Psalms 84-85; 87

Can’t Get Enough of God.

“A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.” ­– Psalms 84:10 NLT

Let’s be honest with one another. There are a lot of places most of us would rather be on a Sunday morning than church. Like back in bed, at the park, on a golf course, or sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee and a good book. Not that any of those things are wrong, but why is it that they seem more attractive to us than spending time with God and His people? In the morning, reading the paper can be more appealing to us than reading His Word. Perusing the morning paper can take the place of our morning prayer time. Watching the Cowboys play on Sunday afternoon can keep us from showing up at church on Sunday night. It is not that we lack passion, it is just that it just doesn’t happen to be for the things of God. But take a look at the words of the Psalmist: “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked” (Psalms 84:10 NLT). I love the way The Message paraphrases it. “One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship, beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches. I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.” The Psalmist loved God’s house. Why? Because that is where the presence of God dwelt. It was where he could go to find God. Which is why he said, “I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God” (Psalms 84:2 NLT). Do you and I have that same kind of passion and desire for God? Do we long to be in His presence? Do we view our time in the Word as an opportunity to sit with Him and hear from Him? If we don’t, that may be why our “quiet” times are just that – painfully and eerily quiet. We don’t feel His presence. We don’t hear His voice. When we go to church, we spend more time talking to our friends than we do listening to God. It is a social hour, not a worship experience.

The Psalmist was focused on God as his source of grace and glory. He described God as his sun and shield. He believed that God would withhold no good thing and would give joy to those who trusted in Him. He was a source of blessing and abundance. He was the restorer and redeemer. He provided salvation and was a source of unfailing love. Righteousness and truth could be found in His presence. So to be where God was was the Psalmist’s greatest desire. What about you? What about me? Do we long to be with God? Do we find ourselves compelled to be in His Word so that we can hear from Him? Do we get excited to join God’s people in worship of Him on Sunday? Or do we go out of some sense of duty rather than delight? A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! Really?

Father, I confess that I do not delight in You like I should. I find pleasure and fulfillment in so many other places. I seek comfort elsewhere. I search for wisdom elsewhere. I do not wake up thinking about You. I don’t find myself passionate about You and desiring to spend time with You. I am distracted too much of the time. May I lose my love affair with this world and find You as my soul delight. May I become fixated on You. May the things of You bring me greater delight than anything else this world has to offer. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 43-45; 49

Humble Pie.

“So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune. They can’t take it with them; fame and fortune all get left behind. Just when they think they’ve arrived and folks praise them because they’ve made good, they enter the family burial plot where they’ll never see sunshine again. We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long. Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.” ­– Psalms 49:16-20 MSG

Sometimes we can really believe our own press clippings and think we are more significant than we really are. If we’re not careful, we can buy into the lie that we are the center of the universe and everything and everyone else revolves around us. We look at all the accomplishments and accoutrements we’ve built up in life and start to think we’re pretty hot stuff. But in these four Psalms, we see a different perspective. They reveal a recognition that it is God who is ultimately responsible for anything of significance that happens in our lives. The people of Israel didn’t possess the land of promise based on their skill with the bow and military strategy. In fact, the Psalmist said, “I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies, you disgrace those who hate us. I God, we give glory to you all day long, and constantly praise your name” (Psalms 44:6-8 NLT).

There is a certain sense in which we all need to come to grips with our own insignificance. Andrew Murray once wrote, “Humility is nothing but the disappearance of self in the vision that God is all.” We can try and take credit for our accomplishments, but to do so is to rob God of glory. We are attempting to claim responsibility for things we had little or nothing to do with. Our pride gets in the way and tempts us to blow our own horn and wallow in our own sense of significance and self-worth. T.S. Eliot wrote, “Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.” The Psalmist somewhat sarcastically paints the picture of the wealthy man who name their lands after themselves, out of some sense of self-exaltation – only to end up leaving those lands to someone else in the end.

Recognition of God’s worth and our own worthlessness is vital to the development of a healthy humility. To a certain degree, these Psalms are all about dependence – a reliance upon God and a recognition of our own helplessness. Our wealth, strength, intelligence, planning, even spiritual giftedness, are nothing without Him. If we can ever come to grips with God’s transcendence and our own impermanence, we will begin to recognize that we have nothing to fear. We’ll also discover we have nothing to brag about. Which should be great news, because there are going to be those days when our strength runs out, our wisdom falls short, our wealth drives up and our confidence in self grows weak. At those moments, if we recognize the power and pervasive presence of God in our lives, we will be able to say along with the Psalmist: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” (Psalms 43:5 NLT).

