Category Archives: Devotional

Eventual Justice – Psalm 9

Every day our newsfeeds are filled with stories of injustice. If we open up and spend any time on social media, we’ll get those same stories. Yes, there are a lot of heartwarming, people taking care of each other stories out there. However, they don’t carry as well as the negative story, which is why we so many negative stories compared to the good ones.

However, from a justice perspective, even one bad story is unacceptable. It means that someone was treated wrongly. It means we, as a people, didn’t do the right thing. And as much as I want to cry and scream and gnash my teeth at quite a few of these stories, I know that it won’t do a lot of good. I can take specific actions in specific cases, but so long as there is evil in the world, there is injustice.

The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. – Psalm 9:15-18, NIV

God is known by His acts of justice. One of the arguments I hear frequently is if God is so just and merciful, why doesn’t He just prevent all injustice? The hard to hear answer is that He works in His own timing with His own understanding. Sometimes we have to go through injustice to appreciate justice. Sometimes we need to go through undeserved adversity to make us stronger, kinder, more humble. Sometimes, there is evidence to collect, justification for why punishment is delivered to someone.

There have been numerous science fiction stories and movies dealing with pre-emptive justice. One of the problems with that notion is what if the prediction is wrong? What if the person wouldn’t do the crime that the authorities are trying to stop? If the person never does it, is he or she actually guilty? We’d apply the same questions to God. “God, why did you punish that person? He hasn’t done anything yet!” “God, are you sure she would really do such a horrible thing? How can we know since you didn’t let it happen?”

In other words, whichever path God chooses, some folks will argue find fault. And given that hardship is often what we must have to grow, that means He has to allow some injustice to happen. The good news is that the justice is eventually dealt with. Maybe it won’t happen in our lifetimes. However, God doesn’t ignore the injustice. Also, God won’t forget the needy nor the afflicted. Even in times of injustice, God is still there for those affected. He might not act the way we want Him to act, but we also don’t have His wisdom. We don’t know have His knowledge. We can’t know how things would turn out if He did it the way we would want.

Rejoice that our God is a just God. Also, find joy that He is there for the needy and the afflicted. That means when injustice hits us, He is there for us. It might be hard to see Him through the pain, but if we look for Him, if we listen for Him, we will find Him. We can take comfort that eventually the unjust will be brought to trial and judgment by God, meaning we can focus on what we can learn from the situation, both about ourselves and our loving God.

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Significantly Insignificant – Psalm 8

I find that I often get into trouble when I start thinking too much of myself. The reality is that I’m insignificant in the overall scheme of things. For instance, there is approximately 329 million people living here in the United States. Just in my state, the overall population is about 5 million people. As a single person, I’m insignificant. When it comes to God’s creation, I’m extremely insignificant:

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? – Psalm 8:1-4, ESV

Scripture is clear that everything that is created is due to God. This psalm doesn’t speak to process and we’re not concerned with it from a significance/insignificant perspective. When I consider all creation, I am definitely insignificant. This puts my focus on God. His name is majestic because He is majestic. He is significant.

Yet, despite our insignificance, God is still mindful of us. He sent His Son, Jesus, to save us. He cares for us. He loves us. This is what’s pointed out in the words, “what is man that you are mindful of him.” We are significant because God has chosen to make us significant. We are significantly insignificant! This is only possible because of God’s majesty, power, and knowledge. We celebrate that he is all-powerful, that he is ever-present, and that he is all-knowing. Our significance before Him is only because of those qualities of our Lord. So even in my significant insignificance, I am pointed back to God. My significant insignificance is for His glory. Our significant insignificance points us back to God and brings Him glory.

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The Lord Is Our Refuge – Psalm 7

Have you ever been wrongfully accused? Perhaps you were setup so that folks would believe you had done something you had not. This, unfortunately, happens to all of us. It’s the case when some people don’t want to be accountable or responsible for their actions or when they seek to maliciously cause us pain and suffering. David was there. He knew a thing or two about being falsely accused. He felt the pain of knowing that should his accusers succeed in their claim, that not only he, but everyone he cared about, would pay the price.

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver. – Psalm 7:1-2, ESV

David was being pursued. David did what he always did: he prayed. He claimed refuge in God. He appealed to God to protect him and deliver him. He knew that his enemies would be like lions. If they succeeded, there would be nothing left of David. Have you ever felt similarly pursued and accused?

