“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 28, 2020 – Psalms 140

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+140

 

Psalm 140 (ESV)

Deliver Me, O Lord, from Evil Men

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;
preserve me from violent men,
who plan evil things in their heart
and stir up wars continually.
They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's,
and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
preserve me from violent men,
who have planned to trip up my feet.
The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,
and with cords they have spread a net;
beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah

I say to the Lord, You are my God;
give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!
O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
you have covered my head in the day of battle.
Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;
do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah

As for the head of those who surround me,
let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!
10 Let burning coals fall upon them!
Let them be cast into fire,
into miry pits, no more to rise!
11 Let not the slanderer be established in the land;
let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!

12 I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
and will execute justice for the needy.
13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
the upright shall dwell in your presence.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. David's enemies were evil, violent men who were stirring up trouble for him and his kingdom. He asked God not to permit his enemies' evil intentions.
  2. David called on God to rescue him, confident that among his works is protecting his people from men of violence, and securing justice for the poor.
  3. This psalm encourages God's people to call on him in distress when wicked people oppress them.
  4. Bring all your troubles and difficulties to God right now and ask God to rescue you!

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Deliverer - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wla5ZwxY8kY

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 25, 2020 – Psalms 139

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+139

 

Psalm 139 (ESV)

Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

 

REFLECTION:

  1. David probed the nature of his relationship with God, and traced that relationship back to the Lord’s creation of his “inmost being”. However, David was not troubled by the paradox of a transcendent God who is also imminent. He acknowledged God as one who fills the entire universe, yet saw the Lord as constantly, pervasively present with his people. God was near, observing every act of David, conscious of his every thought. God is transcendent, far above the highest heaven. Yet God is also totally present in our here and now, giving each of us his undivided attention.
  2. God does know us even when we try to hide from him. And when we consciously open our hearts, and become totally honest with God and ourselves, he tests our hearts, cleansing us from “offensive ways”.
  3. David realized that God is bending close to express his love, not to catch us in some sinful act. He stays close to guard us, and to guide us into his best. When we sense him near and realize that what we feel is love, we, with David, will invite him to, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
  4. Why not invite God right now with the above verses 23-24?

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Far Too Wonderful - www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmsgYY-INf8

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 24, 2020 – Psalms 138

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+138

 

Psalm 138 (ESV)

Give Thanks to the Lord

Of David.

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. David called us to focus thoughts of God on his “name”, and his “word”. When we do, we learn to trust his love and faithfulness. And when God utters His Word, it should stimulate even the kings of the earth to praise him.
  2. David had personally experienced God’s love and faithfulness as the Lord preserved him in many troubles. What David understood, and we need to appreciate, is that each of us is important to God. His love has made our lives meaningful by linking it to his eternal plan. We may not know now what his purpose in us is. Yet God does have a purpose to fulfill in the lives of each of us. To him, we do count!
  3. Will you say with David the following verse as your prayer to God?

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

I Will Praise You With My Whole Heart - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctraZfPcZqM

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 23, 2020 – Psalms 137

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+137

 

Psalm 137 (ESV)

How Shall We Sing the Lord's Song?

1 By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy!

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
blessed shall he be who repays you
with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!

 

REFLECTION:

  1. The psalmist mourned the plight of the exiled Israelites. He expressed strong love for Zion and strong hatred for Israel's enemies.
  2. In Babylon, far from their ancient homeland, the Jewish people felt crushed and isolated from God. Only when God acted again, to crush their oppressors and restore them to the Holy Land, would songs of joy again spring from their lips.
  3. It is only when we see God at work, in history and in our present lives, that we know real joy. Jesus put it this way, “Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24) Christ did not imply that receiving the thing we pray for will bring joy. His point was that in the answer to prayer we will sense God at work, and this—God active in our lives—gives us joy.
  4. Have you enjoyed this kind of joy—knowing God was active in your life and working for you? What was the situation? How did you feel about that? Find a chance to share it with another person, and the joy you experienced.

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Rivers of Babylon - www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqYIMLH5NMI

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 22, 2020 – Psalms 136

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+136

 

Psalm 136 (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. Many scholars believe that the Israelites sang this psalm at Passover when they celebrated the Exodus. This psalm is unique because it repeats the same refrain in each verse. The Israelites probably sang this song antiphonally, with the leaders singing the first part of each verse and the people responding with the refrain. With this song, the Israelites praised God for His great acts and His loyal love that endures forever. It is a good one to read when we need to be reminded of God's mercy.
  2. Do it with your family or your cell group. Choose one person to read (or sing) the first part of each verse, and the rest of the people responding with the refrain, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”
  3. What do you think of praising God together like this?
  4. How did you feel when you were praising God with the others in this way?

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you. Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

 

Your Mercy Endures - www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvNzt9jOMzE

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 21, 2020 – Psalms 135

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+135

 

Psalm 135 (ESV)

Your Name, O Lord, Endures Forever

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the name of the Lord,
give praise, O servants of the Lord,
who stand in the house of the Lord,
in the courts of the house of our God!
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
For the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,
Israel as his own possession.

For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.

He it was who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
both of man and of beast;
who in your midst, O Egypt,
sent signs and wonders
against Pharaoh and all his servants;
10 who struck down many nations
and killed mighty kings,
11 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
and Og, king of Bashan,
and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
12 and gave their land as a heritage,
a heritage to his people Israel.

