The Journey with Ron Moore

Psalm 18:37-45  

I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till they were destroyed. I crushed them so that they could not rise; they fell beneath my feet. You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me. You made my enemies turn their backs in flight, and I destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—to the LORD, but he did not answer. I beat them as fine as windblown dust; I trampled them like mud in the streets. You have delivered me from the attacks of the people; you have made me the head of nations. People I did not know now serve me, foreigners cower before me; as soon as they hear of me, they obey me. They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds.

It’s a truth we often forget: Everything we do, everything we have, and everything we enjoy is because of God’s work in and through us. Too often we take the credit. Impressed by our person and persona we begin to think that the good things surrounding us are because of us. But in this psalm, David set the record straight.

David participated but God did the work. David pursued but God gave the strength. He overtook the soldiers after God humbled them for defeat. When God brought them crushed and trembling from their strongholds, David rounded them up. David knew that every victory was from God.

We need to become less impressed with ourselves and come to a settled deep-heart understanding that everything we do, everything we have, and everything we enjoy is due to God at work in and through us.

Father, thank you for the privilege of partnering with you. Forgive me for taking the credit for victories and successes that belong to you. Help me come to grips with this truth. Help my life reflect the glory due you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

Psalm 18:30-36  

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.

God never makes a mistake. His way is perfect. His Word is flawless. These may feel like empty statements to some of you. Illness is sapping your strength. A loved one was taken too early. Your spouse walked away from the marriage. Your company downsized. A child won’t come home. God never makes a mistake. Really? How can these troubles be part of God’s perfect way and flawless Word?

I don’t know what you are going through nor do I know why. But God does. He is not wasting your time. He is using hard times today to prepare you for what He wants you to do tomorrow. Somehow He will work everything out for good. You may not understand it in this life. The “good” may not be revealed until heaven. But God’s work and word stands.

So, how do you respond when your heart feels like breaking? Let God hold it together. He works personally with His loved ones. He is our source of strength. He provides security. He trains us for the challenges and sustains us with His power. He can be trusted. There is no one besides the Lord. There is no Rock except Him.

Father, I don’t understand. Maybe I never will fully understand how You are working this painful experience out for good. But I do know that there is no one besides You. I do know that there is no Rock except You. Even through my questions I trust You. Please arm me with Your strength and keep my way secure. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 18:25-29

To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty. You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

David understood the way God works. He rewards us according to our inner character—faithfulness to the faithful, blamelessness to the blameless, purity to the pure, and shrewdness to those who are devious. God’s work is always just.

The knowledge of God’s character gave David great confidence. He knew that God would stay with him if he remained humble. He understood that in dark times God would bring the light and keep his soul encouraged. David recognized that if God was on his side there was no enemy he could not defeat; no obstacle he could not overcome.

Maybe you feel like the light in your discouraged soul is about to go out. Trust God to keep it burning. In the darkest night He will bring the light you need. With God on your side you can overcome every enemy and every obstacle. Take confidence today in the knowledge of God’s character.

Heavenly Father, bring light to my darkness. Keep the flickering flame of my soul burning. Give me the confidence that with You I can overcome every obstacle in my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 18:20-24  

The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I am not guilty of turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

God blesses obedience. He rewards us according to the cleanness of our hands. Obedience is not always easy. There are times our obedience is like a spiritual reflex…an automatic response; other times it is the hardest thing we will ever do. But when believers submit to the Spirit’s control and follow His leading, blessings follow.

David is not claiming perfection in today’s passage. David’s life had many chapters he would just as soon have deleted. But in this particular stretch of his life he reminded God that he was staying on the right path. He was ready for God’s “well done” stamp of approval.

I can’t promise what the rewards of obedience will look like. Sometimes they may be tangible; other times they may take the form of an inner sense of peace and satisfaction. They may be immediate; other times they may be delayed for years…or even for this lifetime. But the bottom line is this: God blesses obedience.

Father, I want to be able to describe this next stretch of my life like David described this particular stretch of his life. Give me the strength I need to keep my hands clean in Your sight. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 18:16-19  

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.

God delights in you! He takes great pleasure in calling you His child. He desires fellowship with you. He loves hanging out…just having a conversation about life…about the things that are on your heart.

God delights in you! That’s why He reaches down and takes hold of you to pull you from the deep waters. That’s why He rescues you from the enemy determined to take you down.