Father, You are so much greater than I am. But I tend to want to think of myself as fairly significant. I want to elevate my own self-worth and claim responsibility for the affairs of my life. In other words, I want to be God. I want to be in control. I want to be the one to call all the shots. But thanks for the reminder that You are so much greater than I am. May I respond to Your greatness with humility – a growing awareness of Your holiness and my sinfulness. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Chronicles 2

What’s In A Name?

“Jesse’s first son was Eliab, his second was Abinadab, his third was Shimea, his fourth was Nethanel, his fifth was Raddai, his sixth was Ozem, and his seventh was David.” ­– 1 Chronicles 2:13-15 NLT

The first nine chapters of the 29 books of 1 Chronicles are genealogies. What’s up with that? Obviously, the author of the book had a reason for dedicating such time and space to these lists of names. Remember that that the book was written to those who had been in exile and were now returning to the land of promise. Many had never been there, but had been born in Babylon while in exile. These seemingly endless lists of genealogies were a reminder to them of their heritage. Dr. Thomas L. Constable, in his Notes on 1 Chronicles, offers this explanation.

“The writer evidently chose, under divine inspiration, to open his book with genealogies to help his readers appreciate their heritage and to tie themselves to Adam, Abraham, and David in particular. Adam was important as the head of the human race. Abraham was important because of the promises God gave him and his descendants in the Abrahamic
Covenant. David was important because of his role as Israel’s model king and because of the promises God gave him in the Davidic Covenant. This section shows Israel’s place among the nations. Both the Old and New Testaments open with genealogies, in Genesis, Matthew, and Luke.

“One of the major themes of Chronicles is that the Davidic dynasty would be the instrument through which God promised that salvation and blessing would come to Israel. It would also come through Israel to the whole world. The final Davidic king, Jesus Christ, was the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) as well as the Person who would fulfill the
Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants completely.”

Can you imagine the sense of loss and confusion the people must have felt as they returned to the land after nearly 70 years in captivity? Many had long ago given up on ever returning. They had seen their fathers and mothers die in the land of Babylon. They had resigned themselves to the fact that they would also die in exile, never living to see their homeland. But now that they had returned, they had to be wondering what the future held. These genealogies provided them a reminder of God’s sovereign plan for their lives and of His faithfulness. He had not abandoned them. He was still going to keep His covenants to Abraham and David. The people of Israel would still be a blessing. David would still have a descendant sit on his throne, even though it had sat vacant for many years. All of this points to the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ would ultimately fulfill the promises of God made to Israel. Through Him all the nations of the world would be blessed. He will someday reign on earth as the rightful and righteous king of Israel.

Imagine the people reading through these lists of names. To us, they mean next to nothing, except for an occasional name like David, Boaz, or Judah. But for the people returning from exile, this would have been like looking at their family tree. They would have scanned the list to find the names of their ancestors. It would have provided a sense of connection. They were part of something much bigger than themselves. And while they may have been in exile, they were still connected to the lineage of God’s chosen people. So they could have hope that God was not done with them yet. The peoples’ sin of rebellion, which led to their exile, would not prevent God from keeping His covenant and completing His plan for His people.

Father, Your story is so much bigger than me. I sometimes think that it all revolves around me and that I am the star of the show. But I am just a bit player in Your play. I am thrilled that I have a part, but help me realize that You have a much larger objective than my happiness and satisfaction. You are fulfilling Your plan for mankind. You are redeeming the world. May I never lose sight of that great redemptive plan. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Chronicles 1

Method to the Madness.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” ­– 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB

I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world did God include this chapter in the Bible? What could possibly be the purpose of this mind-numbing list of hard-to-pronounce names? But we have to keep in mind the original author’s intent AND who his original audience would have been. For us, as modern-day Christians, these names mean next to nothing, except for the occasional reference to Adam, Abraham, and Isaac. But even though we know who these men were, we aren’t exactly sure what they have to do with us. But the Chronicler was writing to a particular audience for whom this list would have had real significance. It is believed that the books of Chronicles were the last books written of the Old Testament. They would have been penned after the people of Israel had returned to the Promised Land from Babylon where they had been exiled by God for their disobedience. Upon their return, they would have been suffering from a kind of an identity crisis. Many of them would have been born in exile, having never set foot in the land of Canaan before. Now here they were, living in the land of “promise.” What did that mean to them? Where was the promise? The land would have been desolate and its cities would have been in disrepair.  They would have returned weak and powerless. This would have been a whole new land to them. They were strangers in their own home. It would have been much like a prisoner sentenced to life in prison, who gets released after 50 years and allowed to return home. He would feel like a stranger, an alien, even in his own home.

