He Chose David

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Reading:                                      Psalm 78

Verses 65-72

Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them
(NIV).

Reflection

Up to this point Psalm 78 has catalogued a long list of Israel’s transgressions. They have been a stubborn and rebellious people who have been unfaithful to the LORD. They have been unfaithful despite His mercy and the miracles He has performed on their behalf. Now this final portion of the psalm represents a turning point in the history of the nation.

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Lanark Highlands, ON — photo courtesy of Lyle Johnson

Once again, the LORD intervened in the affairs of Israel. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance.

God chose a man; He chose a leader. Often the LORD chooses the most unlikely candidates for leadership. He did not go to the palace; He went to the sheep pen. He overlooked Jonathan, the courageous royal son of Saul, and instead He called out David, the youngest son of Jesse—a man after God’s own heart.

What does God consider when He looks for a leader? When selecting the next king, the prophet Samuel was told, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). The LORD is not looking for physical strength or a handsome face, but he is looking for integrity of heart.

That should give hope to every one of us. I cannot change my stature or significantly alter my appearance, but through repentance and faith I can change the condition of my heart.

Response: LORD God, I want a heart of integrity—a heart that is pleasing to you. Help me to become an instrument that you will use for your good purpose in this strife-torn world. Amen.

Your Turn: Can we change our hearts or is that God’s job? What role do we play?

From Every Nation and Race

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You created each nation, and they will all bow down to worship and honor you. You perform great wonders because you alone are God (Psalm 86:9-10, CEV).

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Stained glass Llewelyn United Church, SK — photo courtesy of Donald Adam

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is wonders.

Though as followers of the Lord Jesus we may go through difficult and discouraging times we can draw strength from this thought: God is in control and He will triumph in the end. Though at present the world may be in turmoil, the day is coming when the Prince of Peace will return. Today’s verse from the Psalms reflects this truth.

You created each nation, and they will all bow down to worship and honor you.
You perform great wonders because you alone are God (Psalm 86:9-10, CEV).

God sent his son to suffer and die to take away the sins of the World. But on the third day God raised Jesus from the dead. Now that’s a great wonder! But I’m not sure which is a greater wonder, the resurrection of Jesus, or God’s love for the likes of you and me?

There is a thought that brings me great peace. Our great Redeemer will bring His elect people together from every nation. That’s the promise of His word.

Then they sang a new song, “You [Jesus] are worthy to receive the scroll and open its seals, because you were killed. And with your own blood you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation, and race” (Revelation 5:9).

Response: LORD God, what a wonderful hope we have in you. The day is coming when we will all bow down to worship and honor you. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you glad that we will be unified around the throne of God?

Wonder Worker

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I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart and tell about the wonders you have worked (Psalm 9:1, CEV).

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Moonlight on Lake Ontario — photo courtesy of Eric E. Wright

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is wonders.

Has God worked wonders in your life? God certainly has worked wonders when we consider the glories of creation. But has God worked wonders for you personally. Has He answered your prayers in marvelous or miraculous ways?

David, who wrote this psalm, certainly had many good reasons to praise the LORD. Notice his exuberant call to worship:

I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart and tell about the wonders you have worked (Psalm 9:1, CEV).

God was with the shepherd boy David as he slew a lion and a bear. Later God was with him as he took down the fearsome giant Goliath. Then David went on to win battle after battle against the Philistines. As David stepped forward in faith, the LORD was working wonders on his behalf.

On a personal level we can’t fully know the wonders of God until we take steps of faith—risky steps of faith. Jesus invited Peter to step out of a boat and onto the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee. Peter experienced the wonders of God as he took those few hesitant steps. Will we dare to do the same if Jesus calls us?

Response: LORD God, give me faith to see you as you are—a wonder worker. You have done and continue to great and marvelous things. Help me to hear your voice and follow you. Amen.

Your Turn: Has the Lord worked a wonder in your life?

Open my mind

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Open my mind and let me discover the wonders of your Law (Psalm 119:18, CEV).

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Cobourg, ON — photo courtesy of Eric E. Wright

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is wonders.

Yesterday’s post focused on the wonders of God as seen in creation. The sky declares His glory. But today’s focus is on the wonders of God’s word. Here is the psalmist’s prayer:

Open my mind and let me discover the wonders of your Law (Psalm 119:18, CEV).

The Law in this case is not simply referring to the Ten Commandments or the other precepts in the Jewish ceremonial and civil law. The Law in this verse refers to all of the inspired word of God, which for Christians includes all of the Old and New Testament.

There are wonders to be discovered in the pages of your Bible. Have you established a daily routine that includes reading the word of God? To discover the wonders of God’s word, we need to be immersing ourselves in God’s word, and as we do we do that we need to pray for a mind that is open to what God is saying to us. God’s word becomes wonderful as it is applied. Only then will it transform and give meaning to our lives.

Response: LORD God, today I want to open my mind to your word. Speak to me through it. I want to be a doer of your word. Help me make life changing discoveries in the Bible. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you have a habit of reading God’s word? Has the Holy Spirit spoken to you recently through the pages of your Bible?

Telling the Wonders of God

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The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done (Psalm 19:1, CEV).

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The heavens declare the glory of God — photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is wonders.

Does God exist? The answer is written in the sky. In essence that’s what David the shepherd king is saying as he begins Psalm 19.

The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done (Psalm 19:1, CEV).