God delights in you! When disaster comes—illness, divorce, death, brokenness, failure—He is there to give you the help and support you need. When you feel confined by your circumstances, He will take you out into a spacious field and let you run free and breath the fresh air of His presence.

Lord, life weighs me down. Sometimes I feel alone…and discouraged. Thank You for the reminder in today’s passage that You delight in me. Help me to pour that truth over my soul everyday. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 18:6-15  

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, LORD, at the blast of breath from your nostrils.

David’s ragtag army was no match for Saul and his skilled warriors. They were outnumbered and outarmed. Their days were numbered. David was desperate so…he called out to the Lord. He cried out to God for help. And God responded. He always does.

God’s intervention is described with poetic drama. It may have been that God used a tremendous storm or some phenomenon of nature to stop David’s enemy. The earth trembled. The mountains shook. Great bolts of lightning struck from the dark clouds. The earth was laid bare and David’s enemy was exposed.

Are you desperate today? Do the issues you face seem absolutely overwhelming? Do you feel the enemy is closing in? Call out to God! Cry out to your heavenly Father who loves you, cares for you, and always desires the best for you. I don’t know if your rescue will be as dramatic as David’s, but I know it will be just as effective. He will meet you right where you are and take you where He wants you to be—to a place of refuge and protection.

I love You, Lord. You are my Strength, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Shield, my Salvation, and my Stronghold. I am crying out to You from a desperate situation. I wait for Your rescue. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 18:1-5  
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

I am weak. I need a dose of courage.  I love You, Lord. You are my Strength.

I am shaken. I need something to hold on to. I love You, Lord. You are my Rock.

I am vulnerable. I need a place of protection. I love You, Lord. You are my Fortress.

I am trapped…again. I need help getting free. I love You, Lord. You are my Deliverer.

I am running from the enemy. I need a safe place to hide. I love You, Lord. You are my Refuge.

I am in hand-to-hand combat with temptation. I need spiritual armor. I love You, Lord. You are my Shield.

I am spiritually hungry. I need a place to be still. I love You, Lord. You are my Stronghold.

I am a sinner. I need a Savior. I love You, Lord. You are my Salvation.

I love You, Lord. You are my God! Amen.

Psalm 17:6-15  
A prayer of David.

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who are out to destroy me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance. They have tracked me down, they now surround me, with eyes alert, to throw me to the ground. They are like a lion hungry for prey, like a fierce lion crouching in cover. Rise up, LORD, confront them, bring them down; with your sword rescue me from the wicked. By your hand save me from such people, LORD, from those of this world whose reward is in this life. May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies; may their children gorge themselves on it, and may there be leftovers for their little ones. As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.

David’s prayer was urgent. Deadly enemies tracked him down and had him surrounded. They were preparing to throw him to the ground and devour him like a hungry lion. David asked God to confront them and bring them down. “By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life.”

David’s request is filled with confidence in his personal God. He addressed the Creator as “my God.” David was certain that God would answer him. He longed to see God at work in his life. He knew that God was the only place of refuge. He prayed that God would keep him as the apple of His eye; providing direct and focused attention. He prayed for God’s care and protection; the same care and protection that a bird would provide for its vulnerable young. 

Maybe you are feeling like the enemy has tracked you down and is getting ready to drag you to the ground. Find your confidence in the Lord! He is our Refuge. You are the apple of His eye. His focused attention is on you. He will hide you under His protective wing. Call on God. He will hear and answer your prayer.

God, my God, I feel like the enemy is closing in. My spiritual and emotional supplies are running low. I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. Please hear my cry for help and come to my aid. Let me know that Your attention is focused on me. Please protect me in my vulnerable state. Show me the great wonders of Your love. I take refuge in You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 17:1-5  
A prayer of David.

Hear me, LORD, my plea is just; listen to my cry. Hear my prayer—it does not rise from deceitful lips. Let my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed. Though people tried to bribe me, I have kept myself from the ways of the violent through what your lips have commanded. My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not stumbled.

David’s prayer is urgent. It begins with a threefold request. Lord, hear me, “my plea is just.” Lord, “listen to my cry.” Lord, “hear my prayer.” Danger seems to be pressing in hard on David. He needs God’s help…and fast.

David reminds God that this request is not coming from a person who is hypocritical or unrighteous. He invites God to probe, examine, and test his heart. He is confident that God will find no evil plans or sinful words. He has refrained from taking bribes. He has followed God’s commands and stayed put on God’s path. David is not trying to bargain with God. He is not saying, “God you owe me!” He is simply saying, “God I am living by Your grace and now I need some extra grace.”

