Word of the Day

Private Place

Psalm 25: 14              Passion

There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.

There were several verses I thought of using for today’s selection before I settled on verse fourteen. For example, in verse one, David again, declares his trust in God. I could have written a lot on these words from verse three, “For how could anyone be disgraced when he has entwined his heart with you?” I’ve written quite a bit in the last few years about being intertwined with Jesus. It seems I was not the first person to be convinced on that idea.

Verse fourteen holds such promise and paints such an encouraging picture that it eclipsed even the intertwining. Although . . . isn’t there the inference of intertwined hearts in “lovers of God.” This does not speak of a far away, detached adoration. This “private place” is a love nest where those who love God gather with Him to share our joint passion. That passion is a love for all that God loves. We will gather around His Word and He will share His passion with us. We learn what is important to Him and He reveals the secrets of His promises. His love for us abounds in gifts and the treasures of His heart. He longs to have more people with whom to share them. In this private place with Him, He reveals all. It is His desire to reveal the secrets of the universe and in this private enclave, He can do just that.

The coolest thing about this private chamber is that it is open to whom ever desires to enter in. He does not have a gate keeper whose function is to keep people out. All who love Him, whose heart is intertwined with His, may freely enter and partake of the glories of His Heart. How cool is that? Why didn’t anyone tell us about this earlier. We could have been hanging out in the secret place for years. Now we know and only our own hearts can prevent us from lounging in the private place with God.

Look into your heart. Your passport to the revelation room is right there. Enter in and find the answer to every question you have. Receive the revelation of all His promises. He wants to give you all these revelations so you can enjoy the fruit of all His benefits. Come – hang out with God in the private place of your heart. Come into the garden He has set aside just for people like you where all the secrets of the universe are being revealed daily. Your spot has been reserved.

Veracity

Psalm 24: 3           Passion

Who, then, ascends into the presence of the Lord? And who has the privilege of entering into God’s Holy Place?

How would you answer this question? Which of us is qualified to stand int God’s presence, of entering His throne room?

Here is God’s answer from verse 4, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully” (NASB). Perhaps this doesn’t fully explain. The Passion translation reads, “those who never deceive, whose words are sure.” Verse four reveals the importance of clean thoughts and clean words which we heard in Psalm 19. This goes just a bit further, though, because it culls out those who speak falsehood or deception. What is falsehood? It is a nice way of saying lying. Deception is more insidious than lying. One can actually speak the truth and yet intentionally mislead, deceive. This is done by leaving out key data or even sometimes by the inflection in the voice. According to God’s Word, people who do this are not fit to enter His presence. That’s a pretty big deal.

We live in a time when lying has actually become, not only commonplace, but acceptable. For example, some people, even some Christians, think it is okay to lie on tax forms. What do you think God would say? For one thing, it demonstrates a complete lack of faith if you feel you have to withhold what is due. Another common example is the “little white lie.” Let me tell you, there is no such thing as a white lie. They are all dark because they all originate with the father of lies, Satan. God has never told a lie, will never tell a lie and, in fact, lacks the ability to lie. So, tell me, how is it that Christians can lie? It astounds me. Satan is also known as the deceiver. He is the master of telling a half truth. That is what he did with Jesus in the desert and Adam and Eve in the garden. He tries to get us to sin by questioning the truth or by leaving it half hidden.

I know that you know that lying is wrong and I hope you aren’t convicted because you do know better, but it is wise to be on our guard that we be not swayed by popular culture. Truthfully, this psalm is not a reprimand. It is good news. David is looking to enter God’s presence and to show us that we, too, can stand confidently in the very presence of God. David asks who can enter God’s presence. He did not phrase the question as, who is forbidden to enter the throne room. The answer is people who have not lifted up their souls to falsehood. There is nothing in their souls which is attracted to lies, misconceptions or deception. These people, honest people, get to hang out with God. However, that is not all.

Verse 5 says, “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” The honest person gets to enter into the Father’s presence and when you are in God’s presence, He gives you a blessing. I want that, don’t you? How would it be if every day you entered into the Father’s presence and every day He gave you a blessing? That would be okay wouldn’t it?

So here is what I ask of you. Practice being very forthright and honest. If someone asks you a question that you do not wish to reveal the truth of, then rather than lie, refuse to answer the question. Eliminate even the little white lies. Most of all, since I believe you do this already, help me to teach others that no lie is acceptable. Help us to stand on firm soil as Christians and depart completely from the ways of the devil. Let us distinguish ourselves by our honesty. I admit it is tough, but it is what our Father requires of us. It is the way into His presence and that is a good place to be.

