I Will Sing of Your Love

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Reading:                                           Psalm 59

 (Verses 10-17)

God will go before me
and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
But do not kill them, Lord our shield,

or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them and bring them down.
For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips,
let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
consume them in your wrath,
consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
that God rules over Jacob.

They return at evening, snarling like dogs,
and prowl about the city.
They wander about for food
and howl if not satisfied.
But I will sing of your strength,
in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.

You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely
(NIV).

Reflection

David began Psalm 59 in great distress, fleeing for his life, and calling out for God’s deliverance. But as is often the case in the Psalms, there is a transition point. What began with desperate pleading on David’s part, ends with confident faith and praise to God for His unfailing help. Apparently, David met with God. The LORD heard his cry and answered him. David makes this assertion, “God will go before me…”

Peeking Sunflower -- David Kitz

Peeking Sunflower — David Kitz

Can you make that assertion too? Have you met with God in prayer? Have you poured out your heart before Him? What is more important, has God answered you? Above all, true prayer is a two-way communication. Have you taken time to listen for His voice? Is He going before you?

There are many who assert that prayer is the answer. Prayer is what we need. That’s nonsense! Prayer is not the answer. God is the answer. What we need is God. We need to hear the Holy Spirit speaking into our spirits. Prayer is simply a means to connect with God. Prayer is part of the divine equation. But it’s God whom we seek. He is the solution—the eternal amen—the reward at the end of the quest.

David learned how to seek God through prayer, praise and worship. He was taught by God. God will teach us too, if we will take the time to seek Him with all our heart. Then we can say, “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”

Response: LORD God, teach me to pray like David prayed. Give me ears to hear your voice. Amen.

Your Turn: Has God spoken to you at various times?

If Jesus Is Who He Says He Is…

davidkitz:

This brief quote from David Platt is worth more than a moment of thought.

Originally posted on Life Is Worship:

If Jesus is who he says he is, and if his promises are as rewarding as the Bible claims they are, then we may discover that satisfaction in our lives and success in the church are not found in what culture deems most important but in radical abandonment to Jesus.

David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2010), 3.

HT: Of First Importance

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Be my Fortress

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Reading:                                           Psalm 59

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.

When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

(Verses 1-10)

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me!
Fierce men conspire against me
for no offense or sin of mine, L
ORD.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Arise to help me; look on my plight!
You, L
ORD God Almighty, you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
show no mercy to wicked traitors.

They return at evening,
snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.
See what they spew from their mouths—
the words from their lips are sharp as swords,
and they think, “Who can hear us?”
But you laugh at them, L
ORD; you scoff at all those nations.

You are my strength, I watch for you;
you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely
(NIV).

Reflection

The back story to Psalm 59 is an episode of high drama, betrayal and treachery. Despite winning several battles as a loyal warrior for King Saul, in a fit of jealous rage Saul attempted to kill David by pinning him to a wall with his spear. David fled to his home, but his wife, Michal warned him, “If you don’t run for your life tonight, tomorrow you’ll be killed” (1 Samuel 19:11).

A mighty fortress-- Himeji Castle, Japan

A mighty fortress– Himeji Castle, Japan

David made good his escape, while Michal put an idol in his bed to deceive the men who were sent to kill David. Undoubtedly, this deception bought David some precious time as he fled. It is within this context that David makes this double plea for deliverance,Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.”

Saul’s murderous attack was demonically inspired. See 1 Samuel 19:9. Christian believers today should not assume they are immune from demonic attack. Peter gives us this warning, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Fortunately, we have a fortress. God is that fortress to whom we can flee. Hallelujah!

Response: LORD God, when I am under attack, you are my help and defender. I run to you. Surround me and protect me by the blood of Christ. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you need the safety of God your fortress today?

There is a God who Judges the Earth

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Reading:                                         Psalm 58

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.

Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge people with equity?
No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth.

Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.

 Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be.

Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
L
ORD, tear out the fangs of those lions!
Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.

Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth”
(NIV).

Reflection

The overall title of my devotional posts is, ‘I Love the Psalms’. Do I love Psalm 58? Ah, not so much.

There is a term for this type of psalm. It’s called an imprecatory psalm. According to Wikipedia imprecatory psalms “are those that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God.”

The sword of justice -- David Kitz

The sword of justice — David Kitz

Currently, I don’t feel an urge to call down curses on others. I am at peace with those around me. That’s a good thing and I praise God for the joy and security I experience. In such an environment imprecatory psalms are completely out of place. They do not reflect my current reality.

