Those Who Know Your Name

S (Scripture) – Psalm 9:9-10 “The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

O (Observation) – Father in heaven, so many events have occurred over the last few months in my life and in the lives of those I care about deeply.  Wonderful things, tragic things, monumental days mixed in with the other days.  If someone were to attempt to go through this life without knowing Your name, putting their trust in You, and taking the time to seek You each day, it is easy for me to see how the weight of circumstances encountered would crush them.  Ecclesiastes is a tribute to the reflection and realization that this life, apart from You, is meaningless.  BUT – You have not forsaken those who seek You.  You are with us, within us, go before us, surround us as a shield, and goodness and mercy follow after us.

A (Application) – A stronghold is “a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.”  It is fair to say that many circumstances we face are direct attacks from the pit of hell.  The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and with that promise comes the realization that every act in the natural world stems from the root of a spiritual component.  When we are facing adversity, we must recognize the origin of it is inherently spiritual.  2 Corinthians 10:4 promises us that every spiritual weapon we need has already been given to us by You.  We must rely on You alone to win our battles for us as we walk by faith in Your promises.

P (Prayer) – So many battles are going on each and every day in our own lives, our family’s lives, our city, state, nation, and world…it all starts within ourselves and how we respond to the leading of Your Holy Spirit.  Father, lead me by Your Spirit into all truth and help me to be a light shining brightly and pointing others to know Your name so that they might experience the power and peace that can only come from knowing that they know that YOU are their stronghold in times of trouble.  “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You (Isaiah 26:3 NLT).”

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Just You and Me

S (Scripture) – Psalm 8:1-2 “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!  From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” NASB

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
    Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
    to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
    and all who oppose you.” NLT

O (Observation) – Lord, children are different from adults in so many ways – some that are typically frustraing for me as a parent, yet some that are indescribably magical.  To watch a child worship You is an experience that creates a longing in me to cry out to You, dance for You, reach my hands high in the air, and be moved by You in a way only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.  Children do not understand so much about what goes on in the world, but in that moment of worship with You, I believe they understand all that really matters – loving You, adoring You, and abiding in Your glory.

A (Application) – A favorite character of mine once said, “Picasso said it took four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. They live in a delightful space somewhere between dreams and reality. They taste color, hear shapes, see sounds.”  Lord, I want to worship You with the wholly surrendered heart of a child.  I already sing the words, believe them with my heart, raise my hands, and feel the emotion that comes with declaring Your truth and Your promises over my life…but I want more.  I want to be overcome by Your presence like King David experienced.  I don’t have to be in a church service or in front of anyone – just You and me.  Help me to savor the worship experience like a child who dances as if no one is watching.

P (Prayer) – Lord, it’s easy to become distracted by life.  So many competing priorities and only so much time in the day.  Tony Evans recently shared a sermon that talked about the church at Ephesus…how the congregation there was busy being righteous and “doing church” and programs that they “left their first love,” which was You.  It’s possible to spend so much time doing good things that we neglect the One that matters.  Forgive me, Lord.

It’s Not Karma

S (Scripture) – Psalm 7:14-16

Behold, he [unrepentant man] travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.
He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.
His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.” NASB

“The wicked conceive evil;
    they are pregnant with trouble
    and give birth to lies.
They dig a deep pit to trap others,
    then fall into it themselves.
The trouble they make for others backfires on them.
    The violence they plan falls on their own heads.” NLT

O (Observation) – Lord, the verses surrounding these are cries of help from King David as he pleaded with You to rescue him from his enemies – he declared that You “judge the peoples” and asked You to “vindicate him according to his righteousness and intregrity that was in him.”  He declared that You are a “righteous judge.”  And You are.  There are so many people today that believe in the concept of “karma,” and that “what goes around, comes around.”  While the premise is accurate, it’s not because the nebulous universe around us somehow keeps the score even between humans.  It’s because the God of the universe “tries the hearts and minds” and “saves the upright in heart (v. 9-10).”

A (Application) – If we feel that we have been cheated, taken advantage of, or harmed in any way, may we not throw our hands up in disgust and hope that somehow the universe will teach that person a lesson in the future.  Instead, let us cry out to You and tell You how we feel.  We should always pray for our enemies that they may come to a knowledge of the truth and repent from their evil ways – that is always best.  If the person is unrepentant and continues to practice evil, then we need to leave the judgement up to You.  Nothing is a surprise to You, and You know the hearts of each person – deal with those that are wicked in Your own way and in Your own time.  We need to be concerned with making sure our hearts are not focused on the misdeeds of others and instead guarding our hearts from any bitterness or resentment that may attempt to take root.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, You know every injustice that has ever been committed, You know every thought of every person who ever has and who ever will exist.  Help us to trust that You are indeed the perfect judge.  You can be trusted, and we need to relinquish our desire to judge others for their evil deeds.  We have a right to be angry – righteous anger is something that You experience when You see the atrocities committed every day.  We need to leave the judgement only to You.

The God Who Sees Me

S (Scripture) – Psalm 6:8-10 “Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my supplication, the Lord receives my prayer.  All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; they shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.”

O (Observation) – Lord in Heaven, You see us weep.  You are right there with us.  You hear our cries out to You and You receive our prayers.  How is it that the Creator of all the universe, the Great Almighty One, the Beginning and the End knows me intimately?  How can it be that with the billions of people in the world that the tiniest details of my life are covered by Your fingerprints?  You are amazing.  You are El Roi (Hebrew), “the God Who sees me.”  Not only do you see me, You know everything there is to know about me, everything I have ever done, will do, and think.  “You see the depths of my heart and love me the same (Chris Tomlin).