Yet David makes this claim because he is sure of his own innocence with regards to the specific claim. Note how he argues his case:

O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. – Psalm 7:3-4, ESV

David knew he had done what is right by whoever his accusers were. He hadn’t caused them harm or done anything God would consider evil and sinful. Therefore, with a full view on his innocence in the matter, David made his claim. David wasn’t claiming sinlessness. He was proclaiming he was not guilty of the specific accusation.

This is a caution for us. It’s one of the reasons God tells us to forgive from the heart. When someone wrongs us, the fleshly side of us wants to rise up and retaliate. However, if we do, we can’t make the same claim David did. We have to admit our own sin and evilness in the situation. Better to let God deal with the other person or people. Let us remain innocent in the specific incident. Let God sort our punishment and delivery. Instead, let us look to the Lord as our refuge and do as David did:

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. – Psalm 7:17, ESV

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Crying Out to the Lord – Psalm 6

Many of the psalms contain cries out for God’s peace and grace. The psalms are the equivalent of our hymns, after all. As you’d expect, they are often dealing with issues which come with great emotion. Despair is one of the greatest. When we start to feel the pangs of despair, we seek help. For the Christian, God is always there to help. David faced moments of great despair. This psalm is another from those time.

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O Lord – how long? – Psalm 6:1-3, ESV

David realized he was guilty of sins deserving of punishment. Scripture reveals the reality that we aren’t perfect but the standard is perfection. None of us meet this standard, which is why God sent His Son. David knew that this sin deserved God letting David stay where he was without any help. Worse, David deserved punishment. Yet David appealed to God’s mercy because he was hurting terribly. He asked God to not deal with his sin (yet) but rather to help restore him.

God did exactly that. We see situation after situation in the Scriptures where God still deals graciously with David despite his sin. We saw the case with Abram/Abraham. And we see these same situations with Jesus’ disciples. Our God is an unchanging God. Therefore, as He has dealt with these who have followed Him, He will deal with us. That’s something we can take encouragement in.

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise? – Psalm 6:4-5, ESV

David was in a state where only God could save him. In this case it was likely in reference to a physical event. We know that David was heavily persecuted and pursued by Saul and then later Absalom. However, deliver my life is also a calling for us. We ask that God deliver us spiritually, that He forgive our sins and grant us eternal life. Note the reason David stakes this claim: God’s steadfast love. There it is again, a reference to God’s great and mighty love.

God will deliver us. God will preserve us. Our relationship with Him He preserves. Our eternal destination He guarantees. I don’t know where you are today. If it is anywhere near where David was, remember, you can always call on the Lord. He listens and He answers to His people. We can call out to Him not because of who we are, but because of His steadfast love. And we can count on Him to take care of us, to comfort us, to show us the way forward because of that great love. We should never be afraid or ashamed to cry out to the Lord.

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The Abundance of His Steadfast Love – Psalm 5

We live in a world where people see no problem with saying, “I don’t love you any more.” Spouses say it to each other. Even parents say it to their children. Relationships fracture because people have forgotten or simply don’t care that love is a verb, an action, a choice.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. – Psalm 5:7-8, ESV

David wrote about God’s steadfast love. He wrote about its abundance. God wasn’t a miser to him, doling out only enough for David to get by. Steadfast means its an unchanging, never stopping love. It isn’t dependent on us and our flighty ways. It’s solely dependent on our Lord. As a result, we can rest assured that God’s love isn’t anything like we’ve made our own. God’s love is forever. We will never hear from Him those ugly words, “I don’t love you any more.”

God’s love is an active love. It makes a way for us to a destination we could not get to on our own. Note how David said he could enter God’s house because of that steadfast love. Also, David called on God to lead him because of the enemies around him. God’s righteousness would be his guide. He called on God to make the way straight so that it would be quicker to move towards God. He trusted God to lead him safely through, despite the people and obstacles all around him.

