Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.”
Psalms 15:1-5 NLT
What a great Psalm! This is one of my personal favorites. Who can come into the very presence of God with confidence? The godly. Now this isn’t speaking of people who think they are better than anyone else. However, it is speaking of those who strive to live their lives in pleasing to God. Let me use an example that may help illustrate this. As a parent, we expect certain behavior of our children. When they do not walk in obedience to these expectations, we impose punishment. This means that the child is not walking in our favor. If this child were to ask us for privileges during this period of punishment, the request should not be granted. Now let’s be clear about something here. The child still receives meals, shelter, and other necessities. The child still has our mercy. The child is still loved. However, the child chose to deliberately disobey us. This has an affect on our willingness to grant privileges and trust their conduct. The hope of the punishment is a corrected perspective and practice. Once the child demonstrates obedience, an open trust and willing hand is afforded them. The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He expects obedience. Our submission to His Word and our consistent conduct before him creates a relationship of trust. This opens His heart and hand to us. When we walk in disobedience, by doing things that are wrong in His sight, we must face the consequences of our actions. His trust of us is affected by our actions. God is Holy! He wants His children to represent Him in their character and conduct. Those who choose to walk in obedience to God will have His blessing and favor upon them. Those who walk in disobedience will not. To the contrary, they will reap the consequences of their choices. God’s people shouldn’t be gossipers, should hate sin and the conduct of sinful people, honor those who faithfully follow Jesus, keep their word even if it hurts or costs them something, loan money to the legitimately needy without charging interest (not for personal profit), and refuse to be bribed to lie about the innocent. Wow! The church in America sure could use a good dose of this Psalm. Today, take a moment to analyze your character and conduct by this scripture. Do you gossip or malign others? Do you hate sin and sinful behavior? Do you honor the faithful followers of Jesus? Do you keep your word to the point of personal hurt? Do you loan to the legitimately needy without personal gain? Do you defend the innocent even if someone tries to bribe you to lie about them? Take a moment and do an assessment. Look at each question and think of how this applies to you. Ask God to show you His expectations. Then, willfully submit in obedience.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to live a life that is honorable to you in all these things. Show me where I fall short, forgive me, and help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to make the necessary corrections in my conduct. I ask this in Jesus name! Amen!
“Will those who do evil never learn? They eat up my people like bread and wouldn’t think of praying to the Lord. Terror will grip them, for God is with those who obey him. The wicked frustrate the plans of the oppressed, but the Lord will protect his people.”
Psalms 14:4-6 NLT
Do you ever feel this way too? We can identify with David, can't we? This is what makes the Psalms so relative to us. Sometimes, when I look around, I feel heavy in my spirit as I observe and consider the wickedness that surrounds us. When I'm stopped at a traffic light and I hear a loud, rumbling sound coming from the sound system of the car next to me and a child strapped into the car seat in the back seat who is exposed to its deafening effects. When I hear the vulgar, law defiant lyrics from the "song" that is being played and sung by a supposed "musical artist". When I hear the filthy language flowing like a sewer from the mouth of a young mother that is supposed to be a role model for her children. When I observe the spoiled adult that looses his temper over a burger that wasn't prepared correctly at the local fast food outlet. By the way, he's wearing a shirt that has Jesus name on it. Go figure! Let's face it, wickedness is all around us. The consolation in all of this is the presence of God. Yes, in the midst of the darkness, there is a light. Jesus is that light. We, His children, are to be His representatives. May I ask a few questions? How do you live? Are you caught up in the culture or are you caught up in Christ? We cannot expect the world to be impacted by our faith if we don't live it out. Profession of faith is one thing. Practicing it is where the rubber meets the road. Let us resolve to live out our faith in the midst of a perverse generation. God is with us. He will protect the cause of the righteous!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, forgive me for getting caught up in the culture. Help me live my life in a manner that pleases you. Let Your light shine through me in this dark world. This I pray to the glory of Your One and only begotten Son, Jesus!!! Amen!
“Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one!”
Psalms 14:1-3 NLT
This passage of scripture is identical to Psalm 53:1-3. David, the king of Israel, is the author of both. In both, he expresses his disgust with the condition of humanity at large. Something we must realize, in this Psalm, is the simple observation David is making concerning society in general. God always has a remnant in every generation. Not everyone is godless and corrupt. Yes, we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), but, there are those who are truly born again, love God, and strive to live a life submitted to His Lordship. Often, in the midst of the godlessness we see around us, we get disgusted and become cynical about people in general. Elijah had this struggle when he faced, and defeated, the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18-19. He felt all alone. God had to remind him that He still had 7,000 who hadn’t bowed a knee to Baal or kissed his image. Even though it seems like the world is going headlong into Hell, we must know that God has a remnant. At times we may feel alone in our devotion to Christ, but we can rest assured that there is a family of God out there that daily seek God and His kingdom. Don’t get disillusioned in the midst of the battle. God is with us! He won’t fail us! He rescues the godly and hides them beneath His sheltering wings. “The Lord rescues the godly; he is their fortress in times of trouble.” Psalms 37:39 NLT “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”
Psalms 91:4 NLT
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, keep me faithful to You in the midst of a godless and perverse generation. Help me realize that there are others who feel as I do. You have a remnant of children all over the world. I am so blessed to be a part of it.
O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.”
Psalms 13:1-6 NLT
Do you ever have this kind of conversation with God? The circumstances are adverse, you feel alone, attacked, and anguish grips your soul. In these moments, we become cynical and pessimistic. We find it hard to look at any of the good things in our lives. Are you in that place? Do you long for the sparkle to come back to your eye? Do you want that spring in your step again? Think of the times in your past when you felt overwhelmed and wondered if you were going to make it through. God was faithful then! He is faithful now! Let the testimony of the past bring you confidence in the present. Express your thankfulness to God and rest in His unfailing love.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, forgive my doubts and calm my fears. You have been faithful all these years. You will be faithful now and forever. You are GOOD!!!
“Help, O Lord, for the godly are fast disappearing! The faithful have vanished from the earth! Neighbors lie to each other, speaking with flattering lips and deceitful hearts. May the Lord cut off their flattering lips and silence their boastful tongues. They say, “We will lie to our hearts’ content. Our lips are our own—who can stop us?” The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.” The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Therefore, Lord, we know you will protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation, even though the wicked strut about, and evil is praised throughout the land.”
Psalms 12:1-8 NLT
Finding godly people is like mining for gems, there is a lot of dirt to sift through. Not everyone who goes to church and claims to be a “Christian” is godly. Are you godly? The question clamors for an answer. There are plenty of religious people in the world, but few godly. To be godly, one must not just simply profess to know the Lord, but seek to put into practice what they profess with their mouths. Simple association to the church doesn’t equate godliness. Godliness requires devotion and discipline. Everybody wants to go to heaven but few actually want to live like they are citizens there. We profess to be citizens of heaven but our words and actions are in stark contrast to the characteristics and culture of our professed homeland. We have allowed the characteristics and culture of the sinful world we live in to acclimate us to its ways. We have a large number of people who attend church but don’t understand that their lives are to be lived in a manner that is consistent with the Jesus they profess to know. None of us are just like Jesus but we are supposed to strive to display His characteristics as the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do so. A life truly in love with Jesus will be lived in a manner that demonstrates that relationship. Godliness means to live devoutly, piously, reverently, God fearing, holy, saintly. I’m not talking about being a religious Pharisee and self righteous. I’m talking about a life that is different than the sinful culture around us, a life that mirrors Jesus. Our world could certainly use some godly people. Our homes need godly fathers and mothers. Our churches need godly pastors and members. Our government needs godly statesmen. Our businesses need godly owners and godly employees. Imagine living in a society that seeks to honor Christ. Sure, we have a lot of churches, but what we need are godly people. Isn’t that what the church is supposed to be producing? Once again, I ask, are you godly?? Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, forgive me of my sins. Help me see the things in my life that aren’t pleasing to You. I repent of them now. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and help me live a life that is, indeed, godly
O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I am in trouble?”
Psalms 10:1 NLT
Have you ever felt this way? Sometimes it feels like God is a million miles away. The key word is "feels". Our feelings are directly affected by our circumstances. When we are being afflicted with troubles it is easy to lose our bearings. Darkness can invade in an instant and try to cast doubt upon our faith. When this happens we struggle to maintain our balance and focus. A simple look at the atrocities around us can cause us to question God's awareness of the situation and causes us to wonder if He will ever deliver us from the evil. In our flesh we naturally struggle with these contemplations. However, we cannot let our flesh determine our faith. We must recognize God's existence, presence, power, and His promises. God is not a liar!!! He always keeps His Word. We can count on God doing exactly what He says. Men will fail us, life will disappoint us, but God will remain true and faithful! In the end, all things will be accounted for and all things will be made new. The child of God does not need to look to the world for their consolation. Looking around brings disillusionment. Looking back brings disappointment. Looking ahead brings discouragement. Looking down brings depression. Looking up brings deliverance. Look up today, child of God! Our redemption is coming! “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”” Luke 21:28 NLT Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I come to You! I confess that sometimes I don't understand why things are what they are. In the midst of my struggle, sometimes I get disoriented and need You to settle and steady my heart. I ask You to do that today. I need You to be the rock upon which I stand. This land in which I live is quaking beneath my feet. Lift me up above the uncertainty and grant me faith that will stand the passing of time. I love You and I trust You! Help me Lord, in Jesus name!!
