May 14 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 27)

Submitted by Maurice C. Gracepoint Austin Church

Psalm 27

God is … /Lessons for me …

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

We are so bound up in fear–fear of not being cool enough, smart enough, “with it” enough, having enough, achieving enough, being impressive enough, etc.  In what way do we fear these? In fairly real ways with genuine fear that it will diminish me somehow if they come to pass, causing me anxiety, shifting of my priorities, an overall sense of lack of well being. That I will somehow miss out in life, be unable to maximize my life’s experience, wrench as much out of it as I can. And if I have already failed to maximize my potential so far in life, then I’m already behind and can never catch up. That nagging suspicion that I am already a failure.

But if God is my salvation, then those comparisons lose their strength and force of meaning. For those who face actual opposition to their Christian faith, and real potential risk and sacrifice, then God as their light, salvation, protects against that. But even for those who live more prosaic lives, the daily battles against my own sins and ups and downs, the fears that nag and cause me to doubt myself and even my relationships with God, family, and others – God’s salvation is not too great so that it doesn’t address these fears also. How? How does the Psalmist have such confidence against evil and fear within and without, that he speaks of throughout the Psalm? It is not so much a theoretical or philosophical confidence, but a relational one. It is in the fact that he will live in God’s house and temple (v. 4). It is trusting in the person of God. I fear the world’s judging of my life and declaring it a waste – but if I seek what God seeks and he is pleased, suddenly what the world thinks (or doesn’t think) of my life doesn’t matter anymore. I fear not having enough resources, to take care of my parents, myself, my future family – but if God is not an impersonal Being, but my heavenly Father (Matthew 6) who cares about me and knows my needs far more than even the most perfect of earthly fathers, then my fears can be settled by my trust in Him. And of course, the greatest of lacks is my inability to address and take care of my sins, my failures, the way I disappoint others and God, let down those I love, and hurt those around me. That is perhaps the greatest and scariest fear – but the Cross reminds me that God’s love found a way to take care of even that need.

v. 5 “For in the day of trouble…” – Troubles are completely prevented; there may indeed be a day of trouble to come, as long as we live as broken people in this broken world. But it is in being with God that we will be safe. The troubles are there, my sins are there, this world is fallen, but the difference is made in whether I am safe in God’s relational circle or not. Like a soldier who unhesitatingly follows his wise, brave, and strong commander into battle, carried not by intellectual arguments about his commander’s goodness but assured in his relationship of trust with him, the battle is still to be faced – but the experience and outcome of it is drastically made different by the relationship. The trust. And what is the basis of that? It is wholly on whether I choose to receive it or not, whether I allow myself to be placed in that circle of trust or not. God gives freely to everyone who asks. Christians and non-Christians go through troubling times alike. But those who have only their own resources, especially emotional and relational, to rely on, suffer far more. Thus our greatest issue and concern is expressed in verse 9 – “Do not hide your face from me.” That is the greatest thing we should really fear; that God might turn his face away from us–again, the relational concern and aspect. And as we struggle we might even echo the prayer from later in verse 9 – “Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.” We might experience our struggling in this way, thinking that God rejects or forsakes us. But we know from the overwhelming testimony throughout both the Old and New Testament that God does not forsake us, does not give up on appealing to his people despite sin after sin. It is we who turn from God. And the psalmist reminds himself of this in the following verse, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Reinforcing the point again that if we only but turn to God, he will receive us. That is amazingly enough–it is we who dictate the terms of whether we experience the protection and comfort of relationship with God or not. The big lesson for me here is that first, when my fears seem to take on a voice that crowds out the concerns of God, it is probably a sign that I have drifted away from trust in my relationship with God, and I need to turn to methods to repair it – either in time spent with him in the Word, in prayer echoing the words of this Psalm, in song, or perhaps even simply meditation and “being with him”; and second, that I am the one who is in control of whether I will experience God’s presence overcoming those fears. It is in my control whether I experience God “turning his face away from me,” so to speak, or if I find myself secure in his presence and his ultimate promise to take me to his home.

Prayer

Dear Lord, in my calmer moments I think I am indeed affected by my fears. Fears of being unable to treat people close to me properly, including my family, my friends, and the people you have given to me at this church to love. But those fears, while not being completely unfounded, become less fearsome under the umbrella of your presence. Because, was I not in a far worse condition when you rescued me? And your power reversed and redeemed those darkest points of my life, not into material and worldly blessing, but into a greater and deeper understanding of and relationship with you. And it has been your person and presence that have made other times of difficulty, whether external or internal, bearable. So, though perhaps causes for fears will grow, as I go from being completely unconnected and irresponsible, to having a growing web of relationships, responsibilities, and therefore potentials for fear, I will place myself more fully into your hands, trusting that you receive me despite my sins and failures, trusting that your heart for me is to live rightly and in a godly fashion, and therefore to submit to your leadings and those you have placed in my life to guide me, will lead me in a straight path. Do not turn me over to my fears, my ungodly desires, and my prideful and selfish ways – but lead me on the straight path, since I know you are good, and your heart for me is as the good Father. I will wait on you, Lord, and will seek stability and strength in my life in that waiting on of you. Thank you for embracing me and giving me the chance to have relationship with you, knowing I do not deserve it, but so desperately need it.

Submitted by Debbie F. Gracepoint Austin Church

Key Verse: 27:4

4       One thing I ask of the Lord,

this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

Jesus was also named Immanuel, God with us. This is the desire of God’s heart, that He may have us dwell in His house all the days of our lives, as well.  What sentiment of my heart would most please God, is this very verse.  That the one thing in my life that I desire and ask for is to be with Him.  And what cry of the heart would God most want to meet and answer is this.