But what if my reality was completely different? What if my son had been killed by ISIS militants? What if my daughter had been kidnapped and raped by jihadists? Or closer to home—what if my unarmed, teenage son was shot by police? I would be outraged. I would call for divine justice. In times such as these, the imprecatory psalms have profound resonance. We want and need a God who will judge the earth. At such times, we call on a God who cares to rise up and act on our behalf.

Response: LORD God, in a world filled with injustice, we call on you to help and defend the innocent. Help the victims of violence and war and bring the perpetrators to justice. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you been praying for Christian communities ravaged by war in Iraq and Syria?

Awake, my soul!

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Reading:                                           Psalm 57

 (Verses 6-11)

They spread a net for my feet—
I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth
(NIV).

Reflection

As with many of David’s psalms, Psalm 57 turns on a dime. By that I mean the psalmist begins in a state of worry and trouble. In his distress David cries out to God and the Lord answers him. Suddenly, desperate pleas are replaced by wholehearted praise. The psalm ends with rejoicing over the goodness of God. David invites us to join in his rejoicing. I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.

He is our Sonshine -- David Kitz

He is our Sonshine — David Kitz

There is tremendous power in music. When I am discouraged—trapped in the Slough of Despond—a song of praise can lift me out like nothing else. Perhaps you have had a similar experience. When I am drowning in a sea of regrets, music brings buoyancy. Worship helps me set my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith. See Hebrews 12:2.

Most often we want to see God’s deliverance before we praise Him. In the introduction to Psalm 57 we read that David hid in a cave from King Saul. David called out for God to deliver him and He did. Therefore, David bursts out with music and song. Can you picture him strumming on his harp and singing with a smile you can see for a mile?

But there are times when I believe God wants us to sing His praise before deliverance comes—before the healing appears. He is our good and faithful God whether we have faith to move mountains or are troubled by doubt. Whether we live or die, He is faithful and worthy of our praise. In all the circumstances of life our help comes from Him.

Response: LORD God, my heart is filled with praise for you. You are my help through Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Your Turn: Can you recall a time when you praised God before He brought the answer to your prayer?

In the Shadow of Your Wings

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Reading:                                          Psalm 57

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.”

Of David. A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

(Verses 1-5)

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me,
rebuking those who hotly pursue me—
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions;
I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth
(NIV).

Reflection

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide away from the world? David was having one of those days when he composed Psalm 57. But in David’s case, he wasn’t just trying to avoid a snarly boss. His boss, King Saul, was hunting David down to kill him. Needless to say, there must have been some fervor in David’s plea for help. “Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

Mother Duck, Nagakute, Japan -- David Kitz

Mother Duck, Nagakute, Japan — David Kitz

The phrase ‘take refuge in the shadow of your wings’ reminds me of a story etched on my mind from my childhood. My dog, Champ, absolutely loved any newborn creature on the farm. He instantly became the newborn’s defender. Generally, this worked out very well and we appreciated his hovering affection. All was fine until one day our pet bantam hen brought her newly hatched chicks to our backyard.

Champ was thrilled at the sight of these tiny fluff balls.  He greeted them with a bark and vigorously wagged his tail to welcome these new arrivals. Mother hen misunderstood his intentions. She hastily gathered her chicks under her wings to defend them from this wild beast. Champ was outraged. Surely this hen had swallowed up these defenceless chicks. He began to bark at her fiercely, trying to get her off her brood. The hen simply tightened her wings down on the chicks. Laughing at the sight of this, we called off our well-intentioned dog.

Our heavenly Father is our well-intentioned protector. Do we refuse His help? We are eternally safe in the shelter of His wings. Let Him draw you close today.

Response: LORD God, you are my defender. Help me daily to appreciate your love and protection. Amen.

Your Turn: Do we sometimes push away from our secure place near the heart of God?

Whose word do you praise?

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Reading:                                          Psalm 56

 (Verses 8-13)

Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll—
are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,
in the L
ORD, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?

 I am under vows to you, my God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life
(NIV).

Reflection

Psalm 56 is a relatively short psalm. Yet in this short psalm, David repeats the phrase ‘whose word I praise’ three times. In today’s reading he states, “In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.”

For me this phrase raises a question. Whose word do I praise? Do I praise God’s word? Do I appreciate and value the written word of God? Have I made it my refuge as it was for David? Is it my sustenance? Do I feed on it daily? While fasting in the wilderness Jesus answered the tempter, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).

The Bread of Life --David Kitz

The Bread of Life — David Kitz

Do you trust the living, active word of God to help you today and every day? Trust really is crucial. If I don’t trust that God’s word will help, encourage, correct and sustain me, I won’t bother reading it or meditating on it. I’ll trust in my own abilities or seek direction from other sources.

On the weekend an election was called here in Canada. Politicians from a variety of parties are making their pitch to the electorate. Again the fundamental question for each voter is whose word, do you trust? Politicians frequently promise more than they can deliver. Often I have been let down by a politician who promised to do things differently, but once in office failed to deliver, or became caught up in scandal after scandal. I presume the same disappointment holds true for many voters.

We need to remember that salvation won’t ever be achieved at the ballot box. It was achieved at the cross—only at the cross. The remedy for my sin is found there. The living word of God reminds us of that trustworthy, unchanging truth.

Response: LORD God, I put my trust in your word. I praise your life-giving word for it is good. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you make it your habit to read and meditate on the word of God?

Can There Be No Unity ???

davidkitz:

Here are some insights on the need for Christian unity by Levi Thetford.

Originally posted on Levi's Daily Thoughts:

In my post of last Saturday, July 25, I mentioned how I had witnessed unity within the church in France like I have never witnessed anywhere else. How that unity was achieved and has been kept alive, I’m not certain. One person told me that it is because the church is not large in numbers. I did speak with more declared atheists in Paris and London than I ever have in my whole life. It definitely is a post-modern culture there. Much more than I run across in NYC, and anywhere else in this country that I frequent. Perhaps this is a factor.

I believe that if the apostles were present today, or Jesus Himself, the church of today would not be recognizable to them. Paul, in his epistles, wrote 7 verses speaking of church unity to every one he wrote on justification by faith. This should speak volumes to us!! Justification by faith is very…

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In God I Trust

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Reading:                                          Psalm 56

For the director of music. To the tune of “A Dove on Distant Oaks.” Of David.

A miktam. When the Philistines had seized him in Gath.

(Verses 1-7)

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack.
My adversaries pursue me all day long;
in their pride many are attacking me.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps, hoping to take my life.
Because of their wickedness do not let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down
(NIV).

Reflection

In times of trouble David knew where to turn. With his enemies, the Philistines, surrounding him, he turned to God. Hear his bold confession, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

When the enemy comes in like a flood -- David Kitz

When the enemy comes in like a flood — David Kitz

David, the obvious answer to your question is, “Mere mortals can torture and kill you.”

Despite this David remained confident. The Philistines could destroy his body but they could not harm his eternal spirit which was at peace—protected by God. Do you and I have the same confidence? That confidence can be ours if we put our trust in God.

Jesus warned his disciples, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). The One we are to fear is God alone. Jesus perfectly demonstrated his trust in God the Father when he went to the cross on our behalf. There he was tortured and killed, but three days later he was vindicated by the Father, who raised him from the dead. Our redemption and salvation come from Jesus.

When we face mortal danger or a deadly prognosis may these words be on our lips and in our heart: When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Response: LORD God, right now I put my faith and trust in you. By the blood of Jesus you forgive all my sins and have paid the price for my redemption. When I am afraid, I turn to you. I put my trust in you alone.  Amen.

Your Turn: Who do you trust and turn to when bad news comes?

Are you carrying or casting your cares?

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Reading:                                           Psalm 55

 (Verses 16-23)

As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me.
Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me,
even though many oppose me.

 God, who is enthroned from of old,
who does not change—
he will hear them and humble them,
because they have no fear of God.

My companion attacks his friends;
he violates his covenant.
His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart;
his words are more soothing than oil,
yet they are drawn swords.

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous be shaken.
But you, God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you (NIV).

Reflection

The phone call wasn’t good news. After our 7,000 km trip to western Canada an oil change was in order, and my wife volunteered to take our car to have that service done. She called back with the news that the car needed new tires and there was a leak in the front end suspension system. Suddenly a routine oil change turned into a major expense, and this all comes so soon after the costs for our trip. Consequently, these words from Psalm 55 have added meaning for me this morning: Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.

Lake Placid, NY -- David Kitz

Lake Placid, NY — David Kitz

These are minor troubles in the sight of God. He is more than willing to carry them. Speaking prophetically David invites us to cast our cares on the LORD. That includes unexpected bills and expenses.

One of my favorite leisure time activities is skipping rocks across the water. There’s something unnatural about a stone dancing across the water. Stones are supposed to sink, not hop across the waves. But when they are cast with enough force and with the right technique they do the impossible. They dance across the water.

Notice there is a promise attached to those cares that we cast on the LORD. This is the LORD’s promise: He will sustain you. He will sustain us—sustain us in the midst of the impossible. Until like that dancing rock, we reach the other side.

Response: LORD God, I cast my worries and cares on you. I am so thankful that you care about the details of my life. With the psalmist, David, I can say, But as for me, I trust in you.” Amen.

Your Turn: Do you have cares that you need to cast onto the LORD today?

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