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August 8—The Bread of Life

Read John 6:22­­­­–63

When we’re physically sick, it’s sometimes wise to refrain from eating for a little while until our health improves.  That’s not the case when we’re spiritually ill, however.  When we find that we have no appetite for God’s word, we must not fast from Bible study or prayer. The word for which we have no appetite is also the cure for the virus that plagues us.  Consider Psalm 107:19–20:  “Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”

One who eats God’s word and tastes and sees that he is good is one who partakes Jesus Christ by faith.  He is the Living Bread who nourishes us unto salvation.  The words that he speaks are spirit and life.  He alone is the cure for the deadly virus of sin.

Sing or pray Psalter #292.

 

August 9—Come, Ye Children

Read Psalm 34:11–22

Psalm 34 can be split into three sections.  In its first verses David recounts his experience and declares his intention to praise the Lord continually.  In verses 11 and 12 he calls members of the congregation to learn the fear of the Lord from him. He addresses children in particular: “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”  Parents, do you zealously and prayerfully teach your children the fear of the Lord?  How easily we are distracted from that high calling!  Children, do you heed the godly instruction of your parents? You must fight the temptation to despise them.

Sometimes God in his providence saves men and women when they are old.  But more often he saves his children when they are young.  “A twig is brought to any form, but grown trees will not bow” (John Flavel).  So “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

Sing or pray Psalter #89.

 

August 10—Keep Thy Tongue From Evil

Read 1 Peter 3:10–12

The third section of Psalm 34 consists of verses 13–22.  There the psalmist instructs the congregation how to achieve long life and the blessing of the Lord.  Several days ago we read how David resorted to deceit twice in the events that are recorded in 1 Samuel 21.  He learned from that experience, for he first commands God’s saints, “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.”  The apostle Peter quotes this text in 1 Peter 3.

Throughout the scriptures we’re admonished to guard our tongues.  Do you find that you resort to lies and flattery?  Are you prone to gossip or embellishing the truth?  You must examine your heart and life, “for if any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).  Those who will be gathered to the Lamb on Mount Zion are those in whose mouths is found no guile.  But all liars have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 14:5;  21:8).

Sing or pray Psalter #89.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 11—This Light Affliction

Read 2 Corinthians 4

In Psalm 34:17 the inspired psalmist David declares, “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”  Notice: the Lord does not prevent the righteous from experiencing afflictions.  In fact, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (v.19).

What is your affliction at present?  Do others persecute you?  Maybe the pain of injury or disease wracks your body.   Perhaps sorrow overwhelms your soul.  It could be that at this very moment you walk through the terrors of the valley of the shadow of death.  Take heart, dear Christian!  Our Father will preserve you through those trials.  Though your outward man perish, through those afflictions your inward man is renewed—sanctified—day by day.  Though our troubles seem insurmountably great, they are light in comparison to the glory that awaits us.  So we are called to look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.  So we must walk by faith, and not by sight, knowing that it is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).

Sing or pray Psalter #89.

 

August 12—Not a Broken Bone

Read John 19:28–37

David uses a metaphor to illustrate the exhaustive character of the Lord’s deliverance of his saints: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”  This promise is made to all God’s people, but it points primarily to Jesus Christ the Righteous.  We are righteous only as we are covered by his atoning sacrifice.  He is the fulfillment of all the Passover lambs sacrificed throughout the Old Testament, regarding which God commanded, “Neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (Exodus 12:46).  “The Hebrew word for the bones signifies the strength, and therefore not a bone of Christ must be broken, to show that though he be crucified in weakness his strength to save is not at all broken. Sin breaks our bones, as it broke David’s (Psalm 51:8); but it did not break Christ’s bones; he stood firm under the burden, mighty to save” (Matthew Henry).

“Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” writes Paul in 1 Corinthians.  As partakers of him, we’re called to put the leaven of malice and wickedness out of our hearts and homes and eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth instead.

Sing or pray Psalter #89.

 

August 13—Praising God from A–Z

Read Psalm 34

There are 22 verses in Psalm 34.  That’s significant because there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, the language in which the psalms were originally written.  Psalm 34 is an acrostic poem: the first letters of the verses follow the Hebrew alphabet in order.

Sometimes our family plays what we call “The Alphabet Game.”  Playing the alphabet game is similar to writing an acrostic poem.  You can play the alphabet game with Bible texts or phrases.  “Awake thou that sleepest” (Eph 5:14); “Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13); “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee” (Ps. 55:22).  You can play it with psalms or hymn lyrics.  “Defend me, Lord, from shame” (Psalter #82); “Every day the Lord himself is near me” (Day by Day); “Fools in their heart have said, ‘There is no God of might’” (Psalter #146).  You can play it by naming attributes of God.  Our God is Gracious.  He is Holy.  He is Immutable.

Today’s devotional is an assignment.  Work your way through the alphabet as you meditate on our glorious God and his holy word.

Sing or pray Psalter #89.

 

August 14—Hated Without a Cause

Read Psalm 35:1–17

Psalm 35 is another imprecatory psalm.  To imprecate is to plead that God will justly reward evildoers for their wickedness.  In this passage the inspired psalmist prays for the destruction of those who have joined together to falsely accuse him.  He desired their welfare, but they have rewarded evil for his good.

Jesus Christ speaks in this psalm.  Wicked men conspired against him, desiring his death.  Because we belong to him, we also are hated, as he said we would be (see Matt. 10:22).  In some parts of the world, Christ’s people are imprisoned, tortured, and martyred.  In the Western world, we’re scorned because we confess the truths of the Bible with regard to morality and marriage, while graver persecution gathers like a thunderhead on the horizon.  We need not fear: our God fights against those who devise the hurt of his people, and he delivers the poor and needy from those who spoil them.

Sing or pray Psalter #92:1–5

 

August 15—Pray for Them Who Persecute You

Read Romans 12:17–21

Yesterday we considered the truth stated in Matthew 10:22: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”  The passage that we read today instructs us how to respond to those who persecute us or our fellow saints.  Like the writer of Psalm 35, we don’t take justice into our own hands.  Rather, we plead with God to justly judge those who wrong us, for vengeance belongs to him.  But we don’t pray only for their judgment, either.  Mindful of the great salvation that God has wrought for us, we pray for their salvation also, if that be the Lord’s will: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

Sing or pray Psalter #92:1–5

 

August 16—Falsely Accused by Family

Read 1 Pet 3:8–17

It’s painful to be falsely accused by the wicked, but it’s far more heartbreaking to be betrayed by someone you love. Frequently we are tempted unjustly to assign motives to our family members and slander our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We must guard against those sinful tendencies. But what is our calling when we are the ones who are wronged in that way?  First, we must not return evil for evil: we’re called not to hate or grudge those who are fellow members of Christ’s body.  We must not imprecate them like we do the wicked.  Second, we’re not to spread the sin around.  Third, if the sin is one that we’ve prayerfully determined needs to be addressed, we humbly confront our brother or sister alone (see Matt. 18:15).  In that way we “seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Pet. 3:11).

Leviticus 19:17–18 reads, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.”

Sing or pray Psalter #92:1–5.

 

August 17—The Young Lions Suffer Hunger

Read Psalm 35:15–17

The psalms are rich with imagery.  In Psalm 35 we read, “Rescue…my darling [that is, my life] from the lions,” from those who gnash “upon me with their teeth.”  Our enemy, the devil, prowls about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).  Throughout scripture our enemies are described not only as lions, but as young, ravenous lions.

Psalm 7:2: “Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.

Psalm 10:9a:  “He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den: he lieth in wait to catch the poor.” Psalm 57:4: “My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.”

Though they are young and ravenous, the psalm that we just considered reassures God’s saints: “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Psalm 34:10).

Sing or pray Psalter #92:6—8.

 

August 18 – Every Sin Aims at the Utmost

Proverbs 27:1–20

Do regard your three-fold enemy as a ravenous lion?  The devil, a lion?  Sure.  The world?  Maybe.  Our own sinful hearts?  That seems a bit extreme.  The reason it seems extreme to us is that we’re callous to the terrible sinfulness of our own sin.  We forget: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:9–10).

In Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen explains the insatiable nature of sin.  He asserts that sin, like the grave, is never satisfied:  “Sin aims always at the utmost, every time it rises up to tempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go out to the utmost sin in that kind.  Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery if it could; every covetous desire would be oppression, every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head.”  That’s the unappeasable nature of the sin that lies in your heart.  Like a ravenous lion, it seeks to destroy you, would God permit it.