“The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. Their own feet have been caught in the trap they set. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked are trapped by their own deeds. (Quiet Interlude) The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God. But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed. Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Judge the nations! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let the nations know they are merely human. Interlude”
Psalms 9:15-20 NLT
Nations have risen and fallen throughout history. The great nation of Israel was allowed by God to be taken into captivity and placed into slavery to their captors. Their sins made them lose their freedom and their national recognition. Any nation that rejects God will succumb to inevitable judgment. The only way for a nation to remain blessed and favored by God is submission to Him. America, for many years now, has been headed down the wrong track. We have allowed liberals and progressives to turn our schools into evolutionary machines that manufacture children with minds that are brain washed with godless philosophy. We deny the very first act of God upon humanity - Creation. We allow "so-called" scientists to explain away the awesome handiwork of our Creator. We have demeaned the sanctity of human life to that of an inconvenience and unwanted burden. We murder our own children in the name of inconvenience and birth control. We have demoralized the institution of marriage and have accepted an unnatural, incompatible substitute that God calls an abomination. We drink ourselves into absolute stupor. We eat our way to death. We spend our way into economic ruin. We worship our play and play at our worship. We proclaim ourselves a free nation, yet we are so enslaved to sin that judgment looms over us like a severe storm about to unleash its wrath. Can you not see the impending destruction? Are you so caught up in your day to day way of life that you can't see the forest for trees? Who will see the sins of the nation? Who will preach against its ills? Who will humble themselves and pray? Will you? We cannot continue down this road we are on without meeting our fate. The only hope is God!!! We, the children of God, must repent of our sins and turn back to Him! Let us cry out to Him for mercy. God is touched by the cries of His people. Would you join me in humility before God on behalf of our beloved nation? Just because we are "The United States of America" doesn't give us a pass before God! Do we think we are any better than Israel? Certainly not!! Listen to what God said to Solomon after the construction of the great Jewish Temple: “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’ “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them." 2 Chronicles 7:19-22 NLT Think about that!! Let me leave us with a ray of hope. In the same scripture there is an antidote. “At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 NLT Let us humble ourselves and come down off of our cocky horses. Let us pray and seek the face of God, not His hand! Let us repent of our wicked ways! Correspondingly, God will hear our cry, forgive our sin, and heal our land! I pray this in Jesus name!!! Amen!
“Lord, have mercy on me. See how my enemies torment me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death. Save me so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem’s gates, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me.”
Psalms 9:13-14 NLT
Like David, we, too, call on God for His Mercy in the midst of our struggles. Life can be brutal and life can be beautiful. The difference is defined by our circumstances. Have you ever been tormented by something going on in your life? Paul was familiar with this very thing. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 these words are recorded: “even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NLTPaul was tormented by a "thorn in the flesh". Many have tried to specify this thorn. No one can definitely determine what it was. One thing we can know for sure: it was "a messenger of Satan". Paul had to battle with this until his death. Although he was never free from it, he did know and experience the grace of God in it all. God harnessed the devil's attacks and utilized them as an opportunity to demonstrate His great grace. No matter what we may face, God's great grace will sustain us and carry us through!! When we feel outnumbered, overwhelmed, and out of strength God will give us His grace to keep going. His grace will defy and deny the enemy. There is nothing we can face in life that God's grace and mercy won't carry us through. Let God harness your struggle today and watch Him bring you through it with His great grace and mercy. When you make it through, you can testify of His goodness in public.
What has God brought you through in the past? What are you going through right now? He hasn't failed you before. He won't fail you now. Give your battle to God and let His grace carry you to victory. When He does, testify before the people of His faithfulness!
Prayer for today: Father, in the name of Jesus, thank You for Your sustaining grace. I praise You with my whole heart! I love You and I give my life into Your merciful hands! Whatever You may bring me through, wherever I may go, I will praise You for providing grace in it all!
“But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you. Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds. For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer.” Psalms 9:7-12 NLT
God is a righteous and compassionate God! His reign is righteous and eternal! His judgements are just and fair. He is a shelter in the storm, an advocate for the oppressed, and a refuge during our times of trouble. We can trust Him because He will not forsake us (Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5). If we will seek Him, He will make Himself known to us (Jeremiah 29:13 and Matthew 7:7-11). There is no one else we can trust like Him! Let us proclaim His greatness to the whole world! God will set things right for those who have been victimized in crime and for those who suffer beneath life's crushing load. Turn to Him today and trust Him with whatever is going on in your life. Let Him fix the problem. Only He has the power to, and only He has the character to do it right. Place your circumstances in His hands. Watch Him work!!
“My enemies retreated; they staggered and died when you appeared. For you have judged in my favor; from your throne you have judged with fairness. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have erased their names forever. The enemy is finished, in endless ruins; the cities you uprooted are now forgotten.”
Psalms 9:3-6 NLT
Just as David praises God for granting him victory over his enemies, we, too, should praise Him for victory over ours. God is the mighty deliverer. How many times have you ever been in a situation that you thought was seemingly insurmountable and yet God granted you deliverance? May we never forget the victories that God has given us. May they stand as testaments to His faithfulness. He has never failed us and never will!! The wicked who appear to gloating in their temporary glory will soon find their end. The people and cities who reject God and His ways will be found in utter derision. The righteous will flourish and God will be glorified. Stay put. Stand firm. Don't compare yourself to sinful men. Live to please God and watch the story unfold. The only true success is a life lived beneath the shelter of the Savior!!!
Rev. Curtis Norris