God is …

v.1 – my light and my salvation, the stronghold of my life.  He is the one who helps me see truth, delivers me from the evil one and from my own sin, the one who girds me with strength to continue to seek truth and to follow His righteous ways when everything else around me “advances against me,” striving to keep me from these ends and purposes.

v.10 – the one who will unconditionally receive me as His child.  Nothing in my life, not even all of my failures, will ever separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord (Rom 8).  Whenever I come back to him after my travels to distant countries (Luke 15), He will still receive me, gladly.

v.11 – the one who guides me in the paths of righteousness.  John 15 – Apart from Him I can do nothing… good.  That’s clear, when I draw away from Him, the only things that come out of me is selfishness, laziness, self-preservation.  It’s only when I am with Him, seeking to follow Him closely, that I find the path of righteousness at all, and I can live anywhere near how God meant for me to live, righteously.

Prayer

Oh Lord, because You are the Light of the world, I see sin so much more clearly, how sin drags people away from you, how sin broke apart love relationships, sin that always had its roots in pride, selfishness, refusal to bend, refusal to accept truth, refusal to repent before you.  And I see the roots of those same sins in my own life, because of the light of your word, that exposes the darkness in my heart… my own selfishness that insists on things that fill my desire for my own comfortable life, my pride that refuses to acknowledge when I’ve done wrong, before you and against others, my pride that would rather run away that to confess and apologize and seek restoration.  Your light feels like it burns… but every time, it is in Your Light that I experience a new morning with a clean slate, freedom, community.  You are indeed my light and my salvation, I’ve only found salvation in your light.

And because of that, there’s really nothing and no one that I need to fear.  You are the stronghold of my life… if you see my sin at its fullest and yet you still give me light and salvation, really what is there to fear in life?  You are the stronghold of my life…

So though Satan and his forces may advance against me, temptations attack me, my sin and failures besiege me, and hurt and disappointments break out against me, in the end, I will be confident, because I have you.

That much more, I ask of you Lord, be with me, make your dwelling within and around me, let me know you more as I seek you.  Just because I found you 19 years ago when you first saved me, I seek you ever more today, because I need you to keep me in your presence, to hide me in your holiness and forgiveness, else I will find days of trouble because of my sin and the sin around me.  That much is clear.  If I’m not with you, I find days of trouble.  Please Lord, keep me safe n your dwelling.

Make my heart seek your face, to seek to know you more and more, because still, too often, I deceive myself into thinking that I’m trustworthy to live life on my own, to even engage in ministry on my own.  No, Lord, make me seek your face, seek your word, hunger to hear from you and to seek your help, because the truth of my condition is that apart from you I can do nothing; apart from you, I will find days of trouble.  Teach me your ways, lead me in a straight path, and remind me that waiting for the Lord, to hear from you, to be received by you, is always the very best place to be.  It really is, and I’m confident of it.  Yet make me need you more, Lord, that I may find you more and know you more.

Submitted by Daryl W. from Gracepoint Austin Church

Psalm 27 (NLT)

Key Verse

Verse 4

One thing I ask of the Lord,

this is what I seek:

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

The one thing I ask of the Lord—

the thing I seek most—

is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,

delighting in the Lord’s perfections

and meditating in his Temple.

God is …

God is the ONE Person who is most desirable in life.  There is nothing close to knowing Him.  He is infinitely wonderful to behold, and entirely worthy of the foundation of my life goals.  I was created to relate with Him.  This is my main purpose in life, and thus is the most fulfilling and meaningful.  To ask Him to give me more than Himself, which He has already proven completely, is to show that my desires are misplaced.  He is great beyond description, and all joys and pleasures of this world are at best but a hint of what we will experience when we see Him face to face!

Lessons for me …

My real enemies are anything that might draw me away from my proper desire for God.  The real enemies are that which makes me desire for things of this world, that which makes me think that true joy and hope is found elsewhere.  Worldly trouble, persecution, and trials are not something to always be avoided, if they help me draw closer to God and experience Him in a deeper way.  I need to be wary of if I am avoiding something painful without acknowledging it as a way to long for His righteousness and goodness.  My own flaws and mistakes, the pressures and challenges of trying to love people, the giving of the time and resources I have, the people who think me strange for how I live – these can all be opportunities to reaffirm that His is worthy and He is desirable.  Yet inside my sinful heart, I know that if I am not vigilant to honor the truth in my life, then my flesh would tend to make God into the enemy of my selfish desires, as the world tells me to.  So prayers like this one, based on God’s word, are necessary to continue to maintain that dependent, trusting relationship with God, who ultimately does want what is best for me.

Prayer

Father, I acknowledge that You are the one desire of my life, You are the greatest that I could ever desire and pursue.  Though my eyes are veiled for this short time, I want to trust that You are so much more glorious than the things of this world that vie for my attention, creating fear and anxiety in me.

Though financial worries can easily consume me, I defer to the ways that You have provided for me so faithfully for all of my life to this very day as I feebly try to trust You – and that through a life of love, I have received so much more of a full and joyful life.  Though this secular and individualistic society constantly tells me to think about myself and my family above all else, I know that a right relationship with You is a far surpassing goal instead, and You are the designer of a much greater, stronger community that I am called to serve and live among.

Particularly for this coming year and for myself personally, I know that we are going to be stretched even more here at our Austin church, responsible for more people and called to be able to love more people.  Help me to grow in depth of relating with You and seeking Your will and wisdom in prayer during this time, rather than putting pressure on myself to be successful in a worldly way. I want to experience Your great love for me and for those I am ministering to more and more this coming year!

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