Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Spread for me a banquet of praise, serve High God a feast of kept promises. And call for help when you’re in trouble – I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”
The Message Bible
God Will Answer
“God will answer when to thee,
Not a possibility
Of deliverance seems near;
It is then He will appear.
God will answer when you pray
Yea, though mountains block the way,
At His word, a way will be
Even through mountains made for thee.
God who still divides the sea,
Willingly will work for thee;
God before whom mountains fall,
Promises to hear thy call.”
“Before you call out, I’ll answer. Before you have finished speaking, I’ll have heard.”
The Message Bible
Many times I choose the text and thought of encouragement from Bible passages and study quotes which have lifted my own life closer to my Father’s. Today, as I was working on the devotional, I decided to organize a stack of papers by my “writing” chair and to my delight and surprise, right on the top of the mound of quotes was one of my absolute favorite poems by Matthew Biller, “God Will Answer”. Although I’ve shared this poem in the past, I gained so much encouragement rereading these well-timed words that I thought there might well be someone else in Transformation Garden who needs to know this very day that our heavenly Father specializes in coming to the aid of His dear children, especially in times of perplexing trial and immense trouble. This is why I also chose Psalm 50: 15 as our “encouraging” text today. In the words of Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon:
“The Lord says to you, ‘My friend, Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me’…This is a text that I want to write in stars across the sky or proclaim with the blowing of a trumpet from the top of every tower…When you pray, you have a basis in the very time you are in: ‘The day of trouble.’ You can plead, ‘Lord, this is a day of trouble! I am in great affliction.’ Then state your great affliction – an ill spouse, a wayward child, a financial crisis, your failing health. Say unto the Lord of mercy, ‘My Lord, if ever a person was in a day of trouble, I am. Therefore, I take the liberty and license to pray to You now because You have said, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble.’ This is the hour that you have appointed for appealing to You: this dark, stormy day. If ever there was a person who had a right to pray according to Your own Word, I do, for I am in trouble. Therefore, I will make use of the very time I am in as a plea with You. I entreat You, hear Your daughter’s and son’s cry in this midnight hour.”
Today’s Study Text:
“But his (her) delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he (she) meditate day and night.”
“A Constructive Design For Life”
Psalm 1 Part 6
“All earthly delights are but ‘streams.’ But God is the ocean.”
What do I “delight” in?
How would I express feelings of “delight” in the Lord?
“Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God.”
“Delight yourself also in the Lord.”
“Let all our delight in, and all our value and fondness for our enjoyments, be only upon such a divine score as this. As far as any of our enjoyments leads us unto God, so far let us relish it, affect it, embrace it, and rejoice in it: “O taste, and feed upon God in all.’”
As we dig deeper into Psalm 1, which begins by telling us how blessed and happy an individual is who watches carefully where they walk, stand and sit, the Psalmist goes a step further by instructing us that “delight” will also fill our lives. Why? Pastor David Redding lays out the divine connection that links together a blessed person with one who is delighted by the choices they make in their life. First, as Pastor Redding reviews, Psalm 1: 1 lays out the fact that even a “Godly” individual can begin a “slow descent” if we walk with ungodly people. If we continue on a wayward path, we may find ourselves “standing in the way of sinners because it gets to be a habit.” Then pastor Redding sums up the eventual and complete fall of one whose choices have veered from the right path: “finally (the individual) collapses and ‘sits in the seat,’ a vocal, arrogant, outright enemy of (their) former way of life.” I find that Pastor Redding’s observations in his book, Psalms of David, bring such clarity to my eyes as I read this familiar Psalm: “Godliness is seldom beaten down by virulent atheism. Godliness is usually eaten away insidiously, slowly and silently, by (those) who don’t really care more than a finger snap about the most holy faith…The key word which should screen our companions, (our viewing, our electronic media, our social activities and our reading) is not the hazy ‘good’ but the discerning ‘Godly.’ Through whose eyes do we look at the world…Would not the psalmist feel we were fraternizing by going along day by day with the subtle ridicule which seasons our mental diet?...Do we regard godliness as an idiosyncrasy? Is Psalm one obsolete?”
If our answer to Pastor Redding’s question is an emphatic “No!” then we need to focus our sight on what it is that guides us on the way to blessedness and delight in our lives. Psalm 1: 2 helps us uncover the fact that an individual who has made a total commitment to accepting God’s blueprint for their life is not only blessed but delighted as well. As Associate Dean Sakena Young-Scaggs observes, God’s way “is the path of righteousness. It is a life filled with joy, fruitfulness, the favor of and relationship with the Lord of lords. Absent is wrath and antagonism that comes as a result of disobedience. Blessings are given to those who choose the quest of righteousness found in the law of God.”
Lest we get the misplaced idea that God’s law is some legalistic pain in the neck – curtailing our happiness and pleasure – the Psalmist underscores that God’s law isn’t just a set of rules. Pastor Susan Johnson calls attention to this very point in her commentary on Psalm 1 when she examines the word law in traditional English. “English suggests legislated prohibitions, ‘torah’ (as used in the Hebrew for law) is not merely a set of rules restricting the behavior of the people of God…Torah was a description of life with God through stories and laws, a constructive design for life which is presented through the story of God’s relationship to God’s people.”
O the happiness which is a direct result of our walking on God’s pathway. What delight God’s word brings to you and to me when we follow Him in all we do. As Pastor David Redding thoughtfully concludes: “(God’s) blessing is for those enchanted with God; those with a consuming passion for the meaning of each moment, for the light thrown (in our pathway) by God. The Word of God is no drudgery to them…The delight of the devout goes deeper than an appreciation of poetry and wisdom. The Godly person aims not only to know better and to be better, but to be with God. Conduct is only one concern of this psalmist. His chief interest and joy is intercourse with his (her) Maker…Godliness is not neutrality nor the cold product of a code; it is a definite personal exchange, an intimate dialogue and direct rapport with the ultimate Source and final Savior. Carrying us on this kind of affair will excite and dominate every facet of our life and work.”
“I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statues; I will not forget Your Word…Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law…Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors…Make me understand the way of Your precepts; so shall I meditate on and talk of Your wondrous works…For I will delight myself in Your commandments which I love.”
“Teach as that nothing can hurt us if, with true loyalty of affection, we keep Thy commandments and take refuge in Thee.”
William E. Channing
“Grant me, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness and the serenity which comes from living close to Thee. Daily renew in me the sense of delight, and let the eternal spirit of the Father dwell in my soul, filling every corner of my heart with light and grace, so that bearing about with me is a good courage that I may be a diffuser of life and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant happiness, giving Thee thanks always for all things.”
L. H. M. Soulsby
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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