Reading: Psalm 145
The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The LORD is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, LORD;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations (NIV).
Adolf Hitler boasted that his rise to power would lead to the thousand-year reign of the Third Reich. Instead, his diabolical reign of terror came to an end after twelve years with millions dead and Europe lying in ruins. His brand of race-based nationalism ended in an unparalleled catastrophe.
Where did Hitler get his idea of a thousand-year reign? Undoubtedly, he stole the concept from the millennial rule of Christ, which is described in the revelation of Jesus Christ to John. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6).
The contrast between the reign of Christ and his kingdom, and the reign of a tyrant like Hitler is stunning. In today’s reading from Psalm 145 we catch a glimpse of the reign of God. All your works praise you, LORD; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
What makes the reign of God so wonderful—so glorious? The answer lies in the character of the King. The LORD is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Yes, the LORD is good to all. He is good even to the wayward and disobedient, including me. He shows compassion to those who don’t deserve it. His compassion isn’t based on race. But even more surprising, it’s not based on conduct or performance; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). No, God’s compassion looks beyond that. He is the God of grace—unmerited favor.
This unmerited favor flows from a King whose blood flowed to save us—flowed to purchase our redemption. A blood stained cross stood on a hill to declare these words to the world: The LORD is gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and rich in love. Have you surrendered to His love?
Response: LORD God, I thank you that I am a citizen of your kingdom. Your grace and compassion have won my heart. I want to serve you. Your dominion endures through all generations. I praise you. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you a citizen of the LORD’s kingdom—His everlasting kingdom?
Reading: Psalm 144
Part your heavens, LORD, and come down;
touch the mountains, so that they smoke.
Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy;
shoot your arrows and rout them.
Reach down your hand from on high;
deliver me and rescue me
from the mighty waters,
from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David (NIV).
“Lord, why don’t you come and fix this mess?” Have you ever thought that thought, or voiced that prayer?
When we look at the world around us, there are a great many things that appear to be coming off the rails. This past week the abandoned body of a toddler was found in a church parking lot in Edmonton. Where are the parents? They haven’t come forward. Who would harm a child like that? Sadly, you can check the news services and see that cases like this occur all too frequently all over the globe. It appears that the love of many has grown cold. See 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Here’s a chilling statistic. In America on average every month fifty women are shot to death by their male partners. Meanwhile gun advocates keep insisting that more guns will keep America safe—safe from whom? It seems the killers are the well-armed and well-intentioned men in our midst.
On the international scene, wars, violence and mass migration are creating havoc and instability in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Terrorists and dictators continually amp up their threats. Has the world gone mad?
In this context, David’s prayer in Psalm 144 makes a lot of sense. Part your heavens, LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemy; shoot your arrows and rout them.
David is asking for the LORD to come down and fix this mess. Down through the ages believers have prayed similar prayers. Jesus did come down to fix this mess, and the world he created turned on him and had him crucified. But we can be sure a final day is coming when he returns again triumphant.
Response: LORD, I look forward to the return of Jesus. He alone can fix this mess. Lord, help me to do what I can to speed your return. Let your gospel be preached in the entire world as a witness. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you believe the Lord will fix this mess? Do we have a role to play in Christ’s return?
Reading: Psalm 140
Those who surround me proudly rear their heads;
may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
May burning coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into the fire,
into miry pits, never to rise.
May slanderers not be established in the land;
may disaster hunt down the violent.
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
Surely the righteous will praise your name,
and the upright will live in your presence (NIV).
Here is an observation I have made as a result of visiting and speaking at a wide variety of churches across this continent. Christians and Christian churches in North America appear to fall into two broad camps: Those that are primarily concerned about personal salvation, and those that are concerned mainly about social justice.
There’s often a considerable amount of tension between these two camps. Both are convinced they are doing the will of God as revealed in the scriptures, and they can quote chapter and verse to back up their particular perspective. So which position is correct?
The short answer is they are both right. The eternal destination of your soul is of primary importance, but love and compassion for others is central to the entire mission of Jesus, and the full scope of the scriptures. Today’s reading from Psalm 140 reminds that issues of justice and fairness rank high with the LORD. I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
John, the apostle, gives us this perspective: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:16-18).
It got very messy when Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. A lot of blood was spilled. It was brutal beyond measure—humiliation and suffering beyond measure. Our personal salvation was messy—in every way a high cost affair. Are we willing to do the same for others? That’s what John is saying when he writes and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Now there’s a high calling. Do you want to change the world? It starts with a change in your heart. Jesus is in the heart changing business. I need an appointment with him. What about you?
Response: LORD God, I am selfish by nature. It’s not natural for me to think of others first. Help me to change. I want to genuinely care about others. Show me what I can to help because Jesus cares. Amen.
Your Turn: Should the church be involved in social justice issues or just stick to the salvation message?
I will praise Him!
I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
(Psalm 63:2-5, NIV)
Later this year, Kregel Publishing will be releasing my Passion of Christ novel entitled “The Soldier Who Killed a King.” Due to an editing deadline on this book, I am unable to do my regular, full-length posts. I hope to resume my devotional posts soon. — David Kitz
Reading: Psalm 139
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you (NIV).
Psalm 139 is a psalm of incredible intimacy—divine intimacy. God knows us; sees us; loves us like the LORD only can. He has known us and cared for us from the moment of conception. We need to make that statement personal, because it is personal. The Almighty has known me, and cared for me from the moment of my conception.For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Last week, I had lens replacement surgery on my left eye. The same surgery was done on my right eye three weeks earlier. This highly skilled tinkering with my eyes has left me in awe of the gift of sight. What a miracle! Yes, the surgeon worked wonders. My sight has been restored without the need for eyeglasses—something I have needed and have worn since the age of eight. Now for first time in 58 years, I can roll out of bed and not reach for my glasses.
What I truly appreciate is the original miracle—the gift of sight itself; a gift we are born with. Because the miracle of sight is so universal, we take it for granted. But when that precious gift is lost or threatened we appreciate it again with new eyes. I join with the psalmist in making this declaration: I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
God took the time to knit you together in your mother’s womb. You can be sure He didn’t miss a stitch. You were formed according to His plan to live for His purpose. Wow! What an awesome privilege. And all the days ordained for [you and] me were written in [God’s] book before one of them came to be.
Response: LORD God, thank you for the gift of life, for sight, sound and touch. You thought of me. What joy that brings! Help me to live the days assigned to me with gladness and gratitude. Amen.
Your Turn: Do we take our physical gifts for granted? How do you cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
I will praise Him!
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.
(Psalm 59:16-17, NIV)
I will praise Him!
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.
(Psalm 57:7-11, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, LORD, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain (NIV).
Last night I got a phone call from my son. The long search was finally over. The gift had been found. This morning, I met him at church, and he gave me this semiprecious gift.
What is it you ask? It’s a necklace I purchased for my wife in a grand, continent-wide conspiracy of love. Last June my wife made a solo trip to Edmonton to visit her Dad. While there, she went shopping with one of her friends, and fell in love with a cut rock necklace. This friend secretly sent me a message inquiring if I would pay her to purchase this rare find. Without hesitation I agreed. I always find it difficult to buy jewelry for my wife. I never know what she might like. Furthermore, our 40th anniversary was coming in December. What a delightful surprise this gift would be!
A few weeks later my son and his wife went on a business trip to Edmonton and they brought the necklace back with them, and I secretly mailed the payment to our friend. All of this was working out so well—too well! Only a father and son team of bumbling males could mess this up. And they did.
June to December is a long time—enough time for me to completely forget about this necklace. We had a great anniversary celebration, but all the while I had this niggling feeling that I had forgotten something. Two weeks later I got a text message from our mutual friend in Edmonton inquiring about how Karen liked her necklace. Oops! This sent me into a frantic search for my precious gift. I must have hidden it in a safe place. In desperation I called my son. He also searched—all to no avail. We concluded that God knew exactly where the necklace was and it would be found at the right moment. Well, yesterday that moment arrived. In God’s perfect time, Karen will get her necklace.
Today’s psalm reading speaks of God searching our hearts. Does God really need to do that? I doubted it. Jesus knows exactly what is in there. See John 2:23-25. We are the ones who need to search our hearts. We don’t know what is hidden inside us. Is it rotting garbage or something precious?
Response: LORD God, turn on your light inside of me. You know my deep hurts and inner struggles. You are familiar with all my ways. Cleanse me from within. By grace and faith, I am your child. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you been hiding things from God? How foolish is that?