Psalm 60 – Day 2

We Will Do Mighty Things.
(Based on Psalm 60)

O God, our sin stinks so bad You can hardly stand to be around us,
So You have ended up scattering us in Your anger.
I ask that You would restore us.
Even the earth seems to shake and tremble before You,
You split it open, and only You can restore it.
You have allowed your people to go through difficult times,
It has left us unstable and staggering like we’re drunk on wine.
But for those who fear You, You have given a banner to display,
That contains the truths of Your promises.
You will deliver those You love,
I beg You to save us by the power of Your hand.
You have spoken from Your throne,
“I will triumph! I will plunder Shechem!
I will portion out the Valley of Succoth as I see fit!
Gilead and Manasseh belong to Me!
Ephraim is like my helmet and Judah my scepter.
Moab will be like a pot where I do my dirty laundry,
Edom will feel the heel of my boot,
And I will triumph over Philistia.”
But I can’t help but ask You, O God,
Who will make it possible for us to enter a fortified city?
Who will lead us into Edom?
It has to be You, but it appears that You have rejected us,
And that You no longer go out with our armies.
I beg You to give us help against our enemies,
Because any help we receive from man is useless.
But You make us like a mighty army,
You make it possible for us to experience victory over our enemies.

Psalm 60 – Day 1

With God’s Help.

“With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” – Psalm 60:12 NLT

I can’t imagine what it was like to have been king of the nation of Israel. While I’m sure the job had its perks, it also came with a significant number of headaches. Ruling any nation is difficult, but trying to lead a people group who happened to be the hand-picked possession of God Himself was no easy task. First, you had God for your employer. Forget about Congress, your cabinet, or even your constituents. At the end of the day, every action you took was being carefully critiqued by none other than God. Now that’s pressure. On top of that you had the unenviable task of trying to lead a people who greatly disliked being led. Leading the nation of Israel was like, as the phrase goes, trying to herd cats – nearly impossible. By God’s own opinion, these people were inherently stiff-necked, stubborn, rebellious, and had foreheads of iron. In other words, they were obstinate. And as the king of Israel you were free to make up your own rules as you went along. You were obligated to enforce the laws of God. Of course, some of Israel’s kings ignored that part and suffered the consequences. But for David, obeying God was a high priority and maintaining His laws, decrees and commands was job one.

Then there was the problem of Israel’s enemies, and there were a lot of them. This little land was literally surrounded on all sides by nations intent on their destruction. Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites, Aramaens, Edomites, Jebusites, and just about every other nation that existed at that time – both large and small. They all had it in for Israel and they were a constant threat to Israel’s existence. As king, David had to constantly be prepared to defend the kingdom, but also the reputation of God. And even though David was “a man after God’s own heart,” things didn’t always go his way. He didn’t always win every battle. His exploits didn’t always meet with success. And this Psalm was written with one of those times in mind. David opens up the Psalm describing what was an apparent defeat at the hands of his enemies. They had broken through his defenses. They had driven Israel back in defeat. And because David was so strongly dependent on God, he couldn’t help but wonder if all this was some kind of punishment from His hand. He viewed this latest military setback as coming from God. So he appealed to God for mercy. He begged God to rescue the nation from the hands of their enemies. “Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power” (Psalm 60:5 NLT). David was a powerful warrior and a highly successful king, but he knew where his strength came from – God. One of David’s greatest fears was that God might ever reject him and remove His favor from him. He even asks God, “Have you rejected us, O God? Will you no longer march with our armies?” (Psalm 60:11 NLT). David knew the ramifications if that were ever to happen. He knew that their existence was solely based on the favor and power of God, not him. Without God, David was nothing, and he knew it. Without God, the nation of Israel was nothing, and David understood that sobering fact as well. So he calls out to God, “Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless” (Psalm 60:11 NLT). David knew what we need to know. Without God’s help, we are helpless and hopeless. We are His people. He is our King. It is He who protects us, provides for us, gives us victory, keeps us safe, and meets all our needs. It is to Him we should turn in both the good times and the bad times. All human help is useless. Placing our hope in anyone or anything other than God will always prove dangerous and highly disappointing. We may win the battle, but we will end up losing the war. But David knew that “with God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes” (Psalm 60:12 NLT). Even this powerful king knew that he was nothing without the help of his all-powerful God.

