May 17, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Psalm 34)

Submitted by Manny K. Gracepoint Austin Church

Psalm 34

Key Verse

2 My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;

he saved him out of all his troubles.

God is …

God hears my cries of burden and trouble.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;  he delivered me from all my fears.  5 Those who look to him are radiant;  their faces are never covered with shame.  6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;  he saved him out of all his troubles.

With the knowledge that God has been faithful throughout my life, I need to respond by seeking Him.   As the Psalmist says, “I sought the Lord and he answered me.”  As God heard the groans of those enslaved in Egypt, he is a God who sees and responds, out of concern for them, as Jesus sees the crowds as harassed and helpless, I can be confident that ultimately He listens and is responsive to my cries for help.   As we complete 4 years in Austin, I recall many such times of feeling fearful over what faced me that day.   Everything seemed so precarious.  It was during those moments, I found myself turning to God, finding that space to bring those fears before Him and in the process being reminded of how He has faithfully led our church so far.  There were many times when I felt I was hanging by a thread, but I can testify that He has been faithful.   It is because I am gradually coming to see that He is a Savior, that He comes to those in trouble and delivers them from their plight.   I think this past G-Live was another perfect example of how he “answered me” and “delivered me from all my fears.”   I felt we were way, way in over our head.   We were not the most talented bunch, and we lacked the resources to really pull this off, without any back up if something were to go wrong.  On my end, having been in charge of G-Live before, I knew where we needed to be and we were no where near that, even on the day of our first showing.   But somehow, as I said prayers, I was unusually calm. I was confident, that somehow, God would find a way so that in the end, He would provide.  I recall many such moments where God provided and that had this calming effect.   Looking back, I would not trade this experience of feeling that intense feeling of lack these past few months in particular because this caused me to turn to Him and experience Him saving me from my situations.    David is acknowledging that this is God who hears us in our distress and saves us from our troubles.  This is a lesson I want to keep reminding myself of as we complete an academic year, and as I face a year fraught with trouble, but also tremendous potential of experiencing His provision again.

Lessons for me …

2       My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

It is laughable the moments where I find myself taking credit in something, even in something small.  I only need to look back at my life and do this brief mental exercise of tracing how I arrived at this point.   One thing is clear, my life hung in the balance.  This is not just from a physical stand point, which I did experience back when I had to endure 2 operations to stave off a bacterial infection that had spread all over my body from a burst appendix.   I knew even back then that life was fragile and I was a frail person.   But it is those moments when I experienced my “affliction” that I found myself most clearly understanding God’s role in my life.   It seems he not only provided for me physically, sparing me, protecting me, but also spiritually.  I remember as a freshman in college, wandering the streets of Oakland.   I was so bored, and right at that precise moment, my mom called and engaged me in a conversation that led me back to church, this church.   Through timely talks, even loose connections with certain people, God brought my wayward heart to Himself.   So it is truly laughable when I find in me those traces of boasting in myself.   It is very clear that God alone deserves all the glory and credit for the way my life has turned out.  He preserved my life, like the way the story in Exodus goes, where a conspiracy of love between 3 women, Moses’ mother, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Miriam, worked together to save Moses’ life.   David, similarly, would offer up a similar testimony.   How is it that he is on the run and time after time, he staves off danger in the nick of time? God’s hand was guiding Him and it is no wonder he can say, “My soul will boast in the Lord.”  My life has been such a story and I find myself boasting in His mercy, His grace, His unending love.   Truly, when the fact that God rescued me hits me, given the sinner I was, I find in my heart those promptings to give glory to God, and it is only natural and fitting.   I want to be aware of my affliction, my sin, this disease that corrupts the best of my intentions, and as Apostle Paul boasts in his weaknesses, that this knowledge, instead of leading to self-pity, would lead to greater boasting “in the Lord” for the grace he has given me each day to live.    He is the protector, the provider, the deliverer and I need to acknowledge that each day.

Prayer
Dear Lord,

I will praise you at all times.  It is only fitting given how much I owe my life, my very existence to you.   I am a frail being, someone who at any moment can succumb to some disease or experience some kind of trouble.   I recognize that the only reason I have managed to get to this point in my life is because of your timely provision, all the times that you provided unbeknownst to me.  Only in heaven will I know.   But in the mean time, I will extol you at all times and my soul will fittingly boast in you.   As we complete our 4th year in Austin as a church, fittingly we can say, “let us exalt his name together.”  But not just here in Austin, but in all our churches elsewhere.  You have proven again and again your faithfulness in delivering people into the knowledge of you.   Father,  thank you for hearing and answering me during the difficult moments.  These past couple of months have been tough.  There were so many things that posed threats to what you were doing here not to mention the internal turmoil I experienced from my own sins.  I want to thank you for alleviating my fears, for keeping perspective of the troubles I was facing, and for assuring me that you were going to be zealous to protect your work.  I want to always remember that you are attentive to my cries, in the face of those who do evil, that you will hear me, and deliver me from my troubles.  Thank you for your grace and your mercy! Truly you are my refuge and deliverer! Thank you for yet another year of your mercy and grace! In Jesus Name, Amen.

