Sober Judgment and a High View

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:1,3-4

“Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in your eyes, O God. You have also spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you for honoring your servant? For you know your servant. For your servant’s sake, O Lord, and according to your own heart, you have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things. There is none like you, O Lord, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears... And now, O Lord, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now you have been pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for it is you, O Lord, who have blessed, and it is blessed forever.” 1 Chronicles 17:16-20,26-27

“By the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

There is so much about David that is admirable and attractive and worthy of emulation. Certainly he made some gross errors in judgment and let emotions dictate choices to grave sin, but from early on, when God had him in the sheep fields, he learned a high view of his God. It captured his heart, saturated his thinking, and colored his view of everything, including his understanding of himself and where he fit in God’s plan. (1 Samuel 17:32-37, 43-50)

He was a man, like us, who never lost sight of his Master, the only true Lord. He was ruddy, handsome, and brave, yet delighted in the beauty and strength of God. He was a brilliant and successful king, yet regularly acknowledged his dependence on Almighty God who had called him. (1 Samuel 16:12; Psalm 25:1-5; 27:4; 31:14

Understanding who we are by soberly assessing ourselves is a good way to begin plumb the depths of God who made and redeemed us. And contemplating Him in His infinite splendor helps us to see ourselves soberly. The seesaw of this regular meditation is healthy and instructive for our outlook on others, the ideas that bombard us through media, and world events.

Where are we caught up in the tangle of comparisons with other people- strengths, looks, achievements- and so blur our sight to a realistic view of self and the true authority of our King of kings? What have we allowed to cloud our vision? Taking a long look at the clear night or deep blue sky will sober and realign us.

Lord, I want my Father’s eyes. I want to see as You see, both myself, and Your royal splendor. Grant me honest, holy vision for Your kingdom and Your kingdom’s sake.

The Gift of Tears

“And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” 2 Samuel 18:33

“You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”
Psalm 56:8

“Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’” John 11:33-36

Surprise news of a longed-for pregnancy. A wake-up message with a picture of a newborn first grandchild. A retirement announcement after 12 years of outstanding leadership. Wedding vows of God’s redeemed. An overwhelming gratitude for a godly legacy. Tears blur our vision as a lump chokes our throat.

A rainbow. Tears glisten.

Diagnosed dementia. Returned cancer. Crackled booms of warfare, sirens, shouts of temper and violence. The heinous death of a rebel child. Long days of isolated loneliness. The peaceful death of an over-sixty-year marriage partner. Tears flow with gasps, throbs, sobs.

A soldier’s reunion with his family. Tears roll down quivering cheeks.

These episodes each bring tears, unbidden, welling up from that secret place designed by our loving Creator. Every squeeze of the heart, every salty drop, is a gift of His unimaginable goodness and grace.

Tears dampen many a page in Scripture: tears of emotion at the inerrant truth and exquisite beauty of what we read; tears at tracing the scarlet thread of Jesus’s blood and love from beginning to end; tears of agony, desperation, rejoicing, conviction, longing. (Matthew 26:75; Luke 19:41-42; Acts 2:37-38)

The tears elicited from God’s words are ours to let fill our eyes and flow in intimate communion with our Savior. He not only knows and understands them, but counts them as He shares in our sorrows and joys and delights in our dependence and expression. We are practicing what He has made us to be, life in His image that is being sanctified in every aspect, body, soul, spirit. As Jesus bore the imprint of God’s nature, so we bear His imprint on ours. (Genesis 1:26-27; Hebrews 1:2-3)

Lord, thank You for the gift of tears. Make me more like You, in every way, as I share in Your life. May I weep as You wept. May my tears bring glory to the intricate beauties of Your creation of man.

Low Tide’s Undoing

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
‘I the Lord search the heart
    and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.’” Jeremiah 17:9-10

“The Lord comes, [and] will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5

“The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

An abnormally low tide uncovered ugliness and wear usually hidden by the gloss and gleam of Bay water. Crusted oyster shells and barnacles, decaying wood posts worn by years of shifting salt water, even a stench- all are laid bare. Erosion and buildup are easy to ignore when water levels are “fine,” but impossible to ignore when exposed.

