Psalm 5

Vs. 2, “Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.” Yesterday’s previous chapter was an evening psalm, and today is a morning one. I can imagine having composed this psalm of lament and prayer the next morning. David sets the example for all of us as the first thing he does is turn to the Lord (vs. 1-3). As David grows in the knowledge of the LORD, he is able to make true statements about God’s character (vs. 4-6). Rather than pat himself on the back when comparing himself to his enemies, David simply bows in reverence (vs. 7). Because enemies beset David on all sides, he prays that the LORD would lead him through the dangers (vs. 8-12).

Regarding application…Trusting in Troubled Times. Vs. 12, “Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Question: What would cause David to turn to the LORD? Troubled times. Let me remind all of us a very simple truth: the enemy targets the righteous. It’s these very troubled times that actually help the believer grow in their faith. Like a muscle that must be torn to grow bigger, our faith must be challenged to grow. When there is no trouble in our lives, we might linger and get ourselves into trouble that does not build Christian character. King David had already experienced this with Bathsheba. So when we find ourselves in trouble because of our intention to walk with the LORD, find comfort to know that our God is with us!

Psalm 4

Vs. 1, “Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Most scholars see our Psalm today connected to the previous Psalm. King David constructs this Psalm with an emphasis on the character of God. In the midst of distress, David cries out to God for mercy (vs. 1-3). His faith gives him the confidence to trust that God will answer. But, this is also about encouraging others to turn to the LORD in the midst of restless nights (vs. 4-5). David ends the Psalm acknowledging that it is the LORD alone who can provide such peace and prosperity (vs. 6-8).

Regarding application…What’s Prosperity? Vs. 6, “Many, LORD, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?” Let the light of your face shine on us.” Question: How does one prosper? When the countenance of God is upon them. The fact that we know God has our back and is always there is quite amazing! Take performance in any arena (sports, music, acting, etc.) When you are a little kid and competing in your first piano recital or playing sports, it’s so important to have family members there. It doesn’t matter if you scored a goal or got everyone to clap. If a child sees that no one from their family is there for them, the victory is bitter. Our prosperity isn’t based on our achievements, but the fact that God’s face is looking with approval from afar. He is the one that makes us prosper! Prosperity doesn’t always come as we think it should. Just review the beatitudes as a poignant reminder (Matthew 5:1-12).

Psalm 3

Vs. 1, “LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!” This is our first Psalm that is attributed to King David. The background of this Psalm (lament) is a sober one, for David had to flee at night to escape his own son’s attempt to kill him (II Samuel 15, 16). As the king, he was already the target of many who wanted to see his demise (vs. 2). Having escaped the clutches of danger, David was able to declare the LORD’s hand in his deliverance (vs. 3-4). In the midst of the clear and present danger, David is able to find a peace that can only come through confidence in the LORD (vs. 5-8). On a side note: I’ll explain the “Selah.” The Selah appears only in Psalms except for one other occasion in Habakkuk. Scholars differ on the purpose of it. Some believe it is an instruction for silence, a notation for a musical interlude, instructions for the congregation to sing, etc. Early Jewish tradition believed it meant forever.

Regarding application…A Hero Comes Along. Vs. 8, “Salvation belongs to the LORD; Your blessing be upon Your people!” In the bigger picture of life, there are constant dangers we too face. While we may not get death threats like David or other leaders of this world; we are targeted by an unseen enemy. Much like Job, he did not realize he was the target of Satan the adversary. But, in comes the hero of hero’s; a hero far mightier than the Avengers and far mightier than the Guardians of the Galaxy. We love our hero themed movies and stories for a reason. The LORD Almighty has been the hero and champion of all creation from the very beginning of Genesis and through the Bible past Revelation and beyond! So the next time you feel in a tight squeeze, remember our psalm today!

Psalm 2

Vs. 1, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?” What an applicable truth for our present time too! When this psalm was written, it was with the intention to recognize Judah’s kings. They are the anointed ones and considered themselves sons of God. It is a reminder for all nations to fear the anointed kings from the LORD. This royal psalm did not have in mind Jesus, yet it is a messianic psalm pointing to Christ. During the exile and the tough times of God’s people, this Psalm brought much hope. The kings and rulers of the world reject God (vs. 1-3). Yet, their schemes are nothing to the power of God for He will establish His perfect Son to reign forever (vs. 4-12).

