Archived Psalm devotionals

Psalm 1

“Blessed To Delight”

 

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, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

Don’t you just love that the very first word in Psalm 1 is “Blessed”?! And the first two words are “Blessed is...”. Don’t you truly want the blessed is to be you as His blessed one!  David is inviting everyone to become blessed by delighting in God's Word and meditating on it day and night to avoid evil and sin's judgement.

When David pulls the scroll of God's Word from its respected place; it's rolled open, read, and he meditates on it all day. Like David, let's roll open our apps and Bibles and do the same, then watch as God's Word delights. In fact, God's Word is meant to nourish us like a tree planted by a stream to never wither. Question: What causes most plants to wither?... Drought! So if we want to survive droughts, it’s God's Word that waters our souls allowing us to be blessed (not stressed) and avoid evil to grow in prospering truth. This will then bless us to delight as a “believer” who prospers for eternity! (read John 6:47).

Thank you, David, for this first Psalm being about finding delight in God's Word. Let’s make this “Summer Of Psalms” devotional a conscious routine allowing God's Word to be our blessing and daily delight!!!

Good Day,

Pastor John Slotten

Dear Lord God,

Direct our minds in Your Word each day. Holy Spirit, lead us to delight in the Lord at all times as you water our souls in truth. Help us prosper in bearing good fruit.

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen

Questions for thought:

  • What part of today’s Scriptures will you meditate on all day?

*** Please read all of Psalm 1 in your bible today and meditate on it for a blessing!!!

Psalm 2

"Rebellion"


As we turn to Psalm 2, we are seeing the psalmist wonder at the fact that God’s world is constantly and actively rebelling against God’s plan. Psalm 2 is considered a royal psalm – in other words, it is a psalm about a king of Israel. Either David himself or one who descended from David. The psalm doesn’t specifically say.

Verses 1-3 are about the almost universal rejection that the world has made of God and the Israeli King whom God selected and anointed.

Verse 4-9 is God’s reaction to the rebellion against His plan.

Finally, in the last section, (10-12), the psalmist gives some advice to those doing the rebelling.

 

Since Adam and Eve, humankind has been in active rebellion against God’s almighty plans. This has been the age-old struggle of mankind wanting to be God and not admitting that they can’t be. We all have a sin nature. All of us, no matter how old or young that makes us think we desire to be in control of our lives, set our own plans and sometimes work against what God’s plan is for us.

The story of Israel in the Old Testament is the story of rebellion against God’s plan. Time and time again, Israel rebelled against God’s plan and suffered the consequences for it. Still, God protected and still protects His chosen people. God is faithful, even when his people rebel. 

God’s reaction to rebellion is swift, and it is just. It was in David’s time for both Israel and for Israel’s enemies; it is still so today.

We must heed the advice of the Psalmist here – Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. We must submit ourselves to the Lord and take refuge in Him.

If you are like me, you struggle with letting go of control of your life. This causes us to rebel and sin. It shows us that we don’t let go and trust God with 100% of our lives 100% of the time. The only way to avoid rebellion is to let go, serve the Lord with joy and fear, and put our trust in him 24/7.

Pray with me – 

Lord God – I am weak. I am rebellious. I don’t trust You like I should. I am sorry for that and truly repent of my rebellion. Lord, You are great and merciful, and I need You. I need You to teach me to follow Your plan and to live for You and serve You in joy. Be with me this day and forgive me for my unbelief. Lead me into Your peace today.

Amen

psalm 3

"and you think you're having a bad day?!"

1.Lord,  how many are my foes!  How many rise up against me!   2.Many are saying of me,

“God will not deliver him.”  I encourage you to read the rest of Psalm 3 before reading further.

 

Talk about having a bad day!  David was running for his life because for two years he refused to address a horrible sin within his own family.  He cowardly fled the scene and called on God to fix his mistake to protect him from the consequences of his behavior .  You can read the entire accounts of the story in 2 Samuel 11-18.

 

In a nutshell, it was a tragic family story of David’s son Amnon, falling in love with Tamra, his own sister.  He lured her into bed by acting like he was physically sick and then raped her.  David’s other son Absalom became enraged and asked his father to do something about it and David did….nothing!  Absalom became even more enraged to defend his sister’s honor and kill Amnon himself, which he did.  Because David refused to deal with Amnon’s incestuous crime against Tamra, Absalom developed a deep hatred for his father, to the point of dethroning him and seeking to kill him.