Father, how ludicrous it is to think that I can somehow save myself. How silly for me to imagine that I can somehow come up with a plan to save myself from all the enemies I face every day. Without You I am nothing. I have no strength without You. I have no wisdom apart from You. I have no future unless You provide it. I have no hope other than You. But with Your help I will do mighty things! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Psalm 59 – Day 2

Then The Whole World Will Know.
(Based on Psalm 59)

Snatch me out of trouble, O God.
Pull me right out of the middle of those who would destroy me.
Set me in a safe, hard-to-get-t0 place where they can’t reach me.
Snatch me away from those who do evil and shed blood.
They hide out, waiting to do me in.
They are strong and have it in for me,
Yet I have done nothing wrong to deserve this treatment.
They are in a hurry and determined to get me, in spite of my innocence.
So I turn to You, the God of all the armies of heaven,
I turn to You, the God of the armies of Israel,
Go into action, deal with the wicked and show no mercy.
They’re like wild dogs, returning at night,
Snarling, growling, and prowling the streets in packs.
They can’t keep down what they’ve eaten,
They spew forth all kinds of vile things,
Their words cut like a sharp sword.
They mock You, acting as if You can’t hear what they’re saying.
But You will have the last laugh, O God,
You will be the one doing the mocking in the end.
I will wait on You, because You have the power to do something about my situation.
You have the strength to defend me when others can’t or won’t.
Because of Your mercy, You will confront them,
You will allow me to stand over them in triumph.
I don’t ask You to eliminate them completely,
Because then we would just forget we ever had a problem.
No, I ask You to knock them down a notch or two.
Deal with them because of the sin they commit with their words,
And because of the pride that is exposed by what comes out of their mouths.
They curse and lie constantly, so wipe them out completely!
Exterminate them completely in Your righteous anger.
Prove to them that You are on the throne and in complete control.
They’re like wild dogs, returning at night,
Snarling, growling, and prowling the streets in packs,
But let them go to bed hungry and disappointed.
Let them wander in search of food, but all in vain.
But I am going to wake up singing Your praises!
I will sing about Your mercy in the morning,
For You have been like a fortress and a place of refuge,
Every time I have faced any kind of adversity.
You are my strength, so I sing Your praises
And thank You for Your unfailing love and constant protection.

Psalm 59 – Day 1

Unchanging Love. Incomparable Power.

“You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress. In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on my enemies.” – Psalm 59:9-10 NLT

I’ve had bad days, but I’ve never had someone who was out to kill me (at least that I know of). I’ve never been hunted down like a wild animal or had armed mercenaries lying in wait outside my home, just waiting for me to show up so they could take me out. But David had, and he wrote this Psalm because of it. David knew what it meant to be hated, harassed, hounded, and hunted. He had experienced what it means to fear for your life. Every time he woke up he knew it would be another day filled with more of the same thing. But he also knew something that I too easily forget. He knew that God was with him, for him, and would rescue him – no matter what he faced that day. Which is why he could say, “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” (Psalm 59:16 NLT). David had experienced the unfailing love of God on previous occasions, so he knew that he could trust God to show up no matter what he faced that day. David knew that God loved him and that love never failed. While his own friends had turned their backs on him, David’s God was faithful and true. He would never let David down. “In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me” (Psalm 59:10 NLT).

But not only was God unfailing in his love and unwavering in His support for David, He was incomparable in power. In other words, God loved David, and that love was backed up by a strength that could protect David from anything and everything he faced. Love alone is not enough to prevent calamity from happening to someone who is dear to us. Many have had to watch helplessly as their loved ones died right before their eyes. Soldiers have had to watch, powerless to help, as their comrades died on the battlefield. Love for their brothers was strong, but incapable of preventing their death. But God’s love for us is backed by a power that is just as limitless. He not only loves us, but is capable of protecting, rescuing, and saving us. His power to save us is motivated by His desire to save us. He rescues us because He loves us. He saves us not just because He can, but because His love demands it.

David knew about God’s love because he had experienced God’s love. But it was more than some kind of sentimental, sappy kind of love. It was love expressed in power, exhibited in strength, and proven in acts of divine intervention. David knew he was love because he was still alive – in spite of all those who wanted him dead. His next breath was a reminder of God’s love. Seeing the sun come up in the morning was an opportunity to thank God for His love and deliverance. David’s problems still existed. His enemies were still there. But David knew that God would see him through the day, because God loved him, and that love was backed by power.