A (Application) – Even though there will be times in this life when we feel lonely, desolate, and empty, we can take heart in knowing that we are never truly alone.  We are never completely desolate, and we are far from empty.  Our God receives our prayer and hears the cries of His people.  We can take heart in knowing that He is right there with us through every situation we encounter.  Even though we may not understand why our life plays out the way it does, there is comfort in knowing that He is waiting on the other side and already knows the end from the beginning.  It is our responsibility to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

P (Prayer) – Precious Lord, even though we wander at times and get so caught up in the daily distractions around us, You have not gone anywhere.  You are passionately pursuing Your children and won’t relent until you have our hearts in their entirety.  Your love is loyal – Lauren Daigle’s song comes to mind…

“You are always there for me
You listen every time I speak
You look into my eyes
See the things I hide
And say that You will never leave
Your promises I can not break
And I know You will never change

Your love is, Your love is, Your love is loyal”

Refuge in You

S (Scripture) – Psalm 5:11-12 “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.  For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.”

O (Observation) – Lord, I had quite the emotional roller coaster today.  When all was said and done, this was my psalm for today…one that reminds me that You are my refuge, my “shelter or protection from danger or distress.”  You are the one who shelters me, who keeps me in “a position or state of being covered and protected.”  I love Your name, and I freely exult in You – to exult means “to be extremely joyful.”  I am extremely joyful because I realize it is You who blesses the righteous and surrounds him or her with favor that can only come from heaven.  The kind of favor that we cannot manufacture with our own worldly methods and contacts.  Your favor is so far above anything we can imagine…it literally wraps itself around us as a shield, “a protective cover or barrier.”

A (Application) – There is nowhere else I would rather be than right in the middle of Your will for my life, enveloped in Your favor, joyful in Your protection, and at peace at all times.  Thank You, Lord, for this reminder that no matter what we are going through, Your presence is where we rest our head at night.  Your heart is where our heart belongs.  Your face is what we should be seeking.  May we not get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we forget how much different it all could be if we were facing them with your favor as our shield.

P (Prayer) – Guide me, Jesus.  Grant me wisdom on my journey.  Open doors that You want opened and close doors You want closed.  In the midst of it all, guard me with Your favor as I exult in You.  Thank You that You go before me to make a way as my shield, follow after me to pick up any broken pieces I’ve made, and surround me on all sides with Your love, in everything.

Gladness in My Heart

S (Scripture) – Psalm 4:7-8 “You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and new wine abound.  In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” NASB

I have God’s more-than-enough, more joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees.  At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, for You, God, have put my life back together.” The Message

O (Observation) – Lord, You have “set eternity in the heart of man” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  There is an intrinsic longing for meaning in this life – for purpose, to understand why any of us our here, make sense of our suffering, feel connected to the hereafter…it is indisputable that mankind longs to answer the questions that only You can.  Merriam-Webster’s definition of “gladness” is “a feeling or state of well-being and contentment” or “the feeling experienced when one’s wishes are met.”  When David wrote this psalm and penned that You have put gladness in his heart, he was clearly conveying the truth that contentment can only come from knowing You.  All of our wishes – even if they are unknown to us – that have to do with answering life’s deepest questions can only be understood in terms of an eternal perspective.  Because of the gladness in our hearts, we are able to experience a peace that this world cannot offer; a security that is unknown otherwise.

A (Application) – When we have our lives put back together by the One Who created it in the first place, the world makes a lot more sense.  Our perspective shifts to a higher level.  We no longer see the day-to-day issues of life at eye level; rather, we see the complexities and interconnectedness of life from a heavenly vantage point.  There is comfort in knowing the whole story and how it all ends while we are forced to live in the confines of time and space.  No matter what is going on all around us, the peace experienced by our foundation in Christ is unshakeable and more than capable of allowing us to rest peacefully.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, thank You for meeting our deepest needs and being the answer to all that we seek in this life.  So many people are trying everything this world has to offer in search of meaning and purpose.  Help us to look no further than Your Son, Jesus.  He proclaimed these words many years ago that still ring true today, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  Help us to find rest in You alone when we are weary, and to point others to You along the way.

The One Who Lifts My Head

S (Scripture) – Psalm 3:1-4 “O Lord, how my adversaries have increased!  Many are rising up against me.  Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’  But You, O Lord, are a shield about me.  My glory, and the One who lifts my head.  I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain.”

O (Observation) – Lord, there will be many in this life who scoff at the mention of Your Name.  There will be many who intentionally seek to destroy the righteous and cannot tolerate someone who genuinely follows after You.  But none of what they say ultimately matters.  Only what You say counts.  You surround me with Your love and grace that no one can take away from me.  Romans 8:38-39 reminds us, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

A (Application) – When we do stumble in this life and find ourselves looking down at our own situation and shortcomings, You are there to reach gently for our chin and guide our eyes upward to You.  When our head is lifted from our fear and dismay, we can see clearly all that matters.  When we cry to You, we are are exposing the rawness of our emotions with You.  We can be sure that You will not only hear us but will indeed answer us.

P (Prayer) – Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful that I can be real with You.  I don’t have to try and pretend to have it all together spiritually.  There are times in life when I feel like the walls are just closing in on me…but You are my shield.  You are the One who lifts my head.  You are the One who answers my cry for help.  Thank You for always being faithful to me and for never giving up on me.