Vengeance – Part 1

A devotion of Psalm 109

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent,

Praise is the anchor of David’s life. It defines him in good times and in hard times. He lifts God up and humbles himself as we will see in this psalm. He invokes God at a time when his character has been assaulted and his life threatened by a vicious enemy. Even then, he knows, God is God and worthy of praise. At such times we are likely to crumble in our faith and to turn all the focus inward in self-pity and defensiveness. May we learn from David to keep our eyes upon Jesus and not upon the threats being brandished at us.

2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me;

    they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

There isn’t an attack so brutal, so vicious as one that comes from a lying tongue. Surely our own legitimate faults are bad enough but to be painted with deceitful tongue deepens the injury of the accusation.

3 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.

Hatred drives this besetting enemy who closes in strategically. David is innocent. The attacker has no cause for the assault, but that does not stop him. David is very cognizant of his faults. He has thoroughly searched his heart and knows that evil is being returned for good he has done, not for evil. He has been a friend but they have reviled his kind gestures and spurned his friendship.  

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.

5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.

David is a mighty man of war. He is famous throughout his life for rolling heads. He is capable and courageous and calculating. Yet here we see him brandishing a very different weapon than his attackers – the weapon of prayer. Whatever you are known as, may you be, more importantly known as a person of prayer. He will fight this battle on his knees.

6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him.

8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth.

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David rains down curses upon his enemy, his parents and their children as was the culture then. A vile man was known to come from vile roots and to produce vile fruit. Better to wipe them all out for one was as all. But note, yet again, that David who could easily have taken this simple murderous task asked that God would undertake it and even use others to do the dirty work – another accuser, a creditor; he would not soil his hands with this blood.

16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted.

17 He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him.

He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him.

18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.

19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him.

20 May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me.

The person that David curses has a deep-rooted history of depravity. He routinely not only hounds the poor, the needy and the brokenhearted, but he does so to their death. This is not just a one-time offender. He wears his offense like a garment and is known for it. He is wicked through and through – from the marrow of his bones to the outer garment he dons.

May we be as David in his dealings with the evil ones we oppose us. Especially then may we stand upon our identity as men and women of praise; men and women of prayer. May we trust in our God so deeply and know with full confidence that he will be our defense. His faithfulness, as we saw in Psalm 108 means firmness, reliability, true, trustworthiness. He will save us and help us with his right hand.

His Love Endures My Folly

A devotional on Psalm 107:1-22

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.

5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.

6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.

8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

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This God, who is The Way, takes lost souls wandering in the wilderness of life, hungry and despondent, and leads them by a straight way to a city where they can settle. The wilderness is desolate, lonely, dangerous from predators of the howling kind or of the thieving, murderous kind. You moan from a parched throat and cracked lips and tongue. The sun beats you down and dries you out during the day and the cold cuts you like a driven nail at night. Your clothes are filthy and rent from thorny snags. Hard rocks that harbor defensive scorpions are your soft pillow for the sleepless nights.

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Cities are boisterous with activity and fancy city folks. Roads are laid out and marked. There are numerous good things with which to quench your thirst, scintillate your palate, adorn your fashion sense, and fluffy pillows to lay your head on. The Way takes lost souls wandering in the wilderness of life and leads them by a straight way to a city where they can settle. He reminds us that he is the God who sees our afflictions. We cry, he answers. We cry, he answers. We cry, he answers.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains,

11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High.

12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.

13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.

15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

16 for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.

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As the Swahili saying goes, “if the child cries for the razor, give it to him.” Yesterday we learned that when we insist on what we think we want or need in life, he will give it to us. Indeed, he will give us over to it. That is a terrible plight. Protect us from ourselves, dear Lord. Protect us from rebellion and from despising your plans. Save us from these prisons of our own making. Humble us in our utter darkness and our iron chains. Open our eyes to see the hidden snares behind our desires.  Thank you that your blessings and that you add no sorrow to them, (Proverbs 10:22.) Thank you for being the Light of the World and a very mighty deliverer. Thank you that even from this dim place, we cry, you answer. We cry, you answer. We cry, you answer.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.

18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death.

19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.

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How he desires to protect us from pain. He warns us repeatedly to guard against following our evil desires. They lead only to rebellion and affliction. God will not be mocked. What we sow, that also shall we reap. If we sow iniquity, we become fools. The devil is a cruel taskmaster. We think we can back out of our contract with him at any time, but he will not have that. He tightens the shackles and keeps driving us. He drives us to the ground because he is a thief who comes but to kill, steal, and destroy.

