For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)
How timely that we re-enter the Psalms here at the beginning of a new year and decade. There is an air of optimism that pervades the nascent days of a new year, a feeling that whatever travails we faced last year will be erased with the turn of a calendar So confident are we that we proclaim structural changes in our life, beginning now!
The source of the psalmist’s security is not earthly riches, the strength of men or fearsome weaponry. It is rooted in a life tucked in close to the shelter of the Lord most high. Though the trajectory to the conclusion may be of different lengths, all people come to this truth. Move in close.
Grace and peace to you..
image Robert in Toronto
Fear is rooted in judgment. We fear being judged inadequate or our lives being judged not worthy of continuing. We fear the criticism of man. Fear paralyzes us and causes us to seek refuge in hidden places.
We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.
You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.” (Psalm 75:1-2)
The Cross grows bigger day by day as we walk toward Easter. What have you to fear? God has overcome all and made you an heir. What can man do?
Grace and peace to you
But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. (Psalm 3:3-4)
Is your walk toward the Cross hesitant? Do you still live in the fear of the world that you had when it had you in its grip? Freeing ourselves from that bondage is a challenge that some never defeat. We live as though God has extended his grace to us as a one-time event and then left us to fend for ourselves.
God is our foundation and our ever-present shield. We have nothing to fear and He calls each of to live our His glory in that fashion. We are liberated creations, surrounded on all sides by the shield of the Lord. Nothing can snatch us from His hand.
Grace and peace to you
image by Loci Lenar
We conclude this week of Lent with with a question. Do we take the grace borne of the Cross for granted? To varying degrees, Christians have been guilty of this for centuries. A promise like that found in Psalm 30 can make us complacent,
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; (vv 6-7a)
Easter becomes just a marker in the year pointing out that Spring is imminent. What if Spring didn’t arrive? Would we take notice or simply accept it, soon taking the new weather pattern for granted. Likewise, if God were to hide His face from us, would we soon accept that as the way things are?
… but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. (v 7b)
Don’t allow the soporific world around you to lull you into inattention. The Cross was an eternally history changing event on your behalf. Never allow that grace slip from view. Never take it for granted. The price was too high.
Grace and peace to you.
image Himalayan Trails
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (v1)
Moments of desperation often find men seeking the presence of God, even when their lives prior to that moment have not recognized his existence. Mumbled prayers that begin with “if you really are there, save me” are whispered when the realization that no amount of human effort can extract the supplicant from their troubles. The opposite end of the spectrum also sees people proclaiming allegiance to God in times of desperation. The people of God know that there is no land or depth of struggle that is beyond the reach of the Lord and that He is present even in our darkest moments. Rather than sensing abandonment and giving in to the press of doom, God’s people seek Him, rehearsing their memories of His great triumphs throughout history.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in you name I will lift up my hands. ( vv 2-4 )
The psalms are perfect to hide in our hearts and recite when we face moments in a vast wasteland, devoid of water and filled with predators waiting to make a move on our lives. When all seems lost the remaining brokenness that remains in our hearts will be tempted to question His presence, the new heart will say ‘God is here, I have no fear.’
…All who swear by God’s name will praise Him…
In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise – in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (vv 10-11)
Each passing day seems to chip away at our trust as we succumb to the temptation to rely upon ourselves rather than God. We trust him for the eternal protection of our soul but our personal safety seems to be regarded as our domain, not His. Think about David’s words at the end of verse 11; ‘What can man do to me?’ If you were to take just a few moments you could probably come up with quite a list of offenses that could be visited upon you.
Now, take that list and ask the same question of each offense. What difference will it make in eternity? Is my current safety and security going to affect my eternal life? Eternal life depends completely on the grace of God and your acceptance of His mercy. When our trust begins to shift back toward God we worry less about what man can do to us and we become bolder as Saints. There is much to learn from King David in this grouping of prayers. Meditate on them and be strengthened.
Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
It is beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth. (v 1)
This brief psalm closes the trilogy of praise found in psalms 46, 47, and 48. These were originally utilized in the liturgy of temple worship and they serve(d) the purpose of focusing the people of God of the important characteristics of the Lord they worship. In this prayer, the knowledge of the security that comes from being within God’s city and therefore within His presence is emphasized.
God is in her citadels; he has shown himself to be her fortress. (v 3)
As we meditate on this verse we recognize the core truth that applies to our lives at this moment. Note that where God dwells is not separate from Him, He is the fortress that provides the security. The challenges to the security of Zion come from the four points of the compass in the next four verses but they are rebuffed. There is nothing that can challenge God.
Do we find the same security in knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives? Is there ‘direction’ from which you are not convinced that God mans the ramparts? We need to come to know that there is no area of our lives that can stand outside of the love and security of God. Areas in which we struggle can be turned over with confidence to God knowing that there is no direction from which a surprise can come for Him. We rest in His security.
Like your name, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God, your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with righteousness. (vv 9-10)
Image by Conor Dupre-Neary