Father, how easy it is to forget that You love me – unceasingly. Somehow I know You are all powerful. But I sometimes doubt that You love me enough to make that power available to me each and every day. I fail to recognize that the very fact that I am alive is proof of Your power and Your love for me. Without Your sustaining power and unfailing love, I would cease to exist. You give me the strength I need to make it through the day. You lovingly sustain me, helping me make my way through the trials of life. May I learn to sing Your praises each and every morning, grateful for another day to serve You and watch You work in my life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Psalm 58 – Day 2

Our Just God.
(Based on Psalm 58)

How can you people really talk about justice,
When it seems to be the last thing we hear in your judgments?
Do you judge fairly and rightly?
Far from it! Your decisions are driven by wicked hearts.
You dispense violence rather than justice on the earth.
These people departed from truth and righteousness the minute they’re born.
They wander from God’s path at birth, speaking lies instead of truth.
The poison they spread is as deadly as that of a snake,
Incapable of listening to reason, they strike out with deadly accuracy.
They are like a cobra that the snake charmer can’t control.
His wisdom and skills are wasted on them.

De-fang them, O God! Remove the power of their words.
Break off their teeth so they can no use their mouths to destroy others.
Let them disappear like raging waters that eventually run out.
Let them wither like grass that is here today and gone tomorrow.
May they go the way of the snail, that dries up when the heat comes.
Like a premature baby, may their lives be short-lived.
In the time it takes to light kindling under a cooking pot,
God will sweep them all away in His burning anger.

Those who are righteous and love justice will rejoice,
When they see God enact vengeance on the unjust.
They will have to wade through the blood of the wicked when God is done.
The only conclusion anyone will be able to reach is,
“The life of righteousness bears fruit in the end,
Because God will eventually judge between the righteous and the wicked.”

Psalm 58 – Day 1

Justice For The Unjust.

“Then at last everyone will say, ‘There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.'” – Psalm 58:11 NLT

 

There are times when injustice seems to be everywhere. We read the newspaper or watch TV and are appalled at what we read and see. The innocent suffer at the hands of the wicked. The weak fall prey to the strong. Bigger nations take advantage of smaller ones. And nobody seems capable of doing anything about it. Governments posture and promote plans to bring about justice, but there efforts make little or no dent in the situation. Oftentimes, those very same governments are perpetrating acts of injustice of their own. As David put it, violence continues to spread through the land. Nobody seems to even know what the word justice really means anymore. Except God. Even though David felt as if justice was a lost cause in his day, he knew he could appeal to God because He is just and righteous. God not only sees all the injustice going on, He can do something about it. Even though David felt impotent to do anything about “these wicked people” who “spit venom like deadly snakes,” he knew that God was more than powerful enough to deal with it all. So he turns to God. In his frustration, David asks God to do to these people exactly what he would do if he could. His request is graphic and less-than-compassionate. David pulls no punches. He asks God to wipe these people off the face of the earth. At first blush, a reading of David’s request to God might disturb us. It comes across as so violent and unloving. But it also reveals David’s hatred of injustice. He can’t stand to see the unjust go unpunished, because he understands that they are in direct opposition to his God. He refuses to tolerate or grow accustomed to injustice, just because he is powerless to do anything about it. But too often we do just that. We grow callous about it all because there appears to be nothing we can do. We read the stories of injustice going on in the world and we turn a deaf ear and a blind eye. We tend to ignore what we feel like we can’t impact. We know injustice is taking place, but because we feel powerless to do anything about it, we slowly learn to tolerate it – as long as it’s not happening to us. But David was a man after God’s own heart. He loved what God loved and hated what God hated. So David hated injustice and he appealed to the only one who could do anything about it. He asked God to act. He cried out to God to bring justice because God is just.

And here’s what David was counting on: God will act. God will judge. God will bring justice. “Surely there is a God who judges justly here on the earth” (Psalm 58:11 NLT). The day is coming when justice really will prevail. God will deal with the unjust and avenge those who have suffered at their hands. When we see injustice taking place, we need to call out to God for His help. We need to ask Him what He would have us do as His hands and feet on this planet. Injustice should make us long for justice. Sin should make us long for His salvation. Wickedness should make us long for righteousness. Darkness should make us long for His light. Instead of ignoring injustice or becoming callous to its presence, we should learn to see it clearly and long to watch God remove it completely.