 

And so the story goes….David flees the city, down to the Jordan valley along with his faithful followers…(talk about trusted corner men? They knew the story and still stuck with David!) How many of us would do that for our Christian brothers or sisters?  

 

So now, David is lamenting the death of Amnon and the actions of his other son pursuing to kill him.  In my opinion this all started when David seduced Bathsheba, killing her husband and getting her pregnant….and not dealing with all that history of adultery, murder, and the shame of a illegitimate son, brought him to the hard reality of losing everything and facing his weaknesses and past sins.  

 

David was broken, but God was faithful with a man that God proclaimed to be “a man after God’s own heart”.  He protected him, sheltered him and fed him through the painful journey of confession, repentance and finally, restoration.  God is so good to us.  He promised in Psalm 34:18, “He is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”, and in Romans 8:37-39, "Nothing can ever separate us from his love in Christ Jesus."

 

Thank you, Father, for Your everlasting mercy.  May we always draw close to You in our time of need for forgiveness and restoration.  In Jesus' name we pray…Amen. 

psalm 4


In my Bible commentary, it states that the purpose of Psalms, as Spirit-inspired prayers and praises, were written, generally speaking to express the deep inner emotions of the human heart in relation to God.  Many are written as prayers to God expressing trust, love, adoration, thanksgiving, praise and a longing for close fellowship.  Also discouragement, deep distress, fear, anxiety, humiliation and a cry for deliverance, healing or vindication.  Still others were written as songs expressing praise, thanksgiving and adoration for who God is and the great things he has done.  

Have you ever cried out to God in times of a deeply troubled heart?  Psalm 4 begins with just that.  Asking God to be merciful to all those who believe in His power to do so.  David is not only asking for himself but for those who will continue to be faithful to God – in all circumstances; that when we put our trust in Him, a peace will come with that.  It may not always be the answer we are looking for – but when we keep our eyes focused on God, when we trust and obey His word, He will give us the peace and reassurance that He is always with us, always working things out for our good, always setting us apart.  

In a world filled with “other alternatives”, David is telling us that when we keep the faith, God’s goodness and light will shine down on us that sunshine on our face.  When we close our eyes at night, we can rest peacefully – knowing that He continues to work on our behalf.  The world often feels like a scary place.  Often we are running on empty (both physically and in our souls).  David is calling us to trust in the one, true God.  Our Psalm for today ends with this – I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord make me dwell in safety.  

Who will you turn to when the enemy is all around?  I pray it will be the One True God!

 

Father God, Help me to put my trust in You, to seek You first in all situations.  It is so easy to get caught up in the alternatives that the world has to offer, the quick fix for our circumstance.  Help me to be patient in the good times and especially in the bad.  To call out to You - to wait on You - to put my whole trust in You and You alone, oh God of Abraham.  Amen

psalm 5


“Blessed in Persecution


8 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies- make your way straight before me.
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 12 Surely Lord you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as a shield. 

Psalm 5:8, 11-12


Have you ever felt like giving up in the face of persecution? Persecution exists in many forms sometimes it's as significant as martyrdom, sometimes it's as simple as being left behind by others for Christian convictions. David here gives us encouragement in that when those against Christ and God's law promote wickedness we are blessed by God because we are found righteous in Jesus Christ.


Psalm 5 gives Christians hope in times of trial from outside pressures antagonistic to the Gospel.  Earlier in the Psalm David highlights that we can bring our requests to God and wait expectantly.  In our world today it is almost certain we will at some point face pushback or trials for holding a biblical worldview that promotes God's righteousness against our culture's wickedness.  But in these times we can find refuge in the good shepherd Jesus Christ who is there to comfort us  


When times of persecution come your way know that you are blessed by God for holding true to His Word and righteousness.


For His Glory,
Daniel Degner


Dear Lord God,

Direct our minds in Your righteousness each day. And Holy Spirit lead us to find refuge in Jesus Christ during our times of trial. Guide us back to you in times of trial so that we can bring You glory.

   In Jesus Strong Name, Amen


Questions for thought:

  • When was a time that you did or didn't stand up for God's righteousness in a time of trial?


*** Please read all of Psalm 5 in your bible today and meditate on it for a blessing!!!

psalm 6


"The Lord"

 

"Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping.

