Psalms 81-83 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: “God presides over heaven’s court” and He will judge the judges 

@Psalm 82
Raise your hand if you think the judicial system of our government is always strong, ethical and carries out moral judgments at all times?  I’m sure the response was weak.  Just like our challenges today, Asaph was having trouble finding honorable judges in Israel, “How long will you hand down unjust decisions by favoring the wicked?  Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”(2-4)  Sounds like an indictment and a mandate all in one.

Needless to say, the judicial branch of the government that interprets and carries out the laws of the land is a powerful entity.  Only when those judgments are based on God’s moral laws can we as Christians be certain that justice has prevailed rather than opinions, social dictates and godless influences.  While many excellent judges carry out their responsibilities across our land, I’m concerned just like Asaph about the decisions of judges that favor the wicked and fail to uphold the rights of our beliefs, traditional families, unborn babies and vulnerable children.

Psalm 82 makes it clear that God is the judge of the judges, and their day in court will come one day.  “God presides over heaven’s court…you will die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler. Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.” (1,7-8)  God always has the last word, but in the meantime what can we do?

Clearly, making careful decisions at the ballot box instead of mindlessly approving judicial appointments is a start, as well as voicing our concerns to our local, state and federal government leadership when immoral judgments are made.

Even more critical is praying for them, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)  Our prayers may turn the hearts of immoral or complacent judges to the saving knowledge of God’s truth, and when that happens, we can be assured that we will remain one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and JUSTICE for all. Sounds like a guarantee, a vow…a pledge! 

Moving Forward: I will pray that my judgments today are pure as I preside over my little sphere of influence, and I will pray for all those with significant influence and judgment over my nation. 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 10

Psalm 78-80 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He longs to restore our hearts and our land

Recently I heard a speaker at church share a portion of his life story, and I thought he was telling my story because our early years were similar.  I understood so well the feelings he was sharing and the gratitude of God’s faithfulness to him.  I sense this same familiarity when I read Psalm 80, not on a personal level but about my nation. 

@ Psalm 80
Asaph, or one of his descendants, wrote this song of prayer probably after the fall of his nation, Israel, to Babylon.  Israel had worshipped many gods through the years, but Asaph made it abundantly clear that his song was to the true and living God, “Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel…O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory…Show us your mighty power.  Come to rescue us!” (1-2)  He was calling on the God who was their Shepherd, the God who sat above the cherubim of the Ark, on the mercy seat, and he was crying for mercy.

In his Psalm, Asaph reminded God of how He brought His people out of Egypt and planted them in Israel like a grapevine that rooted and filled the land, but because of their sin, He broke down their walls of protection, and they were devoured by their enemy.  “Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.  Look down from heaven and see our plight.  Take care of this grapevine that you yourself have planted” (14-15) was Asaph’s desperate plea for the salvation of God’s people.  Would I be so bold to compare my nation’s state of affairs today to God’s chosen people?  Well, in a sense, yes I would.

True American history tells me that our forefathers left a land overseas where they felt in bondage to prescribed worship.  With Divine providence, they were planted in a new land, dug deep their roots and filled the land.  Their nation was based on the principles and guidelines of God’s Word, the Bible, with a commitment that all men could worship, or not worship, as they desired.

Factual history tells me that my early leaders sought God’s direction for everything including the laws that would govern their new land, and they put God’s words in their documents, on their monuments, and throughout their White House.  They trusted Him to be their Foundation that would not crumble.

Sadly, through the years we have come to worship many other things and have been weakened by those who would once again like to control who and how we worship, an enemy slowly chipping away at our Foundation.  This is the condition the Israelites found themselves in before their enemy captured them and took them away to Babylon. But here is the difference between then and now:  I’m not leaving!

I’m not forsaking this land that I believe was ordained by God to be His tool to share eternal freedom through Jesus to the world. I’m offering now, not when it is too late, my song of prayer to God, my Shepherd, Who sits on the mercy seat, “Turn us again to yourself, O God.  Make your face shine down upon us.  Only then will we be saved.” (3,7,19)   Before you do anything, God, turn us again to you, our Foundation, and then shine your grace and mercy on us to save us.

According to God’s Word, He will answer this prayer, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) Who will join me? 

Moving Forward: In celebration of our Day of Independence this week, how can I help but pray for our nation to return to its roots, founded on Him.  “Revive us so we can call on your name once more.” (18) 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 8-9

Psalms 72-74 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He leads us to our glorious destiny regardless of how things may seem

@ Psalm 73
Psalm 73 was written by Asaph who was a Levite appointed by David to direct the choirs, and in this role, he composed psalms, songs and played the cymbals.  He was one that we would say “grew up in the church,” and as a Levite, he more than likely understood the sacrifice involved in serving the Lord.

