Experiencing the Devotional Readings
To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.
Nov. 3, 2014 Psalm 107
Jesus’ death on the cross was a work of redemption. He paid for us with His life (1 Corinthians 6:20a), ransomed us to set us free from our bondage to sin (Hebrews 9:15), shedding His blood, which cleansed us from the filth of our sins (Hebrews 9:22). Verse 2 asks “Has the Lord redeemed you?” (NLT). We can answer with a resounding YES! So can the people written about in this Psalm. Wilderness wanderers, those in chains and darkness, rebellious fools, sailors on the high seas – they all cried out “Lord, help!” (v. 13 NLT), and the Lord God rescued them, redeemed them, and saved them from their troubles and distress. These rescues could have been redemption from physical distress and worldly troubles, or represent spiritual redemption. Either way, we can be assured, like Job, and proclaim “I know that my Redeemer lives” (19:25 NLT). The work of redemption has been accomplished by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If you haven’t already, won’t you come to Him today and accept His free gifts of salvation and eternal life? “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)! All it takes is a simple prayer – Dear God, I confess that I’m a sinner against You and You only. I know that I can’t work my way into Heaven or take away my own sins. I believe that Your Son Jesus Christ died for my sins and rose again to give me eternal life. I trust Him as my Lord and Savior. I thank You and praise You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (If you just prayed this prayer for the first time in your life, please tell Pastor John or Pastor Robbie.)
Nov. 4, 2014 Psalm 108
Head knowledge of God versus heart belief in God. It’s one thing to know something about God, but it’s a leap of faith to believe and act upon it from the heart. A summer sign at a local middle school reads – Knowledge gives power, but character gets you respect. Good character is doing what is right, not just having the knowledge of what’s considered right. David begins this Psalm with these words – “My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart” (v. 1 NLT). In his head, he knows about God. But, his heartfelt and steadfast belief in God enables him to not only sing praises to the Lord, but to give thanks and acknowledge His unfailing love and faithfulness. The second chapter of Proverbs explains this very well – “If you accept my words…and turn your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord…you will understand what is right and just and fair –every good path” (vv. 1-2, 5, 9 NIV). Paul writes that our saving belief in God is anchored in the heart and we are saved when we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts (Romans 9-10a). What’s the bottom line? Our knowledge of God has to make the short journey from our heads to our hearts so we can truly believe and begin to live as God desires! Let’s pray for steadfast hearts to strengthen our faith and give us the perseverance to walk with God always.
Nov. 5, 2014 Psalm 109
Once again, David beseeches the Lord to deliver him from his slandering and accusing enemies and he even prescribes their punishment to God. We have encountered many Psalms written by David where he prays for this same deliverance from the same situations. The take-away for us may be the repetitiveness of his prayers to the Lord. We are encouraged in the Scriptures to be persistent in prayer. James says that we don’t receive because we don’t ask God (4:2c). Paul tells us to “pray continually” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NIV). Jesus taught a parable about a persistent widow who kept asking a judge for justice. Because of her continual asking, the judge finally granted her request (Luke 18:1-7). Let’s be persistent in bringing our requests to the Lord and not tire of praying and trusting Him. He will answer at just the right time! Let’s learn a lesson from Bethany’s history. For nearly 200 years, our members have been praying to God and trusting Him to bless them and show them the way. As we celebrate our long heritage, let’s continue that tradition of prayer and trust in God’s love and guidance.
Nov. 6, 2014 Psalm 110
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, David writes about the coming Messiah, “quoting” God in verses 1 and 4. Jesus confirmed that He indeed will be seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 14:62) and the writer of Hebrews quotes verse 1 in proving that Jesus is greater than the angels (1:13). Verse 4 mentions Melchizedek, whom Abram met, as he returned from battle, in Genesis 14:18-20. He blessed Abram and he gave Melchizedek and tenth of all the plunder. We don’t hear about this king of Salem and priest of God most High again until this Psalm. But we learn more about him in Hebrews, chapter 7. His name means “king of justice” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his parents or ancestors, literally no knowledge of a beginning or end of his earthly life. All this sounds like a description of God (blessed Abram, Abram gives him a tithe, the meanings of his names, and no record of family or record of his earthly lifespan), so that God can say of His Son, that “You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (v. 4b NLT). Who was this Melchizedek? Some say he was a “type” of Christ, and others Christ Himself. He was not a Hebrew, yet was a priest and king who worshipped and served God Most High. Because Jesus offered Himself on the cross as a once for all sacrifice for sins, He is our eternal High Priest and guarantee of a better covenant. Let’s worship our High Priest, Jesus Christ, and commit to a deeper and more fulfilling walk with Him now and forever.
Nov. 7, 2014 Psalm 111
This and the next two Psalms begin with the words “Praise the Lord!” Our God is surely most worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. The Psalmist gives thanks and extols the Lord in the great assembly of those gathered for worship, an exhortation for us to do likewise. Verses 3-9 were the subject of Pastor Robbie’s sermon on August 3 (from Psalm 77). He shared that, when times are hard and we’re in a season of trial and testing, we can turn our hearts to the great and wonderful deeds of the Lord. This will help us to remember that God has been the source of all our blessings and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and He will not forget about us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). Our fear, i.e. respect and honor, of the Lord will grow when we remember His mighty works – provides sustenance, remembers His covenant with us, gives us places to live, and has redeemed us – and this is the foundation and the beginning of true wisdom. This godly wisdom has nothing to do with worldly wisdom, but has everything to do with the righteousness of our holy God. This wisdom teaches us His ways, His love for others, His mercy and compassion. For that, we can shout our praise to the Lord! Pray for God to give you the mind of Christ and be transformed by the renewal of your own mind, a mind awash with His wisdom.
Nov. 8, 2014 Psalm 112
This devotion writer’s second child, a son, was born on January 30, 1983. I accepted the Lord thirteen days later on February 11, 1983. Sometime after that, as our son lay in his crib one evening, I prayed the first part of verse 2 of this Psalm for him. What parent doesn’t want their children to grow up to be “mighty in the land” (NIV) or “successful everywhere” (NLT)? At the time, I was actually praying that he eventually mature into a believing Christian with a strong faith, a thirst for God’s Word, and strive to live according to His will. Besides my love for my son, I also prayed that way because of what is promised in verse 1, that “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands” (NIV). This Psalm contains several such promises for those who fear God – wealth and riches (which can be spiritual as well as monetary), an enduring righteousness, a guiding light in the darkness, and a steadfast heart in the face of bad news. All of these are blessings from the Lord, and being so blessed, we can be a blessing to others! We can share our riches, both monetary and spiritual, with those in need, we can do good deeds that please God and minister to others, we can be the light of Christ in a lost world, and we can encourage those enduring tough times in their lives. I encourage all of you to pray the Psalms and trust the Lord to bless you abundantly.