April 27 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 24)

Submitted by Jessica F. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Key Verse
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.

This verse is a reminder to me of who is the rightful owner of my life. It certainly isn’t me – who is so sinful, weak, broken, prideful, and the worst judge of what will be good for me and my future. And it certainly isn’t the world around me with its twisted values that seek to cheapen me, trick me into striving for empty goals, or numb me into emotional stupor and escapism. No – the owner of my life is the Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth – who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and weighed the mountains on the scales. He is the one who created my inmost being and knit me together in my mother’s womb. And so it is to this Great God that I belong.

How foolish it is to try and carve out areas of my own life to claim as my own. Of course it doesn’t come out in blatant and obvious ways – but much more subtly. It’s when I work hard for some aspect of ministry and then at the back of my mind think that I have “earned” some tiny area of my life that I can claim as my own. It can come out in my view of who owns my time, my thought life, or my daily habits. But anything that can be hidden from men can ultimately be seen by God as everything is laid bare before Him. And over every aspect of my life – hidden and unhidden – He rightly lays claim.

It’s humbling to know that the overarching reality of my day-to-day choices, my mundane habits, the wandering or straying thought – that God is the rightful Lord over all of that. As it says in Psalm 8 – “what is man that thou art mindful of him?” As I think of how undeserving I am of this kind of claim, this seal of ownership, it makes me want to open my life in greater surrender to Him – to search through the crevices of my heart to find the ways that I’m holding back or the things I need to repent over.

3 Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?

I’m often emotionally undone by my insecurity over many aspects of my life – relationally, in my day-to-day decisions, and even when I think about the person I am – character and charisma — and feel overwhelmed by disappointment, frustration and shame. Daily it is a battle for me to not give into these voices that I’ll never be a good minister, that my heart will never be able to love people in my life enough, that I’ll never become a thoughtful person and that I’m always going to be this selfish, miserly, and shallow. And in these moments, I just want to hide behind other people’s decisions and leadership or hide myself from situations that will potentially expose me.

But the foundational reality is – no one may climb the Lord’s mountain or stand in his holy place based on his own merit. No one has hands and hearts that are pure. All of us have done nothing but fall short of the glory of God and earn for ourselves the wages of death. All of us deserve only condemnation and death. It is only because we are covered – I am covered — by the righteousness provided to me by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross – that I can receive the Lord’s blessing and have that right relationship with God, my Savior. And that knowledge gives me confidence to approach the throne of grace regardless of what I know my heart to be like, what I have tainted my past with, and what kind of trials I fear failing in my future as a wife and as a mother.

For ultimately, this battle isn’t about me and my contributions. Really, the problem is that I have made this battle too much about what I’m capable of doing or how I can prove myself to be someone of some sort of worth or value. Rather, the reality is, I need to be defeated. My pride and my self-absorption that has led to all of this insecurity needs to be crushed and Christ be the victorious one who leads me in triumphal procession. For it is in my weakness — when I accept the reality that I am just a jar of clay – that it can be clear to me, and to others, that it is God alone who is mighty to save. So it strengthens me and buttresses my faith and desire to persevere to know that My God is strong and mighty – invincible in battle (v.8). I need not cling to my tattered armor and broken weapons to give me security — whether that takes the shape of some ability to plan for food well, to be eloquent or winsome in my words, or to even just prove to people that I am different from what my past has said of me. For I have a great God who is fighting on my behalf. Even when my sins left me beaten on the side of the road, He has proven himself to be that faithful defender who rescued me and affirmed for me that – by the blood of the lamb – He has overcome and is victorious. And in that knowledge, I am called just to be faithfully obedient – day by day, moment by moment and in every aspect of my life.

Prayer
Heavenly Father, how awesome and great you are as the Creator of the entire universe. Indeed, the entire earth trembles at your fingertips. How much more should I – in my sinful, wayward ways – be spurned from your sight. And yet you allow me to stand and worship in your presence because you have clothed me with the righteousness that came at the cost of your very own son. This undeserved reality fills my heart with gratitude, compels me to praise and strengthens me to persevere as I cling onto the truth that you have accomplished it all. You are the one who has been invincible in this spiritual battle that threatens to undermine my confidence and render me useless through my emotions. Thank you for being the King of glory, in whose army I consider it a privilege to continue to be a part of.

Submitted by Nelson W. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Psalm 24
God is … Lessons for me …
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
God, You are the Lord and owner of all creation …

