Sunday Devotional: Psalm 107:23-32

“Others went to sea in ships,
conducting trade on the vast waters.
They saw the Lord’s works,
His wonderful works in the deep.
He spoke and raised a tempest
that stirred up the waves of the sea.
Rising up to the sky, sinking down to the depths,
their courage melting away in anguish,
they reeled and staggered like drunken men,
and all their skill was useless.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a murmur,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
Then He guided them to the harbor they longed for.
Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His faithful love
and His wonderful works for all humanity.
Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people
and praise Him in the council of the elders.” (Psalm 107:23-32)

We all have storms we have to deal with in our lives.  They come both literally and figuratively.  We’ve seen in recent days and weeks dealing with storms such as Hurricane Harvey and Irma.  We also see it in our lives figuratively when the troubles and hardships that come our way.  Throughout it all, God is still there in the midst.  He is still in control.

Like the Psalmist writes here in Psalm 107, God is right there to hear us when we call out to him in the midst of the storm.  He knows what we’re going through.  He is able to guide us “to the harbor”.  Sometimes it’s hard in the midst of the storm to feel his presence but He is there.  If we call out to Him, He will hear us.

This week, let us pray for those that are in the midst of storms both literally and figuratively.  And let us give thanks to the Lord, for His faithfulness and His love.  Let us give thanks that He does hear us and that He will calm the storm and will guide us to the harbor.

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Sunday Devotional: Psalm 27

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:1-14)

This is one of David’s well known psalms that he wrote. In this psalm, David speaks not only to the struggles that he faced but the hope that he held in the Lord. Though there may be armies surrounding, he was not moved. Though there were struggles inside of him, he continued to hope and believe. He knew God’s goodness and God’s faithfulness. He had experienced it firsthand. And he believed and trusted that God would continue to be faithful and good.

Though we may be going through our own hard times and troubles, let us be like David.  Let us wait on the Lord, let us trust in His work.  Let us never give up doing good and following Him.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 11

“I have taken refuge in the Lord.
How can you say to me,
“Escape to the mountain like a bird!
For look, the wicked string the bow;
they put the arrow on the bowstring
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in His holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch; He examines everyone.
The Lord examines the righteous and the wicked.
He hates the lover of violence.
He will rain burning coals and sulfur on the wicked;
a scorching wind will be their portion.
For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds.
The upright will see His face.” (Psalm 11)

There are many times when we’re struggling and when we’re hurting that we want relief.  We seek refuge from the pain and suffering.  We can find refuge in the Lord.  He is always there.  We can go to Him and find refuge in Him.  He is always there watching over us.

The psalmist here knows well where to go and who to trust in such tough times.  This week, let us remember the One who cares for His people.  Let us find refuge in Him.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 22:39-46

“He went out and made His way as usual to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed Him.  When He reached the place, He told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  Then He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and began to pray,  “Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.  Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. “Why are you sleeping?” He asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation.” (Luke 22:39-46)

At this point, Jesus and His disciples had just finished eating the Passover meal and they left the upper room.  Jesus then went over to the Mount of Olives to spend some time in prayer.  While Jesus was praying, several of His closest disciples (Peter, James & John) were to keep watch.  However, they were tired and kept falling asleep.  Jesus kept waking them up and encouraging them to pray as well.

As I was recently reading over these verses again, I was struck by a phrase that I hadn’t noticed before.  It said that when Jesus checked on the disciples he found they were sleeping “exhausted from their grief.” Other translations say they were “sleeping from sorrow.”  The disciples knew something was the matter even though they didn’t know what would take place in mere hours.  But they were distraught.  And so they wanted to just sleep.

I know there have been times in my life where I was exhausted from my grief and and wanted to sleep from sorrow.  When times were hard and I was struggling and just wanted to turn my mind off and sleep.  But like the disciples, in those times we need to pray.  We need to pray for the situations that we’re struggling with at the moment.  We need to pray for those around us and the problems they are facing.  We need to pray and praise God for listening to us.  But no matter what we need to pray.

This week, whether we are exhausted from grief or things are going well, let us pray.  Let us be about prayer.  And if it something we’re struggling with, let God know.  It is a joy and privilege that we have to be able to talk to God.  Let us take advantage of that.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 22:31-32

“Simon, Simon, look out! Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

During the night before His crucifixion, Jesus shared the Passover meal with the disciples and gave what would be His final words of instruction before He would be arrested and killed.  In the middle of sharing with His disciples. Jesus looks at Peter and tells him what will happen to him.  Later Jesus tells Peter that before the rooster crows three times, Peter will deny Jesus.  Here Jesus is telling Peter (and the disciples as a whole) that Satan wants them.  Satan wants to sift them like wheat.  He wants to cause trouble in their lives.

But Jesus tells them that He has prayed for them and He tells Peter that when he repents (from denying) to “strengthen your brothers.”  Even in these short verses, there is truth.  We will have to deal with tough times.  We will mess up and fail.  But the great news is that Jesus is praying for us.  He is interceding for us with the Father.  He is able to do that because of His death paying the cost for our sins and His resurrection being at the right hand of God.  And when we fail, we can repent and turn back to Him and He accepts us.  As well, we have the opportunity to strengthen and encourage one another as we all go through various trials and tribulations.

This week, let us give thanks that Jesus has prayed for us.  Let us be grateful that when we mess up, we can repent and turn back to God.  And let us encourage one another and strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ.