THE SOLDIERS PSALM


Psalm of Confidence!

Three Voices Speak in Succession:

  • An individual proclaiming his trust in God
  • An audience then speaks to that individual, and describes God’s protection and care..
  • God speaking about the faithful person; He promises to protect him..

Psalm 91:1-2

Psalm 91

First, it examines the idea of living in God. Its personalized. The first person perspective “I” does not return until v.9 and 91:14-16. These two verses use four different names for God.

Psalm 91:1-16

  1. The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
  2. I will say to the LORD, My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
  3. He Himself will deliver me from the hunter’s net, from the destructive plague.
  4. He will cover me with His feathers; I will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
  5. I will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day,
  6. the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon.
  7. Though a thousand fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand, the pestilence will not reach me.
  8. I will only see it with my eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked.
  9. Because I have made the LORD – my refuge, the Most High – my dwelling place,
  10. no harm will come to me; no plague will come near my tent.
  11. For He will give His angels orders concerning me, to protect me in all my ways.
  12. They will support me with their hands so that I will not strike my foot against a stone.
  13. I will tread on the lion and the cobra; I will trample the young lion and the serpent.
  14. Because I’m lovingly devoted to Him, He will deliver me; He will exalt me because I know His name.
  15. When I call out To Him, He will answer me; He will be with me in trouble. He will rescue me and give me honor.
  16. He will satisfy me with a long life and show me His salvation.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

 

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Sacrificial Love


“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 ESV)

I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I’d known it for some time. But I didn’t fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.

I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

I’d come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children’s gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn’t match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I’d spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.

And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

I’m embarrassed … heartbroken. I’m sad to say I couldn’t give it away. Couldn’t? No; more like I wouldn’t. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God’s mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don’t want possessions if I’m not willing to use them to love others.

I needed the one thing I lacked … more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, “Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.

I don’t want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I’m giving it all. I’m starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources

Remember
You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.

Reflect
You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?

Respond
Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what’s important.

Power Verses
Matthew 6:20; 1 Timothy 6:18-19

 

Perfect Love


There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

1 John 4:17–18

 

Yesterday we saw that as we abide in love, we can be sure we abide in God (1 John 4:16). As we receive God’s love, as we love Him in return, and as we love one another we gain assurance of our faith in His promises. In today’s passage, John reminds us of one very important experiential reality that flows from abiding in love.

 

Verse 17 begins, “by this is love perfected with us.” This refers to verse 16 and simply reminds us that God’s love reaches its full effect in us as we dwell in His love by loving Him, enjoying His love for us, and loving others. This happens in our sanctification as we submit to the Spirit’s daily guidance and renewal (Gal. 5:16).

 

As a result of this love perfected in us over time, we gain “confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). As God’s love reaches its full effect in our lives we become increasingly like Christ, and like He was, we are in, but not of, the world. Though we will not be perfectly like Him before we die, our union with Jesus means His love will indeed be perfected in us over time (Rom. 8:29–30). As we see ourselves become more like Christ we will gain confidence that we will be vindicated on the day of judgment — just as He was in His resurrection.

 

First John 4:18 tells us we can be confident because perfect love casts out the fear of punishment. Apart from Christ, we have reason to fear the judgment seat of God, but when we are in Him, we have nothing to fear, for He has borne our punishment, and in turn we are seen by God as clothed with His righteousness (2 Cor.5:21).

 

The love that casts out such fear is perfect love. In asserting this, John is not teaching we will have such perfect love before death, for sin will be present with us throughout our lives (1:8–9). We will not abide in love perfectly until our glorification. Nevertheless, the end of the ages has already come upon us (1 Cor. 10:11); therefore, we already have a taste of this love and are empowered to strive toward it by the work of the Spirit. As we submit to Him, we are gradually perfected in love and grow more confident that in Christ we need not fear judgment.

 

Coram Deo

In commenting on this verse, John Calvin writes, “though fear is not wholly shaken off, yet when we flee to God as to a quiet harbor, safe and free from all danger of shipwreck and of tempests, fear is really expelled for it gives way to faith.” If you are a believer yet fear punishment, you must not flee from the Lord but run to Him in repentance. Endeavor to perfect your love by turning from sin and turning toward Him so that you might be cleansed.

 

Passages for Further Study

1 Chron. 28:20
Pss. 23; 27
2 Tim. 1:6–7
Heb. 10:19–39

 

 

 

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Selfless Love


Love … is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor. 13:4–5).

1 Corinthians 13:4–5

 

As we continue our study of 1 Corinthians 13 and its teaching on love, today we come to verses 4 and 5. Love, Paul tells us, “does not insist on its own way,” and thus we see the selflessness of true love.