When we least expect it, strange winds sweep into our lives and can become our undoing also. We glide along relatively smoothly, weathering normal ups and downs just “fine” on the surface, when insidiously, a blow of change, or draining suck of circumstances, uncovers otherwise undisclosed ugliness in us. A life-altering diagnosis, a devastating loss, an unsettling move, might pull back the calm we present and unearth sickening fear and doubt of God’s goodness. Grave disappointment or strong disagreement can bring to light willful stubbornness, an unwillingness to forgive, or an ugly attitude. We may live lightly along, relishing our present pretty-adorned identity, until social media exposes a poor decision or shameful past, and we panic for fig leaves to hide resurfaced shame. (Genesis 3:7-13)

Over time, a low tide of spirit, a failure to be filled regularly, weakens foundations and impossibly hardens barnacles of unchecked bitterness and prejudice. We get into rote rhythms that no longer have meaning or produce tasty fruit. We hum along in habits that numb us to sin’s danger and dull our sensitivity to God’s nudges of conviction or correction. Our reasoning gets imperceptibly caught up into our culture’s current, and grows indistinguishable from the world’s. We lose biblical footing because we’ve lost the will to shore up the piers of our faith in God’s immutable word, so they decay. (Romans 15:13; Ephesians 5:18)

The enemy would have us never consider our accountability before God, but the Bible is clear: there will be a reckoning. How have we grown lax in seeking out His searchlight to show where we are slipping, and what will we do about it? Is there a slow seep of living water draining the vitality from our spiritual lives, almost imperceptibly, that we need urgently repair? (John 7:37-39)

When we look to God, He will be our glorious undoing, and then apply His grace. (Isaiah 6:1-7)

Holy Lord, may I never fear low tides. When they come, by Your grace, chip away the sin barnacles I’ve allowed to harden, and fill me anew with You.

Gatekeepers and the Duty of Watching

“All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. And they lodged around the house of God, for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning.” 1 Chronicles 9:22-27

David knew the heart of man, that even the most devoted could fall. So when he planned for the temple, he planned also for gatekeepers as vital to its upkeep and integrity. They were able men, commissioned with this ministry of the Lord’s holy house, stationed at its entrances where anything entered or exited, and tasked with vigilance. (2 Samuel 11:2-12:13; 1 Chronicles 26:1-19)

We, too, are assigned the careful work of keeping guard over all that, and whom, the Lord has entrusted to us- in our families, in His church, and in ourselves. It is an office of trust: ours in the Lord who is the true Defender, and ours in the upholding as those trustworthy of the task. It is also a privilege, as God’s children, to be given the trust of keeping watch(Psalm 18:1-2; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 8:31-34; 1 Corinthians 4:2; 1 Peter 5:2-3)

How well are we tending the gates of our families or communities of friends? How thoughtful are we in the ideas and activities we initiate or participate in? What are we actively doing together to ward off wickedness, to protect against dissension and exasperation, and to pursue diligence and discipline, yielding to the Lord’s parameters to develop holiness? (Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 12:5-11)

What are we doing to watch the gate of our churches? How firmly do we stand on and communicate the inerrant scriptures, build up and pray for our ministers, encourage our fellow members? How are we serving to align and support the worship and teaching with the Bible, to disciple and develop fruitfulness, to deflect gossip and guard against unclean and destructive pests to purity, to keep the Lord’s glory foremost? (Psalm 84:10; Ephesians 4:15-16; 25-32)

What am I doing to guard the gate of my heart, the door of my lips, my body the Spirit’s temple, in my intake- physical, spiritual, intellectual, reading and entertainment, ideas and philosophies? How well do I guard myself in the company I keep, the invitations I accept, the intimate treasures I share? How deliberately do I cleanse of the old and put on the new, renewing my mind so I can walk in the Lord’s pleasing and perfect will? (Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 4:23; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Colossians 3:1-10)

Father, insofar as You’ve assigned me as a gatekeeper, I rely on You to gate-keep my heart, mind, and soul. May I stay vigilant as steward of Your heavenly riches, on guard against the enemy, trusting You as Lord, Master, Keeper, and King. Keep my life a holy temple where You reside and are magnified. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Warriors of Their Generations