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23: 4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

This is many people’s favorite psalm. What is it that folks like about it? Is it knowing we have a shepherd who cares for us? Verse 1 from the Passion Translation reads, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” If this is your favorite psalm, do yourself a favor and read it from the Passion Translation. You are really going to love it. If you don’t own a Passion Translation just go to Biblegateway.com.

It wasn’t easy choosing one verse from this psalm but this one seemed louder than the others and thinking about it I realized you and I walk through the valley of the shadow of death almost daily. One of the points which has resonated with me over the years about this passage is that David was walking through the valley. He didn’t set up his tent and camp there. He kept moving forward, out of danger, through the challenge to glory and victory.

We recognize there are times when we must go through a troubling situation. There is no way around it, you just have to go through. We generally encourage one another that Jesus is with us even through those tremulous times. David takes it up a notch though. He says that even though he must walk through this foreboding valley, he shall not fear. David knew God was with him and being a shepherd boy himself, he recognized the devotion and care of the good shepherd. David killed both lions and bears to protect his flock (1 Samuel 17: 36). He knew God to be an even better shepherd than he. He trusted God to proactively deliver him from any evil that threatened him.

David said he was comforted by the Great Shepherd’s rod and staff. Here is where our image of God may depart from David’s. David saw the rod as comfort whereas some teachings cause people to fear God. Yahweh does not wield a rod to beat the sheep into submission. That is the image some people carry of God. We must put in the forefront of our thinking that our God is the good shepherd. He cares for the sheep as did David. If David was willing to face a lion and a bear to protect those in his care, won’t our Father do the same for us? Could David be a better shepherd than the Lord?

The rod and staff were for protecting and guiding the sheep. With the staff the shepherd could gently lead the sheep. When they went the wrong way, he could redirect their path. It could also be used to defend the sheep. David understood this and because of his understanding and his trust in the Lord, he could walk through the valley where death’s shadow looms without harm and without fear.

Fear is a crippling disease. In its grip we don’t walk through the valley. We don’t valiantly and confidently march through. The message of this psalm is that the good shepherd is with us and taking care of us. Therefore, we can lift our heads, throw back our shoulders and march through whatever peril appears on the horizon. There is no occasion for fear because the Lord God is your guide and your guard, and you couldn’t have better. You know that, but fear is an tricky thing. Our challenge is to live our life fearless and we can when we know our Father is with us. When we have true awareness of His presence with us and His guiding hand on us, then we, too, will walk through the valley and have no fear of evil befalling us.

Trusted One

Psalm 22: 4 – 5              God’s Word

Our ancestors trusted you. They trusted, and you rescued them. They cried to you and were saved. They trusted you and were never disappointed.

There are a couple of things you should know about this psalm. First, it is prophetic. Read it in its entirety, read it from several versions. I particularly like the God’s Word translation for seeing the prophetic nature of this passage. David was in the Spirit and though this speaks to his own situation, you will see that it parallels Jesus’. I strongly encourage you to spend some time with this psalm. It shows how someone can be led by the Spirit in their prayers and in their words. David vocalized Jesus’ sentiments and experiences long before Jesus was born.

The other thing to know in understanding this psalm is that it begins in anguish and ends in faith. That is classical David form. We’ve discussed David’s relationship with Yahweh and how they evidence a shared trust relationship. We have witnessed David’s emotions and his relationship with the Father. We have seen the trust David evinced in God and even queried how he was brought to that place of radical trust. Once you have experience of God coming through for you, it is easier to trust again. How do you learn to trust that first time, though?

When you read this psalm in total, you will see some of the answers for yourself. The big convincer for David was that he was able to learn from the experiences of others. He had the record which we have in the Bible. He heard and knew the old stories. Most importantly, he apparently believed them. He knew that what God had done for his ancestors, He would do also for him.

David was in serious turmoil. In verse fourteen he describes himself this way, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me.” Yet, within a few verses he turns to praise. Nothing changed in his circumstances. He was still empty, beaten up and weary. Yet, his voice turned to praise. How can that be?

I believe this is one of David’s greatest characteristics and ultimately a powerful weapon in his hands. He boasted in the name of God. He declared the faithfulness and greatness of the Lord. Despite all indications of disaster, he boldly proclaimed his trust in the Lord, his God. He stood on the evidence of the past and stated his belief in the faithfulness, the trustworthiness of God.

