April 20 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 15)

Submitted by Yumi K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 15

  • What does this Psalm teach me about God?

This Psalm teaches me what God is pleased with, and what He desires me to be like.  From this list of those who may dwell in God’s sanctuary and holy hill, what becomes apparent is that God values integrity and truth–to walk blamelessly, to do what is righteous, to speak truth from our hearts, to keep our oaths even when it hurts.  And he values love and regard for others–to have no slander on our tongues, to do our neighbor no wrong, to casts no slur on another, to lend money without usury, and to not accept a bribe against the innocent.  God is holy, righteous and good, and He desires such integrity and truth and love in His people.

  • What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

I need to heed the exhortation to have no slander on my tongue, to cast no slur on my fellowman.  When I was younger, gossip was a struggle, and something I had to really learn to control my tongue about.  As I get older, even though I do not engage in gossip, I have these silent judgments, criticisms and subtle assumptions about the people around me, especially those closest to me.  As a fellow sinner, I really have no business having this kind of slander and slur towards others in my life, and it really shows me how wicked and proud my heart is.  This warns me that I cannot think I am pleasing God because I am busy with ministry and do a lot of acts of service – when I do, and I start to look down on others for their failures and weaknesses and flaws, I am having that same heart of the Pharisees who so religiously obeyed the Sabbath and all these rules, but had absolutely no love and looked down on others with such disdain and hatred.  I am having the same heart of the Pharisees when I look down on others, have judgments and criticisms towards others in my heart, and think that I am better because I do things that are supposedly acts of service.  I need to really repent daily and be aware of this attitude of pride in my heart.

I also need to heed the exhortation to keep my oaths even when it hurts.  It is so easy to make a lot of promises and commitments when my emotions are high, right after repentance and prayer and coming out make a lot of realizations.  However, so often, I fall short and do not carry through with the commitments and oaths that I take before God – I stop after making the realizations and commitments, and do not do the hard work of carrying out the actual commitments throughout my life.  That’s the harder thing and the more important thing to do – to actually carry out and keep my oaths even when it hurts.  But this is what pleases God, and it is what leads to actual change.  The reason I fail to change after all these years is because I do not engage in the hard work of obeying and carrying out my oaths as it hurts, as it gets harder to apply throughout my daily life.

  • What truths can I affirm, or what promises can I claim from this Psalm?  

I can affirm the promise that he who does these things will never be shaken, and that such a person could dwell in God’s sanctuary.  To walk in the way that pleases God is the best way to live, to live and act in integrity and truth, this is what allows us to have a firm footing so that we are not shaken.  So often our emotions and the world tells us to compromise – that telling a little white lie here and there, that hiding the ugly truths about us in order to keep up an image, of acting like everything is okay when they are really not is going to have no effect, and that cutting corners in order to get through life without bothering to keep our oaths and doing what is righteous is okay as long as you get away from it.  But this kind of life lacking integrity, and living with little regard for the truth only leads to a fragmented and isolated life, and an inability to remain steadfast.  God’s ways are truly right and lead to a firm footing, it leads us to be people who are not shaken, to wholeness.  I have personally experienced this to be true in my own life – over the years, through learning to speak the truth about myself and then truth to others, through learning to cast no slur on another, but rather to love and to honor those who fear the Lord, and growing in my obedience to the oaths that I had taken, God has been transforming me into a more whole person who can be a spiritual leader and who can remain more grounded through different ups and downs that life just throws, from a shallow, fragmented, very insecure, self-conscious teenager.  And to continue to live this way, this is the best way to live, and it leads to a grounded, solid life, and I want to commit to really grow in my integrity and love for truth.

  • Who can I intercede for based on these words?

I can intercede for the leaders and staff of our church to strive to be people of integrity and truth, to be blameless in their walk with God, doing what is righteous, speaking truth from their hearts, and keeping their oaths even when it hurts.  I can pray for the staff of our church to not be shaken, and become people of such rootedness and grounding in this way.

What verse stands out that I want to remember or meditate on further?

1           Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?

Who may live on your holy hill?

2           He whose walk is blameless

and who does what is righteous,

who speaks the truth from his heart

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

Who can dwell in your sanctuary and stand before your presence?  I know I fall so short for I fail to walk blamelessly, do what is right, and speak truth all the time and on a daily basis.  I am so sorry for so often I have this proud and critical heart that has slander on my tongue, and so quickly gets critical of those closest to me.  I am so sorry for I also am so quick to fail at keeping my oaths and commitments, especially when the need to keep those oaths hurts and become costly.  I see how fall I short, and I know by my own merit there is no way that I could stand before you.  I thank you for Jesus, who died on the cross, so that I can stand before your presence and in your sanctuary through the blood of Jesus that completely covers and washes over me.  And I commit to do my best to becoming such a person of truth and integrity, speaking truth, confessing the truth about myself, and speaking truth in love, and obeying the oaths that I have taken, even when things get hard.  I affirm the truth that your ways are always the best, and cling to this promise that by living such a life of integrity and truth we will not be shaken.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Submitted by David W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 15

  • ·     What does this Psalm teach me about God? 