 

One of the most important characteristics of love is generosity, which is the opposite of selfishness. Love seeks the well-being of others, and this involves the giving of the self for the sake of others. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7) precisely because He wants to see us love others just as He has loved us. When God loved us, He did so by giving — offering up His only begotten Son for the sake of our salvation (John 3:16).

 

Part and parcel of selflessness is courtesy. Verse 5 informs us love is not rude. Love does not behave in an unseemly manner; rather, it is manifested when we are polite and respectful to other people. When we truly care about others we will not be rude to them but instead go out of our way to be courteous. If we are disrespectful or demeaning towards other people with our thoughts, language, or time, we are not loving others as we ought.

 

Moreover, in addition to being courteous and generous, Christian love is not easily angered. For love “is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor. 13:5). This does not mean love never gets angry, for God, who is Himself love, is angered by sin. Instead, love that is not irritable or resentful is a love not easily provoked.

 

The Word of God calls us to have self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). When we get angry at every circumstance, we are not controlling our emotions. To love others means we work hard to avoid getting angry over petty things. It also means we learn not to get upset at situations over which we have little control. It is so easy to get discouraged in life and consequently take out our frustrations on other people. We should be concerned to understand our own idiosyncrasies and frustrations so we can rightly assess our situation, maintaining self-control and responding appropriately to the different circumstances we face. Love does not explode in anger every time something goes awry.

 

Coram Deo:

The hardest people to be courteous to are the people who know us the best. How often are we rude and irritable with our spouses and children even as we exercise a great deal of self-control with those who are only barely acquaintances? How have you treated your family and close friends today? Have you blown up in anger or been rude to them? If so, go and apologize to them and endeavor to love them selflessly at all times.

 

Passages for Further Study:

 

Pss. 37:8; 103:8
Prov. 19:11
1 Cor. 10:24
James 3

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Spokesman For God


“The Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land’” (vv. 1–2). – Exodus 7:1-7

The Christian faith proclaims the truth about God and His work to the world. We saw this in various ways last year during our study of the major biblical doctrines proclaimed in the Heidelberg Catechism. This year, we are going to devote our daily Bible studies to the lives and messages of the men who may be considered the chief human proclaimers or preachers of the Lord’s truth during the old covenant period—the Old Testament prophets.

 

Prophet, as a term and an office, tends to be widely misunderstood. Many people think of prophets as those who predict the far-off future, men and women who have supernatural insight into what will happen in centuries yet to come. Of course, many of the Old Testament prophets did have such perception. We think of men such as Isaiah, who foresaw in detail the Messiah’s atonement and resurrection more than 750 years before the events on Calvary (Isa. 53). Consider also Daniel, who predicted the rise and fall of Alexander the Great more than two hundred years prior to Alexander’s conquests (Dan. 11:1–4).

 

Nevertheless, predicting the future was not the Old Testament prophets’ major responsibility. Our English word prophet is usually a translation of the Hebrew term nabi, which means “to call” or “to proclaim.” Prophet also translates other Hebrew words that mean “servant of the Lord” and “watcher” or “seer.” From these terms, as well as the actual content of the prophetic books, we learn that those who were called to be prophets under the old covenant were appointed to bring the people of Israel special messages from God and to watch over the Israelites to ensure that they kept the terms of their covenant with the Lord.

 

Essentially, the Old Testament prophets were spokesmen for God. Today’s passage reveals their task. God compares Moses, the model for all the old covenant prophets (Deut. 34:10), to Himself and appoints Aaron to be Moses’ prophet. In receiving words from Moses—“God”—and speaking them to Pharaoh, Aaron—the “prophet”—was to call the king to repent, to recognize the one true Lord of all, and to free the Israelites from slavery (Ex. 7:1–2). All of the Old Testament prophets who followed would do the same, calling the covenant people to repent, serve God, and obey His holy Word.

 

Coram Deo

 

Because God has fully and finally revealed Himself in His Son, we believe that the Lord does not call people to the office of prophet today (Heb. 1:1–4). That does not mean, however, that there is no one to be God’s spokesperson today. Preachers who faithfully preach the Word of God do speak for Him insofar as their messages are faithful to the Bible. When the preacher delivers a sermon that is faithful to Scripture, we are bound to heed it.

 

Passages for Further Study

 

  1. Deuteronomy 18:15–22
  2. Amos 3:7
  3. James 5:10
  4. Ephesians 2:11–21

Recommended

  1. “To Fulfill All Righteousness” Article by Knox Chamblin
  2. Prophet Devotional
  3. Prophets to the Nations Devotional

 

 

 

Secure in the Love of God


For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38–39

 

Knowledge of God’s creation and sovereign providence, question and answer 28 of the Heidelberg Catechism tell us, enables us to be patient in adversity and thank the Lord in all things (Job 1:20–21; 1 Thess. 5:18). But there are more benefits to knowing God’s sovereignty, namely, assurance of salvation and confidence that we will persevere in a state of grace until the end of our lives.