Sing or pray Psalter #92:6–8.

 

August 19 – The Match

Read 1 Cor. 9:24–27

Every sin aims at the utmost.  Your old man of sin has an appetite as voracious as that of the horseleech in Prov. 30:15.  You have no time to loiter on your race against him.  Nor should you waste your strength beating at the air.

 

The horseleech has two daughters that are never satisfied:

Like them, the sin within your heart will no way be denied.

Every idle word you say would be a blazing fire,

Every envious glance you cast would murder to acquire.

Every lustful thought you think would crawl into one’s bed,

The hate you hide within your heart would have your neighbor dead.

The clenching of your stubborn jaw would be a bloody coup,

Your thoughtless use of God’s own name would pierce the Savior through.

Your fixation—with this or that—wants you before it prone.

Every “little” sin, at heart, puts you on Yahweh’s throne.

And until your body breathes its last, sin will seek your death.

So you must jab this challenger with every single breath.

Do not beat at empty air if you desire to live—

Aim each blow right at your foe, who’s crying, “Give, give, give!”

Sing or pray Psalter# 92:6–8

 

August 20—We Have an Advocate with the Father

Read 1 John 2:1–17

Are you overwhelmed when you consider the justice due you for your sin?  The imagery of the lion is not the only imagery in Psalm 35.  The psalmist employs legal terminology as well.  “False witnesses did rise up,” so he prays to the Lord: “Plead my cause.”  The psalmist also calls on God as judge.  “Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord” (Ps. 35:23).  Notice that though the psalmists’ accusers speak lies, he doesn’t plead his case on the basis of his own righteousness: “Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness” (v. 24).

“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).  It is he who also works in you to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Knowing that, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Pet. 3:15–16).

Sing or pray Psalter #92:6-8.

 

August 21—The Transgression of the Wicked Saith

Read Psalm 36

The first sentence of Psalm 36 has an odd construction.  What does the Psalmist mean when he writes that the transgression of the wicked speaks within his heart?  Commentator Allen Ross notes that the Hebrew word translated here as “saith” can also mean “oracle.”  He renders the sentence this way: “An oracle concerning the transgression of the wicked is in my heart.”  Matthew Henry similarly understands “saith within my heart” to mean “makes me to conclude within myself.”  Whence comes the psalmist’s understanding of the heart of the wicked?  “He could not indeed look into their hearts, but he could look into his own, and there he found corruption so strong, that were it not for the fear of God that was implanted within him, he would be as bad as they” (Spurgeon).

Do you see total corruption when you look into your heart?  Then your prayer must be that of the publican in Luke 18: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Sing or pray Psalter #93.

 

August 22—No Fear of God

Read Romans 3:9–20

Psalm 36:1 is quoted in Romans 3:18.  This section of scripture is similar to the first four verses of Psalm 36, with one exception:  Psalm 36:1–4 speaks of the wicked; Romans 3:9–20 is about all men.  This is God’s evaluation of every person who has ever lived, Jesus Christ excepted:  “There is none that doeth good, no, not one…There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

But thanks be to God, he implants the fear of himself into the hearts of his elect!  When you look into your heart, do you also find the fear of God implanted there?  If so, your love for him will cause you to fear doing anything that would offend him.  “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate” (Prov. 8:13).   “O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him” (Ps. 34:9).  But the end of those who do not fear God is terrible: “Those eyes which have no fear of God before them now, shall have the terrors of hell before them forever” (Spurgeon).

Sing or pray Psalter #93.

 

 

 

 

Aug 23—The Sin of Self-Flattery

Read Romans 12:1­–16

The description of the wicked in Psalm 36:2 is striking: For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.”  You can likely think of unbelievers whose actions are repulsive—even destructive—to those around them, yet in foolish pride they persist in their self-centered and foolish ways.

Sadly, self-flattery is a sin to which we are also prone.   We need the warning in Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”  The sins of the wicked are hated by others; likewise, our sins will bring us to shame.  “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). To the prayer of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” our Lord responded, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14). So “let us daily beg of God to preserve us from self-flattery” (Matthew Henry).

