of the universe, through Jesus has made His dwelling in us.

And yet we forget that so often. We put so much more value on other stuff. This Psalmist describes one day in the courts of God being better than a thousand elsewhere. My question to you and myself is do we have that same mentality about the presence of God and being before Him? Do we truly believe that it is better than a thousand days elsewhere?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate