Summer Reading, part sixteen

Today’s reading includes Psalms 84 through 89. This section gives us a few verses that are easy to memorize. Pick out a few that stand out to you and keep them at the front of your memory banks for a quick withdrawal.

Many people strive to become well known in their industry. There are also those who hate their job and long to do meaningful work. They want to be in a good place. Psalm 84 is a great song to sing in gratitude of being in a good place. This psalmist understood the comfort and contentment of staying in the presence of God.

Psalm 84:10 speaks to our connection with God. “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Never have I felt more content than when I’m in the presence of God. It’s a good place. I wonder if those who long for success in their jobs can see that there is a deeper success in the presence of God that will affect their daily jobs in a good way.

In Psalm 86, two verses stand out to me. Many people pray, but few listen. That’s why Psalm 86:7 stands out to me. “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” The ending, “answer me”, is something you have to listen for. Are you just praying or are you hearing God’s answer? How will you know if God answers prayer if you don’t stick around and listen?

Psalm 86:11, “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”, is similar to Psalm 32:8 in that they both are written by someone whose heart is inclined for receiving instruction. If we remain teachable, we can grow in our obedience to and success with God. Hanging out with God is a great way to learn from him.

Next time, prepare for the powerful nineties. We’ll begin with Psalms 90-93.

Summer Reading, part fifteen

If you've been keeping up with the Psalms selections, we've read 1,213 verses by the end of Psalm 79. Together, we've read half of the book of Psalms. So don't give up. Stay with us, and we'll finish strong.

In reading Psalms 80-83, I recognize that I have a relationship with God, my Heavenly Father. He gave me children to raise so I could see how he feels about me. He loves me very much. I knew this before I had kids, but it’s much more meaningful now.

In Psalm 81, I hear the cry of a parent who wants only the best for his kids. Psalm 81:8 sounds like any loving parent, “Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel!” How many of us have said that? Then, God’s heart breaks in verse 12 like any parent who knows about tough love. “So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” I know how a parent wants to bring goodness and beauty into a child’s life, but we parents have to wait until the kids can receive the good things we want to give.

So many of the psalms have been a cry for help. Do you think God gets tired of us pleading with him to take vengeance on our enemies?

I think he is glad we’re still coming to him. He wants us to run to him whenever we need him. He hopes we want to run to him when we don’t need him. I understand that from the perspective of a parent. Psalm 83 is another “Make them like tumbleweed, my God, like chaff before the wind” (from verse 13) type of psalm. I don’t think God ever rolled his eyes and sighed at these words.

I know from my experience of parenting that the kids’ trials and torments affect the parents as well. God keeps trying to bring his people back to him. And we parents keep trying to train our children to become the people they were meant to be.

Next time, join me in Psalms 84-89.

Summer Reading, part fourteen

It seems that troubles abound for psalmists. This section, Psalms 73-79, isn’t written by King David, but the same agony of having to live around trouble-makers is present.

Psalm 73 tells of our problem with watching the wicked amassing wealth and seemingly getting by with their sins. The whole psalm gives an overview of the wicked and their foolishness. It ends with Psalm 73:28, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” Like David, this psalmist is able to express inadequacies and still keep praises and longing for God in his mouth. 

Psalm 74 is a cry of the heart for God to take his hands out of his pockets and do something. The psalmist reminds God in verses 16-17 that he is still in charge, since he’s the Creator, “The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.” We all have our needy moments. When you call out to God, just remember that God’s heart is still for you. Be patient and rest in the fact that you will eventually get the victory.

Psalm 75 can be seen as a response to the cry for help in Psalm 74. This one is a declaration that God is the rightful judge and will come to our rescue. The psalmist admits that he’ll sing praises to God forever.

In our distress, we can remember what God has done for others. Psalm 77 is a good place to re-read the ways God rescued his people. This psalmist felt overwhelmed, but thought about the miracles God did for Moses to bring his people into freedom.

Another reason I have been maintaining a devotional blog is for the purpose of (as stated in Psalm 78:4) telling “the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 78 is an example of teaching from the mistakes of our ancestors. God was furious with his people, but he didn’t give up on them. He continued his plan of salvation for his stubborn people.

Please continue reading the Psalms, and don’t skip anything. It’s all good.

Next time, we’ll go to Psalms 80-83.

Summer Reading, part thirteen

Do you like to listen to sad songs when you’re sad? Songwriters know how to bring us to tears with an emotional ballad. We listen and cry along, and maybe identify with the person in the ballad.