Can you relate to David? Are you in a tight spot? Do you feel like time is running out? Is your prayer urgent? Learn from David. Tell God that you are on His side. Thank Him for His work in your life and let Him know that for you to keep going, you’re going to need His intervention. God is good at being God. He hears, He comes, and He works in our lives.

Father, like David, my prayer is urgent. I am willing to wait on Your timing, but the reality is…there isn’t much time. Danger (name the danger) is pressing in on me hard.  I am on Your side. I am Your child. Please listen to me and hear my prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 16:7-11  

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Every day is filled with decisions. Some are as insignificant as what to have for lunch. Others are life-altering—where to go to college; whether to take a new job…or not; determining if this person is the one; saying yes or no if they pop the question; when to have children—the list goes on and on.

Certainly there are many things you can do to determine the right choice. But before drawing a line down the middle of a sheet of paper and listing pros and cons, and before calling your friends for input, seek divine input from the One who knows you the best and cares for you the most.

Make an appointment with the Counselor. God will make known the path He has for you and by His Spirit the session will continue even while you sleep. Keep your eyes focused on Him through scripture reading and prayer. He will bring physical rest in the middle of apprehensive decision-making. He will fill your anxious heart with joy. And…by His great grace He will present you with eternal pleasures free of charge.

Father, when I have decisions to make they can overwhelm me and cause anxious thoughts. Sometimes they paralyze me and leave me emotionally stuck and exhausted. Speak to me through Your Word. Calm me and confirm the things You want me to do…or stop doing. Make known to me the path of life and give me joy in Your presence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 16:1-6  
A miktam of David.

Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

David was in a vulnerable situation. He may have been running from Saul or facing opposition when he was king.  Regardless of the setting he feels his life is at risk. His first words are a cry for protection. His only harbor of safety is the Lord. Notice David’s use of “my God” and “my Lord.” This personal relationship allows David to speak to the Father as with a friend. He acknowledges that there is nothing in his life worthwhile, except the Lord.

David refuses to waste his time running after the gods of the world. The heavenly Father is all that he needs. God alone provides security. God’s blessings are the greatest inheritance he could ever receive.

What about you? Can you say, “Apart from [God] I have no good thing?” Can you say that God alone is enough for you? Can you say, honestly, that God alone satisfies your heart? Running after other gods will bring suffering and sorrow. Running hard after God ends in “a delightful inheritance.”  

Father, I confess that running after other things has brought me to a desperate place. Seeking satisfaction in worldly “gods” has not quenched the thirst in my soul.  Today I run to You. I seek my satisfaction and security in You alone. I desire Your delightful inheritance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 15
A psalm of David.

LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

How can a person live with unshakeable faith in a shaken world? In today’s psalm, David describes the characteristics of a person who can meet the inevitable challenges of life head-on and stand firm. Let’s consider these ten important traits.

  • Blameless: Maintains a life of obedience and integrity.
  • Righteous: Lives in harmony with God’s standards.
  • Honest: Speaks truth from the heart.
  • No slander: Refrains from malicious talk.
  • No harm: Loves their neighbor as themselves.
  • No slurs: Refuses to discredit others.
  • Community: Honors other believers.
  • Commitment: Keeps their promises even to their own disadvantage.
  • Generous: Gives to those in need.
  • Above reproach: Declines to take a bribe.

Trouble comes knocking at our door when we least expect it. A person who lives with these characteristics will “never be shaken.”

Father, help me to pursue these traits. Remind me that going after these characteristics today will build a strong foundation for the inevitable challenges of tomorrow. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 14
For the director of music. Of David

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the LORD. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the LORD is their refuge. Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad.

There are two brands of atheists. Pure atheists say that God does not exist. They believe that humankind is the creator and center of the universe. Practical atheists live as though God does not exist. They acknowledge His person but ignore His presence. Both pure and practical atheists are described in today’s psalm.

God describes both brands of atheists as those who practice moral folly. Both follow corrupt desires and carry out despicable deeds. They use people and take advantage of the poor. “Good” never describes their actions, but in those God-ignoring hearts there is a God-shaped hole. They are “overwhelmed with dread.” Deep down they know that God is the only refuge.

God is present in the company of the righteous. He is the One who guides our path. He is our sanctuary in a crazy world. He is our Savior for eternity. He walks with us step by step and delivers us home. Pity and pray for the pure and practical atheists. Praise God for opening your eyes to see Him, trust Him, and follow Him…all the way to heaven.

Father, please help me not to live as though I were an atheist. Guide me on Your path. Impart Your plans on my heart. Keep me in Your word. Surround me with the company of the righteous. Be my refuge. Protect me from my propensity to sin. Deliver me safely home. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Psalm 13  
For the director of music. A psalm of David

How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD ’s praise, for he has been good to me.

David’s words are straight from the heart, real and raw. Where are You, Lord? How long will You turn Your back on me? How long do I have to try to figure this out on my own? My situation is desperate. My efforts are getting me nowhere. I am losing the battle. The match is all but finished. The referee is just about ready to raise my enemy’s hand declaring him the victor. If You don’t come soon, it’s going to be too late. My enemies are Your enemies. They are preparing to celebrate our defeat.

Maybe David just prayed your prayer. The good fight is wearing you out. Your runner’s legs are buckling long before the finish line. You are trying to keep the faith but feel it slipping away. You lost something you loved. Or received something you dreaded. You are begging God to come…soon! You don’t know how much longer you can hold on.

I don’t know your situation but I do know this: Hang on! Help is on the way! Keep trusting! His love will not fail you. Keep rejoicing! He is the One who saved you. Keep singing!  God gives good things to His children. Hang on! He is not finished with you. 

Father, my prayer is David’s prayer. I am losing my grip. I feel like I am ready to fall. Enemies surround me. Disease, brokenness, failure, disappointment, depression are coming straight at me preparing for—what feels like—a final assault. But I trust You. Please give me the strength to keep trusting. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 12  
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David

Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?” “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. You, LORD, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.

Ever had one of those days when you feel like you are the last Christian standing? That’s where David was when he wrote today’s psalm. He felt that the last faithful and loyal person had disappeared from the face of the earth. Liars and deceivers had replaced them. David looked around to see the shameful being honored by, what seemed to be, the entire human race. David was in a bad spot. So…he prayed.

David’s prayer is short and to the point—“Help, Lord….” And God answered his prayer. He assured David that He would “arise” and “protect” David from all his enemies. With this promise David’s complaint turns into confidence. He knew that God would fulfill all of His promises because “the words of the Lord are flawless.”

Today you may be where David was when he wrote this psalm. You feel like you are the only one in your office, school, family, or neighborhood who cares about the things of God. You feel like the godly are gone, the faithful have retreated, and those who oppose God have taken over. It’s time to pray. A simple prayer of “Help, Lord…” will do. It’s time to gain confidence from God’s impeccable word.  Our confidence is this: God will protect us forever from the wicked.

Father, there are times I feel like I am the last one standing. Politicians, the media, and neighbors down the street honor revolting and disgusting things. My prayer to You is short—Help! Help me gain perspective. Protect me from those who oppose You. I am needy. Please come to my aid. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 11  
For the director of music. Of David

In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

God is our refuge, our place of protection, and encouragement. He sees all that is going on in our lives and is sovereignly involved. He is the Lord who sits on His heavenly throne. So remember…

When discouragement barges through the front door of your heart…Take refuge in the Lord.

When you feel insignificant and alone… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you feel like tomorrow’s meeting is “do or die” for your career… Take refuge in the Lord.

When your child jettisons the faith… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are waiting for the test results… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are grieving the death of a loved one… Take refuge in the Lord.

When you are grieving the death of a dream… Take refuge in the Lord.

Father, my weaknesses keep me one step away from doing something foolish. My propensity to sin calls me to places I shouldn’t go. Anxiety fills my soul at a moment’s notice. Dread weighs me down. Grief pains and paralyzes my heart. Fear removes my desire for spiritual impact. Lord, I run to You as my place of protection and encouragement. Take away the things that hold me back and push me forward. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 10:12-18  

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out. The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.

Ishmael is an orphan. He never knew his mother or father. Instead he knows the emptiness of being fatherless and motherless. One day a family took him in…to replace their son that had died. Ishmael’s presence could not assuage their deep grief so they “returned” him like a pair of pants that didn’t fit. But God saw his trouble.