This psalm teaches me that God’s standards are perfection.  Only those who live a blameless life and who do what is righteous can dwell in God’s sanctuary, can live in God’s city, and can be with God.  He calls us to be holy, to be perfect.  Matthew 5:48 – Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  1 Peter 1:16 – for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  And that is further broken down into specifics – to be truthful and sincere from the heart, to not slander or gossip, to do no wrong to your neighbor, to despise evil men, to honor faithful men and to be faithful yourself even at the point of self-damage, to be generous with money and to not be able to be bought.  Is there anyone who can say that they abide by all of these qualifications?  Is there anyone then who can dwell in God’s sanctuary or live on His holy hill?  There is no one, not even one, except Jesus, the Son of God, the only sinless man to have ever lived.  And because of His death on the cross, because of His sacrifice and His righteousness extending over us, we can have hope for ourselves like this psalm describes.

  • ·     What exhortations, lessons, or warnings do I need to heed?

Each of the verses and qualifications listed in this psalm is an exhortation and warning that I need to heed.  All of these things are what are need to be able to dwell in God’s sanctuary, to worship in God’s sanctuary, to live on His holy hill, to enter God’s presence.  If I want to be able to do that, I need to take each of these qualities seriously.  To live a blameless life and to do what is righteous – who would disagree with that off the bat?  But it’s when those little temptations come that can lead to bigger sins, the even small compromises, justifications, excuses that I can make, and suddenly it’s not so easy to be blameless or righteous.  To speak truth from his heart – that’s something that I hold to be very important and I try to value strongly.  But what about the times where it might be easier to not tell the whole truth, or where slightly changing something or leaving some things out that could be self-damaging, to make myself look better or to be perceived a certain way or uphold some kind of image?  To have no slander on my tongue, to cast no slur on my fellowman – it’s not something that I think I engage in, but what about the times I can supposedly in “jest” or “just having fun” make fun of others or talk about them, or even just having judgmental and critical thoughts about other people?  To do my neighbor no wrong – even if I were not to do any action or thing wrong to my neighbor per se, what about my lack of love, the wrong of inaction or failure to love or sin of omission that I am guilty of?  To despise a vile man – this also seems something obvious, but perhaps there are ways that there are evils and injustices in the world that people are guilty of, but I’m too busy or too lazy to really care about them even enough to despise them.  To honor those who fear the LORD – but I’m too busy concerned with my own life, the problems I have to deal with, the things I need to get done to properly honor the faithful followers and cloud of witnesses all around me.  To keep my oaths, my promises, my commitments, even when it hurts, when it’s hard – how many times have I failed in my commitments to God and others?  More than I can count or remember.  To lend money without usury — perhaps there is a hint of expectation in the heart that I am deserving of something from that person, that the other person is somehow indebted to me, owes me something, even if it’s just mentally.  To not accept a bribe against the innocent – I don’t think I’ve faced many situations like this, but perhaps being and treating others fairly and not showing favoritism to some people just because you like them better or because they are nicer to you, whether in ministry or amongst relationships.  In each of these areas, there is a warning that I need to examine and pay close attention to in my life that I might not so obviously but still commit in some way.

  • ·     What truths can I affirm, or what promises can I claim from this Psalm?  

The truths that I can affirm and the promise that I can claim from this Psalm is that the person who does these things will never be shaken.  It is what God is saying is the right way to live, is what is best for us, is firm and solid ground on which to stand.  Though I might never be able to fully achieve each of these things perfectly, God says and promises that I can’t go wrong in unceasingly striving after each of them.

  • What verse stands out that I want to remember or meditate on further?

v.2 – He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart

PRAYER 

Dear God,

I want to be a person that can enter Your presence, that can live on Your holy hill, that can dwell in Your sanctuary.  I want to be a person who will not be shaken.  But this Psalm points out so many things, so many areas of my life that at first may not seem like I’m guilty of, but with a little reflection, a little deeper thinking, I can find ways in which I am.  And ultimately, how can I be blameless and righteous?  I am not – I am wretched and sinful.  If left to myself, to my own efforts, what hope could I have?  Forgive me for my failures and sins again and again that must hurt and offend You again and again, and definitely do not qualify me to dwell in Your sanctuary or live on Your holy hill.  But because of Jesus, because of His righteousness and blamelessness that covers over me, that is extended over me, can I have hope.  Thank You for Jesus, for Your mercy and grace and redemption that I don’t deserve.  I pray that in each of these specific areas of life, I can strive, though I might not attain, to live it out concretely, and know that I am going in the right direction.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

AMEN.

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