How many times and in how many ways does God have to prove Himself to us? When will I throw my heart into radical trust? Do you, like me, want to walk on the water? It might be obvious, but we’ve gotta jump out of the boat and that is not just an act of faith. It is an act of trust. I don’t know how much faith Peter had but I do know that he trusted Jesus. He wouldn’t have gotten out of that boat except that he was going to Jesus. The same is so true for us. It is more than a metaphor for a faith walk. This is “the way.” We have the same opportunity to live a “faith full” life. But faith, truly, is born of two things: trust and obedience. We need only go where Jesus is leading. He isn’t asking us to jump out of the boat and walk on the water by ourselves. He is simply saying, “Come to me. I’ve got you.” We can do that – if we believe, if we really trust our Jesus.

Can you stretch with me today? Just lean towards him a bit more than you did yesterday. Remember how he came through for David? Recall that David wasn’t even redeemed by the blood. How much more is our trust in Jesus justified? Can we learn from the many Bible stories, like Gideon’s story, that God is looking after His kids? We will not be disappointed. Trust wins the day.

If you don’t have your own success stories with God yet, borrow Moses’, use David’s. They trusted Him and were never disappointed.

Request Granted

Psalm 21: 2 – 3

You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For You meet him with the blessings of good things.

I hope you are enjoying this stroll through the Psalms. I very much am. The hardest part of this, for me, is choosing only one or two verses out of the psalm to send to you. There are so many verses screaming to be heard, like verse seven from today’s psalm. However, I have to choose so verses two and three are my pick because of yesterday’s selection. I can’t help but feel that Father is trying to make a point this week.

We should always consider the placement of Selah (for further reading on Selah see the Word of the Day for August 30, 2018). It should be like a flag going up when we see it. In today’s passage it is sandwiched between the two verses. The Selah connects them and puts emphasis on them.

There are two thoughts which occur to me about the authorship of this passage. First, we know that David penned it. It is interesting that he is so vehement about God giving him the desires of his heart. We have seen two psalms in a row where David proclaims this truth. And, of course, Psalm 37: 4 is hanging out there just waiting to be read. So, David is pretty insistent on this point. Also, he is not trying to convince anyone. David’s words are for the Lord. This isn’t even a statement of faith. It is a statement of fact. David experienced God going far beyond meeting his daily needs. He has Yahweh showing up with blessings for him.

The second thought about authorship is that though David penned this passage, God is the true author. It is the Lord who gave David his inspiration and his songs. Beyond that, we know that Jesus is the Word. These two ideas mean that this declaration that God fulfills the desires of our hearts and meets us with blessings of good things comes from Him. Yahweh is the one who wanted this text in the Bible. He is trying to tell us something. He is using David and his gifts to get His message out to us.

God knew when He inspired David to write this song that thousands of years later, you would be reading them. In fact, you might be the one person who more than any other inspired the Father to insert these words into His Bible. The Bible is His letter to you. It is here that He contained some of His most important ideas for you. You don’t have to depend on your ability to hear God’s voice. The words are lying on the page for you. And, as if that isn’t enough, He has now inspired and directed me to send them directly to you. They were sitting in your inbox this morning awaiting you.

So, what’s the point? The point is that God wants to fulfill all your heart’s desires. It is His idea, His desire. He wants to greet you in the morning with baskets full of blessings. Everyday is Christmas to Him so He has gifts for you. One of the key components for each of us is that we need to get this into our hearts. It is quite easy to accept these ideas in our minds, but your mind isn’t the key. Belief, real belief, happens in the heart. The mind can agree and can accept but belief is rooted in the heart.

David was fully convinced. You can hear it in His words. He believed it and he lived it. Guess which always comes first. He believed God even when he was hiding in a cave. He believed God even when facing a giant. His boast was always in the name of the Lord God and thus he lived the blessing of God. When we believe in the goodness of God the way David did, then maybe we will have something to sing about too.

Answer my Prayer

Psalm 20: 3 – 4             God’s Word

He will remember all your grain offerings and look with favor on your burnt offerings. Selah. He will give you your heart’s desire and carry out all your plans.

Do you know that there are some people to whom it is difficult to give? I had a friend that way. You couldn’t bless her. She refused kindness or just would not receive graciously. After a while, I just got tired of trying to be a blessing to her. She just made it too painful. I wonder if God has the same problem giving to us. Do we make it difficult?

Today’s psalm is a psalm of David. If you were to read the whole thing you would recognize his writing. One of the things I find most interesting in this selection is the “Selah” at the end of verse three. What is there about the content of verse three that should cause us to stop and ponder? Is it reasonable that God’s memory of all of your offerings inclines him to giving you your heart’s desire?