David wrote psalms or songs which told of his many problems. Psalm 69:3 tells us woefully, “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched.” Psalm 69:20, also woeful, tells us, “Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.”

David also wrote Psalm 69:30, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”  Verses 3 and 20 sound like someone in the midst of trouble, but verse 30 seems different. What changed?

Nothing changed. David praised God before, during, and after trouble came. Having trouble in his life didn’t make David stop praising God.

David kept telling those around him about God’s presence in his life. He sang about his relationship with God. He wrote about it. He did this even though he knew that praising God wasn’t going to keep him out of trouble. He knew that when trouble came, God would be there for him, as he described in Psalm 71:3, “Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.” Psalm 71 is another example of David giving God praise in the midst of trouble. Psalm 71:14 tells us, “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

Psalm 72 continues David’s praises to God. We can see in these verses how full of love for God David’s heart is. He ended this psalm with verse 19, “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” And then verse 20 tells us, “This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.”

Next time we’ll cover Psalms 73 through 79. Happy reading!  

Summer Reading, part twelve

Here we are in mid-July and we’re moving right along in our summer reading plan, aren’t we? We’re covering six psalms today: Psalm 63 through 68.

Have you ever read a love letter written by someone else, and yet you felt their passion as if it were written by you? Psalm 63 is a passionate love letter to God that each of us can use to tell him “my whole being longs for you.” If you can tell God that his love is better than life itself, then read this letter aloud to God during your prayer time. If you’re not just reading aloud, but actually speaking this to him, your prayer life will be richer, fuller, and more satisfying.

David was just like us in that he wanted a peaceful life. But having his enemies plotting against him all the time, trying to kill him, and aiming “cruel words like deadly arrows” was more than David could stand. According to Psalm 64, he had a complaint. When you take your complaint to God, you have to remember that God has everything under control. David knew that God’s arrows are more powerful than those of his enemies. He was tired of having enemies, but he knew to “rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him.”  

Psalm 66 takes us back to the days of Moses in verse 6 where God’s unmistakable power was revealed. “He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot – come, let us rejoice in him.” Verse 9 tells us God keeps our feet from slipping. God frees us from bondage, protects us, and tests us too. But the psalm ends with praise to God who has not “withheld his love from me!”

Don’t forget to read Psalm 65. And Psalm 67, which is a short blessing. And Psalm 68, which gives examples of how God’s power can be seen. Psalm 68:35 ends with these praises, “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!”

Next time, we’ll read Psalms 69 through 72. Enjoy!

Summer Reading, part eleven

Today’s reading is Psalm 57 through Psalm 62. A psalm is a hymn or sacred song. David did a lot of singing. He often wanted to worship God because he was grateful to God for saving his life every time the enemy came against him.

When David fled from Saul and went into the cave, he wrote songs of praise because God kept saving him. Psalm 57:6 gives us a look at what happens when the enemy plans our demise. “They dug a pit in my path – but they have fallen into it themselves.” David felt like singing. Verse 9 shows his attitude. “I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples.”

Psalm 59 tells us once again of how David, running for his life, was able to sing every morning in praise to God. Verse 17 is David singing about being kept safe by God. “You are my strength, I sing praise to you; you, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”

David wrote in Psalm 61:4, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” God protects those who are his. David experienced this, and we can too. David had a very close relationship with God. We have to get close to God and lose ourselves in him in order to be hidden in his wings.

If anyone needed a rest, it was David. He ran from his enemy and hid from those who wanted to kill him. But David knew where to go for rest. Psalm 62:1 tells us, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.”

Because David shared his experiences with us, we know that we can trust God too. We can run to the shadow of God’s wings and find rest. Next time, we’ll be reading Psalm 63 through 68.

Summer Reading, part ten

Are you keeping up with the selections this week? I’m enjoying the stroll through the Psalms, and I hope you are too. Today we’re studying Psalm 53 through Psalm 56.

My devotional blog is called Seek God With Me. Psalm 53:2 tells us that God wants to know “if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” Those who seek God know that God holds all wisdom and understanding, and he will reveal secrets to those who call to him. Verse 4 reminds us why the wicked have no understanding: “they never call on God.”

Everyone goes through some difficulty now and again. When we do, Psalm 54:4 is a great place to feast. “Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” We can fill ourselves up with the satisfying words of God until we are energized to confront whatever faces us.

