Thursday, May 12, 2016

"Know God, know yourself and PRAISE the LORD!"

Day #134

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 24 - 26 ...

As people go on about their lives every day and as the nations of the world continue to plan their strategies, David declares, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (24:1).  Those who refuse to acknowledge that God created them and the world in which they live will never understand the purpose of life because they are too busy making their own plans and plotting to use whatever means possible to have their way.  As you read the Psalms of David today you find another way to look at life; a way that brings hope and that sets different priorities for those who know their Creator.

I know that many people think of David and immediately think of how he killed Goliath with a slingshot and a stone, or perhaps of his sin with Bathsheba or of his great wealth and many possessions ... but none of those things describe who David was!  He was the King of Israel, the father of Solomon and the conqueror of much of the world ... but that's not who he was.  David was a man after God's own heart.  David was a man in love with God.  Arguably the most powerful man of his time, the Psalms reflect what was in his heart and what motivated his life.  Oh, to have leaders like this today!

Many of the Psalms take us right to the heart of what it truly means to know God and to love Him.  The Psalms in our reading for today certainly take us to the heart of David's relationship with the LORD, the only true God, the great "I AM!"  David loved God, he trusted God and he worshiped God!! Psalm 24 testifies to the greatness of God, declaring, "the earth is the LORD's, and everything in it!" (24:1).  This is the starting point for wisdom:  God is YOUR Creator and you owe your life and breath, your very existence, to Him.  If you fail to begin here you will never arrive at a place of humble worship before our God.  He promises to bless those who seek Him.

In today’s religious climate people think they can come to God any way they choose and God must and will receive them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  David understood his own sin when he asks, “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?  Who may stand in His holy place?" (24:3).  And then he answers his own question, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart ..." (24:4).  Does that describe you?  No one can approach God except for His mercy and grace in providing a Savior!  David knew God ... and he knew himself.  He knew he needed mercy and grace, and he knew he could trust God to save him.  David also had an expanded view of the world and of God’s involvement in history.  “Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.  Who is this King of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. ...  The LORD Almighty – HE is the King of glory!” (24:7-10).

There is one Lord, one God, one King, one Ruler, and He is the God who created all things.  Beginning anywhere else leads to deception, death and destruction.  You cannot know yourself until you know your Creator.  So, Solomon’s advice near the end of his “Ecclesiastes”:  “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth!” (12:1).  The sooner you acknowledge the God of creation who made you and placed you here at this time for His purposes the more hope, the more joy, the more peace you will have as you live your life seeking to honor and please Him.

Psalm 25 is amazing, because as you read the first fifteen verses you might think that David was having a really good day and a really wonderful life.  He testifies that he trusts in the Lord and he knows his hope is found in Him.  He thanks God for His mercy, His love and His forgiveness.  Because David knew God and himself, he was moved to praise the LORD!  "All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful!" (25:10).  It makes you want to say, "God is good!!  All the time!!"

But then you read verses 16-21 and you discover that David was actually going through a difficult time of persecution and affliction as he wrote these words.  He was testifying in the midst of a storm!  THAT's faith.  So many today praise God when things are going well and then question Him when trials come, but not David.  Instead, David turns to God with confidence and with hope:  "May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You" (25:21).

When you know God and you know yourself, you know that God has a purpose for the storms of life that come often without warning.  James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).  You must know God to have this point of view and you must know that you are still in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ, which is God’s goal for you!

And finally, Psalm 26 points out David's firm foundation.  "I have trusted in the LORD without wavering" (26:1).  "Your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth" (26:3).  David said that he proclaimed aloud the LORD's praise and "I love the house where you live, O LORD, the place where your glory dwells" (26:8).  No wonder that David arrives at verse 12:  "My feet stand on level ground; in the great assembly I will praise the LORD." Do you know God this way?  Are you standing on level ground?

David was a man after God's own heart.  David was a man in love with God.  He was a sinner, like you and me, and for a moment in his life he stumbled ... but God lifted him up and used David in amazing ways to glorify Himself.  He can and will do the same in your life and mine if we will seek the Lord as David did.  God has made a new way to approach Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  As you and I come to Him by faith, trusting in Him, we, too, will find God loving and faithful, and our hope in Him will not disappoint.

Then, together with David, we will PRAISE the LORD!

"O LORD, our God, You are great and greatly to be praised!  You ARE the King of glory, before whom all the earth will bow down.  May those who trust in You give thanks at all times as we rest in You, for we shall not be moved! Together, we will sing Your praise FOREVER!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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