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer." 

Psalm 6:8-9

 

The Lord, The Lord, The Lord. He hears and responds to our cries when we are overwhelmed in despair, when we are crippled in anguish, He hears our cries. Like a true loving father He hears and responds to our weeping. When slander and falseness comes our way, He hears our guttural soul cries. Even when we realize we have sinned in our attempt to relieve ourselves from the pain and agony, in His great and faithful mercy poured out to us, He hears our cries. The Lord hears our prayers, He hears them and accepts them and in His great and powerful love for us his children, He moves! He responds, He heals, He restores, He rebuilds, He loves.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,


We thank You for Your everlasting mercy for us Your children. Lord we thank You that Your ears are tuned to the cries of Your children and You respond to our guttural prayers of mercy and compassion. Holy Spirit, guide us in our ways help us to be quick to forgive and even quicker to pray for those who persecute us. And Jesus... it is in and through Your beautiful name that we pray.

psalm 7


"God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day."

Psalm 7: 11, NIV


I think we all can relate to David in Psalm 7 and the deep desire for the Lord to come and let the wicked be punished and justice to be served. I feel this especially now in this day and age where lawlessness abounds and society is teaching good is bad and bad is good. But don’t be deceived, our Lord isn’t turning a blind eye to the evil of the world. No, He sees it all and He is a God of grace, but as the Prophet Isaiah states in Isaiah 30:18, He is also “a God of justice.” It is also stated in verse 17 of this 7th Psalm, “I will thank the Lord because He is just.” So my friend, if you are going through a time where people are treating you unjustly or are just fed up with the way the world is turning out, put Your faith in the fact that your God, your Father, loves justice and He’s fighting for you. Exodus 14:14 states, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Give it to Him and He will fight, and might I add, do a way better job at it than you ever could!


Dear Lord, I thank You that You are a great big God and see everything. You laugh at those who do evil and think they’re getting away with it, for You know the day of their destruction is coming. I also know You are so kind and patient that You don’t want anyone to perish, but want all to come to repentance. Please help us to live in a way that honors you, repent when we sin, and faithfully trust You to help us and fight our battles in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 8



The Knower

6. You made him ruler of the works of Your hands; You have placed everything under his feet. 7. sheep and oxen, and even the beasts of the field,  8. the birds of the air and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

 

Psalms 8:6-8

 

Psalms 8 is an interesting Psalm.  Again, I encourage you to read the whole Psalm before continuing in this devotional.  Here David compares the first creation of man, Adam and Eve, of having dominion over everything created….and then in verse 5, states God made him lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor.  Look at Hebrews 2:5-9...Paul recites the same Scripture to proclaim the connection of Jesus as God and Jesus as man and then David asks God, and I’m paraphrasing here, "Why do you care so much for us that you sent a Savior, Your Son, to save us?!”…"What is it about us that You love us this deeply?!”  David is asking why would God, who created the stars, the unexplainable galaxies and all that is beyond that, love such a small, insignificant creature as man?  

 

We know why, because on the sixth day of creation, in Genesis 1:26, we were made in His (Their) image, in Their likeness.  God gave us His gift of awareness.  I call it my “knower”.  Call it your intuition, instinct, a hunch, the gift of the Spirit. Whatever you want to call it, it’s that thing that grips your soul and tells you something is right or something is wrong.  Call it what you want, but God designed it into us.  Have you ever had your children or someone you deeply love really hurt you to the point of anger?  I’m sure you can name many.  No matter how hurt or angry you were, you still love them!  I believe that’s how our Father loves us.  There are times He’s not happy with our choices but His love for us is beyond explanation.  

 

“Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”  Because of the majesty in His creation, he gifted us to have dominion over everything….everything! Your struggles, your trials, your pain, your circumstances.  Because He first loved us through His Son.  So today, take a moment and thank God for the gift He’s created in you.  The gift to love Him and those around you.  We are the children and infants that are ordained to praise Him!  Because your “knower” knows the truth, in Him.

 

Lord, we are so small and insignificant compared to all of Your creation.  But yet You are ALWAYS mindful of us.  You know all our thoughts and struggles.  No matter where we are, You are there.  In our deepest chasm of despair, You are there.  In our highest pinnacle of joy, You are there.  Always guiding, always comforting, always loving us through our journey to You.  Thank you, Father, for Your constant presence in our lives.  Help us to remember that Your compassion brings You right here, right now in the middle of our stuff, carrying us through it all, and strengthening us to continue on.  In the name of Jesus we pray…Amen.

psalm 9


The First Acrostic Psalm”

 

“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.” 

