A Dry and Weary Land

“O God, You are my God; I sall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Ps 63:1)
 
David wrote this Psalm during the time when he was fleeing from Saul and hiding in the Judean wilderness. That period of David’s life was completely unfair and David was denied the justice that was due him. David had done nothing wrong, and yet, the nation was led by a suspicious and paranoid king that hated David for no good reason. What good could possibly come from such circumstances?
 
Turns out, that when the land is dry, we learn to appreciate water more. When a nation’s morals begin to crumble, we begin to value the goodness and justice of God more. When our souls crave truth, justice, righteousness, and mercy, we become better people. If many are lost because they don’t have the love of the truth (see 2 Thess 2:10), then the opposite would also be true – a society that causes us to hunger and thirst for righteousness will lead to many seeking God who might not do so under more prosperous conditions. David valued justice precisely because he was denied it.
 
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Speak to My Soul

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me… say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ ” (Ps 35:1,3)

Our souls need to be reminded of God’s strength and His role as our deliverer.  That is at least one reason that God has provided us with memorials.  The Lord’s Supper weekly reminds the church of Jesus as our Savior (see 1 Cor 11:26 and Acts 20:7) and the gathering of Christians encourages us to remain steadfast in His love (see Heb 10:24-25).  The constant reading of the Scriptures provides us with repeated reminders of our place in the mind of God to stir up our minds (see 2 Pet 3:1), and the many stories and examples of men and women saved by God’s deliverance surround us (see Heb 12:1).

These stories, letters, fellowship, and memorial acts speak to our souls a constant reminder:

“I am your salvation”

May we never forget.

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Immersed in Pride

“Then Saul said to his armor bearer, ‘Draw your sword and pierce me through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me through and make sport of me.’ ” (1 Sam 31:4)
 
It has been said that we die like we live. Jesus would state something similar in Matt 26:52, “all who take the sword shall perish with the sword.”
 
When we are first introduced to Saul, he was a moderately humble man by all accounts, but as his fame grew and his power increased, he fed his pride with the privileges of being king. That pride caused him to be suspicious of David when David received praise for killing Goliath. That pride caused him to lose the love of his daughter, Michal, and the respect of his son, Jonathan. And ultimately, that pride made him lose the support of Jehovah, too.
 
And in the waning moments of his life, defeated on the battlefield, what was Saul worried about – that the Philistines would “make sport of” him. We die like we live.
 
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Pr 16:18)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Press On

“From men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; they are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes.  As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” (Ps 17:14-15)

There is nothing wrong with wanting a good family, to raise children, and to enjoy what blessings we’ve been given and then leave an inheritance to our children.  These are noble and healthy things that the Scriptures encourage (see Pr 13:22, Eccl 9:9, and 1 Tim 2:2)

But our desires should be loftier than that.  The blessings of this life are the “icing on the cake”, but our portion should not be found here, but hereafter.  The psalmist says that beyond the joys of hearth and home, he seeks to behold God’s face… something we simply cannot do in this life (see Ex 33:20).

We haven’t truly attained what life is all about until we’ve gone the last mile of the way.  Press on, better things await.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:14)

Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

He Knows the Way

“When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.” (Ps 142:3a)
 
Our problems can be too big for us. I don’t always know how things will work out and the potential problems can be vast and varied depending on the trial… sometimes the scariest thing is not knowing what comes next or whether you can handle it.
 
Like a near-sighted man who left his glasses at home, our human frailty and limited knowledge can leave us grasping for answers and unable to see more than two feet in front of us.
 
But God sees the path with perfect precision. Our overwhelmed hearts are held in His steady hands. Our loving Father knows the road ahead and He won’t let us falter.
 
“that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being;” (Acts 17:27-28)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Inclined to Help

“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing…” (Ps 141:3-4)
 
Becoming the people we wish to be is a process and we are all works in progress. As we grow, we all need help to become the best versions of ourselves. A child holds onto a hand for added support while learning to walk.
 
The psalmist prays that God will incline his heart toward good and protect his mouth from foolishness as he grows. It is a wise and humble man that recognizes he needs help to avoid temptation and outside strength to grow. Even a seemingly insurmountable character flaw can be repaired with God’s gracious strength.
 
Want to become a better person? Ask your Creator for help.
 
“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’ ” (Matt 19:26)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Counted as Incense…

“May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Ps 141:2)
 
The Old Testament imagery of the incense burning perpetually within the temple and the animal sacrifices being made to God each morning and evening was a physical pattern that provides an illustration of what our lives ought to be.
 
Our prayers bring joy to Him and are sent before His presence as much as any offering made by the Old Testament priesthood. Your prayers matter. Your words are heard by the Ancient of Days. So pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) and may our lives be living and holy sacrifices to Him.
 
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Rom 12:1)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Bottled Tears

“You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle, are they not in Your book?” (Ps 56:8)
 
The psalmist talks about a state of life (a time of wandering) and a state of emotion (sorrow which produces tears). When we are wandering, everything is changing. Our lives are uncertain, unfixed, and there are more questions than answers.
 
When we are struck with grief and sadness the effect is the same. Everything is changing, we feel uncertain and without foundation and we have many unanswerable questions about our grief and sorrow.
 
Wandering and sadness isolate us. We feel untethered, anxious, fearful, and very, very alone. The worse the sadness the worse the sense of isolation. The more change happens in our lives the less secure we feel that everything will be okay.
 
What comfort to know that God records every tear and knows where we are no matter how unstable our lives may seem. Our times and our emotions are recorded by Him and He takes them into account.
 
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt 10:29-31)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites

Words of War

“You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” (Ps 52:4)

It feels good to send that barbed one-liner response to your Facebook rival and sarcasm slips off the tongue with ease over an angry text message thread.

It is so much easier to cut than to heal.  In an age of long-distance communication, we have perfected the art of mean words.  Read the comments section of any news article or scroll the never-ending supply of political-fueled memes and you quickly realize that we are very good at tearing down and devouring each other with sound bites instead of constructive conversation.

Tame your words and you train your life.

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” (Jas 3:6)

Matt 4:4 #Biblebites

Eleventh-Hour Answers

“When Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ ” (1 Sam 28:6)
 
With the Philistine armies gathering and Saul’s heart trembling, Saul turned to God for help…
 
but God is not an ATM. We can’t simply pray to him when we have needs, wait for Him to spit out a solution, and then move on with our day.
 
Saul had spent a lifetime slowly moving away from Jehovah. His kingly pride had consumed him and only in his hour of need does he finally reach out to God again. And the greatest proof of Saul’s decaying loyalty? When God doesn’t answer – he’s ready and willing to move on to plan B, a medium.
 
Loyalty and faithfulness leave no room for a plan B. Our prayers to God should be built upon the foundation of a faithful life of trust, not a desperate attempt for help in the eleventh hour.
 
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet 3:12)
 
Matt. 4:4 #Biblebites