April 24 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 20)

Submitted by Kenton W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 20

The Lord is. . .

The Sovereign One that reigns over all of the world.  By His Word this universe and world was brought into creation.  He is the true Ruler of the nations.  Indeed who am I that God would be mindful of a small, lowly sinner like myself.  The Lord is not a distant, aloof deity.  But He has made Himself known to man–to me, and He hears the prayers offered to Him.  He does hear my prayers of intercession.  The verse that struck me was v.1, “May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.” and I’m led to dwell on the different names of God.  El Shaddai, God is the strong and mighty One. El Olam, the everlasting God who rules for eternity as opposed to the chariots and horses of this world that will fall down and collapse.  Jehovah Jireh, the Lord is my Provider. I look upon my life, and God has provided from loving parents to this church community to meaningful work.  Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is my banner, He is my means of victory.  In Him I know He hears my prayers for others and for myself.  Yahweh Ro’i, the Lord is my Shepherd.  He has led my life with care and love.  When I was on the brink of leaving God as I wanted the world, He sought me. This is the God I serve.  This is the God that I pray to.  This is the God that the Psalmist prays to and why the Psalmist can have such confidence that his prayer will be answered–that the Lord will rescue His anointed king.  This is why the psalmist will boast in the Lord, and not in the things of power that the nations boasts in–chariots and horses.

Lesson for me. . .

Lesson for me is the reminder that the power of prayer is not founded upon the circumstances I or those I’m praying for are in, but prayer is founded in God and His character.  He is faithful, trustworthy and all-powerful, and so my confidence rests in Him.  This is why after interceding to God, the psalmist can proclaim that he knows God will answer him and rescue His anointed king.  Indeed such knowledge fills me with a renewed sense of confidence and willingness to intercede in prayer for the needs around me.  At times over the past few months, I feel like I have been under the cloud of death as many people around me have been affected by the death of their loved ones.  With so much death, it sucks life out of me at times as it weighs upon me and leaves me wondering if there can be healing.  And such a perspective is stripped of God, and today’s DT is a reminder that I may not know the timing or the way in which God is going to respond and bring healing, but I can rest assured He will bring healing knowing who God is.  This applies to so many other areas of my life whether it’s praying for those that I’m ministering to who are dealing with deeply-ingrained sins,  the college campus that is besieged by so many lies and false ideologies,  the youth who daily face a barrage of temptations, the missionaries who are daily persecuted and face one obstacle after another, and the many church plants and their needs.  I can latch onto God as I struggle and pray in regards to my own sins too.

The second lesson is that God chooses not to work independently of man, but has included man, has included me, in His redemptive plan. God’s mercy and faithfulness are set in stone, and God wants me to experience it first hand, to see it first hand, and to share the joy with Him.  God gives me the chance to do so through intercessory prayer.  And I, personally, have experienced that joy the psalmist longs for through many answered prayers for people I had never personally met, yet committed myself to praying for them.  After 5 long years, I recently was able to rejoice with a precious brother whose prayer was finally answered.  There were many points throughout that time that I thought about the situation and felt hopeless and wondered if the prayers would ever be answered, and thought about quitting in my prayers for him.  It was a such a surreal moment when I heard the news regarding this brother having his prayer answered and I know the joy I was able to experience wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t labored in intercession for him. One clear way that God wants me to serve Him is through intercessory prayers for others.  And it’s not just a chore, but it’s opportunity to share in God’s joy.  What a privilege that God gives me the opportunity to pray for others–to intercede in their times of need.  It’s also a chance for me to affirm again that what my life needs to be centered on is God. That my hope is not to be placed on “chariots and horses.” It’s not to be placed on my career,  my academic success, my role in this church, how much money I make or how powerful I become.  Their fate is destruction as they do not last.  But God gives the victory, and if I am able to stand firm in prayer–entrusting others and myself to Him–I will be able to raise that banner.