O, but our God! He sends out his word and heals even the fool. He extricates us from the very grave when the cords of death entangled us; when the torrents of destruction overwhelm us; when the cords of the grave coil around us; and the snares of death confront us. (Ps. 18:4, 5).

O, give thanks unto the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for us. 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.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:1-12, 23, 24). Thank you for the being The Way and the Way Maker.

Nevertheless, He Remembered

A devotion on Psalm 106: 24-48

Yesterday we saw that despite grand benefits to God’s people, they chose to be soulish and to walk in iniquity. Their Wills, their Intellect, and their Emotions were bent away from God and from things of God. They wanted what they wanted, when they wanted it even when it didn’t line up with God’s express directions for them. Today we will analyze the root of this problem and see God’s solution.

24 Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word,

25 But complained in their tents and did not heed the voice of the Lord.

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God has a plan for your life. He expresses it clearly in his Word and gives you Holy Spirit and every available resource to enable you to carry it out. You will either bend your will, your intellect, and your emotions to line up with his or you will despise it! Like a plant on the windowsill leans towards the sun and needs to be turned frequently so as not to deform, your soul/heart/mind need to be trained to not lean towards things of the enemy, the world, and the flesh. Keep turning it back to God.

Despise Clip Art

Despise, ma’as, means to reject, refuse, loathe, disdain, cast off. It is an action born of strong emotion that can span the gamut from loathing to disregard – the ‘myeh’ attitude we addressed yesterday. God calls his plans for us the ‘pleasant land.’ By comparing it to other people’s, we may conclude we are not getting the best deal. We can say with our attitudes and actions, “God, I don’t want what you have for me. What I really want is this other thing over here.” We look at what he has for us or where he has us and conclude that it lacks value for our needs. This is marked by unbelief in his Word and promises; by private and/or public grumbling and complaining; and by open disobedience to his commands.

26 Therefore He raised His hand in an oath against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness,

27 To overthrow their descendants among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.

God watches and sees us and our actions have an impact on him. The Israelite’s actions were so irksome that they roused God’s ire against his beloved. He values his plans and his Word so much that to despise them is to trample him and his goodness. To overthrow, naphal, means to fall in a variety of ways, e.g. fall down, fall away, be cast away or cast down, fall out; it can mean to die or rot. God would not only overthrow the offenders, but those who came after them who walked in their ways.

Beloved, our descendants frequently walk in our ways. It is an astonishing thing about human nature that our children will behave much like we do yet we will shake our heads and wonder why one earth they do what they do, not realizing it is what we trained them to do, moment by moment, year after year.

28 They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices made to the dead.

29 Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, and the plague broke out among them.

30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stopped.

31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forevermore.

They did despicable things that God had forbidden for their own good and the consequences of their actions hailed down on them. Lucky for them, God in his mercy had raised and placed among them a man of honor who valued God and his ways, Phinehas. He was the son of Eleazer and the grandson of Aaron. Had he watched uncle Moses intercede for the people and change the tide of events? Had he watched his grandpa Aaron help erect the golden calf? His name means the hiss of serpent’s mouth. It means to diligently observe signs and touches on divination and sensitivity to the divine and therefore to whisper what one hears or sees.

He drove a spear through a couple that was flagrantly committing sexual immorality in the camp. He stood up to the immorality that had permeated the minds of his fellow countrymen and that was killing them. But they couldn’t see that. They were distracted by the good time they were having eating decadent food sacrificed to idols and by sexual sin. What would Jesus later say to the churches? “But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat foods sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality,” Revelation 2:14. They missed the stumbling block and one after the other, they tripped over it and fell away.

Phinehas’s bold action saved the day. Beloved your intercession is not in vain. Your prayers and actions can avert a plague. He who prays fires the winning shot.

32 They angered Him also at the waters of strife, so that it went ill with Moses on account of them;

33 Because they rebelled against His Spirit, so that he spoke rashly with his lips.

But it didn’t stop there. These people, like us, have behaviors that are rotten through and through. They so vexed their leader Moses and drove him to a personal choice that would cost him his entry into the Promised Land. God dealt with him as he dealt with his followers and the consequences of sin applied to him also. His grand position of leadership and his vast experience couldn’t save him. It is a sad, sad story. He begged God to let him set foot in Canaan. God only allowed him to see it from a mountain top before he passed away.