Regarding application…Warning Signs. Vs. 11, “Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.” Though the immediate audience is the rulers of this world, we would be wise to take heed. In our single-minded ways, we can tend to think the world revolves around us. I talked about “wants” in our life in the Sunday message today. We have the adequate warning signs on this road of life. Question: Will we pay attention? As we start a new week, take time to delight in what God’s word has to exhort us. As we go about our week at work, home, & church take time to consider how you can serve the Lord!

Psalm 1

Vs. 1, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” Jesus compared the two roads; one that leads to heaven and one that leads to hell. Our opening psalm reveals this same thought as we see the way of the righteous vs. the way of the wicked. The righteous do not sully themselves with the world, they turn to God’s law, and they bear much fruit (vs. 1-3). However, the wicked are like chaff; here today and gone tomorrow (vs. 4-5). God’s ever-present eye is upon both (vs. 6). The author is unknown to us, but the first Psalm is a wonderful introduction for us.

Regarding application…God’s Great Reveal. Vs. 2, “but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” We have all that we need for godly living! The great adversary would have us believe that life is futile and without purpose. But, the psalmist reminds us that God has revealed His ways through the Living Word. Question: What is our motivation? Spending time with the Lord in devotion and prayer brings us closer to Him. Recently, my wife and I went on a one-night vacation to Long Beach. We ate good food, smelled the ocean breeze, walked together, talked together, etc. When I was with her, I was delighting in her presence. Likewise, our motivation is the Word because He reveals His heart to us every time we seek Him. It’s really quite humbling. What a loving and gracious creator we have!

Colossians 4

Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” In the midst of false teachings growing, we must not forget how important prayer is (vs. 2-4). The idea of watchful is being on our guard like a soldier. Question: Why is prayer so important? Because prayer gives us the ability to face the temptations of this world. Prayer gives us the privilege to be in relationship with the Lord. I love how Paul is not timid to ask for prayers to be lifted up for him. Though we are to guard ourselves against heresy, we still need to be open to reaching out to the world around us (vs. 5-6). Though Paul was not able to be with them due to his imprisonment, he would send Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver the letter and encourage the church (vs. 7-9). The latter section of the last chapter, Paul sends his greetings to his many friends (vs. 10-18). Aristarchus, John Mark and Jesus Justus were Jews while Epaphras, Luke, and Demas were Gentiles. They all would play a vital role in supporting Paul and the ministry to share the Gospel and support the poor church in Jerusalem.

Regarding application…Ready with an Answer. Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Our task on this earth is not to just attend church, tithe, and be a good person. We are called to bear witness and testify of the Good News that came to us! Now more than ever, people are leaving the established churches. Millennial’s are leaving the church in droves because they are not satisfied with the answers. While we cannot change people’s hearts, we can have conversation seasoned with salt (knowledge and love). The more we walk with the Lord, the more we pray, and the more we know His word will give us the humility and confidence to answer for our faith!

Colossians 3

Vs. 1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” In our previous chapter, we were reminded by Paul that we had died with Christ (Colossians 2:20). But, that death of our old nature (vs. 3) brings on new life as we are raised with Christ (vs. 1-4). Our faith compels us to move forward and be changed. Question: How is this different than other religions? Because we have the one factor they don’t have; Jesus! Paul does not gloss over the reality of the ugliness of sin (vs. 5-9). It’s not easy admitting our faults and the things that we struggle with. This is a good reminder for us to face our problems and admit the sins that can entangle us. To be like Christ means that we are being renewed (process) and one that is offered to all without discrimination (vs. 10-11). Question: Why would we want to stop living like our old selves? Paul goes on to list the great benefits of living in Christ (s. 12-17). But that benefit isn’t just something that is categorized for our public reputation. As renewed believers, we are called to have our faith lived out at home and work (vs. 18-25).

Regarding application…Ruling Peace. Vs. 15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Picture peace as a referee in sports today. The referee makes ruling judgments to keep the athletes in line and competition staying friendly. If a basketball player fouls another person too hard, they can get called on flagrant foul. There are rules with how the teams are to respond to each other. If a player or even coach gets out of line, they can get ejected from the game. When we live this life, we must adhere to the ruling peace of Christ. Question: Are you living in harmony with others? It’s easier said than done. There are hurts and legitimate reasons we may have to harbor grudges. Though we are emotional beings, let us humbly allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts and relationships.

