Guard

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read his archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com .

Psalm 141:1–10 (ESV)
1 O LORD, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies!
5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff, then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth, so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
8 But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely.


We don’t have crystal balls, so when we pray to God, we’re usually hoping for a quick answer. We want Him to hasten to us. We want God to hear us and to accept our prayers.

We need God to guard our words, because as James says, if we can guard our tongues and speak aright, we would be perfect. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. We need God to steer our hearts away from their natural inclination to evil.

We might think of things like watching pornography as an individualistic choice, but in reality if we do so we’re taking part in the deeds of evil people in exploitative and abusive wickedness. If a good man rebukes us for any evil in us, if we’re spiritual, we’ll respond positively, and take it as the constructive criticism it is. We don’t need to get defensive when we get told off.

We need to pray against evils that are so prevalent in the world today, like pornography, abortion and racism. We would do well to number our days, and be conscious of our mortality. We would do well to seek refuge in God against the attacks of evildoers.

“O Lord, may we take refuge in You from the attacks of wrongdoers. Please deliver us from evil, and don’t lead us into temptation. In Jesus’ name, amen.”


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Neither Poverty Nor Riches

Reading the Word

Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV)
7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The author calls out to God for two things: that he would not be a liar and that God would not give him poverty or riches. The first is obvious enough, but why the second desire? Why not a desire for riches? It sure seems like that would be considered a blessing. Who does not want a blessing?

The last verse gives us the reasoning for why the writer asks to be fed “with the food that is needful for me.” He wants just enough. No more and no less than what is necessary for life. If there is an excess, there is a danger that one might forget God because there is no need for him. If there is a lack, there is the danger of resorting to stealing to obtain food. Such behavior would profane God. So, this is a prayer of one who desires to honor God and wants all obstacles to doing that removed. We should all desire the same thing in our lives. Lord, give us the things we need and withhold those things that would pull us away from you.


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Remember

Today’s post is part of our Psalm Saturdays series from guest blogger Robert Chamberlain. You can read his archives at www.roberlain.wordpress.com .

Psalm 132:1–18 (ESV)
1 Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured,
2 how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house or get into my bed,
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!”
8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.”
13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.”


David longed to build a temple for the Lord his God. But God told him He’d been living in a tent for so long, and didn’t mind waiting a bit longer for David’s son to build Him a house. David himself was a man of war with blood on his hands, so had disqualified himself.

David’s heart was in the right place. But sometimes, even if we have good ideas, God has a better one. David might not have been able to build the temple, but he did make extensive preparations to make his son’s job much easier.

God had promised David an eternal Kingdom that one of his descendants would reign over. In the new creation, the new Jerusalem will be the capital of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David. All who belong to Him will be blessed.

If we belong to Jesus we’re a kingdom of priests, clothed in His salvation. We’re made holy and joyful. The enemies of Christ will be clothed with shame, but He Himself is now crowned with glory and honour.

“Father God, we thank You for king David’s greater Son, in whom we have salvation. Thank You for the joy He brings. May we live for Him all our days and for eternity, in His name, amen.”


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Flashback: Clean Hands

Originally posted on January 28, 2018.

I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading for the day. Thanks for reading and, if you have not already, be sure to subscribe so you can follow along every day.

pexels-photo-296282.jpegReading the Word

Psalm 18:20–27 (ESV)

20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 22 For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 23 I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from my guilt. 24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. 25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; 26 with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. 27 For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Flashback: The Lord Is My Rock

pexels-photo-461593.jpeg

Originally posted on January 26, 2018.

Reading the Word

Psalm 18:1–6 (ESV)

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; 5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Oh, the joy of having a refuge in every time of need. That is what God is to his people. We can call on him at all times knowing that he hears and is there. We know that our cries reach his ears and that he is able to come to our rescue. This is why David could praise God and say that he loved him (verse 1).