34 They did not destroy the peoples, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them,

35 But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works;

36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them.

37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons,

38 And shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters,

Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.

39 Thus they were defiled by their own works and played the harlot by their own deeds.

The Israelites were supposed to dispossess the people of the land. But they fell in love with them and their ways. The word mingle, arab, means to braid. The Israelites interwove themselves with the foreigners they were supposed to wipe out. The result was just as God had warned about – they learned their works and their ways. They repeatedly did deplorable things and these became a snare to them. The pleasure thereof was but bait in a trap. They and their children suffered terribly for it.

40 Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance.

41 And He gave them into the hand of the Gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them.

42 Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.

43 Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled in their counsel and were brought low for their iniquity.

“Why did I ever save these people from Egypt?” God might have thought. Their actions so kindled his ire that scripture says he abhorred them. That means he loathed or detested them. Those are strong words! Many times he delivered them but they despised his choices for them and bucked him at every turn.

44 Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry;

45 And for their sake He remembered His covenant and relented according to the multitude of His mercies.

46 He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive.

O but grace! God’s heart melted when they suffered and cried out to him. As we’ve learned throughout the Psalms, we call, he hears. We cry, he answers. They sinned terribly. Nevertheless, God heard and saw their suffering. Nevertheless, he remembered his promise to his friend Abraham for a thousand generations and his grace covered this multitude of sin.

47 Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the Gentiles, to give thanks to Your holy name, to triumph in Your praise.

48 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

His grace to us delivers us from the ridiculous places we take ourselves. In his power and love he rescues us. And why? So we can give thanks and praise to his name. Thus do we triumph. Barak him, the Adonai of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Shout your “amen.” Sing your “praise the Lord.” Delight in his goodness and kindness to you despite your failures.  He loves and will deliver you, nevertheless.

Guard the Heart

A devotion on Psalm 106:1-23

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Yesterday we looked through God’s lens at his outlook and intention for his people. We had a bird’s eye view and were up looking down. Today we will see the exact same scene from man’s outlook and the outcome of attempting to walk in faith in a soulish manner. It is a miserable flop. If you apply these scenes to your life it will powerfully transform you and your soul (also known as your heart.) Remember that the soul is your Will, your Intellect, and your Emotions (WIE.) If you don’t submit our soul to God it will wreck your faith!

1 Praise the Lord!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

God’s goodness is stated in scripture as a fact. The world, the devil, and the flesh will instantly tell you that it is not true. Guard your heart against even a drop of this poison in your well. Your thanks quotient is one way that will demonstrate your understanding and belief of this. How are you doing in that area? If you have any room for improvement, make a concerted effort to be more grateful and to express it.

2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord? Who can declare all His praise?

3 Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times!

You can! Are you? You get to be a vanguard. You get to walk at the front of the King’s procession and make way for him with your grand proclamations of his mighty acts and his praise. You are invited to do this. Do you, believer?

4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation,

5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation,

That I may glory with Your inheritance.

What a privilege, what an honor, what a prized position to be favored by the Most High! O, he remembers you, beloved. Great are your benefits, you chosen one – and all so you can rejoice in the gladness. Rejoice exuberantly to the point of glory, halal. That means celebrate wildly, shine and rave about this, make a show. It is all the rage. If we truly understood our identity and its benefits, we would be running wildly down the street and telling all about it.

6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.

7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders;

They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea.

Remembrance, and thus our memory is a function of the intellectual aspect of our souls. It is easy to point fingers of blame when it comes to sin. We look back at our forefathers and marvel at what dimwits they were. They saw all those grand things and still didn’t believe? They saw it live, how could they not understand the wonders? It was still in their working memory, how could they forget? But we are in the exact same position. He has given us as much if not more to remember him by. He has given us our own experiences plus theirs to build and jog our memories of his greatness.

8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.

9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness.

10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.

11 The waters covered their enemies; there was not one of them left.

12 Then they believed His words; they sang His praise.

Thank God that he saves us for his name’s sake. If he saved us for our own sake we would be doomed. We humbly thank you Father for your deliverance in our lives. Thank you for covering us where we fail, for your name’s sake. Thank you for standing by your promise to us, for your name’s sake. What a marvelous name it is!

I was enthralled by this screen-saver yesterday.

How many Red Seas has he parted in your life? I hope you collected some artefacts while you were down there for show and tell. How many enemies did he shield you from and even drown in that same sea? If we are not talking about these things at the dinner table and in our coming and going, what one earth are we talking about? It’s no wonder that if we don’t praise him the rocks will cry out – this stuff is uncontainable!

