Devotions on Psalm 27:1-6
June 15-21, 2015
Monday, June 15, 2015
“The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear” (Psalm 27:1a)?
Kevin Connor and Raul Ramirez were on their first camp out. They enjoyed the outdoors and had fun roasting hot dogs over the campfire. It was getting late, though. The sun had set and the boys began to be sleepy; exhausted from the adventurous day. The two nine year-olds extinguished their campfire just like their fathers had instructed them. They crawled into their tent, zipped it closed and slipped into their sleeping bags. They had just started to doze when they heard the noise.
The noise wasn’t loud, but it sounded like a noise that an animal would make. The noise was amplified by the darkness of their tent. The boys whispered and discussed what it might be. Just when they began to think the noise was a one-time occurrence they heard it again. It was followed by a second, different noise. Suddenly the night was filled with the noises from animals that were surrounding their tent. Kevin and Raul were no longer sleepy. They were wide awake. After an hour, the cacophony was unbearable. With pounding hearts and aching ears the boys sprinted out of the tent and into the safety and light of Raul’s home. They were saved.
Life can be like a dark night in the wilderness. Threats can be real or imagined. We feel unprotected and vulnerable, our weakness and mortality starkly evident. God enters that darkness and it is pierced by God’s light. The situation may not have changed, but we now know that we are safe and that we have no reason to fear.
God of Light, shine in our lives and in our words. Reveal the threats, uncover the lies and empower us to live boldly for you. Amen.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
“The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I fear” (Psalm 27:1b)?
A Hollywood celebrity recently was plagued by a stalker. The man even went so far as to break into her home and wander around the rooms. The celebrity heard the stalker and fled to a safe room she had built. While the stalker was walking around the house, the celebrity called the police who caught the stalker. It was a scary, threatening time that had a happy ending because of a safe room.
We may not all have safe rooms in our homes, but as disciples of Jesus Christ, we do have a stronghold. In times of trouble when can flee to that fortress and be safe. There are many ways that we can enter into that safe place. We can find courage, comfort and inspiration in scripture passages. Our “prayer closets” may be where we enter the stronghold. The presence and fellowship of our Christian brothers and sisters may be another entry point. Our stronghold is never far from us. All we need to do is turn to God in whom we will be safe and where we will realize that we have nothing to fear.
Almighty God, sometimes life threatens to overwhelm us. We thank you that at these times we can flee to you, find safety, replace our fear with courage and rest in you. Amen.
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
“When evil does assail me to devour my flesh–my adversaries and foes–they shall stumble and fall” (Psalm 27:2).
Pastor Karin found out that it only takes a few people to drive a pastor out of a church. She had been in her call for four years and it had been a good four years. An issue arose where Karin felt it was necessary to oppose the wishes of the congregation’s matriarch. That was when the trouble started. Rumors about Karin’s competence as a pastor began to circulate. Secret meetings were called. Attendance and contributions tumbled. A once warm, supportive congregation turned cold. Karin tried to stand against her adversaries, but she wasn’t very surprised when a meeting with the bishop was called and she was asked to resign.
Karin felt defeated and was certain that evil had won the day. That was not the case, though. A few weeks after she left the congregation a great ministry opportunity came up. It fit Karin to a tee and because Karin had resigned her previous call she was able to accept this new opportunity.
It would be nice if all of our adversaries were clumsy buffoons but that isn’t the case. Evil and enemies may come in all shapes and sizes. Some are as cunning as wolves, others are as dangerous as cobras and a few are as tenacious as a terrier with a bone.
The Psalmist isn’t Pollyanna. He realizes that at times evil appears to rule the day. Our adversaries may even take a few bites of our flesh. Yet, God’s will cannot be thwarted. Those who oppose the movement of the Holy Spirit will stumble and fall; their actions will come to naught. God will prevail.
Mom-Dad, protect your children. Keep them safe from the evil intentions and actions of their adversaries. Empower your children to accomplish your will. Amen.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
“Though an army encamp against me, my heart will not fear” (Psalm 27:3a).
In the movie, “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies,” there is a scene where one of the characters falls asleep while keeping guard. One of his friends finds him dozing and shakes him awake. Once awake the guard looks around and discovers that he and his friends are surrounded by an army of elves–thousands of elves. A look of hopelessness crosses his face as he realized that it was not going to be a good day.