Father, there is injustice in the land. It is all around us and we are powerless to do anything about it. But You’re not, so I ask that You intervene and that You do what only You can do. Bring justice. Protect the innocent. Establish righteousness. Remove wickedness. Send Your Son to right all wrong and avenge all injustice. So that the righteous might rejoice. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Psalm 57 – Day 2

In A Cave, But Confident.
(Based on Psalm 57)

I ask You to show me favor, O God,
Please show me favor.
I have put my life in Your hands for protection,
Not this cave in which I’m hiding.
All my hope, trust and confidence is in You.
And I will keep putting my  hope, trust and confidence in You
Until You have caused all this trouble to pass me by.
I cry out to the Most High God!
To You, God, who alone can bring a fitting conclusion to the affairs of my life.
You simply have to say the word from heaven,
And I am saved from being plucked off by those who would destroy me,
From all who are out to crush me.
You speak and Your mercy and truth replace all the hatred and lies.
I feel like a man who is surrounded by hungry lions,
They are burning with the desire to consume me.
But they’re really men with literal spears and arrows,
And whose words against me pierce like a sharp sword.
So I ask You to rise up, O God!
From Your place in the highest heavens,
Rise up and let Your glory fill the earth!
My path is surrounded by traps,
I have to walk bent over so that I don’t fall into one of them.
They’ve even dug a pit just for me,
But instead they’ve fallen into it themselves!
My heart is ready for anything, O God,
My heart is ready for anything!
Which is why I can offer You praise even now.
I am excited!
I get up early and lift up Your praise in song!
I will praise You along with all those who believe in You,
But I will also praise in front of those who don’t.
Your unfailing love knows no limits,
And Your faithfulness to me is boundless.
So I ask You to rise up, O God!
From Your place in the highest heavens,
Rise up and let Your glory fill the earth!

Psalm 57 – Day 1

A Heart For God.

“My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!” – Psalm 57:7 NLT

David is hiding out in a cave in the middle of the wilderness. He is running from crazy King Saul who has set a bounty on his head, and is out to see David’s memory wiped from the face of the earth. In looking back at his circumstances, David crafts a song to tell others what he has learned about his God through the midst of it all. He pens the lyrics to a hymn of praise that chronicles the goodness of God in the midst of the difficulties of life. David is being chased. He is being hounded. His very life is in danger. He is surrounded by enemies and facing unbelievable opposition. Yet he has been anointed king by the prophet Samuel and appointed as the next king by God Himself. So he cries out to God to bring about what He has promised. “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me” (Psalm 57:2 NLT). All the way back when Samuel had anointed him, David had heard the Lord say, “This is the one; anoint him” (1 Samuel 16:12 NLT). Then Samuel had poured the oil onto David’s head and God poured His Spirit into David’s heart. In doing so, God was promising David that he would one day be the king of Israel. Yes, Saul was still on the throne and David was hiding out in a cave in the wilderness, but in spite of those circumstances, God was going to keep His promise. David was confident in that. In Psalm 56, written based on David’s experience when he fled from Saul and sought refuge among the Philistines (a plan that didn’t work out too well for him), David learned to trust in God’s promise. He wrote, “This I know: God is on my side!” (Psalm 56:9 NLT).

David can sing God’s praises because He had learned to trust God’s promises. He didn’t wait until God had completely fulfilled them all and he was on the throne of Israel. No, David sang God’s praises from the depths of a cave in the middle of the wilderness, years before he ever put a crown on his head or set foot in the city of Jerusalem. David sang of God’s love and faithfulness in anticipation of God’s future fulfillment of His promises. We can praise Him now for what He is going to do later, because God always comes through. He is good on His word. David cried out to God knowing that He would send help from heaven to rescue him. In due time, God would do what He had promised to do. And He still works the same way today. We can trust Him because He is trustworthy.

