Tuesday 10 November, 2020

Psalm 35

Of David. 1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. 2 Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. 3 Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.” 4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. 5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; 6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. 7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, 8 may ruin overtake them by surprise— may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. 9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. 10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” 11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me. 17 How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. 19 Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. 20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. 21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” 22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. 25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.” 26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. 27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” 28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.

Where does my justice come from?

My name, Justin, is derived from the Latin Justus, meaning right and just. I don’t know if it is because of my name, or some other natural personality trait, but I have been interested in the concept of justice from a very young age.

In hindsight, as I look back, I was predominantly interested in the justice that was to my own advantage! In particular, if I felt wronged, I looked for opportunities to take justice into my own hands to set things right. I didn’t fight with my fists, but I fought with words and procedures to try to bring those who I thought had done wrong to justice.

David, is interested in justice here too, but something stood out to me as I read this passage tonight: Even though he is very capable of taking on others – he had substantial personal skill with weapons, as well as an ability to command an army – David appeals to God for justice.

As I noticed this in the passage, it reminded me that ultimately, the only true and perfect justice belongs to God. Any attempts I might make at justice may align with God’s will, but I need to remember that earthly justice is imperfect, even when it is restorative and well delivered.

Lord, help me to trust You, that You will deliver justice because you are a just and righteous God

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Monday 9 November, 2020

Psalm 34

Of David. 1 Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. 2 Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. 3 Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.” 4 May those who seek my life be disgraced and put to shame; may those who plot my ruin be turned back in dismay. 5 May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away; 6 may their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. 7 Since they hid their net for me without cause and without cause dug a pit for me, 8 may ruin overtake them by surprise— may the net they hid entangle them, may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. 9 Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. 10 My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.” 11 Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about. 12 They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. 13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting. When my prayers returned to me unanswered, 14 I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother. I bowed my head in grief as though weeping for my mother. 15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; assailants gathered against me without my knowledge. They slandered me without ceasing. 16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked; they gnashed their teeth at me. 17 How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions. 18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you. 19 Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye. 20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land. 21 They sneer at me and say, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we have seen it.” 22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Do not be far from me, Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. 25 Do not let them think, “Aha, just what we wanted!” or say, “We have swallowed him up.” 26 May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. 27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” 28 My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.

So, what is the filter that I use to view the world? I’m sure we all have one- constructed by our beliefs, experiences and state of mind. The psalmist who has clearly faced some personally challenging times has such a positive outlook. Although he speaks of trouble and disaster, his words are balanced by the faithfulness and constant presence of a loving and protective God. I want my world view to be the same. Where reality and difficulty is not denied or avoided, but faced with a confidence in God our loving and Heavenly Father. Too often I ask God to magically remove the obstacles and challenges I face. Instead I want to face these things with a grace and strength that comes from Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank you for your goodness and your grace. Thank you for your protection over my life. Strengthen me Lord to face the challenges today will bring. May you always be glorified. In the name of Jesus Amen.

Written by Christine Knight

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Sunday 8 November, 2020

Psalm 33

1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. 2 Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. 3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. 4 For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. 5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. 10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. 11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. 12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance. 13 From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth— 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. 16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. 18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

This is such a joyful psalm: Sing! Make music to Him!

“For God’s Word is something to sing about! He is true to His promises, His word can be trusted and everything He does is reliable and right” (v4 TPT).

It goes on:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made (v5 NIV)

For He spoke and it came to be, He commanded and it stood firm (v9 NIV)

I love this!

Your Word is powerful and certain! I believe it. I can see the evidence of Your word: the starry night skies and all living creatures. There is no doubt. I will sing Your praise Lord!

As I read this psalm, I see another theme emerge: Your unfailing love.

Yet strangely for me, there’s not as much certainty about this. Sure, Lord, I have felt Your love but I struggle to be convinced of it. My doubts remain. Somehow, I think Your love towards me is based on my moods. That if I am feeling down and I think I am in trouble with You, then You don’t love me so much.