13 They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel,

14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert.

15 And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.

Oh friends! This must make the angels hang their heads and cry. That he would part a Red Sea for me and I’d turn right around and forget it? That’s horrific. Note the word ‘soon’ in that line. It means hastily, promptly, speedily. No sooner was the deed done then it was forgotten. How heart-breaking. May this never be said about you. The word forget, shakach, means to ignore, to cease to care. I pray that this is cutting your heart. I describe it as a ‘myeh’ attitude towards God and his works. No marveling, no wide-eyed wonder, just “‘myeh’ that was good.”

What does it mean to wait for his counsel? It means he guides and directs me. He is the boss. It also means I have the privilege of conferring with him; we deliberate and purpose together. That’s a function of our soul too. Are we waiting for his counsel or are we running pell-mell into plans of our own devising? Are we listening for and attending to his admonition? Are we subjecting our plans to his scrutiny and submitting them to his plans or are we bucking his at every turn, if we even care to know what they are? ‘Myeh.

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What about our desires? They burn like a roaring jet-engine flame and drive us wherever we want – fast and furious. No waiting here. We’ve got places to go and things to do. Lust is merely desire, neither positive nor negative. It is yet another function of the soul. In this context the longing and craving surely isn’t for things of God. It’s for unbridled human appetites that gnaw at us from the inside. We live our undisciplined lives wanting and getting what we crave when we want it. Lust fulfilled is not quelled – it is inflamed. We have appetites that will consume us if we don’t hold a tight rein on them – loose lips, cutting tongues, ‘judgey’ attitudes, competitive or manipulative spirits, self-absorption; the list is endless. Nab them as Holy Spirit highlights them in your life. With his help, hog-tie them or they swiftly become hang-ups that impede your intimacy with God and with other people.

There is an answer to prayer that you don’t want God to grant. May we open our mouths and beseech him not to answer prayers that are driven by a heart that does not remember his works, that does not wait for his counsel, that not only lusts but lusts exceedingly. God, save me from myself and my implosive requests. May my heart hunger and thirst for you alone. Anything else, no matter how appetizing brings leanness to my soul. It leaves my soul gaunt and anorectic. In your mercy, please do not answer that prayer, God.

16 When they envied Moses in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lord,

17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan, and covered the faction of Abiram.

18 A fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

Envy, qana, speaks to a jealousy and smoldering hatred towards those that God has appointed to positions or given blessings that we think we want or deserve. This is another insidious vice that can crouch at the door of our hearts if we are not on guard. We can even harbor envy with a smile on our faces. It swims in murky waters and keeps company with ingratitude, entitlement, comparison, greed, and other shifty characters.

19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molded image.

20 Thus they changed their glory into the image of an ox that eats grass.

21 They forgot God their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,

22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham, awesome things by the Red Sea.

23 Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them.

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And all those things we have listed before idolatry even knocks on the door! By the time we erect the golden calf in our life we have long been excavating ground, laid a foundation, and constructed a stable altar to hold it up. We may focus on the golden calf as the problem but let’s not forget the groundwork it stands on, which is all the things we’ve discussed so far, frequently unseen by other human eyes.

Earlier we read of glory, halal, meaning wild celebration. This time glory, kabod, means honor, abundance, dignity, splendor. When we engage in idolatry, we give up our glory. We become worthless like the idols we worship. As the moon reflects the sun, beloved, we borrow our worth from what we worship. Our glory is on loan. What are you getting yours from? We become like Esau, exchanging a bowl of pottage for a birthright. What? We know that that is the most foolish thing we could ever do but in the heat of the moment; in the cavernous cravings, we devalue our glory. We trade an ingot of pure gold for a can of beans.

No wonder scripture says to “guard the heart above all else, for it is the source of life,” Proverbs 4:23. Contemplate that as you walk about today. In your comings and goings, shine a light in your heart, zahar, and with Holy Spirit’s help, root out these enemies of your soul.

Promises – Choose to Remember

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A devotion of Psalm 105:23-45

This wonderful section is the promise from God’s perspective and as he had planned it. We know very well that the reality on the ground was very different as we shall see in the summary at the end and in tomorrow’s reading.

