August 12, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 80

We see in Psalm 80 a cry for God to rescue and restore three tribes that represent the nation of Israel. The tribe of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh desperately desire God to “stir up His strength” and come to their rescue. (v.1-3)

William Macdonald states it this way regarding verses 4-7, “terrible distance has come in between Israel and the Lord God of Hosts. He is angry not only with their sins but even with their prayers. For food He has given them a diet of weeping, and for drink a torrent of tears. He has made them a cause of strife and contention to their Gentile neighbors, and they are the butt of cruel jokes among their enemies. There is only one solution—that is for the God of hosts to look down in grace and salvation upon them.”

Now, my question that I wish to pose is this, have you ever had a season in life where you feel like this? Are you currently in a season like this? You wrestle and battle with your sin and the sinful tendencies of your personality only to realize that your prayers are self-focused and not pleasing to God? Well, I want you to know today there is hope, but before we discuss this hope let’s take a look at the rest of the psalm.

In verses 12 and 13 we see that God lowers His protective wall and the surrounding nations pick away at the “vine” (Israel). The “Boar” and “Other Wild Animals” are in reference to Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia and in the later years Persia, Greece, Rome and the damage that would come upon these tribes from these nations. From this we see how hope is not something that comes naturally, especially since this is over the course of years.

The question I pose to you is how an individual can, and in this case a nation of tribes, continue to go on without hope? The answer? Without faith and hope it is impossible to press on as we see in verses 14 and 15. Once more, we see the people implore God to return to them in blessing. In verse 16 it says, “the vine is burned and cut down by the frown of the Lord.”

So where will their hope come from? How will they continue to persevere in the face of their enemies and this season where God has removed His blessing?

“Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself.” The man at God’s Right hand is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ! Full and complete blessing will only come upon Israel when Christ is given His proper place. Then Israel will NEVER backslide again—Revived by the Lord they will call upon the name of the Lord (Bible Believers Commentary).

So you see the “vine” or “flock” as God’s chosen people constantly believing and backsliding in a season of life where backsliding is most present, but the hope He gives them is the future Messiah. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, will be the One who delivers to them grace and salvation. In verse 19 we see an urge for the Chief Shepherd to deliver or restore His flock. Their deepest desire was for God to shine down on them again and be their restoration.

This is the key – “Their deepest desire was God.” If you are in a season like this my hope is that you would take the principle of desiring God to heart and allow it to lead you to repent and return knowing that life with the Shepherd is so sweet. This is the hope you can have by faith in the “One at the Right Hand of God” – Jesus Christ!

Desire God and find that your satisfaction will be complete in Him.

Worship God – Enjoy God – Be useful to His Kingdom

Posted by: Zach Monroe

August 11, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 79

This psalm is very similar to Psalm 74 that we read last week. The writer is in the same situation writing about the same predicament where he uses much of the same language. So, as far as a complete explanation of this psalm, it fits very well with last week’s post. However, one phrase really struck me and I feel compelled to discuss it. In verse 8 (NIV) the writer says “do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” When I read the statement, “we are in desperate need” I thought, “am I in desperate need?” The answer to that is yes… but do I live like it? Pray like it? Seek God’s face like it? The answer is often times no.

Many of us spend the majority of our lives living moment by moment thinking, “as long as the bills are paid and everything is in order then I am ok.” We are not okay. We desperately need God’s mercy every moment of every day. God often has to bring trials and hard times into our lives to make us see this truth. Just like in this psalm, God’s people desperately needed Him but they lost sight of that and felt they were okay without Him. It was only when they were faced with extreme difficulty that they realized their desperate need for God in their lives. Let’s not wait for God to bring hardship into our lives to seek Him desperately. Let’s start today praying, seeking, and longing desperately for God.

Here is a video link to a song that might bless you and your walk today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gs_qlCWrPk

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

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