 

The Heidelberg Catechism looks to Romans 8:38–39 as a proof text for the benefits of assurance and confidence. It is easy to see why the authors of the catechism chose this passage when we consider Paul’s words in their immediate context. Following his discussion of the believer’s war against remaining sin in Romans 7, the Apostle directs us in Romans 8 to the work of Christ and our justification by faith alone to assure us of our reconciliation to the Father and to give us hope for sanctification (growth in holiness) (vv. 1–16). This faith is sovereignly worked in us by the Holy Spirit and rooted in our Creator’s sovereign predestination of His people, a predestination that also includes our glorification, the consummation of our redemption in the life to come (vv. 2, 15, 29–30). Romans 9 stresses God’s sovereignty in salvation, His right to show mercy and effect the redemption of His elect. The placement of today’s passage between the aforementioned sections of Romans shows the essential link between the Lord’s sovereign providence and the assurance that God cannot stop loving His people. Once our Father decides to set His special, salvific love on us, nothing can separate us from that love (8:38–39).

 

This special love is “in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39), which gives us further confidence that God’s people are forever secure in His love. The Father and the Son are united in their purpose to save the elect. God the Father has loved us in Christ Jesus His Son, and He has given us to the Son. Therefore, to let anything or anyone separate us from His Son would diminish the love He has for His Son. After all, those whom the Father has gifted to His Son cannot be taken from the Son, for the perfectly loving Father would never take back His gift to His Son (John 3:35; 10:27–30). John Calvin comments, “If, then, we are through [Christ] united to God, we may be assured of the immutable and unfailing kindness of God toward us.”

 

Coram Deo

When Paul says nothing can separate us from God’s love, he means that even we cannot snatch ourselves from His hand. If we have true faith, we will maintain that faith until the end. Times of doubt may arise, and it is even possible to fall into grievous sin. Yet if we belong to Christ today, we will belong to Him forever. This should encourage us to draw near to the Lord even when we feel far from Him. If we come humbly, He will not reject us.

 

Passages for Further Study

 

Jeremiah 15:21; 31:3b
Hebrews 7:23–25
James 4:8a
1 John 5:11–12

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Patience in Trials


Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’” (vv. 20–21).

Job 1:20–22

The Heidelberg Catechism, in expounding and applying Scripture, repeatedly asks questions with this format: How does the knowledge of doctrine x help us? This is certainly a biblical way to consider God’s Word. After all, the Lord did not reveal Himself simply to give us abstract doctrines, but gave us objective truths that have many subjective benefits. We see this principle in texts such as John 20:30–31. The Apostle John gives his purposes for not recording every miracle of Jesus, explaining that he tells of specific signs that we might “believe Jesus is the Christ” and thereby “have life in his name.” The objective truths of Jesus’ person and work are revealed so that we might subjectively receive and enjoy salvation.

In a similar manner, the Heidelberg Catechism points us to the benefits we enjoy by knowing certain theological truths when question 28 asks: “How does the knowledge of creation and providence help us?” The answer makes several points, including that this knowledge grants us patience in our trials. It uses today’s passage as one of the proof texts for this contention, which makes sense given Job’s response to his trials and his confession of the sovereign providence of the Lord.

Long ago, Satan wagered that Job, an upright and blameless man, would curse God if the Lord were to allow Job to lose everything. This bet and Job’s initial affliction are described in Job 1:1–19. Clearly, what happened to Job would test the patience of any person. But even when he learned that his possessions were lost and his children dead, Job did not give up hope but acknowledged that both good and ill fall under the rule of God’s decree (vv. 20–21).

Job did not claim the Lord was entirely absent from his suffering; rather, he accepted that the evil he endured was possible only according to God’s sovereign will. Moreover, Job did not say that what happened to him and his family was itself a good thing. A patient response to suffering does not deny pain’s severity or the difficulty of seeing how the Lord is working for our good in some cases. Instead, patient sufferers acknowledge their troubles honestly before God. They realize that tragedy is not good in and of itself but that God uses it for good. And they continue to believe He is praiseworthy, even when they find it hard to worship Him.

Coram Deo

When we are suffering, we are often strongly tempted not to praise God. Matthew Henry notes that Job adored the Lord when he was blessed and when he suffered. “When all was gone he fell down and worshipped… . Weeping must not hinder sowing, nor hinder worshipping.” It is precisely in our pain that we most need to worship alongside God’s people, even if all we can do is sit in the pew and weep.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 71
Habakkuk 3:17–19
Acts 5:17–42
2 Cor. 11:16–12:10

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