Today, we see God’s hand of power in the grand scheme. He sent Joseph to Egypt. Then he sent a famine and Joseph delivered Egypt and the surrounding area from it. Then he sent Joseph’s father Israel and his family up to Egypt and a grand joyous reunion ensued. This story is one of the most riveting in the Bible and very special part of our spiritual heritage. Remembering is a grand theme. Remind yourself of this story often and tell it to your children and grandchildren!

23 Then Israel entered Egypt; Jacob resided as a foreigner in the land of Ham.

24 The Lord made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes,

25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants.

26 He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron, whom he had chosen.

27 They performed his signs among them, his wonders in the land of Ham.

Egypt is called the Land of Ham. Ham was the second of Noah’s sons. His name, Cham, prounounced Khawm means hot, burnt, or black. He is thus representative of the land of Africa, whose people are sometimes called Hamites.

28 He sent darkness and made the land dark— for had they not rebelled against his words?

29 He turned their waters into blood, causing their fish to die.

30 Their land teemed with frogs, which went up into the bedrooms of their rulers.

31 He spoke, and there came swarms of flies, and gnats throughout their country.

32 He turned their rain into hail, with lightning throughout their land;

33 he struck down their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their country.

34 He spoke, and the locusts came, grasshoppers without number;

35 they ate up every green thing in their land, ate up the produce of their soil.

36 Then he struck down all the firstborn in their land, the firstfruits of all their manhood.

37 He brought out Israel, laden with silver and gold, and from among their tribes no one faltered.

38 Egypt was glad when they left, because dread of Israel had fallen on them.

Commentator Guzik quotes theologian Boice: “In order to understand these plagues we need to understand that they were directed against the gods and goddesses of Egypt and were intended to show the superiority of the God of Israel to the Egyptian gods.”

· When God sent darkness, He showed Himself greater than Ra (the sun God) and Nut (the sky goddess).

· When God turned their waters into blood, He showed Himself greater than Osiris (god of the Nile) and Khnum (the guardian of the Nile).

· When God made their land abound with frogs, He showed Himself greater than the goddess Hekt (the frog-goddess of fertility).

· When God sent swarms of flies and lice, He showed Himself greater than the fly-god Uatchit.

· When God sent hail for rain, He showed Himself greater than Geb, the god of the earth; Nepri, the goddess of grain; and Anuibis, the guardian of the fields.

· When God sent locusts without number, He showed Himself greater than Shu, the god of the atmosphere, and Min, the deity of the harvest.”

Boice

39 He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night.

40 They asked, and he brought them quail; he fed them well with the bread of heaven.

41 He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a river in the desert.

This brief section outlines God’s faithfulness in protection and provision over his people. He even saw to their comfort, providing warmth and ample nourishment. This is what he does for you and I every day, beloved! Water from the rock reminds me of Jesus giving water from the well and this glorious song:

42 For he remembered his holy promise given to his servant Abraham.

43 He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;

44 he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for—

45 that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws.

Praise the Lord.

Yes, the reality on the ground was very different indeed. It was rife with grumbling and disbelief. They threatened mutiny and the bodies of many fell in the wilderness because of sin and disobedience. Will we choose to live out God’s promises from his perspective and in faith and obedience or will we buck him all the way to the Promised Land. The choice is ours, beloved. If we choose to remember, this will be our experience in life as we journey into our Promised Land, eternity in heaven. In the next chapter, we’ll see what things looked like on the ground. His promises will not be thwarted. Every last one will come true. But the reality on the ground may be very different indeed!

Choose to remember. Only then can you keep his precepts and obey his laws. Only then can you properly praise the Lord, remembering who you are and who God is and what he has done for you!

Promises – Yes & Amen

This psalm is a magnificent manifesto of our God’s capacity. It summarizes his feats on behalf of his beloved Israel. It is jam-packed with symbolism for the New Israel of God – the Christian. Journey with me.

Psalm 105

1 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.

3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

4 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

5 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

6 you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.

This section is a laundry list of what we are to do.

– Thank/praise, yadah, him

– Declare his wonderful act

– Glory, halal, (means to make a show, boast, celebrate or act like a mad man) in his name

– Let your heart rejoice

– Behold him and strive after following him, his strength, and his face.

-Call his faithfulness and track record to mind.

If you did this “simple” work every day, the hopelessness/depression/anxiety industry would crumple in a week. It is a powerful prescription for living life on fire for God.

7 He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

8 He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations,

9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.

10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:

11 “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.”

The basis of his goodness is that he spoke a word of promise and he remembers it. Do we? The reason we run around like chickens with our heads cut off is either because we don’t remember it or we don’t believe his promise of faithfulness for a thousand generations. You and I are safely tucked away within that parameter. No matter what happens on earth, we are safe in God’s promise.

