Psalm 34 is one of my favourite Psalms because it is one of praise. It is one that helps us to connect to our God. It starts with David praising God. Praise is one of the most vital actions that God’s people can do. David says he will praise the Lord all the time! And that he will proclaim praises to all who will hear.
David goes on to give testimony of how great God is and how much God has protected and cared for him. (Apparently, David wrote this Psalm when he was running away from Saul and afraid of getting killed by the Philistine King Achish.)
During the recent evacuation alert, I felt some fear. Deep down, I knew God would protect us. Deep down, I knew that whatever happened, in the long run, we would be okay. But I did feel some fear as to what we were going to have to go through, especially thinking about the Lytton fire... it was stressful.
What I knew I needed to do was to praise God, even in this difficult and scary time. Then I remembered that the Lord hears the cry of His people. We, and so many in Merritt had shared on social media the need for prayers for the fires that were surrounding us. I realized that many of God’s people were crying out to Him for us as we were also crying out to Him. God hears the cry of His people!
Verse 6 says, “In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles.” Verse 17 says, “The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help.”
God hears us and He saves us. That Sunday night, it started to rain, and it kept on raining through the week, and then the evacuation alert was rescinded. Praise – the – Lord! That was no coincidence! God hears the cries of His people!
I hope Psalm 34 can encourage us all to follow the Lord and His ways whole-heartedly, knowing that He will protect and care for us through any troubles.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 32 - 33
Sunday Morning Worship Service
Please join us for worship and the sermon.
Pastor Paris will be speaking.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 31
“How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven…” (CSB)
In verses 3 and 4 the psalmist describes the terrible state of the one who keeps silent and does not admit to the sin in his life. The suffering is spiritual, mental, and physical. But in verse 5 the psalmist stops trying to deny his sin and to hide it from God. Instead, he faces it squarely and hands it over to God.
In verses 6 and 7 we see the wonderful gifts that come with God’s forgiveness -- protection, deliverance, instruction, guidance. The logical result of all this is found in verse 11 where we are exhorted to shout for joy!
What is joy? We think of joy and happiness as being much the same thing. Happiness is a good thing -- we spend much of our lives pursuing the happiness that comes from relationships and achievements. We try to share happiness by being kind and supportive to other people.
But far greater than happiness is true joy. This joy is not dependent on circumstances or on the actions of other people. The result of transparency with God and having His forgiveness flowing into one’s life is JOY! This fills the depths of our being and sustains us through good times and bad. The person who has true joy can say “It is well with my soul” -- through the “smiley face” moments and on into the difficult valleys of hardships and loss, family turmoil, failed dreams, health problems and all the trials and tragedies that the world presents, surrounded by His faithful love (v 10).
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 28 - 30
David’s s Warfare Prayer
Scripture Reading: Psalms 27
Key verse: (v8) “You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
A favourite new song of mine is: Battle Belongs by Phil Wickman. One line particularly grabs me: “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees, with my hands lifted high…Oh, God, the battle belongs to You”
In one of his books, Warren Wiesbe said, “the Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battleground, and we must be on guard at all times.” In other words, following Jesus is not going to be a walk in the park; there’s a very real enemy who wages a war against those who’s hearts are committed to loving God and loving our neighbours.
David knew this to be true and wrote a song about it – we know it as Psalm 27.
He reminds us that our confidence against any foe is only as strong as our connection and relationship with God. The Lord is our light, our salvation, and our stronghold (vv.1-2).
In this Psalm we are encouraged to seek the face of the Lord and to wait for the Lord (vv.8,14). Both of these directives are active. To seek requires action. To wait, seems to be passive, but in Hebrew the word “wait” carries with it the sense of service. We are familiar with having a waiter serving us at a restaurant. It’s that same idea. To “wait on the Lord” is to be a waiter – one who listens and serves.
As we seek and wait we will, as David did, find our God to be our Almighty Fortress; we will see that nothing and no one can stand against the power of our God.
Use Psalms 27 to pray against the enemy in times when you find yourself fearful or anxious.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 26 - 27
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust…”
Psalm 25, a Hebrew Acrostic poem written by David, challenges its readers to assess their trust and faith in the Lord while reminding them of the Lord’s unconditional love and mercy.
How often do we say, “I trust you Lord” and then proceed to worry and doubt, letting our emotions drive us away from God? How often do we say, “the Lord is my deliverer,” and then proceed in trying (and failing) to deliver ourselves from our circumstance? As we read Psalm 25, hearing the words of David and his prayer to the Lord, I encourage us to follow David’s lead. Pray to the Lord for wisdom to trust solely in Him, follow the path He has intended, seek forgiveness, and to put our hope in Him above all else. Instead of taking refuge from our struggles in the fleetingness of the world, let us take refuge in the good and gracious Lord.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 23 - 25
Let me introduce you to some concepts in my field of teaching English as an alternate language. Yes, there are some definite grammar components, but there are also the nonverbal communication implications of intonation. When English is spoken, there is natural tendency to emphasize certain words in a sentence. When we stress a word that is not typical, it is for the purpose of emphasis and meaning. For example, if I pointed out to the sales associate that I wanted to see the blue item, I am inferring that there are many colours available to me, but I would really like to see the blue one, not the yellow one or the red one.