But the truth is Your love for me is not based on me and my changing nature.

Your love towards me is based on who You are and Your unchanging, unfailing nature!

For this, I am truly grateful Lord.

So when I see the starry night, and am reminded of how You spoke them into existence Father, may it also remind me of the certainty of Your unfailing unchanging love towards me. 

Written by Gab Martin

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Saturday 7 November, 2020

Psalm 32

Of David. A maskil. 1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. 3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him. 11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!

I am captivated by verse 7…

You…surround me with songs of deliverance.

My Heavenly Father sings over me! And not just any songs – songs of deliverance! The Passion Translation of this verse says “…Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough.” (See also Zephaniah 3:17)

What a picture!

But it’s important to know what precedes this joyous song from God – me admitting my sin.

I used to think God was always angry with me. Arms crossed, stern-faced, reluctant to forgive…” Hmm. Well, maybe I’ll forgive you. But just this once – don’t do it again!”

No. Not at all. So much love – so much joy. Me coming to Him and confessing my sin, my wrongs, my mistakes, my failures – makes Him sing! (See also Luke 15). His joyful shouts are my breakthrough! 

He is so proud of me and loves me that much. 

Father, help me understand and believe what you are really like. That you love me – that you’re proud of me. And when I repent, You sing!

Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 6 November, 2020

Psalm 31

For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. 2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. 3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. 4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. 6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord. 7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. 8 You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place. 9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. 13 For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. 14 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. 16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. 17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead. 18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous. 19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. 20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues. 21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. 22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. 23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.

Somewhere in my experience of growing up in a Christian family and attending church I picked up the idea (probably not explicitly taught) that expressing strong “negative” emotions was not really acceptable in God’s eyes.

As I grew older, reading the Psalms was one of the things that helped me to understand that God is able to handle all of the range of human emotions, and in fact, encourages our honest expressions in prayer. The very presence of such prayers in Scripture is a sign that He understands human emotions. He knows how we feel and speak when we are desperate.

Psalm 31 is filled with a huge range of emotions from, “I’m dying from grief…my body and soul are withering away…” to  “I will be glad and rejoice in Your unfailing love, for You have seen my troubles, and You care about the anguish of my soul.”

The point is not whether the Psalmist is actually dying and withering away from grief, but rather that it’s ok to say those things God. He is not shocked or perturbed by unfiltered raw emotions. This understanding has brought a depth and richness to my relationship with God, and a freedom that I had not previously experienced when I felt I needed to filter my emotions before talking to God.

How grateful I am to know that I am loved and understood by You, God, in all of my faults and frailties, and that you desire honesty, not perfection.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 5 November, 2020

Psalm 30

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David. 1 I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. 4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. 5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. 6 When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” 7 Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. 8 To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: 9 “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? 10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

God’s favour is for a lifetime. 

We will have times of mourning. As David did, we will sin. We will have times when we feel that God is distant, even though He isn’t. We will have times when the daily grind just seems to be overwhelming. 

But all of these ups and downs occur in the long-term context of Gods favour. God mourns with us. He paid the price to free us from sin with His own blood. He promises to never leave us. He promises that if we’re walking with Him even the daily grind is growing and sharpening us, making us more like Him. What incredible favour from the Maker of the Universe! We live with a constant hope that though weeping may tarry for the night, joy will come in the morning. 

Thank you Lord, for the favour you showed us when you sent your Son to save us. Lord please help us to be a people of hope, certain of things we have not yet seen come to fruition. 

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Wednesday 4 November, 2020

Psalm 29

A psalm of David. 1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. 3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. 7 The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. 11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

The voice of the Lord is so present and powerful in this Psalm, seven times it is spoken of.  Being over and thundering, powerful, majestic, breaking, striking with lightning, shaking the earth, twisting and striping … it’s a gigantic picture of God in all his glory being enthroned and King over it all. 