“The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puah, Jashub, and Shimron, four. The sons of Tola: Uzzi, Rephaiah, Jeriel, Jahmai, Ibsam, and Shemuel, heads of their fathers’ houses, mighty warriors of their generations, their number in the days of David being 22,600. The son of Uzzi: Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah: Michael, Obadiah, Joel, and Isshiah, all five of them were chief men. Along with them, by their generations, according to their fathers’ houses, were units of the army for war, 36,000, for they had many wives and sons. Their kinsmen belonging to all the clans of Issachar were in all 87,000 mighty warriors, enrolled by genealogy. The sons of Benjamin: Bela, Becher, and Jediael, three. The sons of Bela: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth, and Iri, five, heads of fathers’ houses, mighty warriors. And their enrollment by genealogies was 22,034…”

“And Ephraim went in to his wife, and she conceived and bore a son. And he called his name Beriah… His daughter was Sheerah, who built both Lower and Upper Beth-horon, and Uzzen-sheerah. Rephah was his son, Resheph his son, Telah his son, Tahan his son, Ladan his son, Ammihud his son, Elishama his son, Nun his son, Joshua his son.” 1 Chronicles 7:1-7,23-27

God, Author of history and providential in the affairs of men and nations, raises up His people for His times to do His will. Moses was called to lead Israel out of Egypt, Joshua to conquer the promised land, Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Esther to influence King Ahasueras “for such a time as this.” Peter and Paul were pioneers and pillars in the early church. God determines our times and boundaries and the number of our days, and assigns each of us a work to do that is part of His kingdom plan. (Exodus 3:7-10; Deuteronomy 31:23; Nehemiah 1:4-2:18; Esther 4:13-14; Ephesians 2:10)

We would not be where we are today, in our world history, our nations, our careers, communities, and churches, if not for those who have gone before us. Planets spin in their orbits, kings and kingdoms rise and fall, and the Lord God in exquisite sovereignty rules them all. He does not exist to serve us, but we to serve Him and His purposes in the time allotted to us. (Acts 17:24-28)

Are we familiar enough with the scriptures to trace God’s providential hand through history, and to recognize how He equips His soldiers? The mighty warriors God raised up did not act in isolation. They needed parents to raise them, trainers to equip and instruct them, colleagues to develop and implement strategy, skilled craftsmen to make armaments and weapons for war. Each had his vital role and place.

How are we training ourselves in spiritual vision and an eternal perspective? Does entanglement in our own narrow or provincial living prevent us from seeing God’s bigger kingdom plan? How willing are we to expend ourselves for a movement broader than our own world of personal business, friends, and home? What are we doing to strengthen our needed skills for our generation?

Father, direct my mind and feet into the work You’ve prepared for me. Give me a whole and brave heart to do Your will for my generation, to run Your intended course with vigor, determination, and joy, to the furthering of Your purposes and the praise of Your glory. (Acts 13:22,36; 20:24)

Sharing Joy

“The angel said, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary,.. behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son,.. her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’

Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?.. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’ And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…
He who is mighty has done great things for me,
    holy is his name.’
Luke 1:30-32,35-43,45-47,49

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” Psalm 34:3

Mary couldn’t wait to share her wondrous news with her cousin Elizabeth. God pulls back the curtain for us to observe and marvel at the angelic announcement of Jesus and the shared excitement of these two women, and invites us to be a part. Their mutual encouragement and gladness bubbles in the passage as it did in that room, and our souls are swept into their joy, caught up with theirs to magnify God’s name and goodness. This intimate picture models how we can engender praise among friends in our lives.

The by-products of sharing joy are heightened awareness of how and when God is working, growth in expectancy of more wondrous deeds, and increased, contagious glory given the King. Our joyful attitude breeds delight in those around us, our language of praise becomes another’s song, all fragrant incense that pleases the Lord. (Psalm 141:2; Luke 1:67-79)

When we experience a deep connection with God, a personal grace beyond imagining, a gift from the Lord’s hand that humbles, stupefies, and delights, are we eager to proclaim His goodness? Is our gratitude so great we cannot keep it to ourselves? With whom do we regularly recount God’s kind deeds and revealed truth?

Whose faith and worship can we encourage by sharing what God has done and is doing? How might we develop someone’s expectancy, or offer hope and comfort, by telling of God’s personal hand in our own longing or need?