Prayer:

O Heavenly Father, I lift up those around me who are struggling with sin, desiring the “chariots and horses” of this world, addictions and facing persecution for their faith.  Lord, would you hear their cries to You.  Indeed, I know You are our Mighty Fortress and Refuge and Shield so please protect them from the harm that Satan wants to cause them.  May we, as the surrounding church, and may I be that help and strength for them. May the church be that inn to nurse and heal them from the ravages of sin.  May we freely give whatever is needed, whether it be our time or money to protect and encourage these brothers and sisters who are struggling.  May you remember when they first came to You.  When they found You, their first love and committed to devoting their lives to You.  Remember, O Lord, their heart for You, and though they don’t deserve it, though no man deserves it, would You forgive them of their sins.  I pray these brothers and sisters would be able to offer You a broken and contrite heart.  Lord, as those caught in sin repent and turn back to You, would they experience the full measure of Your forgiveness and grace.  God, I cannot wait to shout for joy when I hear news of how You worked in these people’s lives.  Lord, I ask this of You.  I know that You are the Mighty God, that You are the Good Shepherd, You are our Provider.  So I lift these prayers to You with confidence knowing the amazing God You are.  I know You will answer and rescue those You love. So we’ll rejoice and praise You and be reminded that the things of this world do not last.  That what the world boasts in: sex, money, power, career, family, status, material possessions will fall down and collapse.  These things of the world cannot rescue nor save. So Lord, let us continually put our trust in You and stand firm in Your grace, forgiveness, and that a life following You is the best life.  Lord, give those brothers and sisters, those struggling with sin, addictions, or persecutions the victory of sin, death and Satan!!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Submitted by Jacqui W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Key verse:
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought to their knees and fall,

but we rise up and stand firm.

God is …

-Mighty to save

God has the power to help us in life’s battles. This psalm shows the many ways in which God can be very present as we go through different struggles or battles in our life. He can answer us in our distress; he can protect us, strengthen us with help and support; he can provide for us, help us successfully overcome difficulties or struggles.

-Faithful

Verse 6 further tells me that God not only has the power to help me in my battles, but that He will do so, because of the salvation I have received. As a Christian I have been “anointed,” or simply put, I have a new identity to live out, as a child of God, co-heirs with Christ, and as part of the holy priesthood. And as I go through the difficulties of living out this life, I am assured of God’s commitment and faithfulness to me that I have not won this by any merit on my part but simply because of my relationship with Him.

-Trustworthy.

There is nothing else, no one else we can place our trust in than God. Verse 7 affirms that in light of God’s power and willingness to save, there is nothing else we can trust more than the name of the Lord our God. In those days, having swift chariots and horses was probably considered to give one a superior advantage over armies that only could fight on foot. What are the equivalent of chariots and horses that people trust in today? More money.  People’s own abilities and talents to be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps.  Or their intelligence and ability to just solve problems. Some people trust in their ability to reason and talk to other people.  Some people trust in their athletic prowess as their source of significance.  Some people trust in their appearance and the way they can draw attention to themselves. People who trust in these things to fight and win the battles of life will be humbled and disappointed to find that those things ultimately cannot save them. This is such a contrast to those who trust in the Lord, who in their humility and contrite spirit might seem so weak and lowly in the eyes of the world, but who will actually be able to rise up and stand firm against all that life throws at them.

Lessons for me …

This psalm is written in context of King David engaging in battle.

The general attitude expressed through this psalm is that of crying out to God and reliance on Him as one engages in battle. For the psalmist, doing battle is all about doing it together with God and by relying on God. He has total trust in God; not only does he assert in God’s ability to help him be victorious in battle but also God’s willingness to save.