Sing or pray Psalter #93.

 

August 24—Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Read Luke 6:39–49

The self-flattery of the wicked produces evil speech and actions.  “The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good (Ps. 36:3).”  Unwittingly the unregenerate prove Jesus’ words in Luke 6:45: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”  What do your words reveal about your heart?  Too often mine reveal a heart that is discontent and self-centered.  And are you only a hearer of God’s word, or are you a doer also?  (James 1:23–25).  When you and I obey the word that we hear, we are like the man who built his house upon the rock.

“There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed” (1 Sam 2:2–3).

Sing or pray Psalter #164.

 

August 25—The Devising of Evil

Read Micah 2:1–3

The unbelieving man loves evil.  In fact, he so loves to sin that he spends his idle hours in wicked scheming and conniving.  “He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil” (Ps. 36:4).  “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds” (Micah 2:1).  To them God says, “Your thoughts are an abomination to me” (Prov. 15:26).  “While ye are thus busying yourselves on your beds…I have my thoughts too, and those different from yours; for while ye are awake to devise wickedness, I am awake to contrive judgment” (Calvin).  These “evil” thoughts of God are not sinful.  Though their outcome is terrible for the wicked, God’s thoughts are always just.  They are also thoughts that come in answer to this prayer of the righteous, which we considered not long ago: “Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.  Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert” (Ps. 28:3–4).

Sing or pray Psalter #164.

 

 

August 26—The Devil’s Workshop

Read 1 Timothy 5:1–16

We concluded yesterday’s meditation with the prayer that God would not draw us away with the wicked, who spend their idle hours devising evil.  In light of that prayer, how do you spend your free time?  A Christian sister that I know likes to say, “Idleness is the devil’s workshop.” In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul admonishes those who refuse to work: they walk disorderly and busy themselves in other men’s matters (see also 1 Pet. 4:15).  In 1 Timothy 5:13 he similarly reproves the young widows: “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”

Not only idle hands are a problem, however; idle minds are also at Satan’s disposal: he would fill them with all kinds of detestable thoughts.  “If we willingly banish holy meditations in our solitary hours, Satan will soon occupy our minds with sinful imaginations” (Matthew Henry).  Notice: those who are “widows indeed” continue “in supplications and prayers night and day.” Likewise, the psalmist confesses, “My soul shall be satisfied…When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Ps. 63:5–6).

Sing or pray Psalter #164.

 

August 27—Redeem the Time

Read 2 Peter 3

It used to be that when someone asked, “How are you?” he could expect this response: “Good.”  But now there’s a more common response: “Busy!”  If “idleness is the devil’s workshop,” then it must be good to be busy, right?  Interestingly, the four times that the word “busy” is used in the Bible (KJV), it’s used negatively, to describe people who are wandering about, refusing to work and being nosy.

Before we continue in Psalm 36, let’s spend several days considering the use of our time.   Ephesians 5:15–16 reads, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.”  According to Barnes and Matthew Henry, the Greek word translated “redeem” in this passage means “to purchase” with the intent of “setting free from service or bondage.”  It’s our calling as children of light “to rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes.”

Let’s free the time we’ve been given today from its bondage to sin and use it for the Lord’s purposes instead!

Sing or pray Psalter #251.

 

August 28—Go to the Ant

Read Proverbs 6

Have you ever taken the time to watch ants?  They look so very busy as they scurry about, but if you actually crouch down and press your finger to the concrete directly in the path of a tiny ant, you realize that it is not bustling mindlessly about – it is on a serious mission.  It will immediately bypass your obtrusive finger and press on in the direction that it was going before.

When my husband and I first married, we lived in a basement apartment.  One day we noticed a two-lane trail of ants—one emerging and the other returning from under the trim of our kitchen window.  Those ants marched like little black soldiers across the kitchen wall and up into the ceiling.  We went upstairs to discover their destination, and we found it: the sticky, crumb-loaded tray beneath our landlords’ toaster.  Those ants by-passed all tempting morsels in our kitchen downstairs and trekked what must have been many ant miles in order to reach their destination.  They would not be thwarted from their difficult task.

Ants are not busy, they are diligent.

Likewise, we are called not to be busy, but to be diligent.  There is a difference.