So the writer of Chronicles begins by reminding his readers of their heritage. They needed to remember who they were and
how they belonged to God. He had a plan for them. Their detour into captivity had not changed God’s original plan. Beginning with Adam, the author takes them through the genealogy of Adam, Abraham, and Isaac, all the way to David, all the while giving them a history lesson in who there were and what God was doing in their midst. He reminds them that they are descendants of Abraham and Isaac. They have been chosen by God. He is going to remind them of the temple and the God-ordained worship prescribed to take place there. He is going to remind them of their covenant relationship to God as descendants of Abraham. David was their covenant king. He had placed over them by God Himself, and through him would come the ultimate Shepherd/King, the Messiah.

Sometimes we can forget who we are. As we live in this fallen world, surrounded by sin and bombarded by the false lies of the enemy, we can too often lose sight of who we are and forget what God has promised. We are children of the promise. We are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. We have been chosen by God and He has a plan for our lives. While our circumstances may not be the best and we may sometimes feel as if we are anything but saints, we must constantly remind ourselves of the truth of God’s Word and His promises found in it. While this first chapter may be hard to read, and even harder to find something spiritually life-changing to pull out of it, we can walk away knowing that we too are children of Abraham, with access to all the promises made to him. “So that’s why faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we follow Jewish customs, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe” (Romans 4:16 NLT).

Father, sometimes I lose perspective. I get hung up on the things taking place around me and I begin to doubt that I am who You say I am. Like the Israelites, I feel like I am coming out of a land of captivity, and I have forgotten what the land of promise was supposed to be like. Remind me daily just exactly who I am and what Your plan is for me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 14; 16; 19; 21

The Palpable Presence of God.

“I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” ­– Psalm 16:8 NLT

I remember a trip we took as a family to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Our reason for going was simple: To visit Carlsbad Caverns. I had been there as a child and now I wanted my kids to see it. The highlight of a tour of these magnificent caverns is always the point at which they turn off the lights and allow you to stand in absolute, pitch-black darkness. It is a darkness so dense and complete you can almost feel it. They tell you to put your hand in front of your face. Nothing. You can see absolutely nothing. It is an eerie feeling. When I read the passage above and think about the presence of God, that experience in the darkness of Carlsbad Caverns comes to mind. For David, God’s presence was so real, it was palpable. He could feel it surrounding him. Nothing else mattered. He couldn’t see anything else because his thoughts of God completely filled his mind. Was this all the time? Probably not, but there were moments when he could sense God’s presence so strongly that nothing else mattered.

At those moments, David could say, “No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety” (Psalms 16:9 NLT). His awareness of God’s presence filled him with peace, joy, and contentment. He knew he had nothing to fear. He could say to God, “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with You forever” (Psalm 16:11 NLT). When the all-pervasive presence of God surrounded him, David knew he was going to have all he needed for life. But David wasn’t content to sit around and just wait for some ethereal, feelings-dependent experience to take place to convince him of God’s presence. He went back to the word of God. He stood on the promises of God. He read the Scriptures provided by God. And when he did, he experienced a reviving of his soul, wisdom (Psalm 19:7), joy, insight for living (Psalm 19:8), reverence for God (Psalm 19:9), refreshment (Psalm 19:10), warning and reward (Psalm 19:11), and an awareness of the sins in his life (Psalm 19:13).

The Word of God is the revelation of God. It is a glimpse into who He is. So when we read the Word of God, we become more aware of God and learn to sense His presence in and around our lives. We begin to see how He works. We begin to get a grasp of His divine plan and how He interacts with men and women. Our trials become opportunities to see Him work, not just inconvenient experiences that we try to pray away. We learn that He is more powerful than our biggest problem. David knew God because he had read about God. Not all we know about God will come from our own experience. Most of it will come from His self-revelation – through His written Word and the Living Word, His Son Jesus Christ. As I get to know both better, I will sense His presence in my life more completely and consistently. His presence will begin to surround me like the darkness in that cavern in Carlsbad, New Mexico. But rather than make me feel uncomfortable and uneasy, God’s presence will provide me with peace, joy, contentment, rest, and a healthy trust in His faithfulness – no matter what is happening around me.