Do we regularly come alongside to share others’ joy? When friends open their treasure of good news, do we value it as such, or flirt with jealousy or competition and diminish their experience by adorning it with “me too,” turning attention to ourselves? Will we genuinely rejoice with them, taking in their full report and adding nothing but praise to God? (Romans 12:15)

Lord, may I always sweeten fellowship by rejoicing with those who rejoice and eagerly telling of Your delights. Prompt me to keep sharing Your glorious promises and deeds so Your glory is multiplied among Your people.

You. Are. My. God.

“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 118:28-29

“I say to the Lord, You are my God;
    give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!
O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,
    you have covered my head in the day of battle.
Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;
    do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! 

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
    and will execute justice for the needy.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;
    the upright shall dwell in your presence.”
Psalm 140:6-8,12-13

“O Lord, you are my God;
    I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
    plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Isaiah 25:1

Four words: You are my God. Words of conviction, words of truth, words of assurance. Accenting each word, one at a time, highlights its special meaning and backs its power in this cogent statement.

You. You, high and holy Lord- You alone. You exist eternally, You know all things, You do all things well. There is none who compares with You, no one else who captivates, delivers, saves, or transforms as You do. You are unique, and uniquely worthy of my attention, allegiance, and worship. (Psalm 40:5; 89:6; 119:68; Mark 7:37)

Are. You are- presently, actively, dynamically now, and alive. You exist from eternity past, You always will be, and You are at this moment, the same forever. (Psalm 90:2; John 1:1; Hebrews 13:8)

My. My God- maker of my inmost parts, committed to our intimate relationship, possessive of me as Your beloved own. You know all about me, hear my cries, understand my heart, and personally sanctify me. (Psalm 139:1-16; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

God. Almighty and unique God of gods. Omnipotent and wise King, Ruler, Creator, Authority, Judge, Savior. There is none like You, unique, transcendent, perfect in knowledge and righteousness. The highest heavens cannot contain You who are measureless in love, abounding in compassion, mercy, and faithfulness. (1 Kings 8:27; Psalm 36:5; 103:11)

Since this is true, and He is my God, how can I fear or fret or feel alone? How can I not sing, and praise Him with every breath, all of my days? Why would I not love what He loves, hate what He hates, and trust Him with my all? How can I not live in certain and expectant hope, assured of His defense as my Advocate, of His return as my coming Redeemer? Why would I become attached to, or spend time on, idols and idle things? (Job 16:19; Revelation 22:12)

O Lord, You are my God. You are my God. You are my God. You are my God. May I sing this refrain morning, noon, and night, and live to give You the glory, reverence, and honor You deserve.

Whose Way?

Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God, but he walked in the way of the kings of Israel. He even burned his son as an offering, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. And he sacrificed and made offerings on the high places and on the hills and under every green tree.

Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on Jerusalem, and they besieged Ahaz but could not conquer him... So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying,.. ‘Come up and rescue me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are attacking me.’ Ahaz also took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasures of the king’s house and sent a present to the king of Assyria.

“When King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, he saw the altar that was at Damascus. [He] sent Uriah the priest a model of the altar, and its pattern, exact in all its details.  And Uriah the priest built the altar… before King Ahaz arrived.  And when the king came from Damascus, [he] drew near to the altar and went up on it and burned his offering… on the altar. The bronze altar that was before the Lord he removed from the front of the house,.. and put it on the north side of his altar. And King Ahaz commanded Uriah the priest, saying, ‘On the great altar burn the morning burnt offering and the evening grain offering and the king’s burnt offering and his grain offering, with the burnt offering of all the people…’ King Ahaz cut off the frames of the stands and removed the basin from them, and he took down the sea from off the bronze oxen that were under it and put it on a stone pedestal.” 2 Kings 16:2-5,7-8,10-15,17

Ahaz did things his way, in his work and worship. When he met opposition, he implemented a better way, according to himself, and plowed on in direct opposition to the Lord’s commands and pattern for reverent worship. How like him we can be! (Deuteronomy 12:1-4)

Once a decision is made to do things my way, it is impossible to reverse course save for God’s merciful intervention. Heart bent leads to choice leads to action upon action, and before we know it, we sacrifice all that is meaningful and valuable to get our way. We charge ahead at the helm with no one to stop us, drunk on power and the pride of self-exaltation.

