Old Testament In a Year: December 18 – Psalms 107, 126

Psalms 107, 126
Focus Verse: Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. – Psalm 107:13

What is your affliction? What is your trouble?

For deliverance from it, cry to the Lord.

When surrounded by darkness, when in the shadow of death, when weighed down by guilt from sin, when overwhelmed by wrath, when in the face of danger…

Do as the Israelites did when Pharoah and his army was behind them and the Red Sea was before them.

Do as David did when he was being pursued by Saul.

Do as the three Hebrew boys did when they were thrown into a fiery furnace.

Do as Daniel did when he was in a lions’ den.

Do as Esther did when she was told that her people were in danger of being exterminated.

Cry to the Lord. And He will answer you and exchange the darkness for His light…give you life instead of death…replace guilt with grace…express joy instead of wrath…provide protection from every danger.

Do as the apostles did when they were caught in a furious storm.

Cry to the Lord. Save me, Lord; I am perishing. And He will save you from affliction…from storms…from sin…from death itself.

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Old Testament In a Year: December 14 – Psalms 77, 78

Psalms 77, 78
Focus Verse: I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. – Psalm 77:11

In his day(s) of trouble, David questioned the faithfulness of the One he sought. Even though he was calling out to God and stretching out his hand toward Him, it seemed that God did not hear him. It seemed that God had turned His back on David and left him to suffer alone.

David asks:

Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

These questions are more rhetorical rather than questions that demand an answer because David already knows the answer to his questions. He knows that it is impossible for God to spurn forever those He loves. He knows that God’s steadfast love will never cease. He knows that God is a God who cannot lie, a God who keeps His promises and will fulfill every one of them. David knows that it is not in God’s character to be ungracious. And he knows that God’s anger is never greater than His compassion.

We know these things too. And if we ever start to doubt them, we must do what David did.

Remember.

Remember what God has done for us. Remember what God has done for others. Go far back, to when time first began, and remember…remember the deeds of God in creating the heavens and the earth. Remember the wonders He performed for Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Remember how He healed sick people and raised the dead; how He made the sun stand still and stopped the heavens from giving rain; how He shut the mouths of lions and caused a fiery furnace not to burn.

And once we remember these works and wonders, we should take a moment to ponder them, meaning we should think about them very carefully. We should take time to meditate on them, meaning we should focus our minds on God and His goodness.

Then, we will come to the same conclusion that David came to.

Yes, God, your ways are holy. There is no one else and nothing else that is great like You. You are the God who works wonders and performs miracles. You redeemed your people back then and you are redeeming me today.

Old Testament In a Year: August 2 – Psalm 119:89-176

Psalm 119:89-176
Focus Verse: Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies. – Psalm 119:157

David faced persecution and affliction. He had many enemies and adversaries. But none of that caused him to forsake God’s testimonies or to forget His law.

It didn’t matter what was going on around him and it didn’t matter what others were doing to him, David held on to God. He remembered His Word and kept His commands. Even when he was persecuted for no reason, David still stood in awe of God’s words and rejoiced at them.

Regardless of what hard times you’re going through, don’t stop reading and hearing the Word of God. Don’t stop listening to it and obeying it. Don’t allow mean people and messy situations to move you from following God and living life according to His rules. God’s Word is light and life to all who love it, and a blessing to all who believe it.

Old Testament In a Year: August 1 – Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119:1-88
Focus Verse: It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. – Psalm 119:71

David considered the suffering that he endured, the affliction that he went through, and the humbling that he experienced as good. All of those unpleasant moments helped him better learn God’s laws.

Through discipline we are brought closer to the divine. Through affliction we are made more aware of the Almighty. Through suffering we come to better know our Savior.

Don’t allow the pain of God’s chastisement to make you bitter, but better. God deals with us out of love, not hate; and however He deals with us, it is always in a way that is much better than we deserve. So, consider it good, that you may better learn His Word, keep His commands, value His truth, and believe His promises.

Old Testament In a Year: May 19 – 2 Samuel 21, 22; Psalm 18

2 Samuel 21, 22; Psalm 18
Focus Verse: 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. – Psalm 18:6

When you are in deep distress – physically, mentally, or emotionally – call upon the Lord and cry to Him for what you need and desire. You will always find Him near and ready to help. He has the strength to save, the power to provide, and the might to work miracles.

By calling on God through prayer, you tap into what He is able to do. You show that you are not depending on your own strength or on any human help, but you are depending on Him alone. You may be in distress for a variety of reasons, but for all of those reasons, the solution is the same – go before the throne of God and find mercy and grace to help in your time of need.

God doesn’t look down at you in distress; He sympathizes with you. Because He is omniscient, He knows how you’re feeling. Because He is omnipresent, He is with you. Because He is omnipotent, He is able to help you, encourage you, and deliver you from your distress.

From His temple, which is Heaven, God hears your voice. Nothing can stop your cry from reaching Him. He will never shut His eyes or stop His ears or turn His face away from you. He is always willing to listen and answer.

Old Testament In a Year: May 11 – 2 Samuel 8, 9; Psalm 60

2 Samuel 8, 9; Psalm 60
Focus Verse: And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” – 2 Samuel 9:7

When Jonathan was alive, David promised that he would not stop showing kindness to him or to his family. Long after Jonathan was dead, David kept his promise. He showed kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, and Jonathan’s grandson, Mica. All the days that he was alive, David made sure that Jonathan’s family was taken care of.

When you keep promises that you make, you are reflecting the character of God. God keeps His word. He cannot lie. What He says He will do, He does. What He promises, He fulfills.

When you keep promises that you make, you are also showing that you care for others. Regardless of how inconvenient it may be to you, others will know that you value and respect them when you keep your word to them.

Old Testament In a Year: May 10 – 2 Samuel 6, 7; Psalm 30

2 Samuel 6, 7; Psalm 30
Focus Verse: And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. – 2 Samuel 6:8

When David and some thirty thousand people were bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem, they were all in a good mood. Everyone was making music and celebrating before the Lord. When they came to a certain place, the oxen who were carrying the ark stumbled, and a man named Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark. Uzzah didn’t intentionally disobey or disrespect God with his action. He was just trying to keep the ark from falling. David knew this, and he was angry that God killed Uzzah because of his well-meaning error.

After feeling angry, David also felt afraid. Would God strike him too if he made a wrong move regarding the ark?

Anger. Fear. Sadness. Joy. Defeat. Victory. Regret. Hurt. Lonely. Love. There was no emotion that David could not express to God. His willingness to share exactly how he felt at different moments throughout his life reveals the depth and intimacy of his friendship with God. He was completely honestly about his faults and feelings with the one who made him. And so it should be with you.

Rick Warren said, “Genuine friendship is built on disclosure. What may appear as audacity God views as authenticity. God listens to the passionate words of his friends; He is bored with predictable, pious clichés. To be God’s friend, you must be honest to God, sharing your true feeling, not what you think you ought to feel or say.” Do not hide your faults, feelings, and failures from God. Do not tell Him what you think He wants to hear. Tell Him what you actually want to say. Tell Him how you truly feel. Tell Him what you don’t understand about His will or His ways. Complain. Accuse. Question. Argue. Challenge. Pester. Negotiate. Vent.

God made you and God loves you. Is there any better person to be honest with?

Old Testament In a Year: May 2 – 1 Samuel 22; Psalm 56

1 Samuel 22; Psalm 56
Focus Verse: You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? – Psalm 56:8

How deeply does God care about you? So deeply that He keeps count of your tossings. “Tossings” in this Scripture is interpreted to mean “wandering” – both mental and physical. God keeps count of the places that sadness and sorrow drives you to, just as He kept count of the places David was driven as he sought to escape from Saul. In times of trouble, God knows your inmost thoughts, your mental restlessness, and your mind’s misery.

It is no hard thing for Him to keep count of your mental and physical tossings, because in each moment and at each place, He is there with you.

And when you cry, God sees your tears. He collects and treasures them as if they were a precious perfume. He keeps track of what each tear was shed for, when it was shed, and why. They are ever before Him. You are ever on His mind.

Old Testament In a Year: May 1 – 1 Samuel 20, 21; Psalm 34

1 Samuel 20, 21; Psalm 34
Focus Verse: Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. – Psalm 34:5

If you look to God with faith that He will save you and confidence that He will hear you, your life will radiate with the light of His divine glory. You will not be disappointed because the Lord answers those who seek Him, He hears those who cry to Him, and He delivers those who fear Him.

When all is dark around you, look to God, and you will find light and comfort in Him. In your moment of trouble, you will find rest and relief in Him. Your face will be brightened. Your mind will be eased. Your heart will be at peace. You will know for certain that God will protect you. You will not be ashamed for having put your trust in God because He fulfills all expectations and hopes.