Psalm 9:1-4

 

This psalm is known as the first of 9 Acrostic Psalms; meaning the poet was very creatively wise having the first verse or line begin with the first verse in the Hebrew alphabet, and the next beginning with the second, and so forth. This made the poem and song very unique drawing the full attention of the Hebrew readers/singers. These Acrostic Psalms often contain thanksgivingpraise and lamenting within them where others focus more within one area. 

 

In Thanksgiving:

David said, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds." So where today do you give the Lord thanks and tell others of His wonderful deeds?

In Praise: 

David said, I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High”! So what are you glad about and rejoicing in that has you singing your praises to God for today? 

In Lamenting:

As you read the whole 20 verses in Psalm 9 in your Bible, notice that David laments in verse 13 because his enemies persecute him and he needs God to lift him up from the gates of death. 

So where today do you need God to lift you up? If you’re struggling, are you crying out to God for help? David did and David was answered.

 

David was being acrostically wise in knowing God desires His people’s thanksgiving, praise, and struggles to be made known. Knowing all can come in the same day, requiring us to turn to prayerful song and requests when they do!!!

 

Lord God, 

Help us thank You, praise You, and cry out to You as our spirit and soul requires each day. May You delight in our praise and thankfulness and help us out of our troubles. 

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen. 

Pastor John

psalm 10


“The Wicked & The Lord”

 

Today’s title sounds like it could be a movie title! Psalm 10 continues as the second Acrostic Psalm. In early writings before the Psalms we’re compiled into one book, Psalms 9 & 10 were attached. Yet for liturgical reasons the two were separated. In Psalm 10, David writes on what the wicked arrogantly do. Then towards the end of the Psalm David writes on what the Lord will do & who the Lord is... King forever, who knows the hopes of the helpless, the cries of those in need and will bring justice. Let’s look:

Psalm 10

Vs. 2 “The wicked arrogantly hunt down the poor. Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others.”

Vs. 4 & 5a “The wicked are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead. Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them.”

Vs. 11 “The wicked think, “God isn’t watching us!” “He has closed his eyes and won’t even see what we do!”

 

Yet David ends in Vs. 16-18 with these words:

“The Lord is king forever and ever! The godless nations will vanish from the land.

Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.

Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so mere people can no longer terrify them”.

 

The wicked are arrogant, evil, proud, and blind to God's judgement. But the Lord is King forever and knows your hopes, hears your cries, and does bring fair judgement! 

 

Father God,

Let us be a Godly Nation starting with me as I grow my faith and trust in you!

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen

 

Please read the whole short 18 verses of chapter 10.

 

Blessings,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 11


In the Lord I put my trust. This is how David begins this Psalm. His friends are advising him to flee, they are telling him this out of care for him. But he reminds them that he does not need to flee when things get tough, when our enemies seem to be attacking us on all sides. He reminds us in vs. 4, "The Lord is in His Holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in Heaven."  In other words, no matter what our circumstance, we can stand in faith and trust that God is still God; that He is in Heaven continuing to watch over His people. 


Have you ever been given well-meaning advice from friends and you just knew that it was given out of fear?  Fear for safety and well being.  Fear of what others would think. But somewhere in your heart you knew that God is calling you to trust Him and not live in fear of what others say or think, but that God's word holds true. Faith in God and His ways are still relevant today. 

Verse 7 states, "For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness: His countenance beholds the upright." When we trust in God's plan for our life, when we live in righteousness and faith - we need not fear the world around us. 

What “enemies” in your life do you need to trust God with today? 



Lord God, help us to seek You first always. Help us to trust You fully, in all circumstances, knowing that You are God, and we are not.  Help us to not walk in fear that can paralyze us or make us run, but to stand firm in our faith. We love You, Lord. Thank You for all the ways You love us!  In Jesus name, we pray, Amen. 

psalm 12


“A Holy God in an Unholy World

 

1 Help Lord, for the godly person, has come to an end, For the faithful have disappeared from the sons of mankind. 2 They speak lies to one another; they speak with flattering lips and a double heart. 
6 The words of the Lord are pure words; Like silver refined in a furnace on the ground filtered seven times.  7 You Lord, will keep them; you will protect him from this generation forever. 