This would appear to be the operation of the covenant relationship between David and Yahweh. David contributed to the temple. He gave his tithes and offerings and God was aware of David’s faithfulness. David was bolstered by his gifts too because he understood the covenant. He knew that because he did his part, God would do His. There was a trust relationship between them. Of course David could boast in the name of God. He understood covenant relationships and he stood on his covenant. God proved time and again that He would do as He promised. Why then, does it seem that He isn’t fulfilling His promises to us?

If I had the answer to that I would write the book and all Christians would get all prayers answered. It is a question worth pondering though. Why would God even bother make us promises if He didn’t intend to keep them? It’s not like we had some sort of leverage to force Him to make a bargain with us. So, if He so charitably makes promises, will He not also keep them? What then marks a difference between those who receive of God and those who do not. I can’t help but think that it is this confidence that David shows in God keeping His covenant. Does that bold trust and unwavering assurance put David in a better position to receive? In verse 6 he wrote, “I know God gives me all that I ask for,” (Passion). Do you think most of us can say that with the same level of confidence? I want to be able to as I am sure you do also.

So here is what I leave you with today. What do you think distinguishes David from most of us? He was on the wrong side of the cross even, yet he had such confidence in God. Secondly, do you think the covenant relationship had something to do with David being able to receive from God? We have a better covenant than he and ours is made on better promises with a better mediator (Hebrews 8: 6, 12: 4). How is it that God gave him all he asked for when his covenant was inferior to ours and yet we do not seem to receive all we ask? I have questions for you rather than answers but often I believe the questions to be more important. Only the right question will lead you to the right answer. So, will you ponder these questions in light of today’s verse? We would love to hear from you.

Thoughts & Words

Psalm 19: 14                God’s Word

May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender.

This verse has been on an index card for years. Though I am better, I need to be reminded daily. This is not about holiness though one cannot be holy without clean thoughts and words. Although this verse stands alone very well, you will understand its richness when you take it in context with the rest of the nineteenth psalm. Look back at our Words of the Day for this week. Is there a theme? What was David trying to communicate?

This is definitely a good news psalm. It has been about guaranteed success, a designated path, protection, a healthy soul and spirit, a cheerful heart, radiant joy and more. We discovered yesterday from verse eleven that being in Jesus, not just believing in him, but living in him is key. David reveals another important key today, guarding our thoughts and words.

It is easy to think of this verse as an admonition to refrain from ugly thoughts and words and sure, that probably goes pretty much without saying. I think, though, that is a very limited reading and understanding of this powerful verse. Look at the phrasing David used. It is interesting what he didn’t write and that is a clue to the deeper meaning embedded here. He didn’t write, “Keep me from thinking evil thoughts and speaking derogatory words.” David’s concern was not focused on the absence of offensive speech and thought. Instead, he wanted his words and thoughts to be acceptable in God’s sight. He wanted his words to not only avoid negativity but rather to radiate positivity and faith. That is a far different thing.

We are not talking about living in a vacuum here. The goal is not to refrain from saying something bad. That is a given. The next step would be silence, i.e. “If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all.” No, David is coaxing us on to level three. Intentionally say things, think things which are appealing to God. Speak in agreement with God words. That is the lesson of this verse.

If you undertake to speak Yahweh kind of words, then begin with His Word. That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you want to speak God words then you will need to think God thoughts for whatever is in your heart, will come out of your mouth. That is a guarantee. If we want God appropriate thoughts and words, then we must put His thoughts and words inside us. I suppose this is what folks call a “no-brainer”, but we need to actually think about this because it requires purposeful action. Life is busy and there are distractions everywhere, especially at this time of year, but will we purpose in our hearts to invest time in God’s Word? It is a challenge, I grant you. That is why we have to be so very intentional about it.

Me too! There are things vying for my time too but if I don’t spend the time in the Word and with my heavenly father, it really shows. The revelation just doesn’t pour out. So, when I get out my calendar, sometimes I just have to schedule prayer time and make it happen. So, I appreciate your challenge. None the less, find five minutes if that is all you have and read some of your Word. Here is a very easy thing to do when you don’t know where to read. Take the Word of the Day and read the chapter it is taken from. It will generally take you less than five minutes and it will actually enrich what you heard in the Word of the Day.

Put in the Word and the Word will come out. Then your thoughts and words will be pleasing to the Father and that will make your heart joyful and your life successful.