Diane Dobberhund knew what the character in “The Hobbit” was feeling. She faced it everyday as she went to school. Pettit in stature, severely nearsighted and acutely shy Diane was a stereotypical bullying target. Several years of being bullied had left its mark on her psyche, but she bravely entered the school. Her budding faith reminded her of Pastor Nelson’s words that God would always be with her. She also had her parents, who had joined forces with Diane’s teachers, the school administration and an anti-bully squad of her peers to help her stand up against the bullies.
When we come to a Psalm like Psalm 27, those of us from societies that stress individualism think that with the Lord on our side the two of us can face anything. Though written by an individual the Psalms were sung by the community. Joining together as children of God and walking in trust with their God they could face the overwhelming armies of the day. Together we have nothing to fear.
Holy Trinity you are the model of community and have blessed us with relationships with you and with each other. Living in the strength of these relationships may we boldly face what lies before us today. Amen.
Friday, June 19, 2015
“One thing I will ask of the Lord, that will I seek after; to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).
A popular story has a professor placing a jar, rocks, smaller rocks, stones, gravel and water on a table before his class. He first fills the jar with rocks and asks the class if the jar is full. The class responds “Yes.” The professor shakes his head and proceeds to add the smaller rocks to the jar. Again he asks if the jar is full and again the class responds “Yes.” This is repeated as the professor adds the stones, gravel and finally water into the jar. The professor tells the class that the demonstration was a moral about life and asks if anyone can tell him what the moral is. One smart aleck sophomore pipes up, “You can always put more stuff in your life.” “No” the professor replies. “The moral of the demonstration is that you have to put in the rocks of your life, the important things, first or you will never get them in.”
The Psalmist understood what was really important in life and that was going to be his focus throughout the day. God’s relationship with him was going to be the center of his life. Number one wasn’t advancing in his career, pleasing his spouse or entertaining his children. It was God.
It is all too easy to let the stones and gravel crowd out the important things–the rocks of our lives. This weakens us, the armies around us grow in size and our fears increase. A bold, fearless life doesn’t mean that we spend all of our time involved in church activities. Rather, a bold, fearless life that is centered on God is captured in the words of the prophet Micah, “To seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly before God” (Micah 6:8).
Holy God, You have made us in your image so that we may serve you,, love our neighbor and care for creation. Surrounded by your presence enable us to boldly set about accomplishing what you have called us to do. Amen.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
“He will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble” (Psalm 27:5).
In The Diary of Anne Frank, we read about the experiences of a young Jewish girl and her family. The were hidden by another family in a cleverly concealed room in order to escape the Nazis. Their time hiding was not pleasant. The space was cramped, the family had to be quiet and there was always the stress of being discovered. Yet, in that hiding place they escaped the brutality of the Nazis for several months. While hiding Anne wrote in her diary receiving comfort and solace and giving the world a precious gift.
There are those days when we want to hide. The alarm rings and all we want to do is pull the covers over our head and wait for the day to end. Hiding under the bed covers is not a very effective manner to live life, though. Instead of simply passing the time while we hide, hiding can be a time to be comforted, nurtured and strengthened. We can flee to our hiding places–a closet, hilltop, beach, forest glen, backyard or deck. There we can meditate on scripture passages, silently sense God’s presence and share our fears and concerns in prayer. When we emerge from the shelter of our hiding place we will be able to face the troubles that await us.
Caring God, thank you for your steadfast love and for your daily protection and provision. Amen.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
“Now my head is lifted up … I will sing and make melody to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
The threatening times have passed. The Lord has done what God said God would do. God has been a light and a stronghold. The enemies have stumbled and fallen. God’s people are now able to dwell in the house of the Lord and behold the beauty of the Lord. None of this has been solely the result of human strength or ingenuity. Instead it is the result of grace and faith. The people have placed their trust in God and God has moved graciously in their lives.
Now is the time for celebration. With heads lifted high God’s people sing God’s praises and make melody to the Lord. They did not know what lay ahead. They did know, though, that life was precious, the Lord was gracious, and that it was time to celebrate the gifts of life and a relationship with God.
Pundits say that adults don’t laugh as much as children. We laugh once for every fourteen times that children laugh. We probably alsodon’t celebrate as much as children do. After going through tough times we are too busy preparing for the next challenges in life. Celebrating goes by the wayside. Sometimes we take life so seriously that we never get into the party spirit; we are the proverbial party poops. There are also those times when we are too busy complaining about any number of things that we can see any reason to celebrate. The Psalmist reminds all of God’s people that there is a time to celebrate—and now is as good a time as any.
Wonderful Lord, we want to take a step away from the hustle and bustle of life and take the time to celebrate the love and grace that you have abundantly poured into our lives. We praise you Lord for you are a great and wonderful Lord! Amen.