Praise God for His many blessings during this difficult season we are collectively venturing through together. As of this morning, an estimated 7.8 billion people inhabit Planet Earth, the third rock from the Sun. I don’t know anyone who isn’t impacted in some shape or form by this evil virus spreading around our globe, wreaking havoc on people’s health individually and decimating our livelihoods collectively. Yet, amid this dark storm there a thousand lights of blessing shining through as people rise up and show love to their neighbors and as we experience God in fresh and mighty ways.
In Psalm 34, David cries out, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
Are you experiencing God’s goodness today?
Early this morning, I was happy and blessed to connect virtually with several of my brothers in Christ participating in our church’s men’s ministry: Ironworks. Throughout the year, we typically gather early Thursday mornings for coffee, breakfast, fellowship, and time in God’s word. Obviously, COVID-19 has made that challenging, as it has for numerous ministries and churches all around the world. I am overjoyed seeing how the Church-globally and locally-has responded and found innovative ways to continue to stay connected and worship our Lord.
COVID-19 makes me appreciate meeting with my brothers and sisters in Christ more. I miss being able to gather with our church family in person, under one roof. Like many fellow believers around the world, I look forward to great anticipation to the day we will all collectively meet again. What a glorious day that will be…
Tonight, as is currently our present practice, our worship team will get together and record this Sunday’s worship service. We’re practicing social distancing while cherishing every minute of the time we get to spend together in shared space. I miss being able to lead our full body in worship alongside my fellow team members. Somehow, being able to play songs worshiping and praising our God seems sweeter amid this difficult chapter of our collective story. Even though we are separated by distance, we are united in Christ.
Psalm 34, attributed to David, was written during an extremely challenging period of David’s life. Even though David enjoyed the Lord’s hand of blessing over most of his life, David didn’t live a perfect life nor was his life void of difficulties. Throughout the seasons of his life, David experienced God in fresh and different ways. He knew firsthand that no matter what was happening in his present life, God was there, growing David in his spiritual walk. David knew God to be trustworthy, faithful, and able.
Psalm 34 combines thanksgiving and wisdom as David reflects on the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping His promises and in delivering God’s people. David begins with a shout of exultation and invites others to join him in praising God’s name. David shares that he has ample reason to praise God and encourages people to praise the Lord as well.
“The purpose of praise is not to make God’s people feel good but to acknowledge in a communal way the greatness of our God.”
Willem A. VanGemeren
David had recently experienced God answering his prayers to deliver him from his enemies. But God answering David’s prayers was not new to him nor to God’s people. God had answered their prayers countless times before even when they themselves did not know how or what to pray. David reminds us that those who trust in the Lord will never be disappointed.
David makes it clear that God is trustworthy and praiseworthy. That is his experience.
It can be ours also.
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
David tells his people that the richest opportunities to enjoy God’s goodness exist during times of great distress. Absent of faith, relying on ourselves, we endure suffering with extreme prejudice not knowing where our help comes from or how we will find a solution to escape our calamities. But with God, we aren’t going it alone. We do not need to fear. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can count on Him to work all things for good for those who love Him and have put their faith and trust in Him. God saves, God keeps, and God satisfies. God IS good.
Wrapping It Up
While it may seem counter intuitive, suffering and pestilence are perfect times to praise God. Praising the Lord when things are going our way should be easy. But praising God in the middle of a storm or when fighting an unseen enemy bent to rob, kill, and destroy us demands a spiritual maturity and great faith that it may take years to hone and that typically only comes from experiencing and enduring previous challenges and difficulties. There is simply no shortcut from here to there. Suffering precedes glory.
Thankfully, we can rely on God. He is faithful.
How has God been good to you during this COVID-19 crisis?
In what ways have you experienced God revealing His blessing during this time of trial and tribulation?
Praise You, O Lord, God Almighty. You are great and You are good. Give our leaders wisdom and grant them discernment to lead us through this challenging time. Help them know how to combat this disease, this unseen enemy, and help them do what is necessary to stabilize our economy, locally, nationally, and globally. Place a hedge of protection around those serving on the frontlines, working tirelessly to help the sick and those who are dying from this terrible virus. May we focus our hearts, our souls, and our minds on You, O God. Give us strength to endure this great trial. Draw us near to You, O Lord. Draw us near. Protect us and guide us through this storm. Grant us the shelter and refuge found in being in the center of Your will and that comes through trusting You for our deliverance. God, whatever happens, may You be glorified. You, and You alone, are worthy of praise. Forever and ever. Amen.
During this time when our world faces a great enemy, I believe we need to turn our eyes to Jesus and seek the Lord. One way to do that is through prayer and fasting. So please consider accepting my invitation to connect and unite as ONE CHURCH praising the Lord and beseeching God for His deliverance from this vile pestilence attempting to destroy us, divide us, and drive us away from God.
Pray & Fast with us this Sunday, March 29, 2020.
Through this devotional series, I pray that you are reassured and reminded that God is good and He remains in control even when our lives are spinning out of control.
Also, please know, with absolute certainty, that during these unsettling times, Terri and I are praying for you and your loved ones. Please pray for us as well. We need each other. We need God.
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Rainer Bantau, a chaplain actively and intentionally sharing the love of Jesus with people working in the marketplace and wherever else he encounters them.
Lockyer, Herbert. (1966). All the Books and Chapters of the Bible. The All Series. Zondervan Publishing. Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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