Father, keep me in Your Word. Open my eyes to your powerful and pervasive presence. Help me learn more and more about You so that I can sense You in my life. You surround me at all times. There is no time when You are not there. The problem is that I cannot see or sense You. I have filled my mind with other things. I have allowed the things of this world to become my reality, instead of You. I want You to become my reality. I want to learn to sense You even when I can’t see You. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 6; 8-10

A Dependable God For Difficult Days.

“And he will be the judge of the world in righteousness, giving true decisions for the peoples. The Lord will be a high tower for those who are crushed down, a high tower in times of trouble; And those who have knowledge of your name will put their faith in you; because you, Lord, have ever given your help to those who were waiting for you.” ­– Psalm 9:8-10 BBE

The Psalms of David are honest and real. In them, he shares exactly what he is feeling at the time. They reflect his thoughts at that moment in time and he does not hold back or sugar-coat what he is thinking. He expresses it in a clear and, sometimes painfully, transparent way. And in this section of Psalms David talks a great deal about the negatives that seem to be a part of his life. Things are so bad that he says he can’t stop crying at night. “I’m tired of all this–so tired. My bed has been floating forty days and nights on the flood of my tears. My mattress is soaked, soggy with tears. The sockets of my eyes are black holes; nearly blind, I squint and grope” (Psalm 6:6-7 MSG). What seems to be the problem? Enemies, adversaries, those who would do David harm. They seem to be a permanent part of David”s life. Just because he is on the throne now does not mean that his troubles have ended. Over and over again, David refers to his enemies, adversaries, evildoers, and the wicked. He talks about the oppressed, needy, afflicted, unfortunate, and orphan. David is fully aware of the inequities of life. He knows that there are those who seem to have it out for the less fortunate. He also knows that these people have no regard for God and even think that there is no God (Psalm 10:4). They do what they do with impunity, not fearing retribution from God.

But David knows that God will repay the evil done by these people. David is counting on the fact that God is in charge. He WILL judge the world in righteousness one day. He WILL execute judgment with equity. What looks unfair and unbalanced right now will some day be set right. Because God can be trusted to do what is right. The presence of evil does not mean that God is non-existent or uncaring. He is still on His throne and He is in complete control and totally aware of what is going on in our world. He sees the actions of the wicked. He hears the cries of the oppressed. He listens to the prayers of His people – those who trust in Him. And He responds. Maybe not in the way we would want or in the timing we would prefer. But He does respond. David knew this. He believed in it. He counted on it. “For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed” (Psalms 8:18 NLT). David was resting in the fact that God was still God and He would some day let the nations all know that they are but men (Psalm 8:19-20). There is a day coming when all that is wrong in this world will be made right. All who seem to prosper doing evil will have their actions judged and their punishment meted out. Because God is righteous and will not allow unrighteousness to go unpunished. He will not allow the inequities of life to remain. So like David, we should rejoice in the reality that our God is fully aware of the trouble of our times, and we should call out to Him, then rest in the fact that He will act. Even if we don’t live to see it happen in our lifetime.

Father, You are faithful, righteous, and just. You are more aware of the evil in this world than I am. You see things that would shock me. You are fully aware of the wickedness of mankind. And while I think things are spinning out of control, You maintain a firm grasp on the reigns of this world and its inhabitants. You are sovereign and You are righteous. You will one day make all things right. I can count on that. Help me to rejoice in it even when things seem out of control and the evil in this world seems to surround me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 3-4

A Righteous King For Unrighteous Times.

“Then all the people came to persuade David to eat bread while it was still day; but David vowed, saying, ‘May God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down.’ Now all the people took note of it, and it pleased them, just as everything the king did pleased all the people.” ­– 2 Samuel 3:36-37 NASB

David was now king. Saul was dead. You would think that things would be looking up for David right about now. But instead, the first days of his reign were filled with war, deception, murder, intrigue, and difficult decisions. The kingdom is divided. Saul’s son, Ish-bosheth, is king of Israel to the north, set up by Saul’s former commander, Abner. He reigns at the bidding of Abner and owes his position to Abner’s power and influence. He is a puppet king.

David was king over Judah to the north, and the passage tells us that David’s power was growing while the power wielded by the house of Saul was waning. And in the midst of all this, Abner decided to switch sides and align himself and the kingdom of Israel with David. He bails on Ish-bosheth and turns the control of Israel over to David. David and Abner make a truce and all seems well. That is until Joab, David’s commander finds out. He is still angry over the fact that Abner killed his younger brother, Asahel. So when he discovers that David has made an alliance with Abner, he takes matters into his own hands and personally kills Abner.