12 When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it,

13 they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another.

14 He allowed no one to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings:

15 “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

As Jesus followers, we are few on earth. We are as confused and powerless as a stranger in a new land. I know what that’s like – been there, still doing it. His hand is a shield over you, his loved one, saying “Do not touch my anointed.”

16 He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food;

17 and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons,

19 till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true.

20 The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free.

21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed,

22 to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom.

Joseph was slapped around by life. But God’s promise and favor was declared over him. His destiny was sealed and his position of leadership and power was secure. He endured much personal pain and trauma for years upon end. It seemed God’s promise was thwarted. But never! Our promise Keeper comes through every time. Reread the list we started with. Adopt it. Internalize it. Print it or write it out and stick it on your mirror or fridge. You are in good hands! All his promises are yes and amen.

“For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him. Therefore,

the “Amen” is also spoken through Him by us for God’s glory,”

2 Cor. 1:20.

Creation Waits in Eager Expectation

A devotion of Psalm 104:19-35

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

When God created the earth, he repeatedly said, “It is good.” What a great time he had envisioning and speaking galaxies into place. What a delight to have created Leviathan to play in the water and that little pudu – did you see the pudu?? Yesterday’s reading continues today with grand scenes of order and seasons. With rhythm and in cycles the earth inhales and exhales “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions,” v. 24.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons; The sun knows its going down.

20 You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the beasts of the forest creep about.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God.

22 When the sun rises, they gather together and lie down in their dens.

23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions—

25 This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great.

26 There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there.

27 These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season.

28 What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good.

29 You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.

30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.

In all this grandeur, only one thing ever broke God’s heart. “And the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart,” Genesis 6:6. All this spectacular creation must have stood still in horrified silence. For the first time, God was sad. Sin entered the world, and with it, death. Where wonderful life and vigor had been exploding everywhere, the cold hand of death breached the world and creation froze in dismay.

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Fortunately, God had foreseen this. So perhaps this wasn’t the first time he was sad. Scripture says, “the Lamb… was slaughtered before the world was made,” Rev. 13:8 NLT. What? God foresaw all this and he carried on with his plan anyway?

“O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all,” v. 24. God’s wisdom saw to all this. And he said it was good. Very good, (Genesis 1:31.) Though God takes “away their breath, they die and return to their dust,” v. 29b, David then says, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth,” v. 30. Hallelujah! There will be renewal. The old will be done away with and he will make a new heaven and a new earth.

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God,” Rom. 8:19. NASB calls it “anxious longing.” It reminds me of waiting for dad to come home from work. Whatever I was working on or enjoying, a significant part of my heart and brain kept causing me to look towards the driveway in eager expectation, anxious longing. Do you feel that way as you await Jesus soon return?

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies,” 2 Peter 3:10.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works.

32 He looks on the earth, and it trembles; He touches the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 May my meditation be sweet to Him; I will be glad in the Lord.

35 May sinners be consumed from the earth, And the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!

You are VERY Great!

What a splendid psalm showcasing God’s magnificent work in creation. It is rich with imagery and highlights God’s pervasive power and invasive care over the work of his hands.

A devotion of Psalm 104

1Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty,

2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

Mulberry Silk

Honor, hod, means splendor, majesty, vigour, excellence, and beauty. It speaks of imposing form and appearance. God is in your face and in your business with his grandeur. Majesty, hadar, means to swell up with glory, favor, highness, and pride. And these are just his garments! Mostexpensivehub.com says that, “through the quality of fabric … personality and class [of the elite] get expressed.”

Image of mulberry silk

Leopard Fur

If God’s clothing is so amazing, how much more so is he? Celebrities wear Vicuna wool, mulberry silk, and leopard fur. My God wears hod and hadar. This is the God I am commanding my soul to bow down to. He is very great!

3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, who makes the clouds His chariot, who walks on the wings of the wind,

4 Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire.

Upper chambers speak of private quarters. While God is actively involved in creation, he is very separate from it. That is what holiness means. He is so separate and so different from all else that there is just nothing else like him. What exhilaration and elation surrounds him. He is a whirlwind of delight. Who else gets to be a Cloud Rider? Who else walks on the wings of the wind? There is almost a flair of playfulness too. Can you see him teeter-tottering on the wings of the wind? To make his angels spirits is to gift and animate them with his breath, ruach. His ministers, Sharath, are servants or wait staff. They attend to him as a menial or worshipper.