If you think about that phrase, “make your way straight before me,” that was used often with regards to Jesus. John the Baptist was appointed to make the way to Jesus straight for those who sought Him. Jesus talked about how the way to Him was straight and narrow. David’s prayer was answered through Jesus.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield. – Psalm 5:11-12, ESV

David’s prayer was also for us. He prayed that those of us who taken refuge in the Lord would rejoice, that we sing in joy forever, and that we exult Him. In turn he prayed that the Lord would protect us, would bless us, and cover us with favor. God has certainly carried out His part of the prayer through Jesus. Let us rejoice in a God with whom we have His favor, not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but simply because of His steadfast love for us!

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Sleeping Peacefully, Continued – Psalm 4

Psalms 3 and 4 are a matched pair. They were written by David during times of distress. They speak to the same things because David is reflecting on an unchanging God and what He promises.

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. – Psalm 4:3, ESV

David’s confidence in the Lord was founded in the fact that our Lord is protective over those whom He has called. Not only is He our protector, but He also hears our prayers. We don’t have an inattentive Lord. Therefore, David knew that in his distress, he could confidently call out to God and God would hear his prayer. Moreover, God would be a protection around David. In David’s case that came in the form on physical protection. However, God protecting us physically is not a guarantee. On the other hand, spiritual protection, our eternal destination, is assured if we belong to Him. David understood that. That’s why he commands in this psalm:

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord – Psalm 4:5, ESV

Some folk get angry with God when things get tough. David’s command is to focus more on the Lord instead. Offer right sacrifices is about our purpose, our intent, and our reason for interacting with God. Are we looking for His will to prevail? Are we in it for His glory? Are we seeking for the right outcome rather than the most expedient? David believed that’s where he was in the time of distress. That’s why he could put his faith and trust in God.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. – Psalm 4:8, ESV

Because David trusted in God, he could find peace in the middle of his life’s turmoil. When we are distressed, it’s easy to lie down. It’s not so easy to go to sleep. Yet David said he would do both. That’s because David understood an important truth we often forget: our safety isn’t guaranteed. Despite our best efforts, calamity could occur unexpectedly.

We’d like to think we’re in control of our fates. The truth is that we aren’t. Our safety is only within the will of God. Knowing this, there’s no point in worrying. This isn’t a license to be careless or reckless. However, it should be a freeing understanding: God’s in control and He has our safety in His hand. Whatever befalls us physically, it will be ultimately turned for His glory. Yet even if the worst should come physically, our spiritual safety is guaranteed by God Himself. David knew this, and that’s why he could proclaim a peaceful slumber, even in the midst of his distress.

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Sleeping Peacefully Amidst Trouble – Psalm 3

I am a worrier. It’s one of my biggest flaws. My worrying means I tend to expect the worst, both of situations and people. Being a worrier means I also lose sleep when I need it most. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to worry less. I still worry too much, but verses like what I find in Psalm 3 help mold me each time into less and less of a worrier.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head. – Psalm 3:3, ESV

If the Lord is my shield, what weapon is going to get through? None will. However, when I don’t trust my shield, when I try to dodge and weave on my own, when I attempt to make my own way rather than trusting His, I remove myself from His protection. That’s one of the problems about worrying. If I keep my trust in Him and I’m where I should be because I’m trying to be like that man in Psalm 1, then I have nothing to fear. When I don’t trust God, then I put myself into harm’s way.

I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around. – Psalm 3:5-6, ESV

The psalmist cried aloud to the Lord in verse 4. In other words, he prayed. We are told that God answered. God answers us, too. We have so many answers in His Word. The answer the psalmist received gave him such an assurance that he was able to lay down and sleep. Note the language he used: “many thousands of people who have set themselves around me all around.” He was surrounded by many more people than he would ever be able to defeat on his own.

Yet, despite the number and position of those who wanted to do him harm, the psalmist had such a peace that he was able to sleep. Why? He knew the Lord was his shield. How? The Lord was the one who lifted his head. The psalmist was looking down at the ground like so many of us do when we are troubled. However, God Himself raised the psalmist’s chin. God gave the psalmist confidence to face the situation without worry. He is the one who reassured the psalmist.

God’s Word is filled with promise after promise of God being the protector of those who believe in Him. The Word is also filled with examples where God stepped in. We can be just like the psalmist. We must let God’s Word lift our heads. Let us look clearly at what stands against us and find a peace and calmness because God is our shield. As long as we remain where we need to be, He’ll do the rest. Let us learn to worry less and trust more. And let us be so confident in God that we’re able to sleep peacefully despite the enemies arrayed against us.

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