Now, as if that was not enough, poor Ish-bosheth ends up getting killed by two of his own commanders, who bring his head to David, in hopes of gaining favor with the newly crowned king. But to their shock and surprise, the payment they receive for their efforts is death. David has them executed for having murdered an innocent man.

These were not easy days for David. But through it all, he ruled righteously and rightly. He mourned the loss of Abner. He avenged the death of Ish-bosheth. At no point do you see David enjoying the demise of his enemies or gloating over the death of his rival king. Even while surrounded by conniving, manipulative people who made poor decisions and created extremely conditions in which David had to reign, David did so with integrity. He did not seek revenge on those who had made his life a living hell all those years. While he could have turned on Abner and had him killed for the role he played in David’s years as a fugitive, David was willing to make peace with him. David could have rejoiced over the death of Ish-bosheth, but instead he mourned. David’s reaction to the circumstances of life reveals a lot about the kind of man he really was. What do the circumstances of life reveal about YOU?

Father, I want to be a man after your own heart like David was. I want to react to the circumstances of life with integrity and righteousness. Continue your life-transformative work in me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Samuel 1-2

Integrity of Heart.

“David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because they had died by the sword that day.” ­– 2 Samuel 1:11-12 NLT

David was referred to by God Himself as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). That designation has always bothered some people because of what appear to be some significant character deficiencies in David. But these first two chapters of 2 Samuel give us some insight into what God saw in David. God knew David’s heart. He also knew David’s flaws. His choice of David was not based on perfection, but on a willingness to obey God and serve Him with integrity of heart. In fact, we read over in Psalm 78 these words regarding David:

He [God] also chose David His servant And took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him To shepherd Jacob His people, And Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, And guided them with his skillful hands. – Psalm 78:70-72 NASB

David was a man of integrity, and nowhere is this more apparent than in his reaction to the death of his arch nemesis, Saul. Think about what your reaction would have been if you had been in David’s sandals. He had been relentlessly pursued by this man for years. He had been forced to live in caves, scrounge for food, care for a growing band of men and their families, and constantly look over his shoulder in fear that Saul and his men might be there, ready to take his life. Now, he receives the news that Saul has been killed in battle, along with his son, Jonathan. Did David rejoice? Did he pump his fist and yell at the top of his lungs? Did he and his men hold a celebration? No, we’re told that his immediate reaction was one of mourning. And not just for the loss of Jonathan, his best friend. David legitimately mourned for Saul.

David received this news from an Amalekite mercenary who said that he had stumbled upon Saul in the heat of battle. When he arrived, Saul was near death and about to be swarmed by the Philistines, so Saul asked the man to take his life. The man supposedly agreed to do just that and when he had done so, he took Saul’s crown and arm bracelet and brought them to David as proof. He probably thought David was going to give him a reward for taking the life of David’s enemy. The only problem is that this man’s story was a complete fabrication. We know from 1 Samuel 31:3-6, that Saul had taken his own life. This guy had just happened to come upon Saul’s body, probably while doing a little looting on the battlefield. He fully expected David to slap him on the back and give him some kind of a reward for his “efforts.” But he was in for a surprise. David actually has the man killed. Why? Because he confessed to doing what David himself had refused to do on two different occasions. He took the life of the Lord’s anointed. David had had his chances to kill Saul and he had refused, saying, “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him” (1 Samuel 24:6 NLT). You see the integrity of David’s heart. He knew that God had put Saul on the throne and it was up to God to remove him. And even when it became apparent that God had done just that, David didn’t rejoice – he mourned. He was saddened over the death of the king of Israel.

One of the characteristics of pride is resisting authority and showing disrespect to those in authority. At no point did David do this. A prideful person is also consumed with themselves, jealous, envious, not glad for others’ successes, deceitful, covering up their own faults, while gladly exposing the failings of others. David could have easily gloated over Saul’s death. He could have recounted all the times Saul had tried to kill him and that now Saul had finally gotten what he deserved. But instead, David mourned. He truly did have integrity of heart. Our reaction when our enemies fail is a great indicator of the condition of our heart. Do we gloat when our enemies face disaster? Do we find ourselves happy when we hear that someone we dislike has run into unexpected trouble? When the politician we didn’t vote for runs into trouble, do we inwardly rejoice? If so, then these reactions give a snap shot of the condition of our heart. May we pray that God give us a heart marked by integrity. A heart like his. A heart of love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT).