God, who knows our sinful proclivities, established the right way to approach Him, and worship, and live. His ways are good, sufficient, sure, and satisfying. Repeatedly we ascend the throne of self, grip the royal scepter, and waste the kingdom entrusted to us. But God offers Jesus, Himself the Way, to lead us aright to eternal life and unspeakable joy. (John 10:10; 14:6)

Whose way will I choose?

My Lord, have Your way with me. I yield my way to give way to Your glorious best.

Urgency

“Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved… Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect… Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” Matthew 24:4-13,44; 26:41

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

There seems a sense of urgency in the bird chatter this morning, more snipped and staccato than the usual carefree, cheerful song. The water jiggles nervously under damp lusty gusts that fuffle through tree tops and snap flags. They know a storm is coming.

There are many a threat to unsettle our equilibrium today, yet the enemy would blind us with complacency and numb us with ease. If he could. God’s people are called to urgency, not stress; preparedness, not anxiety. We do not know what a day or tomorrow holds, so we can be confident in the Lord by safeguarding ourselves with prayer, spiritual armor, and trust in God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Matthew 6:34; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 6:10-17; James 4:13-14).

Are we prone to complain, or fret, or ignore signs of trouble or suffering because we prefer to avoid the fray, the potential pain? Maybe we coddle our own self-righteous justification and blame in order to put off the necessary humility to reconcile? Do we stew in touchiness and hurt feelings because we abhor being wronged, or wrong? We must take care to batten down the hatches on temptation and secure ourselves in the Lord.

We should always have a sense of urgency about being right with God, keeping clean accounts, making the most of storms, and spreading his good news in the midst of them through our words and behavior. We should be compelled every day by an urgency to love, to rejoice, to serve, to give, and to laugh at the days to come because we are ready. (Psalm 112:7-8; Proverbs 31:25)

When spitting rain glosses the path before us slippery, are we determined to forge ahead with careful steps, or do we timidly hang back until it lets up, until danger and inconvenience disappear? When our days get saturated with flooding troubles, are we urgent to embrace God’s purpose and to sow and produce spiritual fruit, or do we lazily allow our suffering to be wasted? (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Father, guard me from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Enable me to hold my confidence firm in You to the end, daily urgent to honor Your worth and exalt Your glorious purposes. (Hebrews 3:12-14)

Our Help and Hope

“Put not your trust in princes,
    in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
    on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
    who executes justice for the oppressed,
    who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
    he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 146:3-10

Living here on earth, and moving among things of earth, we tend to seek here our sources of wisdom, help, and strength. We exercise our minds and bodies to be able to defend against and equip ourselves for whatever comes, but often to the neglect of what we cannot conquer in the flesh. “Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!” is a sobering reality we do not like to believe, but it has serious bearing on our ability to help ourselves. (Psalm 39:5)

Thankfully, our Maker who created us for Himself loves us, and leaves us not alone. He who imagined and made all things keeps faith forever. He is our steadfast, unchanging help in provision and justice, protection and undergirding. He who holds the future and is coming again is our hope of lasting freedom, our sight for recognizing and receiving our eternal inheritance, our guarantee of release from despair and unbearable burdens. (Isaiah 49:1-5; John 14:2-3)

Shall we not then praise Him? Will we not then trust Him? Our LORD, whose eye is keen and arm is strong, is enough for our every care and need. His salvation is more real, and lasting, than any earthly deliverance.

If the One who helps us is also our hope, His aid is tied to His guarantee, His companionship and provision in the present to our eternal and glorious riches. Nothing can separate us from Him, no trouble or attack or dearth or pain can change what is ours in Christ. We cannot hold back sea and storm. Flesh is imperfect in fidelity and justice. Man cannot work miracles. But God is a present help and hope, able and faithful to fulfill His promises. He is the One who reigns in majesty and ineffable power. (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 46:1; Lamentations 3:22-23; Romans 8:31-39; Ephesians 1:11-14)

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow–
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”
~Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)

Where are we weak? Where have we failed? What is our need? And where are we seeking help? Would we descend our thrones, relinquish man’s expertise and ‘must-haves,’ and reach for the King who is eternally good, loving, and actively engaged in our lives?

Faithful Lord, my help and hope are in You alone. Keep me praising and trusting You forever.