If you are hurting or afraid, call out to God. He is a rock and a stronghold and you will find refuge in him. Then praise his name for his goodness towards us. He is a great God and deserving of our love.

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Do Not Hide Your Sin

Psalm 325 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 32:1–5 (ESV)

1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

Understanding and Applying the Word

Unrepentant sin weighs on a person. The psalmists speaks of his sin causing his bones to waste away resulting in groaning all day. He felt like God’s hand was heavy on him and his strength was dried up. He was miserable and he needed relief

Relief from sin comes when we confess it to God. He has told us that he is gracious and merciful and ready to forgive. We only need to repent. When we do that, our burdens are lifted and our lives are restored. Do not try to hide your sin from the all-knowing God. He is ready to show you grace if you will go to him.

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Are You Just Seeking Attention?

Matthew 66 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 6:5–8 (ESV)

5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do you do the things you do? When you do good for others, is it so you will receive a pat on the back? When you go to church, is it so others will see you in attendance and think better of you? When you give of your finances, is it so people will view you as generous? When you pray, are your prayers directed to God or are you more concerned with others who are listening?

We are sinful people. It is most evident in how we can take the very things that should focus our attention on God and use them to draw attention to ourselves. This is what some do with religious practices. This is what many of the religious were doing in Jesus’ day with prayer. They used it as a show to capture the attention of others. Unfortunately, this still happens today and it may be something that we all need think about. Why do we do the things we do? Are we seeking God or the attention of others?

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Praying for Open Doors

Colossians 42 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Colossians 4:2–6 (ESV)

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Paul asked the believers at Colossae to pray for him. He was not asking for them to pray for his health or safety. Those things were not his primary concern. Paul wanted prayer for his missionary efforts. He wanted prayers for open doors to preach the word of God. He wanted to clearly preach the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people would hear and believe.

Let us join in praying for open doors for the gospel and let us “continue steadfastly” in this prayer. We are currently living through circumstances with COVID-19 that I believe is an open door. Our neighbors are fearful of the future. Let us pray and then let us take the message of Jesus Christ to a world that is hurting and searching for a foundation to stand on. The gospel is the message of hope that people need right now.

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Submission and Honor in a Pandemic

1 Peter 213–14 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Romans 13:1–7 (ESV)

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

1 Peter 2:13–17 (ESV)

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As we are living through the Coronavirus pandemic there are going to be many challenges along the way. One of those is deciding how we will respond to the daily changes in restrictions that are being placed on us. I have heard and read much complaining about these things and I understand the reason for some of the complaints, but how should we respond? What is the proper Christian response to what we are facing right now?

The Apostles Paul and Peter are helpful to us. In Romans, Paul tells us that those in authority over us are there because God placed them in their positions. Therefore, we should submit to our leaders. After all, they are working for our good (Romans 13:4). Peter tells us in his letter that we are to submit to our leaders and honor them. Not only should we obey, but we should not be whiners and complainers. We should be the best citizens there are!

As we face each day of this outbreak and as we are asked to self-quarantine or any number of further restrictions, let us remember that our leaders are trying very hard to do what is right and they are working for our good. We may not agree with every decision, but we are called to submit to their authority and we are called to honor them. We do that by not constantly complaining and arguing about the decisions. And we can also do that by praying for our leaders. They have much on their plates right now and need all of the support they can get, especially our prayers.

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Peace Surpassing All Understanding

Philippians 46 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Philippians 4:4–7 (ESV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We are living through circumstances right now that are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The whole world is facing the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as Coronavirus. Many people are afraid because there are so many questions right now and very few answers. So how should we respond?

In our reading for today, we are told that we do not need to be anxious about anything. We can go to the Lord in prayer about the things that are troubling us. He hears us and he cares for us. When we pray to God, we pray to the Creator of all things and the One who is sovereign over all things. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. So, while the world seems like it is in turmoil, we have a God we can talk to and we can have peace knowing he is in control that he is working for our good.

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