Sometimes, if we read Scripture with a different emphasis on words, a new meaning seems to come to light.
The Lord is my Shepherd.
The Lord is my Shepherd.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 22
TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID.
Vs 1: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above1 proclaims his handiwork.
Vs 7: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
In this Psalm we find two very distinct declaration statements about God and His Revelation to His people. This is called special and general revelation. God does and will continue to revel and declare something about Himself through this Psalm.
Canada is a showcase of God’s beauty, from the giant mountains to the flowing fields of grain, to the Canadian tundra and great lakes to the rich soil in the east, God’s handiwork is proclaimed and will not be contained. The Psalmist reminds us that God will declare His glory through creation. His voice (vs 4) will not go unheard, and his general revelation will be heard throughout the earth.
The Psalmist does not stop there but draws attention to God’s Special Revelation, His Word. The Psalmist is not satisfied with only one name for God’s Word but uses six different names to describe God’s Word:
Law (Instruction); Testimony (Truth); precepts (rules); commandments (God’s authority); Fear (of God); rules.
The Psalmist gives the reader the beauty of God’s special revelation and the summation of God’s character. If we take a moment to extol the beauty of God’s Creation and the words directly from God, it is no wonder why we don’t exclaim with our mouths like the Psalmist:
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 21
In “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis tells the story of 4 children who go to another world and battle a witch to save their brother. While there, they meet Aslan, the lion king of the land. It is he that devises what seems like an impossible plan to recuse their brother, the land, and destroy the witch. It involves the children facing the witch’s army with a very undersized army, trusting that Aslan can not only overcome death, but return to rescue them all.
I love this story and particularly this part because up until this part, all of Aslan’s power is simply hearsay. He hasn’t done anything overtly in the story to this point that lets the characters know what he is capable of.
The story concludes with Aslan returning from death, forming an even bigger army from the prisoners at the witch’s palace and destroying the witch in a final conflict. No matter how big and scary the opposition, Aslan is bigger and scarier.
Psalm 18 says the same thing to us. David talks about his dependence on God - how he relies on Him to be his rock, fortress and deliverer. He then spends a number of verses describing God coming to his rescue in spectacular, earth-shattering fashion. The point of this is to remind both David and the reader that the God we serve is all powerful. He is unbelievably and unfathomably powerful! There is nothing he cannot overcome to rescue us.
Unfortunately, we often live our lives like this is not the case. We believe that God has the best of intentions but is bound in some way and unable to help us in our current predicament either because of our failings as humans or because of restrictions that he is under. We believe that God is not powerful enough, so we look to other options or take matters into our own hands. The problem is summed up on this quote from Jerry Bridges.
“The sovereignty of God is often questioned because man does not understand what God is doing. Because He does not act as we think He should, we conclude He cannot act as we think He would.”
The truth is that the power of God is always readily at hand. God exercises it lavishly and often on our behalf and he does so out of his great love for us. He is always working to give us what is best because he delights in us (vs 19) and because he has made us pure and righteous in his sight (vs 35), we can boldly ask for the creator of the universe’s intervention in our lives as David does (vs 20-24).
We need to trust God and how he uses his unlimited power to bless us. We need to rejoice when he intervenes. We also need to trust that he has something better planned when he does not intervene “like we think he should”. God has the power to shake the very foundations of our world both figuratively and literally. We need to know that when he does not act in the way we think he should, we can trust that it is not because he is inhibited by our failings or his inability. He has forgiven us, He loves us and he delights in us. What is happening is not retribution but is what will lead us to even a greater victory.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 19-20
Sunday Morning Worship Service
Please join us for worship and the sermon.
Pastor Paris will be speaking.
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalm 18
How Long … and At Last
Key verse: (v1) “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?.”
These are some pretty bold words spoken by David… Or are they?? Were they shouted with clenched fists? Or are they words of desperation, whispered with open hands?? Regardless, I hear the disappointment, the feelings of abandonment. A deeper look into this psalm reveals David’s broken heart, oppressed by people or forces, discouraged by unanswered prayer. Have you been there? I have.
David models how to make it through these difficult seasons (vs. 5-6). We shall muster the little bit of faith and trust we have in God’s character – His lovingkindness is a great place to start. We shall focus and deliberately rejoice in His benefits to us – the salvation we have in Jesus is more solid than anything we know. And don’t forget to sing. Find a song and sing to the Lord.
One day our trials, our discouragements, our sorrows will be gone. Our cries to God of “how long?” will change to “At Last!!” … That day may be sooner than you think. Do not lose heart!
3 Month Reading Plan - Psalms 15-17