Psalm 141

Everyone is wrong sometime.

But who likes being reminded of it?

David asked for such reminders. In a time when his enemies were trying to trap him into wrongdoing, David prayed that a righteous one would rebuke him if his heart turned toward a sinful path. He viewed such a reprimand as a blessing, an act of faithful love.

LORD, set up a guard for my mouth;
keep watch at the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart turn to any evil thing
or perform wicked acts
with men who commit sin.
Do not let me feast on their delicacies.
Let the righteous one strike me—
it is an act of faithful love;
let him rebuke me—
it is oil for my head;
let me not refuse it.
Even now my prayer is against
the evil acts of the wicked. (v. 3-5 CSB)

Proverbs says it like this:

Better an open reprimand
than concealed love.

The wounds of a friend are trustworthy,
but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.
Proverbs 27:5-6 CSB

Who is a better friend? The one who lovingly confronts us with our wrongdoing, or the one who loves us but stays quiet?

Which wounds are better? The ones we inflict on ourselves by sinful choices or the ones from a friend who lovingly tells us the truth about our actions?

We can trust the wounds of a true friend.

David prayed for friends who would confront him in love if his heart turned toward sin, even if it hurt to hear their words.

Do we pray for friends like that?

I am grateful for a handful of friends who love me enough to tell me the truth, who warn me when my heart turns toward sin. When I’ve been wronged, I am grateful for friends who call me on my sinful responses and refuse to let me blame my choices on others. I am grateful for friends who “play the movie” to show me where my sinful attitude will take me and those who love me. I am grateful for the faithful love of these friends, friends who are willing to cause pain for a moment rather than see me suffer pain for a lifetime.

Am I willing to be that kind of friend? I want to be. I try to be.

I admit, it’s easier to stay quiet.

So I’m thankful for this reminder from the psalms today:
Faithful love sounds the alarm.

Father, set a guard over my lips today. Help me speak the truth in love. Keep my heart from turning to sin. Open the mouths of my friends to be free to warn me when I am on or considering a sinful path. Thank you for my friends who demonstrate Your faithful love by sounding the alarm when I need it. Protect us from the traps of the enemy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 141

The God Who Runs

Rebellion.

Selfish demands.
Surly words.
Shameful choices.

We’ve all played the rebel, rejecting the rules to get what we want, to experience something new.

Regret.

I was so stupid.

We’ve all suffered the consequences of rebellious choices, finding ourselves in a mess we can’t escape on our own.

Rejection.

I’m no longer worthy.

And sometimes, we fall into despair, feeling ashamed and blaming ourselves again and again.

What can we do when we’ve failed, when we feel cut off from the good life we knew before, separated from God and those we love?

Jesus told the Parable of the Lost Son to show rebels like us what to do.

When you’ve chosen your own way, when you’ve suffered the consequences, when you don’t even feel worthy to be called a child of God….

Get up.
Turn around.
Go back to your Father.

I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired workers.”’ So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15:18-19 CSB

Jesus told the Parable of the Lost Son to show us how love responds.

Love sees.
Love runs.
Love forgives.
Love restores.
Love keeps searching.

But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24 CSB

God is not a father who writes us off.

God is the Father who sees.
He is watching for the moment our hearts turn toward home again.

God is the Father who runs.
He closes the gap to embrace us as dearly loved children, not hired workers.

God is the Father who forgives.
He is filled with compassion and shows us mercy when we repent.

God is the Father who restores.
He celebrates our return, welcomes us home, and demonstrates His love, providing more than we could ask or imagine.

God is the Father who shows us that our worth is not earned, but inherited. Our worth comes from our relationship, initiated and sustained by the Father.

We need to remember that when we’re not playing the rebel, we are easily tempted to play the judge. The rebel demands his own way. His judgmental brother demands he pay for it.

The Father loves them both.

So his father came out and pleaded with him…“‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15:28, 31-32 CSB

God is the Father who keeps searching.
He invites the self-righteous to trust His judgment and join the celebration.

God is a good Father.

He sees.
He runs.
He forgives.
He restores.
He keeps searching.

We are God’s children.
We belong to Him.
When we fail or when we have it all together, we can trust His love.
And His love never fails.

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! 1 John 3:1 CSB

Psalm 130

God hears our cries for help.

Out of the depths I call to you, LORD!
Lord, listen to my voice;
let your ears be attentive
to my cry for help. (v. 1-2 CSB)

God forgives our sins.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you. (v. 3-4 NIV)

God’s Word gives us reason to hope.

I wait for the LORD; I wait
and put my hope in his word. (v. 5 CSB)

God loves us with unfailing, faithful love.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD.
For there is faithful love with the LORD,
and with him is redemption in abundance. (v. 7 CSB)

God gives full redemption to those who belong to Him.

Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins. (v. 7-8 NIV)

Forgiveness.
Hope.
Unfailing love.
Full redemption.

How great is God’s mercy toward us!

Father, thank You for hearing my cries for mercy. Thank You for forgiving my sins, for redeeming every one. I put my hope in Your Word that tells the story of Your unfailing love and redemption plan. I put my hope in You, my Redeemer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 130

Psalm 129

God is the defender of the oppressed.

The psalmist writes of God delivering Israel, His covenant people, from attacks and oppression since her earliest days.

Since my youth they have often attacked me—
let Israel say—
Since my youth they have often attacked me,
but they have not prevailed against me. (v. 1-2 CSB)

God is the giver of freedom.

This psalm celebrates God as the righteous one who cuts the ropes of oppression and sets His people free.

The LORD is righteous;
he has cut the ropes of the wicked. (v. 4 CSB)

The Israelites were slaves for 400 years in Egypt before God miraculously set them free. Later, through the prophet Isaiah, God sent the good news that He would send the Messiah to set all captives free from the power of sin.

The Spirit of the Lord God is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners. . . Isaiah 61:1 CSB

Jesus, the Messiah, broke the chains of sin on the cross when He paid the debt for all sin with His own perfect life. He has set us free!

So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. John 8:36 CSB

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 CSB

God invites us to use our freedom to serve others.

For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. Galatians 5:13 CSB

Our freedom is not just for us. Having been set free from the chains of sin, we are now free to love with the love of the Father. His love empowers us to serve others.

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

God cut the ropes that evil men used to enslave His people.
He set Israel free from her oppressors.

God sent His Son Jesus to the cross in our place to pay the penalty for sin .
He set us free from the chains of sin.

God set us free to serve others through love.

How will you use His freedom today?

Father, thank You for setting me free. Thank You for sending Jesus to the cross in my place to pay the penalty for my sin, setting me free from sin’s bondage. Help me use my freedom to serve and show Your love to others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Psalm 124

At some point on our journey home, we will find ourselves under attack, by people or by the crushing weight of circumstances we could not foresee. When this happens, we need someone by our side. We need help we can count on.

We need the LORD, Yahweh, our covenant-keeping God.

Psalm 124 gives testimony of God’s help for Israel during times of attack.

When people attacked Israel, the LORD was on their side, providing a way of escape.

If the LORD had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger against us. (v. 2-3 CSB)

When God’s people were pummeled by waves of attack, the LORD kept His people from going under.

If the LORD had not been on our side…
Then the water would have engulfed us;
the torrent would have swept over us;
the raging water would have swept over us. (v. 1a, 4-5 CSB)

God’s people responded by blessing the LORD and recognizing that their help came from the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. (v. 8 CSB)

The LORD is our help.
When waves of attack hit, call on His name.
The Maker of heaven and earth is on your side.
He will keep you from being overwhelmed.

Bless His name!

Father, You are my help when I am under attack. Without You on my side, I would go under. Thank You that Your name is near. You are the Maker of heaven and earth. Nothing is too difficult for You. Show me the way of escape. Keep me above the waves that surround me. Yahweh, I bless Your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 124

Psalm 123

As we walk this journey home, we are faced with many distractions. Sometimes we will encounter others who hold our worldview in contempt. What do we do?

We focus our eyes on the LORD, the one enthroned in heaven.

I lift my eyes to you,
the one enthroned in heaven. (v. 1 CSB)

We ask the LORD to show us favor on our journey.

Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand,
like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand,
so our eyes are on the LORD our God
until he shows us favor.
Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we’ve had more than enough contempt. (v. 2-3 CSB)

We keep walking, our eyes on the LORD every step of the way.

Father, I lift my eyes to You. You are enthroned in heaven, sovereign over all.  I will focus on You and not on what others say. Show me Your favor as I walk this journey. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

psalm 123

Psalm 122

Worship.

What an incredible privilege it is to gather publicly to worship God with others!

This psalm of ascents was written to celebrate Jerusalem, the city of God, and the pilgrimage God’s people made to Jerusalem to worship at the temple.

Today, our pilgrimages are shorter, our worship gatherings scattered throughout the world. And still we are invited to rejoice at the opportunity to worship in God’s house with God’s people.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (v. 1 CSB)

We, too, are invited to pray for the well-being and peace of Jerusalem.

Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure;
may there be peace within your walls,
security within your fortresses.” (v. 6-7 CSB)

And we can pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world who risk their safety and even their lives to gather to worship. Here and here are some general ways you can pray for persecuted believers. If you want to pray for specific requests from persecuted Christians around the world, look here.

Father, thank You for the privilege of public worship. Help me – I never want to take for granted the privilege of worshiping with others. For my brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus, protect them as they gather to worship. Let Your love and the power of the gospel reach the hearts of their enemies. And I pray that Your peace will fill Jerusalem today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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