At night the starry hosts announce God’s glory. Each morning the sun rises in glorious splendor to declare the goodness of the LORD. Towering clouds and thunderstorms reveal His awesome power. God is robed in the grandeur of the setting sun.

Through all these daily occurrences, God is speaking—speaking from the heavens. And He is speaking across the whole earth to every nation, tribe and people group. The daily panorama unfolding in the sky bares witness to the wonder-filled reality of God our Creator.

Are you hearing the voice of God? Have you opened your eyes to see His wonders? He is far closer than you think.

Response: LORD God, I want to see your wonders today. I want to hear you speaking to me through the natural world that you created. Give me ears to hear your voice. Amen.

Your Turn: Does God speak to you through the beauty of nature?

I Will Answer

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Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC — photo by David Kitz

“When you are in trouble,
    call out to me.
I will answer and be there
    to protect and honor you.
  You will live a long life
    and see my saving power.”

(Psalm 91:15-16, CEV)

He Rejected Israel Completely

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Reading:                                       Psalm 78

Verses 56-64

But they put God to the test
and rebelled against the Most High;
they did not keep his statutes.
Like their ancestors they were disloyal and faithless,
as unreliable as a faulty bow.
They angered him with their high places;
they aroused his jealousy with their idols.
When God heard them, he was furious;
he rejected Israel completely.
He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh,
the tent he had set up among humans.
He sent the ark of his might into captivity,
his splendor into the hands of the enemy.
He gave his people over to the sword;
he was furious with his inheritance.
Fire consumed their young men,
and their young women had no wedding songs;
their priests were put to the sword,
and their widows could not weep
(NIV).

Reflection

Sin has consequences. We can pretend it isn’t so, but we’re fooling ourselves. Unchecked sin on a personal level can have devastating consequences—consequences that lead to heartache and an early grave. I think we all know individuals who became trapped in sin and wandered down a self-destructive path.

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Grey Nuns Park, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Today’s reading from Psalm 78 reminds us that a whole nation can abandon God and become mired in the consequences of sin. The nation of Israel did just that. The psalmist tells us they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow.

When Israel abandoned God, He in turn abandoned them. We read, “He rejected Israel completely. He abandoned the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent he had set up among humans. He sent the ark of his might into captivity, his splendor into the hands of the enemy. He gave his people over to the sword; he was furious with his inheritance.”

Has God changed? If the LORD abandoned His people in ancient times, will He treat our nation—any nation that turns away from Him differently today? There are consequences for sin and that truth applies to nations too. When collectively we abandon the ways of God and the precepts He has established from the foundations of the world, we can expect dire days ahead. That’s what happened to ancient Israel, and it can happen to us today as well.

Response: LORD God, collectively as a nation, we have wandered away from you. LORD in your mercy lead us back to the center of your holy will. Give us repentant hearts that seek your face. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you concerned about the spiritual state of your nation? What are you doing about it?

From Tears to Celebration

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We cried on the way to plant our seeds,
    but we will
celebrate and shout
    as we bring in the crops (Psalm 126:6, CEV).

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Newly planted rice stalks, Nagoya, Japan — photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is celebration.

All those who like tears and suffering, please raise your hand. Did your hand shoot up in response to that request? No, you say. Well, if it’s any consolation, I didn’t raise my hand. Tears, pain and suffering are things I avoid at all cost. But strange as it may seem some of the greatest human triumphs come directly from experiencing suffering or loss.

On October 9, 2012, Malala Yousafzai was taken off a school bus and shot in the head by the Taliban for the ‘sin’ of seeking an education. But miraculously she survived. Despite tears and pain she has gone on to promote education for girls and win the Nobel Prize.

Today’s verse from the Psalms reminds us that cries of anguish often precede shouts of celebration.

We cried on the way to plant our seeds, but we will celebrate and shout as we bring in the crops (Psalm 126:6, CEV).

If you are suffering now, take heart. God is well able to turn your sorrow into joy. Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy (Psalm 126:5, NIV).

Response: LORD God, I know my tears are not wasted. You value even my suffering. Work good out of those things that bring me pain. I will celebrate the victories you bring. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you suffering at the present time? Do you believe God hears your cries?

The only God

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You are the LORD’s people!
    So celebrate and praise the only God (Psalm 97:12, CEV).

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Celebrate God’s goodness — photo courtesy of Donald Adam

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is celebration.

One of our greatest needs is a need for belonging. We need to belong to something or someone. For many, family is the primary source for fulfilling that need. But people also join churches, service clubs and a whole host of worthwhile organizations. On the negative side of the equation, criminal gangs prey on outcasts because of their innate need to belong.

God placed within in us this desire to belong. His desire is that we come to the realization that we belong to Him. He made us and redeemed us. Today’s verse from the Psalms reflects this truth:

You are the LORD’s people! So celebrate and praise the only God (Psalm 97:12, CEV).

Jesus taught us that first and foremost God is not our enemy or our judge. He is our loving heavenly Father. He wants us to be part of His great human family. He loves and cares for us more deeply than any human parent could. So take some time right now to celebrate and praise the only God, who loves you with an everlasting love.

Response: LORD God, thank you for loving me and welcoming me into your family. Heavenly Father, I love you. I belong to you; I am yours. I celebrate your goodness. Amen.

Your Turn: To whom do you belong? Do you belong to the LORD?

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