By the manner he began his psalm, we can sense his love for God and his desire to view God and His goodness in the proper perspective, but it didn’t take him long to get to the heart of the issue that was troubling him.  “For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.  They seem to live such painless lives…they don’t have troubles like other people.” (3-5)

When I read this Psalm, I immediately wanted to remind Asaph that things are not always how they seem to be.  I’ve lived on the planet long enough to see that “He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:45)  We should never judge an individual’s trouble factor by how things appear. In fact, prosperity often brings greater, more serious troubles.  We seldom are aware of the family issues, health problems and immense stress levels that those around us are facing.  I’ve known many wealthy parents who would trade all they owned for the salvation of their children.  Everyone has trouble.

“Camp’s not fair!  Camp’s not fair!” was the slogan at one of our youth camps.  A camper had expressed to the camp director that camp was not fair because of something that had happened that he didn’t like.  Well, camp wasn’t always fair, but then neither is life, and the director grabbed that comment and turned it into a chant for the week.  We laughed at the injustice of it all, and we also learned that things were not always as unjust as they seemed.  Most importantly, we learned to roll with it.

However, Asaph was not rolling with it. “Look at these wicked people – enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.  Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?  Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?… I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.  But what a difficult task it is!” (13-16)  Asaph even began to question His walk with God and the injustice of it all, something that can happen regardless of how long we know Him.

How do we move past injustice?  “Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” (17)  A trip to His sanctuary was the answer!  He now viewed life through the enlightened eyes of grace, no longer through eyes of envy.

The presence of the Lord changes everything.  It opens our eyes to the truth, removes bitterness and resentment, floods us with His peace and moves our understanding to the eternal side of living.  “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.  I was so foolish and ignorant…Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.” (21-24) Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

Life may not seem fair, but He is always fair and just. When we focus on the eternal side of living, rather than the here and now, our thoughts and deeds are influenced by those things with eternal value, and we find that a trip to His sanctuary is a worthwhile journey. 

Moving Forward: Regardless of the injustice in this world that surrounds me today, I will focus on those things of eternal value.  Life may not seem fair, but He is! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 5-6

Psalms 81-83 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: “God presides over heaven’s court” and He will judge the judges 

@Psalm 82
Raise your hand if you think the judicial system of our government is always strong, ethical and carries out moral judgments at all times?  I’m sure the response was weak.  Just like our challenges today, Asaph was having trouble finding honorable judges in Israel, “How long will you hand down unjust decisions by favoring the wicked?  Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.”(2-4)  Sounds like an indictment and a mandate all in one.

Needless to say, the judicial branch of the government that interprets and carries out the laws of the land is a powerful entity.  Only when those judgments are based on God’s moral laws can we as Christians be certain that justice has prevailed rather than opinions, social dictates and godless influences.  While many fine judges carry out their responsibilities across our land, I’m concerned just like Asaph about the decisions of judges that favor the wicked and fail to uphold the rights of our belief, traditional families, unborn babies and vulnerable children.

Psalm 82 makes it clear that God is the judge of the judges, and their day in court will come one day.  “God presides over heaven’s court…you will die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler. Rise up, O God, and judge the earth, for all the nations belong to you.” (1,7-8)  God always has the last word, but in the meantime what can we do?

Clearly, making careful decisions at the ballot box instead of mindlessly approving judicial appointments is a start, as well as voicing our concerns to our local, state and federal government leadership when immoral judgments are made.

Even more important is praying for them, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)  Our prayers may turn the hearts of immoral or complacent judges to the saving knowledge of God’s truth, and when that happens, we can be assured that we will remain one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and JUSTICE for all. Sounds like a guarantee, a vow…a pledge! 

Moving Forward: I will pray that my judgments today are pure as I preside over my little sphere of influence and I will pray for those with great influence and judgment over my nation. 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 10

Psalm 78-80 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He longs to restore our hearts and our land

Recently I heard a speaker at church share a portion of his life story, and I thought he was telling my story because our early years were similar.  I understood so well the feelings he was sharing and the gratitude of God’s faithfulness to him.  I sense this same familiarity when I read Psalm 80, not on a personal level but about my nation. 

@ Psalm 80
Asaph, or one of his descendants, wrote this song of prayer probably after the fall of his nation, Israel, to Babylon.  Israel had worshipped many gods through the years, but Asaph made it abundantly clear that his song was to the true and living God, “Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel…O God, enthroned above the cherubim, display your radiant glory…Show us your mighty power.  Come to rescue us!” (1-2)  He was calling on the God who was their Shepherd, the God who sat above the cherubim of the Ark, on the mercyseat, and he was crying for mercy.