By your will and power, everything came into being and exists. This means that I am yours, I belong to You. Everything I have and the good things that surround me all belong to You. I must never think that what I have and all that I am belong to me, were provided by my own hand, earned through my own labor, or acquired through my own cunning and ingenuity. All the good things, people, and countless blessings in my life were all graciously given to me by You. I confess that I can easily believe that there are things and areas in my life that belong to me, that are reserved for me to be selfish with. Satan and the world try to convince me to “save” part of my life for myself, to reserve some part, some corner, for myself. And so, I listen and try to maintain a grasp on certain areas of my life, on strongholds that I don’t want to let go of. I try to usurp your place as the Lord of my life and I say, “At least this part of my life belongs to me and cannot be touched or accessed by God. It’s mine.” But this psalm reminds me that absolutely everything that I am and have all fully belong to You. They are not mine at all. I have no rightful claim on anything but You are the rightful owner and master of my entire life. This desire to be autonomous, to be the owner of my life, is so deeply ingrained in my heart that it manifests itself even when I am serving and giving to You because I forget that everything I have was all from You in the first place. I am only giving back a portion of the strength, ability, and love that I have received from You. When I tithe, I am only giving back a fraction of what I have received from You. I am not doing You any favors. I am not giving You any charity. Rather, it is right and proper for me to offer up to You every single part of my life because it all belongs to You. Not only do You have a rightful claim over me but only under your direction can I experience true joy and blessing. I don’t know what is best for my life and if it were under my control, I would steer my life to misery and destruction as I did before. But You know what’s best for me and I trust that You will lead me to the most blessed and joyful life.

5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.
God, You are the source and provider of all blessing…
Truly, God, You have been good to me and I do not exaggerate when I say that You have tremendously poured countless blessings into my life. You have given me so much and filled my life with such richness. Not even once have I had to worry about food, shelter, or any other basic necessities. I don’t live in a place plagued by war, disease, and famine. I can pretty much eat whenever and whatever I want. It’s so easy to take such things for granted. My wicked and greedy heart often desires greater comfort, luxuries, and leisure but compared to all the humans who have ever lived, I am living like a king. I really am spoiled and have been more fortunate than 99% of all humans who have ever lived. How can I ever be discontent and grumble about the lack of comfort and leisure in my life? Lord, please forgive me for being greedy, ungrateful, and for not acknowledging the blessings you have given me. In addition, You have placed me in a community of believers where my faith is well fed and nurtured. There are plenty of faithful believers with whom I can run this race. There are many opportunities to serve and be used by You. I have been given the privilege to be a part of a flourishing and exciting ministry. My life is full of abundance and richness and I can say that the Lord has been very good to me.

God, You are my Savior…
You have blessed me with so much but the most wonderful blessing of all is the gift of salvation. Though I am a wretched and filthy sinner who has offended You and strayed from You countless times, You still love me. You still welcome me and offer me forgiveness. Sin left me lost, battered, and broken along the side of the road and You rescued me. You sent your one and only son, Jesus Christ, to bear the burden of my sin and die on the cross for me. He bore the punishment that I deserve so that fellowship between You and I could be restored. You saved me from a life of misery and emptiness. You brought me out of darkness into your marvelous light.

8 The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.
God, You are strong and mighty, mighty in battle…

I confess that I have a deeply ingrained desire to seem strong and competent, to prove myself. I try to do life on my own without any help, depending on my own strength and cunning to accomplish difficult tasks or overcome daunting obstacles. But all too often, the result is failure and my weaknesses are exposed. I’ve been forced to come to painful realizations of how incompetent I am and how utterly weak and helpless I am against temptation, against the voice of the world, and against the storms and difficulties of this life. I foolishly thought that I had the strength to do spiritual battle and defeat temptation on my own but I don’t stand a chance. Against such things, Apostle Paul calls us to flee.

1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this [love of money], and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”

When and from what do you flee? You flee when you are hopelessly outnumbered. You flee from ravenous wild animals. You flee from things you don’t stand a chance against. Where I grew up, there were many dogs that would bark and charge at me. Whenever I saw a fierce wolf-like dog angrily sprinting toward me, I ran like the wind. Never did I ever think I stood a chance against it. Never did I hesitate and wonder if I should fight it. Fleeing was the only option that came to my mind. This is how I need to treat sin and temptation. I must not think I can face it and come out on top. I need to see it as something I don’t stand a chance against. I just need to flee. But it doesn’t end there. I am weak, but God–You are mighty. I cannot stand against sin and temptation but nothing can stand against You. I need to flee and run to the safety and refuge You provide. You provide the strength, resources, and whatever I need to engage in spiritual battle. You have surrounded me with fellow believers and co-laborers so that we can run this race and engage in battle together. I don’t need to rely only on myself. I was never meant to. But in times of weakness and difficulty, I need to turn to You in prayer. I need to be strengthened by your word. I need to be encouraged and lifted up by the people You have placed in my life. Though I am weak, I can be equipped for spiritual battle by putting on the armor of God.

2 Corinthians 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty— he is the King of glory. Selah

God, You are the King of glory…
The words of this psalm describe many aspects of who You are. It speaks of your power, might, love, and mercy. All of it points to your glory. There is nothing that can compare to your indescribable glory. I marvel at who You are. Your power is awesome and beyond measure and yet your heart is tender and humble. You love a little spec, a wretched sinner like me. How can it be? I am in awe of who You are and cannot help but give You the glory, honor, praise, and thanks You so deserve. May the gates of my heart be flung open so that nothing can stand in the way of your glory. You deserve my life, my worship, and my trust. Only You can provide me strength, safety, and refuge. In my weakness, I can turn to You and be glad. Thank you for being a God who is mighty and merciful.

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