The day he was returned, two board members from ANA Panama were in the office for other business. When they learned of the boy’s situation, now orphaned twice, they decided to place him in one of their transition homes. Now Ishmael is thriving in a home where he experiences love from adults who promise not to send him back and sees the example of the love of Christ who promises to be with him forever.

Prayers for God to come to the aid of others do not exclude our willingness to get involved in the process. When we pray for God to “hear the desire of the afflicted,” “encourage them,” “listen to their cry,” “defend the fatherless and the oppressed,” we must add, “And Lord please use me to be Your hands and feet.” Conversation with God is not a passive plea for God to go “fix it.” Prayer includes the willingness to participate in the fix.

Father, I don’t want to be passive in my praying. Show me where I can get involved as Your instrument. I want to be a part of the answer to the prayer I am praying. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 10:1-11  

Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

The psalms remind us that prayer is not religious talk; it is real conversation with God. Prayer is not robotic recitation; it is the pouring out of our raw feelings and emotions. God must laugh at our duplicity when He sees the chaos in our hearts and then hears the smooth prayer talk coming out of our mouths.

David’s communication with his Father is unfiltered. He tells God what the wicked are up to. They are arrogant, boasting about their depravity and rejecting God’s laws. They are liars and murderers. They lie in wait like a lion and pounce on the weak and innocent. They are convinced that God will never notice their actions. David protests that God’s actions seem to prove them right. He argues that God seems to be keeping His distance and hiding Himself from the trouble.

As believers we get frustrated with life, weighed down by our situations. We are moved by injustice. We wonder, “Why?” when the wicked seem to prevail and the arrogant get their way. David teaches us that prayer is telling God what’s on our hearts and minds. Honoring God means being honest with God.

Father, I admit that many times when my emotions are running deep my prayer is shallow. There seems to be in my soul a “prayer-switch” that I turn to disconnect what I say from what I feel as if You don’t know what I am really feeling. Help me to be real in my conversations with You. Remind me that honoring You means being honest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.   

Psalm 9:13-20  

LORD, see how my enemies persecute me! Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death, that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation. The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The Lord is known by his acts of justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God. But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish. Arise, LORD, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, LORD; let the nations know they are only mortal.

David had his share of enemies. The nations that surrounded Israel were intent on bringing him down and taking over his kingdom. As David wrote this psalm, it seems his rivals were getting uncomfortably close. He called on God to have mercy and rescue him from the “gates of death.” David prayed that God would “strike them with terror” and deflate their hubris.

All believers will have enemies. There are some people who would like nothing better than to see us fall. If fact, they are more than willing to be involved in the process of bringing us down. Let’s face it, offices, schools, neighborhoods, and sometimes, even families, are populated by people that feel the need to put us down in order to elevate themselves. Maybe you are experiencing one of those attacks today.

Here is the great promise of God found in today’s psalm: “God will never forget the needy.” He is well aware of your situation. Your enemies may dupe others but they cannot deceive God. Be patient. God will lead them to the pit they have dug and entrap them in the net they have hidden. Pray. Wait. And watch.

Father, like David, enemies surround me. When I walk with You there are many who want to see me fall. So, Lord I pray for Your mercy as my enemies come near. Protect me from their gossip. Deliver me from their schemes. Guard my reputation from their attacks. My confidence is in Your promise that You will never forget the needy. And, Lord, I am needy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 9:7-12  

But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

There is no getting around it…the journey of life will take us through some stormy stretches. From unmet expectations to unfilled dreams; from personal battles with illness to the death of those we love; from disappointment to discouragement to disillusionment to depression, we will experience times of trouble.

Stormy stretches are never traveled alone. Our trust is in the One who sits enthroned forever. Our constant companion is our traveling refuge. God never ignores those who look to Him for help. He “does not forget the cry of the afflicted.”

God is sovereign over all. God is a stronghold. God will never forsake you. God will never forget you. With your heart cry out to Him! Tell Him all about your situation. Tell Him how you are feeling. Tell Him your fears. God never leaves His children. When we remind ourselves of who God is and cry out for His help, we open our hearts to experience His presence. That’s what we were longing for all along.

It is stormy today, Lord. Discouragement saturates my soul like a steady rain from dark clouds. I can relate to the words “oppressed, “trouble,” and “afflicted” in today’s psalm, so I claim the promise of this psalm. I am seeking You; I know You will not forsake me. I am crying out to You; I know You have not forgotten me. I open my heart to You; help me experience Your presence. Be my stronghold. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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RON’S SERMONS

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