Psalm 12:1-2, 6-7

 

Have you ever felt alone like you are the only Christian in your work, school, neighborhood, athletic team, etc.?  Has anyone ever used their tongue against you in a way that was dishonoring by bullying, starting rumors, not keeping a secret in confidence, or other mean things?  If you're honest, have you ever been guilty of sinning with your tongue?  Psalm 12 highlights these feelings. In our world of brokenness and sin, the tongue and language are often used for unholiness and sinful behavior. This is in contrast to the words of the Lord which are pure.  Unlike us humans who are sinful, God is perfect and sinless.  His promises do and will come true unlike some of ours.

While reading this passage we see that the culture of King David's time was guilty of using their tongue in dishonoring ways just as we see today that our culture is guilty of using their tongue in dishonoring ways.  I believe this is why James highlights the need for Christians to tame their tongues in James 3:1-12 because as Christians, we have a duty to bring glory to God through a pure clean tongue and the words that come out of it.

Psalm 12 reminds us that even when we see how words are used to hurt those around us God's word is pure and will never fail.  We can cling to the cross in those times of hurt.  We must not forget the call to be something else that James 3 highlights.  As born-again believers, our words should demonstrate our faith in Christ and should have holy God-honoring words coming out.

 

For His Glory,
Daniel Degner

 

Dear Lord God,

We are imperfect sinners who have used our tongues for unholy purposes.  Please forgive us of the sin from our tongue and guide us to bring You glory through our speech and words.

   In Jesus Strong Name, Amen

 

Questions for thought:

  • When was a time that you haven't honored God with your tongue?  How can you work to better honor your tongue for God this week?

 

*** Please read all of Psalm 12 in your bible today and meditate on it for a blessing!!!

psalm 13



From Sorrow to Singing
  

“Oh Lord, how long will You forget me?

How long will You look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart everyday?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”

 

David has serious trouble in his life and obviously feels alone in his struggle. His ongoing life circumstances are causing real down and out feelings.  Ever been there?

 

Though he can’t feel the nearness of God's loving Presence, he still chooses to turn to Him in prayer.  He begins recounting his awful circumstances.  As he cries out, something happens.  A change begins taking place.  Not in his circumstances, but in David!

As Psalm 13 continues, he refocuses his attention.  In this process, he chooses to trust in the truth that God is always loving.  Always. He chooses to believe the Lord will indeed deliver him. David’s soul begins to respond to this truth and it strengthens him.  He sees himself spinning in circles of joy, singing songs to God about how generous He has always been to him.

Wow, that’s a significant change in thoughts and emotions!  What an amazing experience David has in conversation with God!  He has gone from sorrow to singing and God didn't even say anything!  

 

Dear Heavenly Father - thank You for David and Psalm 13.  Even more thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus, as You faced The Cross for our sake, You chose to focus on the joy that would be Yours afterward.  You chose to lay down Your sinless life to be crucified so that through Your life, death and resurrection I could have a life of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  What better reason could there ever be to spin and sing in circles of JOY!  Thank You!!!

Holy Spirit, please help me remember God is always loving, He is for me, and that I too can choose JOY in it all.  By grace through faith in Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Today’s question: Would you be willing to take time today alone with Jesus to talk about your troubles that have you asking, ‘How long Lord???’ ...and see if you too might come away surrounded in His love, dancing and singing songs of JOY to God?

psalm 14


“The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God."

Psalm 14:2


This verse makes me kind of sad to think of our sweet Father patiently looking down, waiting for His children to come spend some time with Him, and so many choose not to. I believe it is one of satan’s greatest weapons for people to be dulled by busy schedules to be too occupied to spend time with Him.  But, how foolish this is, as time alone with Him recharges our battery and gives us true life and peace! Psalm 39:6, NLT states, “We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing around ends in nothing.” Well, that’s a great reminder for us to stop wasting time on things that don’t matter and start setting our priorities straight, investing our time with Him in prayer and Bible study. Put Him first before phones, schedules, work, to-do lists, kids activities, etc… Don’t fall into satan’s trap of busyness. Be aware of this trap and start seeking the Lord first today and every day! This investment of time will change your life, I promise. There’s a saying that I love that states, “A Bible that is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t."