Father, I want to have a heart like David had, a heart like Yours. Too often I rejoice in wrong, I get jealous, I become proud and conceited. I would have had a party if I had been David. I would have been happy to hear of Saul’s death. But David mourned. Give me that kind of a heart, Father. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 120; 130

He Offers Forgiveness.

“Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” ­– Psalm 130:3-4 NLT

What an unbelievable reminder. Our God is not some kind of a cosmic score keeper, keeping meticulous track of all our sins and waiting for us to balance our good behavior with our bad behavior. He’s not “making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.” If God kept track of all our sins, we’d all be in big trouble, because our sins would far outweigh any righteousness we might have to offer. Isaiah put it in these graphic terms: “We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind” (Isaiah 64:6 NET). But instead of keeping track of our sins, God offers forgiveness for our sins. Why? So that we might learn to fear and reverence Him. When we understand the magnitude of our sinfulness, His forgiveness will mean so much more to us. But for many of us, we don’t tend to think we’re all that bad. We seem to think that our sins are somehow not so glaring as somebody else’s. Our need for forgiveness is not that great, so we fail to appreciate the gift of forgiveness and the one who has given it.

David seemed to understand both the magnitude of his sin and the magnificence of the one who offered him forgiveness. He goes on to say, “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He Himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin” (Psalm 130:7-8 NLT). Unfailing love and overflowing redemption. God was ready to redeem Israel in spite of their sin. He was ready to rescue them and forgive them in spite of them. That is an amazing reminder to us all that our God offers us forgiveness from every sin, large or small, through His Son Jesus Christ. That should cause me to stand in awe and reverence of Him. It should draw me to Him, not push me away in fear. He should be where I run for hope and healing. He will not reject me because of my sin, but instead will welcome me with open arms because He wants to forgive me of my sin and restore me to a right relationship with Himself.

Father, thank You for Your unfailing love and limitless forgiveness. Forgive me for not taking advantage of it and for sometimes thinking I don’t even need it! If You kept track of all my sins, I would be without hope. But instead, You offer me forgiveness and healing. Never let me forget that. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Psalms 121; 123-125

Looking For God.

“I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.” ­– Psalm 123:1 MSG

Where do you look when things are looking down? What about when things are looking up? David looked to God. In these four Psalms, labeled Songs of Ascent, David reveals his awareness of God as his source of strength, salvation, and grace. “So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us” (Psalms 123:2 NASB). Where we turn out attention during times of testing is a great revealer of our faith and in what we put our trust. In financial difficulty do we look to our bank accounts or our ability to generate income? When we face relationship difficulties do we look for a little time to pass to get us through the uncomfortable moments? When our health suffers to we look to the wonders of modern medicine to give us hope and healing? Where do we turn our eyes in the hard times and in the good times? When all is well, do we look to ourselves as the source of our abundance and blessing – do we take credit for our seeming success?

David had been through some tough times, and it had taught him to turn to God. Tough times have a tendency to do that. But now his fortunes were about to change. He was moving from the cave to the palace. He was finally going to be the king of Israel. But the lessons he learned on the run from Saul were going to pay big dividends now that he was on the throne. He had learned that God was the source of his comfort, hope, protection, and success. “If the LORD had not been on our side when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive because of their burning anger against us” (Psalms 124:2-4 NLT). David knew where to look. When a child is in trouble, where do his eyes go first? To his mom or dad. When he is fearful, where does he turn his attention? To the ones who have proven themselves trustworthy and helpful in the past. That is what David had learned about God. He knew that God was trustworthy and faithful. He had proven Himself so time and time again.

We have a lot of things distracting our attention away from God these days. Sometimes we are like small children whose attention is easily distracted by the toys and trinkets of life. We stop listening to God. We stop paying attention to Him. And we stop turning our eyes to Him. Satan knows how to distract us. He turn to the TV for comfort and a false sense of happiness. We turn to the news for an accurate depiction of what is going on in the world, instead of God’s Word. We turn to the “experts” of this age to gain insight into everything from money and marriage to health and fitness. To look to God is a sign of our dependence upon God. We look to Him because we know we need Him. We look to Him because we know He will provide – and He is the only one who can. So where are you looking today?

Father, teach me to look to You. Help me keep my eyes focused on You and You alone. Don’t allow me to be distracted by the things of this world. They never deliver. They can’t. But You can and always do. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men