5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever,

6 You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.

7 At Your rebuke they fled; at the voice of Your thunder they hastened away.

8 They went up over the mountains; they went down into the valleys, to the place which You founded for them.

9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over, that they may not return to cover the earth.

David here describes the seas and the boundaries that God set for them. They are like a trained dog that only goes so far and instantly stops.

10 He sends the springs into the valleys; they flow among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

12 By them the birds of the heavens have their home; they sing among the branches.

13 He waters the hills from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

The Little Santiam River, Oregon

Even the springs are like servants. At parties, my friend Laura loves to walk around with a jug of water and fill people’s glasses. The streams pictured here meander and happily fill up drinking glasses and troughs as needed. Service with a smile. As a result, exuberant life teems all around bearing succulent fruit for our bodies and our souls.

14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth,

15 And wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.

Photo by Alena Darmel on Pexels.com

Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. (1 Cor. 6:7.) In his grace and providence, he gives man the raw materials needed to keep us busy and productive. We get to partake in the miracle of planting a seed and sowing fruit. Think of a tiny tomato seed. You get to stick that in the dirt he made. He provides water for it. A little green thing sprouts out of the darkness. Flowers bloom and attract glorious bees to it. Gorgeous, succulent fruit emerges. That is miraculous indeed!

He gives us the intellect to use the raw materials to meet our needs. And he gives us a spirit of gratitude to see his hand in every single detail so we can tell our souls to bless and praise him. Upon hard work, we get to relish the fruit of our labor with a sparkling glass of wine, luxurious oils, and sumptuous bread. He cares that our hearts are glad. He cares that our faces shine. He cares that our hearts are strengthened!

16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted,

17 Where the birds make their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.

18 The high hills are for the wild goats; the cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers.

Congo Rainforest
The Congo Rainforest in Africa

Verdant bounty is whisked up by the wind and balances on its wings to the lofty world of cedars and firs. No parched groves here, they are so full of life of life that it oozes out in sticky goodness. How many are the wild forests he planted all over the world. How mysteriously fabulous is that thought? In the precarious embankments and mountainsides he sowed life that persists to this day from the Tongass of North America, to the mangroves of the Sundarbans in Asia; from the Daintree tropical rainforest of Australia to the Mindo-Nambillo Cloud Forest of South America.

Image result for Basilisk. Size: 274 x 160. Source: wall.alphacoders.com
Image result for pudú

Life there exists in words we have never heard:

Quetzals and basilisks, crested drongos

and cassowaries,

Pudú (you have GOT TO check this one out!!) and Kodkod,

Our God is very great indeed!

Seven-Year-Old at the Wheel

A devotion of Psalm 103.

Image result for kid at the wheel of a car

Your soul is the essence of who you are and comprises your Will, your Intellect, and your Emotions (WIE.) It drives the flesh or the body and can also be referred to as the heart. The general stance of the soul is not one of kneeling. It stands tall and proud in self-exaltation. It stands proudly upon the rotating display-pedestal of desire. The soul wants what it wants, when it wants it, and how it wants it. It’s like an overconfident seven-year-old behind the wheel.

This mysterious aspect of our lives needs to be subjugated by the Holy Spirit and to his Will, his Intellect, and his Emotions. It should kneel humbly upon the rotating pedestal of his desire. At salvation, Holy Spirit comes upon your spirit and you are made “a new man.” Your spirit man or woman, formerly dead, instantly sparks with new alive. This new spirit man or woman needs to bump the soul to the passenger seat and drive the car (the body or flesh.) That is the ultimate participation in the divine nature.

The soul does not give up the driver’s seat easily. It likes the control it has been used to. For the rest of your life, the soul plans a mutiny to take back the steering wheel. Your job is to train it to will what the spirit wills; to think like the spirit thinks; and to feel what the spirit feels. We are to recalibrate our desires and match them to the new man’s or woman’s.

Read this chapter as a powerful example of the conversation the new man is having with the grouchy, ousted co-driver.

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:

3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Image result for kid at the wheel of a car

Bless, barak, means to kneel, by implication it is to adore or praise. (Conversely, it can also mean to curse.) Left to its own devices, the soul kneels to no one – it is the boss. Our desires employ our wills, intellect, and emotions to drive the body to sin. One of the great benefits of the Lord is to forgive our sin state and behavior. All of it. He then deals with the flesh which is prone to disease, wear, and tear. He heals that too. All of it. When our lives are headed for the cliff, he places guardrails and sends us down a different path.  Then he richly tops all that with lovingkindness and tender mercies. The soul, formerly used to its fill of junk food, is now satiated with ‘good things, and invigorated.