Sing or pray Psalter #251.

 

August 29—Your Chief End

Read Psalm 50:1-23

In order to be diligent, we must first define our goal.  Question and answer one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism succinctly and memorably summarizes the goal  or chief end of man: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”  When or how do we praise and glorify God?  Psalm 50:23 says, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation [his daily walk] aright will I show the salvation of God.” God is glorified when we love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Luke 10:27).  One who loves God:

  • has faith in him (see Romans 4:20).
  • is thankful to Him and shows that thankfulness by praying to him (see Psalm 50:14–15).
  • obeys his word (see 1 Samuel 15:22).

These are fruits that one must bring forth if he is a believer.  They are the fruits to which Jesus refers in John 15:8:  “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

Sing or pray Psalter #397.

 

August 30—Be Diligent

Read 2 Peter 1:5–10

One who is diligent with the time that God has given doesn’t simply occupy himself every minute of the day: he occupies himself with the right things.  We must discipline our time, prioritizing our activities each day, mindful that our Lord is coming again.  We’re strangers and pilgrims here below.  The most critical moments of our day are those that we spend in fellowship with him.

In the passage that we read for today, the apostle Peter uses the word diligence twice.  We’re to diligently cultivate these fruits in our life: faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.  In that way we are diligent to make our calling and election sure.  Consider these texts also:

Psalm 119:4: “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.”

Hebrews 11:6b:  “He [God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Proverbs 4:23: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Sing or pray Psalter #397.

 

August 31 – Servants of Christ

Read Ephesians 5:1-16

Why is it so important that we redeem the time?  Because the days are evil.  “There are many allurements and temptations that would lead [us] away from the proper improvement of time, and that would draw [us] into sin” (Barnes).  So many things would tempt us to go to “places of sinful indulgence and revelry where [our] time would be wasted, and worse than wasted. As these temptations abound, [we] ought therefore to be more especially on [our] guard against a sinful and unprofitable waste of time” (Ibid).

We are called diligently to live a life that glorifies God.  We are called to keep his law diligently, to seek him diligently, and to keep our hearts diligently.  We’re called to be diligent first in the primary roles in which God has placed us.  After the inspired apostle Paul commands us to redeem the time in Ephesians 5:16, he goes on to describe God’s requirements for wives, husbands, children, employees, and employers, calling them to live “as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6).  How can you more diligently serve God in your primary roles today?

Sing or pray Psalter #306.

 

 

 

September 1—The Counsel of the Lord Shall Stand

Read Proverbs 19:1–21

As a mom of six young children, I feel as if I’m unable to do anything without being interrupted.  Dealing with these interruptions in a godly manner, rather than reacting in anger or frustration, requires that I be aware of my own limitations.  That is necessary for you too!  We need to remember that:

Only God gets his to-do list done every day. God gets it all done every day. You, on the other hand, will go to bed tonight with your list incomplete and with little confidence that you will make it all the way through tomorrow’s. Only God can have that confidence. And that’s okay. God made you to be limited and he knows that your sin has limited you even further.

Dealing with interruptions requires an awareness that God is sovereign and you are not. When you trust a sovereign God you know that no interruption has caught God by surprise. This frees you from outbursts of anger or depths of despair. It allows you pause and to consider whether each of these interruptions has been brought by God as an opportunity to do good to someone else. It removes any right to automatically refuse them (Challies.com).

Sing or pray Psalter #306.

 

September 2—The Conclusion of the Matter

Read Ecclesiastes 12

Solomon concludes the “whole matter” of the fleeting nature of our lives this way:  “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”  These are the criteria we must use to ensure that we steward our time and resources well.

The call, then, is to find the best things I can do with the time allotted to me, while waiting for the great day when time will no longer be finite, when opportunities will no longer be limited. It is to prioritize those few things I can actually accomplish, and to learn to let go of the rest. It is to live the life God has for me, and not to attempt to live a different life altogether. It is to obey the words of God: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16). Evil, and far too few. No, that’s not it. Evil, and just enough to do all He calls me to do (Challies.com).

Sing or pray Psalter #306.