Yes, God’s voice can be in all these things, and yet, we can hear His voice still and small, the story of Elijah comes to mind (1Kings 19) and the gentle whisper.  I have heard God’s voice (not audibly) both in the powerfulness of nature and in the inner whisper … the thread that runs through is when we do hear his voice, it will give us strength and will bring peace v11.  Hearing his voice can change us in a moment, give direction and reassurance, calm our minds or bring peace to a tumultuous year. One thing is for sure, God is in control and over it all.  Perhaps take some time to hear His voice today and let it strengthen you and bring you peace.

Father, we come today, let us hear your voice, we give you all the Glory!

Amen

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Tuesday 3 November, 2020

Psalm 28

Of David. 1 To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. 3 Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts. 4 Repay them for their deeds and for their evil work; repay them for what their hands have done and bring back on them what they deserve. 5 Because they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord and what his hands have done, he will tear them down and never build them up again. 6 Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. 7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. 8 The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of someone “turning a deaf ear” on you? Certain members of my family are sometimes accused of this…Perhaps it has been because they were distracted or preoccupied. Or perhaps because they were not interested in what I was saying, and they were filtering out my words. Either way it is disconcerting and off-putting.

This psalm reminds us that our God is never like that. He leans an ear to hear from me – my praise, my despair, my need. His ear is tuned to hear from me, not to filter out my prayers. His heart is to care, to know us. It is two-way communication. What a blessing to hear from him!

V 1 suggests God had been silent in the face of David’s prayer. He was still waiting for God to answer. This is my experience too. The answers are often a gradual dawning of the reality of God working in my circumstances, but there are always answers to my pleas for his help.

This is because God is merciful – v 6. In my life his mercy has shown me forgiveness, has taught me, has restored me when I felt lifeless, and rebuilt my trust and faith. It is hard to adequately describe his mercy over my life, but my heart is so thankful.

Dear Lord God, by faith I will always have you as my strength and shield. This isn’t what I have achieved or earnt; it is by your faithfulness. I am so humbled to be yours dear Lord.

Written by Claire Moore

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Monday 2 November, 2020

Psalm 27

Of David. 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident. 4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. 6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. 7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

“One thing” says the psalm.  We hear that phrase from Jesus and Paul as well.  These declarations about ‘one thing’ vary, but all recognise that there are moments when we have to focus.  We’re so used to multitasking – it’s almost an Olympic sport.  We think we can keep adding one more thing to our schedules without asking what we are going to abandon to create the room, and we aren’t very good at standing back and asking what has priority. It’s hard to perceive the moment when you have to focus, and it’s hard to do the focusing.

The psalm says more however, “one thing I have asked for”.  What we ask for says a lot about us.  We could give so many answers to this question.  The psalmist says it is about living in God’s presence.

I wonder today as you read this – what you are focussed on and if God asked this question of you what are you asking for.

Father, we ask that you would both purify our motives and bring our focus on You as we go about today living in Your presence, doing Your will and bringing glory to You.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Sunday 1 November, 2020

Psalm 26

Of David. 1 Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. 2 Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; 3 for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness. 4 I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. 5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. 6 I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, 7 proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds. 8 Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. 9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, 10 in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. 11 I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. 12 My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.

What a blessing it is to have a clean conscience before God! I can rest easy in whatever situation I am in because the God of the universe can look at me and I can stand.

Is this ever possible? Is it ever possible for me to stand in the presence of a holy and perfect God?

I believe it is, but not because I am perfect, but because God is full of grace and forgiveness. Jesus has paid the price for my sin and wrongdoing, I can let God search my heart, and if the Spirit of God shows me an offence or sin I was unaware of, I can confess this to God.

Lord, it is wonderful to be able to stand in your presence, search my heart and show me any offensive way in me. I want to have a clear conscience before you.

Written by Andrew Mellor

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