6 The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

The soul, like the seven-year-old at the wheel, needs frequent lessons on God’s dealings with mankind historically. It needs to be reminded that God’s dealings are way better than the soul’s plans.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

Not only does the Father oust the seven-year-old from the wheel for his own protection, but he absolutely adores the seven-year-old. He doesn’t hold his childish antics against him. He totally understands and cherishes seven-year-olds. He laughs at his fabulous jokes and holds him close when life doesn’t make sense.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.

16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.

17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,

And His righteousness to children’s children,

18 To such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.

21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

22 Bless the Lord, all His works, In all places of His dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!

God’s dominion is seen clearly in all creation. He is firmly planted in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all. Even hosts of mighty angels which number in the millions subject themselves to him and to his will and thinking. May I, a weakling, emulate those formidable beings and “do his word and heed the voice of his word.” May I, self-confident with no basis, as a fellow minister of the grand hosts, do his pleasure. Only then can I truly bless the Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

A Sparrow Alone on the Housetop

A devotion of Psalm 102.

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee.

 2 Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me. In the day when I call, answer me speedily.

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth.

4 My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.

5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

Have you ever been so distressed that you forgot to eat? That means all life lost meaning or pleasure. After many years of caring for the elderly, I realized that so many losses have transpired in their lives that food and mealtimes are a few of life’s joys left for them. On quiet days that aren’t packed with activities or tasks, well before meal time, they start to gather around the table or the kitchen. When one is not driven to eat, that would be an indicator to me that all is not well.

This passage paints a sorry state of mind and body due to distress. Sure enough it dries up the heart, the groaning throat, and the bones.

 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert.

7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.

Image result for loneliness

Distress directly affects the body negatively and slowly but surely isolates one. It leaves us vulnerable, unprotected by the power of the herd. Not only are we alone in a wilderness, a barren desert, an exposed housetop – we are alone! Not to be confused with being alone, loneliness is a brutal state that leaves many in despair.

8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day, and them that are mad against me are sworn against me.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping,

10 because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath; for Thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.

11 My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.

Image result for verbal assault

It is hard enough to be lonely, but to have sworn enemies would leave you truly forlorn. The psalmist identifies God as he who allows this to happen. King David was under the rabid attack of a man named Shimei. Shimei, “came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”

And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.  And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. Now the king and all the people who were with him became weary; so they refreshed themselves there,” 2 Sam. 6:5, 6, 9-14.

This is the ultimate in hate and harassment. The law clearly stated, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Exodus 22:28. Yet David chose to view this assault as from the hand of God and though he could have silenced him and put an end to the harassment, he actually protected it. Such was his fear of God. He declared that nothing would happen to him that God not only allows, but actually orders. Imagine the ire of his servants who were all trained famous men of war!

Shimei later came and apologized to David for this horrific transgression. Again, David spared his life and even gave him refuge. However, David, while blessing his son Solomon did not forget Shimei’s offense and admonished Solomon, “And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious (vehement) curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood,” 1 Kings 2:1, 8-9.

How are we to respond to abuse? Don’t engage it. David refused to be baited by Shimei. We would do well to learn how to do that. Don’t sit around for it. David did not stand around and take the abuse. He continued on his way. To tolerate abuse is to reinforce and condone it. Trust God to heal the abuser, even (sometimes, especially) in your absence.

If you are a Shimei, God tells you to stop your abusive behavior now! “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8. This is not how you treat his children of any age or status. Stop!

12 But Thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever, and Thy remembrance unto all generations.

13 Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time has come.

14 For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.

15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.

16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.

17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18 This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

19 For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth,

20 to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to death,

21 to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem,

22 when people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

23 He weakened my strength on the way; He shortened my days.

24 I said, “O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days; Thy years are throughout all generations.

25 Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.

26 They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed.

27 But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.

28 The children of Thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before Thee.”

What a fabulous passage of hope. Our times are truly secure in God’s hands. He is our Ethan and endures forever in might. He hears our prayers and does not take us away in the midst of our days. We get to live out all our days. There is no such thing a life cut too short. Each person gets to live out their full life. Even little babies. Because God is our stability and our eternal power our seed will be established before him.