July 1, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 46

Psalm 46 is a psalm of refuge. In Spurgeon’s commentary, The Treasury of David, he calls this psalm “The song of Holy Confidence.” The very first verse really gives us the theme of the whole psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” This is a promise that we can bank on. This is especially appropriate when thinking about last week’s message about the persecuted church. American Christians, for the most part, don’t really understand this idea of needing a refuge, of needing a place to hide away. Hopefully, this reminds us to continue to pray for and support our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted all over the world.

The remainder of the psalm is a declaration that, because of the truth in verse one, we will not fear or fail, no matter what the circumstances are or what troubles await us around the corner. Twice, this psalm calls God “our fortress.” A fortress is not some dinky little building where you can run and hide in fear, but rather a grand building that is strong, that gives courage to those who are in it and puts fear into those who are not. We are not supposed to walk alone outside of God’s protection but we are also not supposed to hide in our church buildings and cower at the world (2 Timothy 1:7). We are to stand out in the world as a beacon of strength, stability, and hope. God has told us that He “will be exalted among the nations”, and “exalted in the earth” so what do we have to fear? “The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” so let him be your holy confidence today as you go and proclaim His Son, Jesus.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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June 30, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 45

This psalm, written by the sons of Korah, is a love song. It tells of a mighty king who is strong, handsome, and victorious over his enemies. Then…here comes the bride. She is adorned with long flowing dresses and is unsurpassed in beauty. She is excited to become the wife of this mighty king and has joy and gladness in her heart as she makes her way to him.

This is a wonderful picture of two things, the first being marriage. Look at the man; he is a strong leader, willing to protect and provide for his soon-to-be wife and to be the sturdy rock she needs. Now, look at his bride: she is dressed in a magnificent white dress, her hair flowing just right, and her glow fills the room. She is ready to be the help-mate that God has made her to be and ready to follow her husband and to raise a family with him.

The second picture is that of Jesus and the church. A strong and mighty king, King Jesus, has defeated sin and death and is waiting in His glory in heaven for His bride, the church. He has made His bride to be beautiful and spotless. She is perfect and fit for a king. What a picture for us to think about today! We are a part of this church, this bride for King Jesus. May we live today a life worthy of such a calling, such a blessing. Let us walk continuously toward our king Jesus.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

June 29, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 44

“I pray, Lord, that today would be the day you show up…”

There is a distinctly serious tone today in this psalm. Can you feel the anguish in the writer’s heart? Can you relate to his cry? This psalm seems to be divided into three “pieces.”

In verses 1-8, the psalmist reminds us of who God is and what He has done. This serves as a model for us: to begin our prayers with reflection about the ways in which God is working around us.

Verses 9-16 are unexpected. After all of his praise and acknowledgement of God, he announces the terrible situation that he is in. It amazes me that he could have acknowledged God like he did in verses 1-8 yet be in a season of “rejection” by God. That’s a heart for God right there.

Verses 17-26 are even more unexpected. Despite his situation, he still makes a declaration that he has not, and will not, live for anything else but God. He will not, “deviate from His way.” Wow!

Today’s “Walk-Away”

So here’s the picture: they are seeking God in a season where God doesn’t seem to be present. Of course God is present, but they can’t feel Him or see His hand.

“Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever. Why do you hide your face and forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves the earth. Rise up, be our help, and redeem us for the sake of your lovingkindness.” (v.23-26)

Ever feel like that? I did for a season in my life. I was seeking God with all of my heart, from morning to night. Scripture was literally before me all day long, yet I couldn’t sense that God was there. Months went by of seeking Him, but I just couldn’t feel His love and presence in my life. It was almost as if God removed that satisfaction that comes with His presence to purify my faithfulness to Him. Would I still seek Him even when the feelings weren’t there? Would I choose to still follow Him? Will you?

During this time, Tim told me something very valuable that he had done during a similar season in his own life. He said, “Sam, wake up every morning and pray, ‘God, I pray that today is the day that you show up. But even if it is not, I will still seek you with all of my heart.’”

Are you experiencing this, “Dark Night of the Soul” that God has ordained? Dive into Psalm 44:23-26 and pray, “God, I pray that today would be the day that you show up, but even if you don’t, I will still seek you.”

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

June 28, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 43

Today’s Psalm is a hymn written for the people of Israel in the time of great suffering. The author is crying out for vindication from the Lord from the hands of ungodly people. As I read this Psalm I think: shouldn’t this be our hymn? In our world we are constantly faced with opposition to the gospel. Standing up for your faith will get you laughed at, mocked, pitied for your “simple mind”, or severely persecuted. However, most of us – including me – cannot say that this is our hymn. Why?

The first reason that we do not cry out to the Lord for vindication is because we live in a country where we are not persecuted for our faith. We are allowed to be a Christian and not worry about the government showing up at our house and throwing us in jail. So, in one sense I rejoice for the grace that God has shown to us as Americans. On the other hand, I am reminded that for Christians in other countries this is not the case. On a recent magazine cover of Voice of the Martyrs, there was a young lady with a face disfigured from scars because she had been set on fire for being a Christian. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like.

The second reason is that we are not bold enough in sharing the gospel to even warrant opposition or persecution. I challenge you to think of the last time you were in a conversation with a friend, co-worker, or family member who was lost and you challenged them directly with the gospel. If we’re honest, most of us never really get to that point. At best, we throw out an “I will pray for you” or “Jesus loves everyone” statement. While those can be helpful, there is a big difference between general Christian statements and a challenge such as: “We are all sinners and the wages for that sin is death and without a relationship with Jesus Christ you will spend eternity in hell” (Romans 3:23, 3:10-12, 6:23). The latter demands a response of repentance or opposition and is more likely to end in some form of persecution.

Challenge:

• Pray for the persecuted. If you are currently being persecuted, I hope that you will meditate on Psalm 43:5.

• If you have never taken a stand for the gospel, do that today. If you don’t feel equipped to share the gospel then I pray that you seek out discipleship. Be a warrior for the gospel. The reason Paul uses war-like language in Ephesians 6:10-24 is because we are in a war and as Christians, we are soldiers for the Lord. If you do not have some battle scars from your Christian walk, it is because you have been on the sidelines and not in the battle.

• Don’t quit! Discipleship is hard and sharing your faith is hard but I challenge you to not quit! (Psalm 43:5)

Posted by: Chad Wiles