While I may not been engaged in a physical battle, I can apply this kind of attitude to the spiritual battle that I need to engage in as a Christian. There’s a spiritual battle going on within me and around me. Within me, I need to battle against the voices of condemnation and doubt from Satan that tells me that because of my sins and weaknesses, that I’m useless and worthless, that my struggle against strongholds of sin in my life is hopeless, who am I to be engaged in God’s redemptive work. I also need to fight against my desires to “save myself,” to not make myself vulnerable to rejection or pain by getting involved in people’s lives, taking on their burdens as my own or speaking difficult truths to them, my desires to protect my time, my resources and my energy rather than giving the best that I can to loving others. And then there’s the spiritual battle I am engaged in for the people around me. There are people who I need to share the gospel with, there are people struggling with different addictions, with burdens and fears, with hearts hardened by sin. In my prideful moments, I can try to fight these battles on my own; I try to just control my thought life or behavior out of my own willpower or try to reason myself out of my sins or desires. I focus on all the things I can say or do to help these people, I think that maybe if I had a better personality, if I were a more persuasive speaker, if I had more “leadership qualities” than maybe I can do more for that person. But all of these are like the chariots and horses that the psalmist talks about. When I rely on these things, focus on my own abilities, then I end up being painfully aware of my limitations and being filled with insecurity. Truly these chariots and horses only cause me to feel defeated. It’s sobering to think that if I were to persist in such a way of dealing with my battles that I would undoubtedly become hollowed out and unable to continue to engage in spiritual battle. The reality is that God is the one whom I need to place my trust in as I go through all of these battles. I need to go to Him when I feel discouraged, weak and defeated by my own sin, and draw strength by going to His word and affirming the security I have in the salvation I have received, His promise to carry to completion the good work that He has begun in me. I need to do business with God daily, searching my heart, confessing and repenting so that my own relationship with God is made right each day, so that my ministry to others is rooted in deepening conviction of the truth of the gospel in my own life. I need to daily cry out to God for others, knowing that God is almighty and faithful, that He is the one who can soften the hardest of hearts, who can redeem any situation for good. I know life is just going to get harder and more demanding, as I get older, as I commit to taking on more ownership in ministry, as I become a mother. I really need to take this basic lesson to heart to look to God and not my own abilities to sustain me in life. While I can still be tempted to revert to my performance-oriented, self-sufficient ways at times, more and more, as I go to God and experience His strengthening and provision, I can claim with greater and greater conviction that “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.”

Prayer

1 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.

May I turn to You Lord when I am in distress over my own sins or over the people I am ministering to and may I experience You encouraging me, addressing me, giving me proper perspective as I personally reflect on Your word, through messages and through conversations with the people you have placed in my life as spiritual leaders;

Oh Lord, just as You displayed your infinite patience and grace on someone so undeserved like Jacob and transformed a selfish, deceitful schemer into an other-centered and godly man, may You display the same patience and grace on someone like me who is so inconsistent, so quick to forget about the unconditional love and mercy You have shown me. Protect me from succumbing to the voices of Satan that try to twist the call to share the gospel into another measure of my worth or usefulness, protect me from giving into my own selfish desires that tell me to save myself, my time, my resources and energy, rather than acknowledging that everything I have is actually blessing from You in the first place.

2 May he send you help from the sanctuary

and grant you support from Zion.

May You send me help and strengthen me with your brothers and sisters in Christ so that I don’t feel like I need to do Christian life and fight my battles all on my own.

3 May he remember all your sacrifices

and accept your burnt offerings.

Even though you don’t need anything from me, I pray that the steps of faith that I take, the prayers that I offer up to You, the little sacrifices that I make to die to my own pride and ego to love and serve others may be a pleasing offering to You.

4 May he give you the desire of your heart

and make all your plans succeed.

5 We will shout for joy when you are victorious

and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

And as I experience victory over sin, as I witness You transforming the lives of the people around me, may I rejoice and just be grateful for the privilege of being part of this spiritual battle, this ministry of reconciliation. May I experience You as a God who provides, who works out everything for Your good purpose.

6 Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;

he answers him from his holy heaven

with the saving power of his right hand.

I know that You are a powerful and loving God, who met my greatest need by raising Jesus from the dead, and saving me into this ministry of reconciliation.

7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought to their knees and fall,

but we rise up and stand firm.

9 O Lord, save the king!

Answer us when we call!

Lord, there are so many people who trust in other things to help them to deal with life, to save themselves. They look to things like their own abilities, wealth, winning the approval of others to help them feel more secure or give them some sort of advantage in life. Lord, please open their eyes to the reality that these things will not do them any good in meeting their greatest need – to be saved from the consequences of their own sins.

I confess that even for myself, there is still that desire in me to trust in my own abilities and strength to fight against my own sin, to fight the spiritual battle for the souls of others. But Lord, I’m just overlooking the reality of my human limitations and how I really don’t have control in life. I pray that I can come to fully rely on You, to place my trust only in the name of the Lord our God so that I can stand firm in my faith.

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