Psalm 55:16 is another good memory verse for those momentary difficulties. We can remind ourselves with this verse that there is someone in whom we can put our trust. “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me.” And a few lines away, another reminder in verse 22, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Summer is a great time for a Bible Study. Don’t you think? Next time, we’ll look at Psalms 57 through 62. Enjoy!

Summer Reading, part nine

Today we’ll look through Psalms 49 to 52. We’re about one-third through the book of Psalms. It’s amazing how fast it goes when we take a little at a time.

Psalm 49 is a warning to those who admire the wealthy wicked. Psalm 49:17 gives it to us with all due directness, “for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.” Death makes some rich people poor and some poor people rich. It’s not based on your bank account, but your relationship with God. We should pay more attention to whether our hearts are bankrupt. That is our eternal account.

When I read Psalm 50, I think of what might go through  the minds of church members during offering time. It isn’t a time to give money to God because he needs our money. God doesn’t need your money. Psalm 50:12 explains, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.” The offering is about our desire to honor God with what he has given us. Verses 16 through 22 let the wicked know that their hearts have already condemned them. Their hearts are what God wants, not their money.

After reading Psalm 50, we need Psalm 51, which is a plea for God’s mercy. We’ve all sinned. We all need to run back to God with a broken heart. Psalm 51: 10 is a good step in the right direction. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Instead of trusting in a financial sacrifice, we need to go to God with the kind of sacrifice he’s looking for. Verse 17 is a reminder, “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

Don’t forget to read Psalm 52 also. Next time, we’ll read Psalm 53 through Psalm 56. Happy reading!

Summer Reading, part eight

Today, we're covering Psalm 42 through Psalm 48. I'm only giving brief summaries of a few of them. Read them on your own and make a comment if you like.

Thirsty? Don’t get dehydrated. Reach for a glass of water and Psalm 42. This psalm reminds us to reinvigorate our relationship with God when we become depressed. We can call out to God and let him know that we thirst for him, the Living God, who refreshes us with living water.

Psalm 43 is five verses of struggle. When we find ourselves disturbed, we can coach ourselves to hope in God and praise him while on the journey to get back with God, who is our joy and delight.

Psalm 45 is one of the happy psalms. When I read it, I imagine a majestic scene. A royal couple is participating in a wedding. The regal bride, dressed in embroidered garments, is led to the king. I think about how we will be presented to Jesus like a bride is presented to the groom. Our job is to honor him, as it says in verse 11. “Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”

I enjoyed reading Psalm 46 because of the comfort I get from the strength it displays. You could put a framed copy of Psalm 46:5 by your bed and read it every morning. “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” And maybe at night before bed, read verse 10-11, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Don’t forget about the psalms I’ve left out of my summaries. We’ve covered 48 psalms – and they’re all very tasty. Read and enjoy.

Summer Reading, part seven

I know a lot of people go on vacation or to camp during the summer. That change in schedule might break up your reading habit. So to help us continue our summer reading, I’ve scheduled a little bit of reading at a time. Today, I’ll summarize three excerpts from Psalm 34 through Psalm 41.

In Psalm 34, we find so many quotable lines. It’s easy to pick out some verses to memorize in this one. In fact, I’ve printed it out to post it where I’ll see it every day. I’ll have the whole psalm memorized before long.

One of the verses people repeat when they are feeling lack in their finances is Psalm 34:9. “Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.” The trouble is with the word Fear. Most people don’t understand what that means. Verses 11-14 helps us out with that word. In summary, it means to lovingly speak the truth, avoid temptation, do good deeds for others, and seek peace.

Psalm 36 is a solemn message from God about the evildoers. The message is that they don’t fear God.

Those who continue down the wrong paths know what they’re doing, and still they don’t reject what is wrong. People who are committed to sin baffle me. I can’t figure out why they would rather walk in their own foolishness and failures than walk in God’s wisdom and victories. God offers to all of us many opportunities to cry out to him. If we turn to him instead of staying on the dark path, he will not only deliver us, but he’ll also reveal things to us so we can understand how to stay on the path of his light.

Psalm 36:5-6 show us a picture of how big God’s love is. And yet many sinners aren’t seeing it. Verse 12 ends the psalm with the same solemnity it had in the beginning.

Psalm 37:25-26 is a litmus test for the righteous.
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.

You can tell if someone is living by God’s light because they see someone’s need and give to them generously. They don’t try to hide their generosity from their children because they know their example will teach the children more than a textbook could. The children will grow up enjoying that inner excitement too because they’ll follow their parents’ example.