Father, may I be able to say, “My heart is confident in you, my heart is confident.” And may I be able to say it long before You’ve proven it true. May I praise You based on Your reputation for faithfulness, not just because You’ve proven it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

Psalm 56 – Day 2

Learning To Trust God By Failing To Trust God.
(Based on Psalm 56)

Graciously extend Your favor to me, O God,
For it seems like everybody is so busy trying to destroy me, they’re breathless.
Every day it’s like they’re fighting to squeeze the life out of me.
Their attempts to crush me are a daily occurrence,
And their numbers seem to be increasing.
But when those times come that cause me to fear,
I will put my trust and confidence in You.
I will end up offering praise to You because of all Your promises to me.
In the past I have learned to put my trust and confidence in You,
So why in the world would I fear anything that men might do to me in the future?

At those times, they try to influence what I say by what they do,
Planning nothing but evil to do to me.
They hide their intent to harm me,
watching my every move, waiting for a chance to destroy my soul.
Are they going to get away with all the trouble they cause me?
Let them experience the anger on Your face, O God,
Cut them down to size!

You have an accurate head count of every time I aimlessly wandered,
And You’ve recorded them on Your ledger.
You’ve also collected the tears I cried at those moments in a bottle.

And I know that the next time I have to cry out to You,
You’ll turn my enemies back, because You’re my God!
I will end up praising You because You are God and You do what You say You’ll do,
You are Jehovah and You always do what You say You’ll do,
I have put my confidence and trust in You before God,
So there’s no reason I should fear what man might do to me now.

You’ve always kept Your promises, God,
So I will repay You with praises!
On more than one occasion You have snatched my life from the brink of death,
Keeping me from falling and allowing me to live life on this side of the grave!

Psalm 56 – Day 1

Nobody Knows The Troubles I’ve Seen.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” – Psalm 56:8 NLT

Sometimes I’m up
And sometimes I’m down
Yes, Lord, you know sometimes I’m almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord, still
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus
Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Glory, Hallelujah

While those familiar lyrics were made famous by Louis Armstrong, they could be the anthem of every believer who has ever lived. We all face troubles of all kinds. Some are physical, others financial. Some of our troubles are self-induced, while others come at us unexpectedly and undeservedly. Some of our troubles are short-term, while others hang around us for years at a time, even for our entire lifetimes. But as the lyrics state so well, even when everybody else is oblivious to our troubles, Jesus knows. He is well aware of every circumstance going on in our lives. David found comfort in his troubles because he knew that God knew. And he knew that “God is on my side” (Psalm 56:9 NLT). In the midst of trouble, David put his hope and trust in the Lord. “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:11 NLT). But before we place David on a pedestal and elevate him to sainthood, let’s remind ourselves that this Psalm was written AFTER he ran away from King Saul and fled to his arch enemies, the Philistines, for protection. That’s not exactly trusting in God, is it? He didn’t run to God, he ran to King Achish. At every level this does not appear to be a bright move on David’s part. Early in his career David had made a name for himself by killing the Philistine champion, Goliath, in a one-on-one battle. The Philistines had never forgotten or forgiven David. On top of that, David had built his reputation on being a might warrior. In fact, there was already a song about David with lyrics that said, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Samuel 18:7 NLT). And many of those David had slain were Philistines. So on earth did David run to the Philistines for protection? We’re not told, but we can guess that David hoped they would see him as some kind of secret weapon and when they discovered he and King Saul were at odds, they would assume they could use him against the Israelites. But when David arrived in the Philistine territory, the reception he received was less than welcoming. They immediately recognized him and were ready to kill him. So David was forced to feign insanity, and had to act like he had completely lost his mind. Not willing to kill a lunatic, they allow him to leave.

It is after David got out of this sticky situation that he wrote, “you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping” (Psalm 56:13 NLT). David realized after the fact, that God had protected him even when David had refused to turn to God for protection. It wasn’t his great acting ability that saved his life, but God. David had learned a valuable lesson: “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3 NLT). Troubles were going to come. Trials were just around the corner. David was always going to have Sauls in his life. But he had learned that he could trust God. God knew his troubles, and God had a solution. David didn’t have to fear Saul, Achish, the Philistines or any other man. He simply had to trust the promises of God.

Father, sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down, but You are always right there with me, fully aware of my situation and ready to take care of me in the midst of them. You know what is going on. You are aware and I can trust You to help me at all times. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org