 

September 3—From the Baseness of the Wicked to the Glory of God

Read Psalm 36

David focuses on the baseness of the wicked in the first four verses of Psalm 36.  We might expect him to move on to extolling the goodness of the righteous. But he doesn’t. He knows personally that believers possess the same corrupt nature as the reprobate.  Instead he contrasts the wicked with object of our faith: Jehovah, our covenant God.

How great is our God?  Verses 6–9 reveal him as the one who is “unsearchable (heavens, clouds), impregnable (mountains), inexhaustible (the great deep); yet, for all that, welcoming and hospitable” (Ross).  Throughout scripture clouds signify Jehovah’s judgment.  In this life we live under the clouds of affliction, but “far, far above all comprehension is the truth and faithfulness of God. He never fails, nor forgets, nor falters, nor forfeits his word. Afflictions are like clouds, but the divine truthfulness is all around them. While we are under the cloud we are in the region of God’s faithfulness; when we mount above it we shall not need such an assurance” (Spurgeon).

Sing or pray Psalter #94.

 

September 4—Men Love Darkness

Read John 1:1–9

Psalm 36:9 reads, “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”  Several months ago our pastor preached on John 1:4–5.  In that sermon, he taught that God is the source of life for all creatures.  Only if he wills do we live (James 3:15).  Not only does God sustain the physical life of men, however: he created them to serve him.  But men live in the darkness of sin: they are totally depraved.  Their fall into sin was instigated by Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  “There remain, however, in man since the fall the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God…and of the differences between good and evil… (Canons of Dordt, Heads 3&4, Article 4).  Those glimmerings render the reprobate’s unbelief inexcusable.  God sent his Son, who is the true light, into the darkness, to expose the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).

Do you believe in the Light of the world?

Sing or pray Psalter #94.

 

September 5—We See Light

Read John 12:34–50

By God’s grace, the elect comprehend the light that unbelieving men hate.  By God’s grace we confess, “In thy light shall we see light.”

Jesus taught, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46).  Our lives must testify to that reality, for “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Those who put their trust under the shadow of Jehovah’s wings will reign forever in the city lit by the Lamb.  They will drink from the pure river and the fountain of the water of life freely.  (Rev. 21 and 22).  Reread the last five verses of Psalm 36.  All of those promises are alluded to there.  Those promises are “Yea” and “Amen” in him who is the Light of the world.

Sing or pray Psalter #94.

 

September 6—The Marriage of the Lamb

Read Rev. 19:1–9

Last night my youngest sister and her fiancé married.  I had been anticipating their wedding day for a long time.  We traveled 700 miles in order to participate, and it was a wonderful day.  Yet even a day as lovely as their wedding day is marred by sin and its effects.  Amid the celebration there are still empty places in the pews, headaches, scratchy throats, and weary, whiny children.

We who are members of Christ’s bride look forward to the wedding feast that is the fulfillment of weddings here below, yet we don’t anticipate it as we ought.  Maybe that’s because we can’t quite imagine a marriage that’s as glorious as that one will be.  Not a guest at that feast will entertain a selfish or uncharitable thought.  That day the innumerable family of God will gather, but there won’t be a single tense moment.  We won’t have to deal with the pain of a headache or weeping children.  Nor will it be over all too soon, leaving the guests with a sweet, yet poignant reminder of how quickly time flies.  That marriage feast will never end.  Do you look forward to that day?

Sing or pray Psalter #124.­­

 

September 7—We Must Meditate

Read Psalm 37

Psalm 37 is full of wisdom for God’s people.  It’s a song written by an experienced, elderly saint: “I have been young, and now am old,” David writes in v. 25.  What has David learned his life?  He’s learned that God’s providence is righteous.  He’s learned that though the wicked seem to prosper, the meek will inherit the earth.  Like Psalm 34, Psalm 37 is an acrostic poem in the original Hebrew, with most of the letters of the alphabet beginning two verses in the song.  The psalm contains eight precepts, or commands, which we’ll consider in the days ahead.

I’m aware that I’m writing through the psalms at a rather slow and rambling pace, but I pray that you’re profiting from these meditations.  As I assign different passages of scripture to read from day today, I’m awed each day anew at the unity and the richness of God’s word.  I hope that’s your experience, too.  “We must meditate, brothers. These grapes will yield no wine till we tread upon them(Spurgeon).

Sing or pray Psalter #100.