In his Psalm, Asaph reminded God of how He brought His people out of Egypt and planted them in Israel like a grapevine that rooted and filled the land, but because of their sin, He broke down their walls of protection and they were devoured by their enemy.  “Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies.  Look down from heaven and see our plight.  Take care of this grapevine that you yourself have planted” (14-15) was Asaph’s desperate plea for the salvation of God’s people.  Would I be so bold to compare my nation’s state of affairs today to God’s chosen people?  Well, in a sense, yes I would.

True American history tells me that our forefathers left a land overseas where they felt in bondage to prescribed worship.  With Divine providence, they were planted in a new land, dug deep their roots and filled the land.  Their nation was based on the principles and guidelines of God’s Word, the Bible, with a commitment that all men could worship, or not worship, as they desired.

Factual history tells me that my early leaders sought God’s direction for everything including the laws that would govern their new land, and they put God’s words in their documents, on their monuments and throughout their White House.  They trusted Him to be their Foundation that would not crumble.

Sadly, through the years we have come to worship many other things and have been weakened by those who would once again like to control who and how we worship, an enemy slowly chipping away at our Foundation.  This is the condition the Israelites found themselves in before their enemy captured them and took them away to Babylon. But here is the difference between then and now:  I’m not leaving!

I’m not forsaking this land that I believe was ordained by God to be His tool to share eternal freedom through Jesus to the world. I’m offering now, not when it is too late, my song of prayer to God, my Shepherd, Who sits on the mercyseat, “Turn us again to yourself, O God.  Make your face shine down upon us.  Only then will we be saved.” (3,7,19)   Before you do anything, God, turn us again to you, our Foundation, and then shine your grace and mercy on us to save us.

According to God’s Word, He will answer this prayer, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) Who will join me? 

Moving Forward: In celebration of our Day of Independence this week, how can I help but pray for our nation to return to its roots, founded on Him.  “Revive us so we can call on your name once more.” (18) 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 8-9

Psalms 72-74 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He leads us to our glorious destiny regardless of how things may seem

@ Psalm 73
Psalm 73 was written by Asaph who was a Levite appointed by David to direct the choirs, and in this role, he composed psalms, songs and played the cymbals.  He was one that we would say “grew up in the church,” and as a Levite, he more than likely understood the sacrifice involved in serving the Lord.

By the manner he began his psalm, we can sense his love for God and his desire to view God and His goodness in the proper perspective, but it didn’t take him long to get to the heart of the issue that was troubling him.  “For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.  They seem to live such painless lives…they don’t have troubles like other people.” (3-5)

When I read this Psalm, I immediately wanted to remind Asaph that things are not always how they seem to be.  I’ve lived on the planet long enough to see that “He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:45)  We should never judge an individual’s trouble factor by how things appear. In fact, prosperity often brings greater, more intense troubles.  We seldom are aware of the family issues, health problems and immense stress levels that those around us are facing.  I’ve known many wealthy parents who would trade all they owned for the salvation of their children.  Everyone has trouble.

“Camp’s not fair!  Camp’s not fair!” was the slogan at one of our youth camps one year.  A camper had expressed to the camp director that camp was not fair because of something that had happened that he didn’t like.  Well, camp wasn’t always fair, but then neither is life, and the director grabbed that comment and turned it into a chant for the week.  We laughed at the injustice of it all, and we also learned that things were not always as unjust as they seemed.  Most importantly, we learned to roll with it.

However, Asaph was not rolling with it. “Look at these wicked people – enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.  Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?  Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?…I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.  But what a difficult task it is!” (13-16)  Asaph even began to question His walk with God and the injustice of it all, something that can happen regardless of how long we know Him.

How do we move past injustice?  “Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” (17)  A trip to His sanctuary was the answer!  He now viewed life through the enlightened eyes of grace, no longer through eyes of envy.

The presence of the Lord changes everything.  It opens our eyes to truth, removes bitterness and resentment, floods us with His peace and moves our understanding to the eternal side of living.  “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside.  I was so foolish and ignorant…Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.”  Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

Life may not seem fair, but He is always fair and just. When we focus on the eternal side of living, rather than the here and now, our thoughts and deeds are influenced by those things with eternal value, and we find that a trip to His sanctuary is a worthwhile journey. 

Moving Forward: Regardless of the injustice in this world that surrounds me today, I will focus on those things of eternal value.  Life may not seem fair, but He is! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 5-6