 —

Submitted by Sarah S. Gracepoint Austin Church 

Psalm 34

Key Verse

Psalm 34:18–19 (NIV84)

18     The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19     A righteous man may have many troubles,

but the Lord delivers him from them all;

God is …

He is a God who is near; he is a God who is not too high for us to reach.  He is a God who gives me refuge in times of distress and when things in and around me feel too overwhelming for me.  He is a God who is attentive and has his ears open to the cries of his people.   For those who are crushed in spirit, God comes and saves them.  For those who are brokenhearted, he is a God who is close to them.

Lessons for me …

As I move towards another year in living this Christian walk and just getting older, life doesn’t get easier.  Learning to mature and grow, to become the kind of leader, mother, wife, friend or disciple that I want to become and know I should be hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes, pursuing what I know is good and God-honoring can even feel harder, and I see much more with each year how I am naturally bent away from God because of my sinful nature.  Even after these years, admitting truth and the deeper reality of who I am, the depth of my rebelliousness or selfishness or sense of entitlement as it gets revealed even more is still hard to accept.  However, as I read this psalm, I’m reminded of what posture in life I was meant to have and how it is that I will be able to experience deeper closeness with God and his character.  The God that I serve is a God who is close to the brokenhearted and desires to save those who are crushed in spirit.  He is a God who desires to rescue and come down to where I am, and it’s at those moments within this Christian journey where I am feeling weak, crushed, disappointed or facing hardships when God’s presence and his character of being the Deliverer God will become that much more true and real.  I was never meant to be strong on my own or be able to handle everything perfectly, but I was created to depend on my God who wants to be the sole source of refuge and hope, who is always watching his people and attentive to the cries for help, who redeems his servants, and delivers the righteous from their many troubles. Why? Because that is part of his nature – to be the God who rescues the weak and who runs towards those who are crushed.  This God calls and beckons me to trust him into deeper trust instead of allowing my fears or worries and even regrets to push me towards trying to live Christian life through sheer will power and finding strength within myself or to just avoid life altogether and emotionally/mentally shut down and escape.

I’m amazed, thankful, and in awe of God’s faithfulness and saving work in Austin these past four years.  Some people may look at our church’s growth or the number of salvations we’ve experienced, etc. and assume we knew what we were doing…but that’s not the reality.  There were far more times when we felt unsure, scared, when it seemed like our sins and issues would hinder God’s work, having to face our passivity or lack of ownership or heart, and experiencing the sadness and grief of people’s sins.  Yet, I would have it no other way because I know that the truth of Austin church is not a story of how successful or competent and able we were.  I know that it’s the story of God’s ability to redeem his servants and deliver the weak.  It’s a story in which we have lacked nothing because God provided just enough even during times when we felt stretched beyond what we could give or do.  It’s the story of God revealing to us here in Austin, and to myself personally, who He is and a testament to how trustworthy he is, and so God is calling me personally to trust him again this coming year even though there are many fears and uncertainties.

Prayer

1 I will extol the Lord at all times;

his praise will always be on my lips.

2 My soul will boast in the Lord;

let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the Lord with me;

let us exalt his name together.

Lord, I will praise you for what you’ve done and continue to do in my life and in our church here in Austin.  You deserve all the glory and honor of what’s happened these past four years.  As we recount our history, I will always boast and tell of your faithfulness and your ability to save and redeem lost and sinful people to do your will.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;

their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;

he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Lord, you have never failed to answer me when I cried out to you.  You delivered me from my fears, fears that sometimes overwhelmed me regarding the future, ministry, my children and marriage, our housing and jobs, or finances just to name a few.  I am reminded that even though this world tells me that to seek hope in you is foolish and to seek hope in myself or things of this world, I will not experience shame by trusting you.  Up to this point I have not experienced shame as I’ve continued to follow you step-by-step but instead I’ve only experienced greater blessings.  Lord, you hear and have heard my many cries to save me from my sins, and you have delivered me through the cross.  You remind me that I can find confidence through the cross of Jesus and that your Spirit will surround and helps those who fear you.  You will not leave or abandon me.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;

blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the Lord, you his saints,

for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,

but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Thus, I’ve experienced what King David expresses, to “taste and see that the Lord is good;” The past 4 years in Austin I’ve personally experienced that you are good, and not just in theory but personally through experience because it’s been here where I’ve felt the greatest need for you, and you have been that refuge many times.  It’s been here in Austin that I’ve grown in my fear of you, and that alone has been a miracle for someone who was so devoid of proper fear once before. Truly, I have lacked nothing in you.

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