Genesis 18, Nehemiah 7, Psalm 17

Today we’re scheduled to read Genesis 18, Nehemiah 7, and Psalm 17.

This devotional is about Psalm 17.

We don’t know the circumstances that led David to sing this song of prayer to God. Was it because Saul was pursuing him? We don’t know. What we do know is that David was distressed (vv. 1-2) and that whatever he was concerned about was not caused by his own sins (vv. 3-5).

Tucked away in this song is the phrase, “save me… from those of this world whose reward is in this life” (v. 14b). Why is do people lie? Why do they make promises they don’t intend to keep? Why do they take advantage of others? Why do people commit so many sins against other people?

The answer, often, is fear.

People fear getting passed over for a promotion they want, so they spread gossip about other worthy candidates. People use deception to get you to buy something or overpay for it because they fear the financial problems they’ve created for themselves. In short, people act they way that they do because they don’t fear accountability to God and they believe, on some level, that all that matters is what happens in this life. There is a certain, twisted logic to the idea that if your reward is in this life, then you’d better get all you can, even if you have to do unrighteous things to get it and keep it.

By contrast, David lived as he did because he believed a greater reward was waiting for him after this life. And what was that reward? It wasn’t streets of gold, or a mansion over the hilltop, or a crown of self-righteousness.

God was the reward he wanted: “As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness” (v. 15).

Since you love the Lord and belong to him, keep this in mind when you are afraid. When you’re afraid of the consequences of doing the right thing, remember that a greater award awaits: seeing God. Then, call on God to protect you and save you in this life (vv. 6-9) until the time comes when you will be with him.

Genesis 11, Ezra 10, Psalm 10

Today, read Genesis 11, Ezra 10 and Psalm 10.

This devotional is about Psalm 10.

In this song, the psalmist wondered why God did not judge the wicked (v. 1), called on God to judge the wicked because of how they have victimized the weak (vv. 12-15), and affirmed his confidence in God to care for and defend the weak (vv. 16-18). In between his direct addresses to God, the writer described the wicked in verses 2-11. At the very end of his description, the psalmist wrote this about the wicked man: “He says to himself, ‘God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees’” (v. 11).

That statement accurately sums up the mentality of anyone who sins. When we are conscious of God’s presence and aware of his watching eyes, we are able to say no to temptations. Like a shoplifter who is on his best behavior when he sees the security camera, each of us makes better moral choices when we are conscious of God.

The late theologian R. C. Sproul used a Latin phrase–Coram Deo “before the face of God” to sum up how a believer should live in this world. When we live before the face of God, it changes what and how we worship and how we live.

Apart from God’s grace, we all would live with the same moral abandon as the man described in this Psalm. We would sin as we wanted, comforting ourselves with the story that God will never know or notice. Jesus came to reveal God to us and to die for us so that we could live “before the face of God.”

Are you conscious of God during your daily life? Do you consider that he hears every word you say and watches your actions? If not, ask him to help you remember his presence with you and live in light of it daily.

Why Bad Ideas Resonate With You

Tuning fork in sound therapy
Tuning fork in sound therapy

Why do bad ideas seems so attractive to us? Why do sinful choices seem so attractive in the moment of temptation?

The answer: You are a sinner. Therefore, you personal character is warped in a sinful direction. The external temptation to sin strikes a resonant chord with your soul. It gives you a chance to do something you want to do already.

All of this is taught in James 1:14-15. Verse 14 says, “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” Verse 15 says that sin is a process but, one the process starts, it has an inevitability about it.

Sin is like pregnancy, according to verse 15. It only takes a moment and just a little bit of sperm to start the process. But once sperm & egg unite, a chain of events unfolds that takes unusual invention to stop.

One aspect of growing in Christ is reducing the sin in your life. The Bible talks about putting sin to death (Rom 8:13, Col 3:5). But in James 1, it also talks about not letting sin deceive you and conceive in you in the first place.

The deceptive power of sin is a lie. The resonates with you because you are a sinner but, as a lie, it promises pleasure, or power without telling you the cost. James 1:16 says, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” The next few verses tell us that God is the source of good promises that pay off well, not sin.

To grow in your faith and to become holy like God is, you must believe God’s promises in the moment of temptation. You have to choose against your sin nature and its urging within you to believe the lies of temptation.

In other words, you have to put your faith in the promises of God’s word instead of the deceptive promises of sin.