August 10, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 78:40-72

God’s grace through unbelief…

Continuing on in Psalm 78, we see that the psalmist is still making the same point! We are hearing him speak of the miracles and wonders that God has graciously performed for the Israelites. Specifically, we are hearing much about how God saved them from the land of Egypt and their slavery. But… the main point is to show that Israel STILL rebelled and didn’t trust or believe God, even after God had performed all of these wonderful acts!! How could they forget!! After all of the amazing things that God had done, they must have been dumb or crazy!? Right?

Before you get too convinced, remember, this was written so that future generations wouldn’t make the same mistake. So they wouldn’t turn away from God, but that they would remember all of the gracious and wonderful things He had done. So basically… this is written to us! This is written to any “future generation” who has come after these acts. Yes, this is written to the Israelites, God’s chosen people, who were God’s “people” but whose hearts were far from him. But yes, this is also written to us, God’s chosen people, who have been adopted and grafted in through Christ.

So, if you are now one of God’s chosen people because you have been saved through Christ, and this psalm is written to you, then let me ask you… are you learning from their mistakes? That is the whole point of this psalm! So, will you take these lessons to heart and learn from Israel?

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

Israel’s main issue was unbelief. That is the majority of our issue as well. Unbelief is the underlying reason for most sin, rebellion, timidity, apathy, etc. How can this be true? Well, think about it, if we truly believed everything about God and every truth of His word then we would live, feel, think, and act much differently. We would live a life of complete trust and obedience in Christ. But we don’t, because our main root is unbelief or you could say, “lack of faith.” It is unbelief in the truths of Christ.

Can you see it? Is that the main root of some of your issues? Lack of joy, rebellion, apathy, sin, disobedience, self-centeredness, etc. I think if you look deep enough you will find it either has to do with your unbelief or not treasuring Christ (these two are what I find to be the root of most issues). So, if unbelief is the issue, just as it was with the Israelites, how will you fix this? How will you learn from their mistakes and take these lessons (found in this psalm) to heart?

Before you move further, please don’t miss the end of this psalm. Beginning in verse 65, we see the Lord’s faithfulness even through unbelief. We see His grace in the lives of those who were battling unbelief. We see God take the initiative. In verse 65 we see that God stirs Himself, apart from any other reason, to arise and take action on behalf of His suffering people…EVEN WHEN their suffering is due to their own unbelief. WOW. God is gracious; He is still on your side, battling with you, even through your unbelief.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione

August 9, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 78:1-39

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~George Santayana

In Psalm 78, the author begins with a recollection of the glorious deeds that God performed for Israel. We see the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites as God delivered them from the Egyptians. God provided water from rocks in the wilderness and rained down manna from heaven so that Israel would not starve to death. Although God did so many wonders in their sight and preserved Israel according to the covenant made with Abraham they still did not believe.

In spite of everything that Israel had seen they still chose to sin against God. Verses 33-35 focus in on God’s judgment on Israel. It wasn’t until God took away His favor and poured out judgment that Israel turned back to the Lord. However, their turning back was not to worship God but to preserve themselves. It was all about them.

“But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.” Psalm 78:36-37

At this point, if I were God I would have just destroyed the whole nation of Israel. They only cared about themselves. They had a very “what have you done for me lately” attitude. Fortunately for us God has a heart of compassion. He looked past their iniquities and held to his promise. (v.38-39)

So what does all this mean to us?

We are the next generation that verse 6 is talking about. We have to look carefully at Israel and learn from them. We should take warning from verse 8… “they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

So where is your hope? Do you recognize that every time you sit down for a meal that God provided that for you. When it is 95 degrees outside and you are sitting in a house with air-conditioning do you remember that it was God who provided that? If you are a believer in Christ how often do you think about Jesus dying on a cross, so that by grace you would have the privilege to be adopted back into a relationship with God?

I pray that today you would put your hope in the Lord and give Him the glory for your life because it is by His grace that you have been saved. Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Posted by: Chad Wiles

August 8, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 77

Psalm 77 is yet another psalm broken into a number of sections. After every section, you will find the word “Selah”, which simply means an instrumental break or interlude. Interesting fact: my wife Serah’s name was based on a derivative of that word (though Genesis 46:17 also has a Serah mentioned in it too).

In the first section (verses 1-3), Asaph cries to the Lord for help. He “stretches his hands out toward heaven”, which shows a common biblical posture of prayer. It is as if he is literally reaching for help while crying out for help. I often try and practice this as well in my personal prayer time because it is a sign of surrender and submission to the Lord. In other psalms, the lifting of hands often accompanies getting on our knees before the Lord, another appropriate posture of prayer and worship when we consider who the Lord is.

The second section (verses 4-9) describes a place many of us have been before: a lack of rest because of our troubles. When was the last time your circumstances disturbed your sleep? Did you turn to the Lord? Or did you simply try and find all of the ways you would solve the situation? Asaph turned to the Lord, even when He felt like the Lord wasn’t there.

Section three (verses 10-15) is sets perspective for the psalmist and for us. While his circumstances seemed awful, Asaph looked to the past to remember the faithful character of God:

But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. Psalm 77:11-12

When we go through difficult times, we must not simply look at the moment of distress as our description of God’s faithfulness. Our human intuition will cause us to blame God and forget how good He has been. Remember how gracious He has been to you.

The final section (through verse 20) is an appeal to God’s power as Creator. If the Lord created the world and everything holds together in Him (John 1, Colossians 1), then He is more than able to speak into our circumstances and bring peace. It’s just like when Jesus told the storm to “be still”. He can utter those words to physical storms and they listen. Do you believe He can speak those same words to the storms of your life? They will listen too.

Church, let’s run to Christ for our peace today. If you need prayer or encouragement today, feel free to leave a comment below. We’re here for you.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

August 6, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 76

Psalm 76 was written by Asaph. Asaph was the grandson of the prophet Samuel (1 Chronicles 6:24). He and his male descendants were set aside by King David to worship God in song and music. He was the first worship pastor. He wrote Psalm 50 and 73-83.
Psalm 76 begins with reminding us that God is to be honored in our lives. We exist to make Him famous!

For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. Philippians 1:20

How does your life make Jesus famous? Now… let’s get honest – what about your life detracts from His fame?

Verses 2-10 tell us that God is a powerful defender. He is able to protect us in any situation and from any foe.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High 
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: 
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; 
he is my God, and I trust him. Psalm 91:1-2

How do you need to trust Him more? In what specific areas? What does your lack of trust imply?

Verse 11 informs us to make sure we keep the commitments we make to God.

When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

What promises have you made God that you have recanted on? Where have you dropped the ball? Go back and repent of this and re-establish those promises today!

Posted by: Tim Parsons