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

June 27, 2011

Today you should read: Psalm 42

One of my favorite songs that I grew up singing (and if you grew up in the church, you did too) comes from the intro of this psalm:

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1-2

While this may be the famous line from this psalm, the more palpable tone of it comes in verse 5, which is actually considered the refrain, or chorus, of the psalm:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation…
Psalm 42:5

This verse is repeated in tomorrow’s psalm as well. Some scholars suggest that Psalm 42 & 43 were two parts of the same song – a song of sorrow, a plea to turn to the Lord in crises.

But why is the psalmist upset? Why is he “downcast”? It seems that the second half of the psalm tells the story. The ESV Study Bible contributors helped make sense of this for me. Check out their commentary:

The second stanza sharpens the description of the singer’s situation. He is in the land of Jordan and of Hermon, and near the otherwise unknown Mount Mizar; this would probably locate him north of the Sea of Galilee (at the source of the Jordan River)—but at any rate he is far from Jerusalem, where the sanctuary is. He knows that God is not literally absent (v. 6), but he also feels that the sanctuary is where he meets God most fully; hence his separation has left his soul cast down within him (v. 6), because he wonders why God has forgotten him (v. 9). This stanza ends, like the first, with self-encouragement.

The main takeaway from today’s psalm is the plea to “hope in the Lord”. In good times and bad times, our hope must not change. It must not be circumstantial, but rather, in the solid rock we have in Jesus Christ. Whenever we hope in anything other than Jesus, we are left wanting and unsatisfied, and typically more downcast than before.

What do you hope in? How can you more fully hope in Jesus?

That’s the topic for today’s comment section. Hope to hear your thoughts, CPC…

Posted by: Todd Thomas