13 Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
your renown, O Lord, throughout all ages.
14 For the Lord will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
16 They have mouths, but do not speak;
they have eyes, but do not see;
17 they have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them.

19 O house of Israel, bless the Lord!
O house of Aaron, bless the Lord!
20 O house of Levi, bless the Lord!
You who fear the Lord, bless the Lord!
21 Blessed be the Lord from Zion,
he who dwells in Jerusalem!
Praise the Lord!

 

REFLECTION:

  1. The psalmist began by expressing his wonder that God should have chosen the Hebrew people to be his own. As the entire Old Testament testifies, this was a sovereign choice, not based on Israel’s merits. God, “who does whatever pleases him,” selected Israel simply because he wanted to.
  2. How good to know that God’s choice of you and me is also an expression of his free will. God loves us because he wants to, not because we deserve to be loved.
  3. God’s love counts. He, unlike the pagan’s idols, is able to act for us in the real world. No wonder Israel was moved to praise! God wrested Israel from slavery, struck down many nations, and gave his people their land as an inheritance.
  4. God demonstrates his sovereignty in nature and history. Truly there is no other God like Him.
  5. Can you think of a song to praise God’s sovereignty in nature and history—your history or that of another’s?

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Psalm 135 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHiysh6lwIc

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 18, 2020 – Psalms 134

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+134

 

Psalm 134 (ESV)

Come, Bless the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord!

May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!

 

REFLECTION:

  1. This last pilgrim psalm called on the priests who served God at the temple to praise Him, and it called on God to bless them.
  2. Priests were on duty 24 hours a day at the temple. They served as guards, and they also offered sacrifices and carried out other sacerdotal functions during the daylight hours. The psalmist called on them to praise God even at night. Lifting up their hands in prayer was a common posture that symbolized the petitioners offering praise up to God and receiving blessings from Him. The pilgrim then asked God to bless these special servants of His.
  3. Pray for pastors and leaders of the church that they will “lift up their hands and bless the Lord.” And also be blessed by the great God who made heaven and earth!

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Behold, Bless the Lord - www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyuasrSE0gY

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 17, 2020 – Psalms 133

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+133

 

Psalm 133 (ESV)

When Brothers Dwell in Unity

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. The psalmist called the Israelites to consider the beauty of the unity of brethren. He said it is essentially good and it is a pleasant condition. This was an appropriate thought for pilgrims to entertain as they anticipated meeting other worshippers in Jerusalem shortly.
  2. If the oil of anointing that saturated Aaron's beard and priestly robes was so precious and sanctifying (v2; Ex 29:7; Lev 21:10), what does that say about harmony running its course through the fellowship of God's people?
  3. Have you experienced the good, pleasant and sacred “brothers dwell in unity”? How can you help to bring it into existence in your cell group, your church and other places?

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Behold, How Good and How Pleasant It Is - www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOQ9FM5gtjU

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 16, 2020 – Psalms 132

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+132

 

Psalm 132 (ESV)

The Lord Has Chosen Zion

A Song of Ascents.

1 Remember, O Lord, in David's favor,
all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the Lord
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”

 

REFLECTION:

  1. David wanted to build a magnificent temple for God to glorify Him. And he made great personal sacrifices to prepare for its construction, even though the Lord did not permit him to build the building himself. David's desire to build God a house resulted in God promising to build David a house or dynasty. The psalmist prayed that God would remember and fulfill His promises to David.
  2. The Israelite pilgrims who sang this psalm resolved to meet God on Mt. Zion where the ark, God’s footstool, rested (v7). They asked God to remember His promises to David, His anointed king, “The Lord swore to David a sure oath.” (v11)
  3. Jerusalem, the city of David, was ruled by an unbroken line of his descendants. And one of his descendants would yet be placed on the throne, there to rule “forever”. In addition, God had chosen Zion as the location for his temple. So Israel’s future was secure.
  4. This psalm should encourage God's people to believe that He will fulfill His promises. Therefore, we too face a future that is totally secure. We can celebrate, for in Christ God’s oath to David was fulfilled, and a new promise of eternal life made to every person who puts his or her trust in the Lord.
  5. Have you received this new promise? Do you believe God will fulfill His promise to you?

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

This Is My Resting Place Forever - www.youtube.com/watch?v=-keeUclZG7c

 

“Listening to God” Bible Reading & Devotion: Sept 15, 2020 – Psalms 131

Read chapter in full: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Psalms+131

 

Psalm 131 (ESV)

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

 

REFLECTION:

  1. David pictured faith as a young child nestling against its mother and contrasted this attitude with an arrogance which challenged God’s word.
  2. Pride is essentially a belief that one does not need God but is self-sufficient. He looks down on other people and overestimates his own abilities as well as his own importance. The humble person, however, has a realistic understanding of his or her capabilities and limitations.
  3. The ability to rest and be quiet, rather than struggling for what we want, is a sign of maturity as well as humility.
  4. David called on the nation to follow his example and rest in confidence that the Lord would provide what His people needed. This dependent trust is a need God's people never outgrow.
  5. This psalm reminds us what it means to have faith as a child. We can trust God because he is who he is. We must trust him because we are who we are.

 

PRAYER:

Stay with God for a little longer.  Continue to converse with God and listen to what He wants to tell you.  Then write down any thought and/or prayer in your spiritual journal.

 

HYMN:

Lord, My Heart is not Haughty - www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixuoMaBSec0