The Very Character of God

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.'”

We have the benefit of seeing this prophecy fulfilled in the Son of God. If you trace the lineage from David, it all points to Christ. David, a deeply flawed man, had a heart for God. Generations to come would – and still do – revere King David. It speaks volumes about God’s character that He would choose someone like David to “establish his line forever.”

It never ceases to amaze me that God still chooses men and women of deeply flawed character to continue God’s kingdom from one generation to the next.

It’s the very character of God in action.

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A Fulfilling Place

I will declare that your love stands firms forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. Psalm 89:2

This verse allows us to begin thinking of heaven again. The consistency in heaven is God Himself. We don’t know much about heaven except God will be there, and we already know He is faithful. We also can trust that whatever He does in heaven will be awe-inspiring and wonderful. People ask – I often ask – “what is heaven like?” Well, if God is there it will be incredibly fulfilling.

Sorry, but I don’t know much more than that. Do we need to know much more than that?

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Through All Generations

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations Psalm 89:1

To those who know Christ, we understand a bit about eternity, that is, that we will be singing of God’s love forever and ever and ever. The second piece to that, though, is keeping that fire alive not only among this generation but through the next and the next after that. How do we do that? How do we ensure future generations will carry the Gospel message onto future generations.

The answer, of course, is in the second half of this verse but it goes a bit further. Surely we proclaim in any way, form, or fashion the Gospel message. We proclaim it through radio, TV, broadsheets, song, word of mouth, or a thousand different ways. But as sure as I write this, you have to know that people are also watching us. They’re looking for consistency. They may not be looking for perfection necessarily, but consistency. And that goes back to the fundamental principle of this verse: faithfulness. Being faithful in our walk and witness is totally worthwhile. It tells others about the changed life you’ve experienced.

In that way, we are able to show how God is faithful. He has used every generation to proclaim His word and His love. That’s faithfulness.

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Darkness and Friendship

17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.
18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:17-18

Years ago, Simon and Garfunkel recorded a great ballad that begins:

Hello Darkness my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again

Perhaps this singing duo knew about the despair the sons of Korah experienced.

What is it like to experience what they experienced? What is it like to be absolutely overwhelmed with life and circumstances? We all get down on occasion but being in the midst of terrible and prolonged depression is not a fun place to be.

If this is your situation, reach out to one or two people. I know it seems like the most difficult thing in the world to do when you’re this way, but it’s the best thing you can do. Tell them your struggles. It goes without saying that you are already reaching out to God, but I think that everyone needs other people in their lives to talk to about very personal and real things. There’s a very good reason God put others on this planet, namely so that we can at least have a friend or two to ride out the storms of life.

Be encouraged, my friends, be encouraged.

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15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. Psalm 88:15-16

As the sons of Korah conclude this psalm, we get the sense that they were in some very dark times. I’m not sure what was going on, and the context doesn’t really say but it’s safe to say that they were questioning everything about God.

All of us have been there. All of us understand the sentiment. Equally important is that God pulled all of us out of it. Were you a better person because of it? Were you bitter and discouraged while you were in the middle of it all? How about now when you’ve had time to reflect? What did you learn, if anything?

Suffering is such a personal topic. It’s very easy to “pontificate” about it sitting at a computer without a care in the world, but when you’re in the thick of it, it’s not easy! It’s downright difficult! Christ Himself said we would have many troubles in this world. And troubles are just that, troubles.

So, continue to grow in Christ as you consider these words. They are not meant as condemnation or as a means of saying “you’re not doing enough.” No, these are words of a friend in Christ encouraging you to stay strong in Christ no matter your circumstance.

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The Journey

13 But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? Psalm 88:13-14

Once again the sons of Korah reveal their hearts. I’ve very often found what they prayed to be a very “raw” prayer. When you pray it, it’s because you are in trouble. I’ve said this many times over the years but often the answers to those prayers are often in the “asking” than in the actual “getting.” God’s answer to prayers aren’t like getting presents from Santa Claus. Part of what God wants to do is for us to search the Scriptures for answers. Why? Because the character of God is revealed in the Scriptures.

What are you looking for? Answers. Often the answers have to be mined. Most of us have searched for answers in a passage we’ve read a thousand times. But upon read number 1001, something becomes illuminated. That’s how the Word of God is.

So when you cry out to God in your darkness and despair, search for your answers in the Scriptures. Now He may in fact outright answer your prayer, but often the journey through the Bible will provide as much revelation to your prayer as the actual answer does.

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The First Time and Every Time

10 Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
11 Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction?
12 Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? Psalm 88:10-12

To all of these rhetorical questions, the answer is “No.” None of it is true because God can no longer help the dead. It is futile for God to “bless” and “love” the dead because they had their chance.

The sons of Korah seemed to be making the case and imploring God to listen to the prayers of His people, and in particular, their own lives and their own prayers.

God hears us the first time and every time we pray. Sometimes, though, we need to convince ourselves that He does hear our prayers even though the answers to those prayers are not evident.

What’s on your heart today? What is keeping you away from the Lord?

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5 I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
7 Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
8 You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape;
9 my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Psalm 88:5-9

Loneliness is that feeling you have when you feel like everyone has abandoned you. Where did they all go? It’s a feeling of despair and hopelessness.

I suspect many of the hostages in Iran in the early 1980s had that sense of loneliness too. They got little to no news while in captivity, and what they received was undoubtedly full of propaganda. This is the kind of training we received at Survival School (mock POW camp) in the 80s. We were told that no one on the outside knew about our plight and that we would sit in prison and rot. Based on the setup of the camp and the expertise of the actors playing their roles, we believed them (even though we knew the camp was only supposed to last for 24 hours. For that those actors deserved Oscars!). Mind games. Head games.

Pray for Saeed Abedini, the American pastor from Idaho who has been in an Iranian prison for three years. Pray that he will know that others are praying for him while he’s there, and that he will be encouraged by stay strong in his faith.

Pray also for  his wife, Naghmeh Abedini, and their two children. Pray that they will be encouraged by God almighty Himself.

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The Pit

4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. Psalm 88:4

Recall the story of Joseph in Genesis 37. His brothers were jealous of him and cast him into a pit, and then sold him to Ishmaelites. He didn’t seem to be in the pit long. Had he been in the pit (dry well) long, he surely would have died in the desert. The longer he stayed, the more energy would have been zapped from him. Joseph really had no way of escape except that others would help him out. His brothers pulled him out and promptly sold him. In their own twisted thinking, they had rescued their brother from death.

When you’re in a pit, you need help out, there’s just no two ways about it. You can try climbing but that’s often futile and a waste of precious energy. So what do you do? You wait and pray and hope help is on the way.

Sometimes the pits we find ourselves in are of our own making, that is, we make bad choices on top of other bad choices. Before we know it, we are trapped and can’t get out.

Sometimes, though, others toss us into that pit via hurtful comments and slander. We seethe in anger about how that person has hurt. It seems like we’re in the pit and can’t get out.

Two other Old Testament stories comes to mind. Daniel in the den with the lions, and Daniel’s friends: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. With Daniel, it was clear that a supernatural event took place to protect him from the lions. For the three friends, a fourth Friend showed up in the furnace.

So you see, in the midst of darkness and suffering, Christ provides a way out. It may not be the way you expected, but there will be a way out. As mentioned in the previous devotional, toss all of those weighty burdens on Him for He cares for you.

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