David: Brave Heart or Lonely Heart

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Reading:                                      Psalm 25

(Verses 16-22)

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, L
ORD, is in you.
Deliver Israel, O God,
from all their troubles!
(NIV)

Reflection
David begins Psalm 25 on a note of confidence, but as this psalm draws to a close he truly bears his heart. David plaintively calls out to the LORD, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”

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Sunrise over Departure Bay, Nanaimo, BC — photo by David Kitz

The warrior king let’s his guard down and we see into his soul. There is a time for putting on a brave face, and there’s a time for open and transparent honesty. Here within the context of this psalm we see both; David the brave heart and David the lonely heart. Earlier in this psalm David showed absolute confidence in his God, but now he pours out his soul in humble petition. Hear the cry of his heart, “Relieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish. Look on my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.”

David recognized his greatest need. David’s greatest need was forgiveness. That’s our greatest need too. We need the peace of mind that forgiveness brings.

David was surrounded by mortal enemies, but then so are we. The legions of hell are arrayed against the Christian believer. At this moment worldly philosophies and demonic forces are conspiring to destroy your home, your marriage and your life. Along with David we pray, “See how numerous are my enemies and how fiercely they hate me! Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”

Our hope must always be centered in the LORD. Integrity and uprightness form a wall of protection around the people of God. But our deliverance comes from the LORD. Along with David we affirm, No one who hopes in you [LORD] will ever be put to shame.”
Response: Lord Jesus, help me to be open and transparent before you. Take away all my sins. My hope is in you. Protect me the attacks of the enemy. Deliver me from all my troubles. Amen.

Your Turn: How much do you need God? Do you need His forgiveness?

Seeking guidance for your life?

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Reading:                                    Psalm 25
                                               (Verses 8-15)

Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the L
ORD are loving and faithful
toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, L
ORD,
forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.
The
LORD confides in those who fear him;
he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the L
ORD,
for only he will release my feet from the snare
(NIV).

Reflection
Some truths are self-evident: Water flows downhill, always has and always will. Darkness is an absence of light. The first line of today’s psalm reading is also one of those self-evident truths. Good and upright is the LORD. The LORD is always good and He is always upright in all His ways. There is nothing devious or corrupt about Him. That’s simply the nature of our God.

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Early Morning Sunrise, Grey Nuns Park, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Because the LORD is good and upright, righteousness and grace flow from His throne. The LORD instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. His love cascades down upon those who are humble of heart. Jesus in his earthly ministry exemplified the very nature of God, because he came as the LORD in human flesh. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:27-29).

Are you learning from Jesus? Have you positioned yourself to hear and follow him? The LORD is our teacher, but he only instructs those who humbly fear and reverence Him. The obstinate sinner has shut his ears to the voice of God. There is no guidance from heaven for him, nor does he seek it, because in rebellion he has chosen his own path.

Do you want the LORD to guide you in the decisions you face? Be of good cheer. If you fear the LORD, He will instruct you in the way you should choose. Confess your sin to Him, admit your need before Him, and then open your spirit to hear from God. We have this promise: The LORD confides in those who fear him.

Response: LORD, in humility I come before you. I need your help and guidance every moment of the day. Teach me your ways in every situation and circumstance that I face. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you routinely ask for the LORD’s guidance? How has He responded? Can you testify to situations in which the LORD has guided your steps?

Can You Avoid Being Put to Shame?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 25

Of David.
Verses 1-7

In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, L
ORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, L
ORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, L
ORD, are good (NIV).

Reflection
Shame is often viewed as a very negative feeling, and it is. Some pop psychologists are of the opinion that this emotional response should be completely removed from our lives. They argue that it has no useful function, since it often holds us back from exploring and experimenting with new behaviors and activities in the world around us.

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The Rideau Canal, Ottawa cityscape — photo by David Kitz

However, a life lived without any sense of shame is life without an active conscience. Those who lack a shame gland soon find themselves trapped in self-destructive behavior that spirals out of control. A sense of shame when we have done wrong can act as the messenger of God calling us to repentance and a change of heart.

Here in this psalm David pleads with the LORD that he will not be put to shame. That should be our prayer as well. And how can we avoid being put to shame? David gives us the answer.  No one who hopes in you [the LORD] will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.

If your hope is in the LORD, He will protect you from shame and disgrace. Trusting in God, rather than in ourselves is the point where freedom from shame begins. A humble teachable spirit is what God desires. Because of His great mercy and love, He forgives the sins of our youth and our rebellious ways. Praise the LORD!