Colossians 2

Vs. 1, “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” Paul was someone special to have such a passion for people he didn’t ever meet. Question: What would drive Paul to such passionate discourse? The truth! Paul understood something we take lightly; the importance of biblical truth and the right understanding of who Jesus is (vs. 1-5)! Paul wanted to ensure that the Christians there didn’t just sit on their faith (vs. 6-8). Our faith in Christ gives us all we need to live godly lives (vs. 9-15). It’s noteworthy to be aware of the schemes of higher learning and philosophies (vs. 8). Paul also speaks comforting truth to the Gentiles and a reminder for the Jews that spiritual circumcision sets the believer apart (vs. 9-12). The clear work and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is beautifully expounded upon (vs. 13-15). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 16-23) involves Paul giving the Colossian believers clear spiritual warning signs. We should not fear the judgment of false accusers. We should not allow the bullies of this intellectual world to intimidate us from the truth.

Regarding application…Rooted Faith. Vs. 7, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him…” It’s not often that I get to reference this verse! The English ministry that I serve at my Korean church is called, “Roots Ministry.” A couple of years ago, I thought of this particular passage as our verse to give clarity to the meaning of our name. The more we know God’s word, the more our spiritual roots will dig deep to keep us easily shaken by the winds of false doctrine. The role of roots for a tree is to provide nourishment, strength and stability. Question: Is your faith growing in the Lord? My mom loves to garden. I got to see first hand growing up that it takes tender loving care to grow a beautiful garden. It takes patience, time, watering, trimming, watching, etc. Likewise, our faith requires just as much TLC!

Colossians 1

Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” False religions and wayward spiritual thinking has existed long before our present age. Though Colosse was in decline, it was still a larger cosmopolitan city. Paul opens his letter with a typical thanksgiving and prayer for the church (vs. 1-14). He was thankful for their response to the Gospel! However, he needed to recalibrate their estimation of who Jesus was. There were those who were doing an effective job causing the young church to question the supremacy of Christ. Their teachings were a mixture of eastern religions and Jewish legalism. If they sought true knowledge, God would bring them to a level of spiritual enlightenment. The problem with this enlightenment was that it was based on human experiences rather than the truth of Jesus’ teachings and the prophets before him. That’s why Paul would spend the early part of his letter defending Jesus’ work and power (vs. 15-23). The latter section of our chapter (vs. 24-29), Paul asserts his joy in his present circumstances to help validate the fact that he was not in prison having been defeated. He was in prison because he was doing the right thing!

Regarding application…Holy Benefit. Vs. 22, “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” The crux of the issue was this false belief in thinking that goodness and holiness could be attained on our own. If holiness could be achieved through our own spiritual enlightenment, than Jesus’s work on the cross is a moot point. The benefit for us is astounding! Jesus did what the Old Testament was never meant to do; He saved us! This legalistic quasi approach (Gnosticism) elevated the work and intellect of humans. It is hard for me to grasp the fact that we can be holy before a mighty God. I suppose that is why Amazing Grace resonates in our hearts so much. This holy benefit is offered to Jew and Gentile alike. It is offered to all who call upon the name of the Lord.

Job 42

Vs. 12, “The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.” Hallelujah! In a fallen world, it sure brings a smile to the heart to see that righteousness prevails. The enemy has been defeated for Job was able to keep his faith in the Lord! Though Job had not specifically sinned to bring such past trials, he was not completely innocent of complaining, questioning and challenging the LORD. While Job was never given an answer to his suffering, the greatness of God humbled him. His repentant heart was not a reflection of his lack of faith. I have to confess that there was a bit of pumping my fist attitude towards the rebuke of Eliphaz and the others (vs. 7-9). It was nice to see that God humbled them as well. The latter section of our chapter (vs. 10-17), brings comfort that God would restore a person who endured so much. What a tale from riches to rags and then rags to riches!

Regarding application…Ultimate Blessing. As I reflect upon the life of Job, it is wonderful to see the happily ever after ending. But the outpouring of blessing isn’t the focal point. The ultimate blessing was for all of us to see the raw struggle and faith between God and those who trust Him. God has not forsaken us even when all hope seems to have been lost. James the ½ brother of Jesus point us towards Job, “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” – James 5:11. What an example of persevering faith that Job gives us. We are blessed because of God’s compassion and mercy upon us!