Psalm Saturday: God is Praiseworthy All the Time!

Our late friend and worship pastor Mark Jones loved to rejoice in God’s goodness. Oftentimes, he could be heard declaring,  “God is good all the time and all the time God is good.”

In Psalm 92, the unknown psalmist verbally praises the Lord for His goodness demonstrated through His acts and the righteousness of His character. Bursting at the seams within the lines of this praise psalm, the writer is overjoyed in celebrating the Lord’s divine deliverance and protection.

The psalmist notes that it is appropriate to praise God because of all the good things He has done for us. The Lord is faithful to His Word. He is steadfast in His love for us. The psalmist affirms the singing of songs and playing of musical instruments contribute mightily to the joyful rejoicing that should characterize our praise of His goodness.

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The author glories in God’s goodness showered upon him, evidenced by what the Lord has done for him. The writer also praises God’s thoughts, as well as His deeds, revealed to us through the Prophets and Scripture. These revelations of Himself help us remember that God has a plan and aid us in understanding the work He is doing. He is for us; not against us. The psalmist encourages us by observing that the prosperity of the wicked is fleeting and only temporary. In the end, the victory belongs to God. And God, the writer notes, goes on forever.

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The storms the psalmist faced did not destroy him but, with the help of the Lord, strengthened him. Sometimes life does give us more than we can handle. God is there to help us through toils and snares if we are willing to depend on Him.

God ensures that the wicked will not live long and prosper but rather be extinguished in the Lake of Fire. The wicked will perish, but the righteous will flourish, producing fruit throughout eternity, in God’s presence.

Because of His righteousness, God is worthy of praise. His righteousness is one of the many things that show us that the Lord indeed is good all the time and that all the time, He is good.

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When we reflect on God’s good deeds and His righteous character we can be optimistic during the changes of season we endure in this life. God’s goodness allows us to maintain a proper perspective and continue rejoicing the rest of our days.

The psalmist recognized this, as did our friend Mark.

May the peace of God go with you.

The Devotional Guy™

Psalm 92

A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.

1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

5 How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Psalm Saturday: How is Your Prayer Life?

How is your prayer life? I’ve heard it said that you can learn a lot about a person by listening to them pray. Prayer warriors-people who live a life of prayerfulness-pray different than people who don’t pray regularly. Like any worthwhile endeavor, prayer takes practice. You don’t learn how to mountain climb by attempting to scale the Himalayas your first time out.

I had the good fortune of praying with friends like Mark Jones, Gordon McDonald, Barbara Jones, and Jeff Long. Each of these sweet souls had a passion for prayer and believed in the power that prayer has in our lives. I continue to be blessed by friends like Gerry Bagamano who show me what a heart of prayer looks like when it is nurtured and stewarded well. I am richer each time I go down to Union Gospel Mission Dallas and pray one-on-one with the men staying at the shelter.

A prayerful life can be cultivated through regular exercise of our prayer muscles.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Prayer is an open conduit to God. The Lord hears us when we lift our voice to Him. Prayer professes our dependence on God. This is something our rebellious hearts struggle with because we like to be independent and find it difficult to submit to a power greater than ourselves. As a friend of mine likes to say, “It takes us being tore up from the floor up,” to recognize our need to go to the Lord in prayer.

Genesis 4:26 marks the beginning of prayer, our ability to life our voices to our creator. It states clearly, “”To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.”  Genesis Chapter 4 reflects the outcome of sin. The world after Cain murders Abel oozes with envy, arrogance, rebellion, murder, punishment, separation from family, and separation from God. The descendants of Cain go their own way, moving further and further away from the Lord. Seth, Adam and Eve’s son, marks the beginning of a new line that expresses it’s dependence on God, even worshipping Him publicly.

Pray without Ceasing

God answers prayers.

I know because in the course of my life, God has answered numerous prayers for me. A couple of days ago I felt frustrated. Ministry is hard, especially if you’re someone who comes at it from the outside like me. I didn’t grow up in church. I haven’t attended seminary. Nonetheless, I prayed that the Lord would use me. Then, out of the blue, I got an unexpected phone call from my friend Chaplain Charles down at Union Gospel Mission Dallas. He asked me if I could fill in for chapel Thursday morning. My ministry is simple: Know God and Make God Known. I do that through preaching God’s Word, through writing, like on my blog, the Devotional Guy, and by serving on the worship team. So naturally, I jumped at the chance to lead the staff, disciples, and other clients in their time of devotion. I always leave Union Gospel energized and amazed from seeing God at work.

Prayer works.

News headlines will tell you that prayers are wasted breath. As a Christian living in 21st century America, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. Prayer works, although not always in the way that we expect. A little over a year ago my home church gathered to pray for Pastor Mark’s healing. God answered. He healed him, making him whole by calling him home. Shortly after God called my good friend Mark home, my Mom fell and broke her ankle. Many of us prayed for her healing. I’m happy to report that today, she is healed, moving around better than ever.

Prayer is an asset.

Just as we have God’s Word to lean on and glean from, we have the incredible gift of prayer, helping us tap into the power of God, giving us strength, courage, endurance, and deliverance along with spiritual growth and change. Prayer is a powerful asset that breathes life where there is death and shines light where there once was darkness.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 119: 105 (NIV)

A Model for Prayer.

I don’t know about you, but my own problems always seem bigger to me than the problems someone else maybe having regardless of the magnitude of their problem. The difficulties we face in this life either cause us to draw closer to God or push Him away. Where does our help come from when we are troubled? Who can we turn to for guidance and direction?

Psalm 119 focuses on the power and truth of God’s Word and the spiritual discipline of prayer. In Psalm 119, we find a series of prayers, all addressed to the Lord, our God. Psalm 119 shows us how to pray. The writer of Psalm 119 calls out to God about a problem, turning his eyes to the Lord and to God’s word. The psalmist gets his eyes off the problem and instead relies on God. Psalm 119 shows us how we can pray.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

Often in our lives, our problems seem insurmountable. We don’t think we can overcome them. We’re too close to it. We’re too focused on it. We’re overwhelmed with worry and frantic with fear. When we step back and look to the Lord for the answer by taking it to Him in prayer, we suddenly see more clearly. I know this has been true numerous times in my life. I’m sure it’s been true in yours.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

Prayer Honors God.

We honor God when we go to him in prayer. We recognize the Lord as the all-sufficient one. We realize apart from Him, our own power is insufficient or inadequate. Prayer accomplishes much and moves mountains of difficulties and challenges. Without prayer, we grow weary and fall short. We give out and give in. With prayer, nothing seems impossible because through prayer we have access to almighty God who can do incredible things, far greater than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Matthew 17:20 He told them, “It was because of your little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.”

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James 5:16 So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.

Prayer keeps us close to God. Failing to pray regularly, continuously, and fervently creates distance between us and God that doesn’t need to be there. We’re not intended to be far removed from God. Rather, we’re called to be in a deep, close relationship with Him.

Praying, like climbing the Himalayas, requires practice, if we are to grow in our prayer life. You get better at praying by praying, regularly and frequently, at all times. Does God answer all prayers? I don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe not all. Possibly most, including the times the answer is no. Perhaps it’s good He doesn’t answer all of them. Unanswered prayers may be blessings in disguise. What I do know is that God can’t answer if we don’t ask.

How is your prayer life? 

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told them a parable to show them they should always pray and not lose heart.

Psalm Saturday: Psalm 63 Praise God!

Psalm 63 is one of my personal favorites. I recently completed a devotional study involving Psalm 63 with a friend of mine. We were both blown away by the richness of this psalm written by David while he found himself in the desert wilderness of Judah.

When Sweet T and I were in Israel back in 2012, we learned that the wilderness of Judah isn’t what we typically envision in our mind’s eye when our ears hear the word “wilderness.” To be sure, it is certainly a vast area out in the wild. But instead of a treasure trove of trees, the Judean wilderness is a sea of sand sprinkled with ancient caves.

David found himself hiding here, on the run from his son, Absalom, who wanted to kill him. Absalom was the third son of David, the King of Israel, with his wife Maacah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. The story of Absalom is primarily told in the six chapters found in 2 Samuel 13-19.

In a story of misguided good intentions gone bad, Absalom’s life goes from avenging the rape of his sister Tamar by their half-brother Ammon to leading a conspiracy to overthrow his own father, King David. David’s family life certainly demonstrates the gamut of emotions, relationships, and challenges involved in preserving the family bloodline. Families can be complicated.

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David found himself hiding in the wilderness of Judah multiple times throughout his life. In a way, his time-out in the desert serve as a metaphor describing the spiritual deserts we find ourselves in from time to time.

When we first come to know God and receive salvation through His son Jesus Christ, are souls are on fire, overflowing with joy and spiritual fervency. As we continue along on our faith journey, we find ourselves meandering through spiritual dry places, akin to the deserts of Judah. While it may seem like a time to rely on our own wits and set aside our worship, the exact opposite is true. Our wilderness moments are times for us to rely on God more and to focus our hearts on worshipping Him.

God is for You

Just as David did, we find relief as we praise God. Our spiritual thirst and hunger grow satisfied the more satisfied we become in Him. When we recall God’s supernatural ability to meet our every need, our spirits are lifted, and we are refreshed and invigorated, ready to return to civilization and turn our challenges into opportunities.

We experience this phenomenon when we take our minds off our trouble and express gratitude for our blessings. When we experience difficulties in our life, it can be easy to focus on the negative, rather than looking at the positive. It’s easy to pick out what’s wrong rather than recognize what’s right. Before we know it, we’re on our pity pot, wailing about our woes. This trap leads us nowhere.

In Psalm 63, David reminds us that through praise and worship we have the power to overcome whatever ails us. As spiritual beings, our souls long for God. It is a God-sized hole that is only satisfied when we meet the Lord through His son, Jesus. In Him, through Him, and by Him, we have everything our soul and heart desires.

Troubled? Praise God.

Peace go with you.

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Psalm 63

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.