Response: LORD, this is my prayer: Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Amen.

Your Turn: How does trusting in God protect you from experiencing shame?

The Birth of a Literary Grandchild

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Here is my confession. I’m envious. I’m envious of all those folks around my age who are blessed with grandchildren. Whenever I see them dandling a toddler on their knee I feel a twinge of envy. I want one of those—a grandchild.

Boys in Wagon

That’s me with younger brother Dale in 1957

I turned sixty-five this year and as I occasionally remind my sons, I think it’s time. But alas this is not a solo endeavor.

Writing a book and seeing it come to fruition has often been compared to giving birth to a child. I believe the analogy is fitting. Writing a book certainly is a labour of love. From conception to delivery you carry that book with you for a period of months or years. Little by little it grows within you until it is finally ready for the world.

My first book was published in November 2003. I remember bringing my baby home from the hospital—err publisher—as proud as any first-time father.Cover

Good books have a life of their own. They kick up a fuss and generate interest. The Soldier, the Terrorist & the Donkey King certainly did just that. In 2005 it won the Word Guild Award for Historical Fiction. The first print run sold out in nine months. Two additional print runs followed.

You might say that my baby grew up. Last year it crossed the border as I signed a contract with Kregel Publications. That marriage resulted in a literary grandchild that was born in June.

Soldier bookOf course every new baby needs a name. The title for this new baby of dual American/Canadian citizenship is The Soldier Who Killed a King.

Guess what? Grandpa’s proud of this baby. I’m sure it will kick up a fuss and generated a lot of interest. Good books do that.

Now Lord, how about some of those flesh and blood grandchildren?

 

David Kitz lives in soggy Ottawa, Canada with his wife Karen. To learn more about his book and drama ministry visit http://davidkitz.ca/

Centurion

David Kitz as Centurion

The official release date for The Soldier Who Killed a King is July 25th. To preorder this book visit Amazon or  http://www.kregel.com/fiction/the-soldier-who-killed-a-king/

Welcoming the King of Glory

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Reading:                                      Psalm 24

(Verses 7-10)

Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The L
ORD strong and mighty,
the L
ORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The L
ORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory
(NIV).

Reflection
Are you ready? The King is coming.

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Lift up your head — Montebello, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

All of Psalm 24 is a psalm of anticipation. David, the shepherd king, is anticipating the arrival of the LORD. The LORD is coming to His city—to His temple. Have you prepared your heart and your mind for the moment of His arrival? Are you ready to receive Him as your King? He often shows up at the moment we least expect Him.

Undoubtedly, David, the warrior King, was reflecting on his own triumphant entry into the city after the defeat of his enemies in battle. But here in this psalm, he projects the victorious arrival of a much greater monarch—the King of glory.

There is a prophetic expectancy to this psalm that forms a very natural bridge to the Palm Sunday triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Jesus, the long anticipated King, came suddenly to His temple. Some were ready for Him; most were not. This should infuse our preparations for the King with an element of urgency. We can miss his appearing. Earlier in this psalm David asks, “Who may stand in his holy place?”

Purity of heart and action are essential. Blessing and vindication awaits those who seek His face. Again I ask, “Are you ready?” God can show up in your life today in an unexpected way. Will you recognize Him? Or like the busy people of Jerusalem will that moment pass you by? Will you be too caught up in buying and selling and the commerce of our times? Will you be too distracted by social media to recognize the medium of the Holy Spirit?

Lift up your head. Open your eyes. Take your attention off the mundane things of this world and focus the eyes of your heart on the Lord. Seek His face in your daily routine. The King of glory may be passing by today.

Response: Come, Lord Jesus, come. I open my heart and my mind to you. I want to see you at work in my daily circumstances. King of Glory, help me to anticipate your appearing in my life today. Grant me a pure heart so I can recognize your coming. Amen.

Your Turn: Has the King of glory appeared in your life recently? What are you doing to prepare for Him?

The Generation that Seeks God

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Reading:                                  Psalm24

Of David. A psalm.
(Verses 1-6)

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the L
ORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the L
ORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob
(NIV).

Reflection
Psalm 24 begins by establishing the sovereignty of the LORD. He alone is to be worshipped because the LORD is the Creator of all things. The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

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Who may stand in his holy place? — photo by David Kitz

David then goes on to ask two very pertinent questions. Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?

Can anyone approach this great Sovereign God? Are there any preconditions that we need to meet? According to David, the answer is yes. The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.

David, I have a problem with that answer. You see my hands aren’t always clean, and my heart isn’t always pure. How then can I approach the LORD? In fact, my problem is a universal problem.  In Psalm 14:2-3, we read this indictment against humanity: The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Is this generation seeking the LORD? With rare exceptions the answer is no. It has always been thus. The harsh words of Psalm 14 ring just as true now as they did in David’s time. But there are those who break the mold of this world—those who have received the forgiveness and cleansing of God. They will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. 

Those who have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God may freely approach the throne of God. I want to be numbered among that generation.

Response: Lord Jesus, I thank you for your suffering and death on the cross. Your blood cleanses my hands and purifies my heart. Today I want to seek you. In your great mercy reveal yourself to me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you a God seeker? On what basis do you approach the Sovereign LORD?

Heaven and Earth Are Yours

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I will praise Him!

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Ottawa River marsh, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
    you founded the world and all that is in it.
You created the north and the south;
    Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
Your arm is endowed with power;
    your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

(Psalm 89:11-13, NIV)

Who is like you, LORD?

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I will praise Him!

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Who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? — photo by David Kitz

The heavens praise your wonders, LORD,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?
    Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
    You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

(Psalm 89:5-8, NIV)

Pursuing the Good Life?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the L
ORD
forever.
(NIV)

Reflection
If there is a biblical recipe or prescription for the good life, it can be found in the words of this psalm. This is a psalm that drips with satisfaction. It oozes with the very fullness of life; it overflows with a quiet peace. There is a mellow ripeness to these words that runs down your chin, lights a spark in your eye, and puts a spring in your step.  

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He leads me beside quiet waters — photo by David Kitz

The first line is the key to it all. Is the LORD your shepherd? If He is, then all the rest follows: the refreshing, the goodness, and the love, simply come trailing along behind Him as you follow in His steps. This is so easy, so obvious; you can miss it, because it seems far too simple.

We live in a world that is in feverish pursuit of the good life. The self-centred pursuit of happiness has become the crowning, but ever elusive goal. The word ‘pursuit’ says it all. Apparently, happiness is something we are to chase after. Apparently, happiness can be found in a whole host of products, devices and programs.

What a profoundly different model for the good life is found within the words of this Psalm. The good life, which in our hearts we all seek, is anchored in the Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Good Shepherd. Listen to his words, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” John 10:14 (NIV).

It is in following him, rather than following our own desires, that happiness comes. There is an abundance that comes into play the moment we surrender our stubborn will to the Good Shepherd and then begin to follow him with our whole heart.

Response: O LORD my God, I want to follow after you. Dear Jesus, be my Good Shepherd, now and throughout this life that you have given me. I love you because you first loved me. I want the good life that comes from following you. Amen.

Your Turn: Why do self-centered pursuits leave us feeling empty?

The Ends of the Earth Will Turn to the LORD

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Reading:                                      Psalm 22

(Verses 27-31)

All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the L
ORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the L
ORD
and he rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the L
ORD.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
(NIV)

Reflection

This final portion of Psalm 22 signals the ultimate triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first half of this psalm Christ’s humiliation, suffering and death by crucifixion are vividly portrayed. With stunning accuracy and detail, David depicts these events from Christ’s perspective. Only God-breathed prophetic insight could reveal such truth through a human vessel. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

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Dominion belongs to the LORD — photo by David Kitz

With today’s reading we discover the worldwide impact of Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

Christ’s gospel—the good news of the Kingdom—has been voiced abroad. Death, hell and the grave have been conquered. Jesus Christ is Lord over all! Keep in mind that this turning to the LORD by all the families of the nations was an alien concept to the people of Israel during David’s time. Yet again, David spoke prophetically of the time when the gospel message would burst forth from its Jewish cocoon and be declared and received by ready hearts all over the world. Our Savior’s commission will be fulfilled. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

We have the promise of the worldwide spread of the gospel from generation to generation. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the LORD. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!

Response: Father, thank you for the good news of the gospel. Jesus is alive and reigns forever. Help me to do my part in bringing the message of your love and redemption to the world. I want to see people from all nations turning to you in repentance and faith. Amen.

Your Turn: How can we spread the good news? What are you doing to tell His story?