Dear Father, we thank You for being the one, true, perfect, Abba, Father. Thank You for giving us our earthly fathers to care for us here on earth; we pray blessings over them all today. Help us to love and care for them well, as we are called to do. Please also, Lord, help us to seek You first and center our lives around You alone. Please give us an understanding of Your Word, growing in all knowledge and truth so we can share it with the world around us! Thank You for loving us so well and being so kind and patient with us as You wait for us to open the door of our lives to You. Help us to do this every day. We love You and ask this all in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

psalm 15



1.LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy mountain?

Psalm 15:1, NIV


David brings a hard question to all of us, “Which of us is worthy to walk into the Throne Room of Grace? To enter beyond the vail and into the Holy of Holies and face the God of all creation, which no eye has ever seen?!”  No one! But One….and you know Who it is…. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He’s the One who can! But we, on our own, would parish, vaporize, like a mist or a cloud... Here one second and gone the next.  

 

Kind of sounds hopeless for us doesn’t it?  In truth, in ourselves…it is, but, we have an Advocate!  Blessed Redeemer!  The Author of Salvation! The Bread of Life!  He has paved the way to eternal life and has torn the vail in half so we can enter boldly into the Throne Room of Grace, as Paul tells us in Hebrews 4:16.   And why would we do that?  So we can obtain mercy and grace in time of our need. Our desire to become like David’s description in this Psalm, to become men and women of verses 2-5.  There is no other way!  

 

Out of all the religions of the world, not one proclaims boldly, that their god is the ONLY WAY to enter Heaven, eternal life.  Jesus is the only One who has proclaimed this bold truth, that He is the only way, the truth and the life so we can dwell in the tent where God dwells and stand on the Holy Mountain where God stands.  God allows us passage to Him because He doesn’t see us, but sees the blood of Christ on us and the Spirit of Christ in us.  Now our Abba God can say to us…..”This is my beloved sons and daughters, whom I am well pleased.” 

 

This is the true meaning and desire of all our hearts, whether Greek, or Jew, or Gentile.  Every human being has an intrinsic need to fellowship and belong to their Creator.  He built us that way! And its purpose is for us to need only Him and we can’t escape that truth.  But our sinful human nature causes us to stray and thus we have our Savior and Redeemer who came to save the world and not condemn it.  David writes in Psalms 103:3, “Praise be to God who forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases!” I believe He’s not talking about just our physical diseases but our spiritual illnesses as well, so we can finally return and have fellowship with God!

 

Today, thank God for all His mercies and benefits; to continue the life He has given us to love Him and love our brothers and sisters and our neighbors so that we may proclaim and take hold of the last verse in this Psalm….”He who does this, will never be shaken.”  

 

Come and pray; 

Father, You have placed every star in its place and created every planet to Your liking.  It reminds us how ominous and powerful You are.  But in Your endless power, You are tender and notice us who desperately need You.  Soften our hearts and open our eyes to You, our brethren and our neighbors; to do Your will by showing Christ in us to a broken and pain-stricken world that they too may have place in the tent where You abide.  In Jesus name we pray, amen.

psalm 16



Today we turn to Psalm 16. Psalm 16 contains the word Miktam in the heading, which is also found in Psalms 56-60. These Psalms are associated with King David, and may have formed a smaller collection of Psalms at some point. The word Miktam is a word of unknown meaning in ancient Hebrew.This Psalm appears to have been written by David during a time of trial.

1 Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.


As I read the words of this Psalm, I think about my own reactions during the times in my life where I was enduring some type of trial. Instead of questioning God, or blaming God, David praises God and rejoices in His presence. He prays, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing…You alone are my portion and cup…I will keep my eyes on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 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.” 

What beautifully true words from David in this miktam. Is it too high of a mark for us to trust God, like David trusted him? No!

If you know the story of David, you know that he was a flawed and sinful person, just like me. Just like you. Yet, God called David a man after His own heart. We too can trust God like David did because God alone is our Creator, Redeemer and the Designer of our lives. God above everyone else in your life loves you completely and has good plans for your life. We just need to surrender control. To trust and not be shaken in times where things don’t go the way we want them too.

Today – I want to live and choose to be filled with joy at the presence of God in my life. I resolve to pray this prayer today and every day, in a time of trial and in a time of great blessings, I will strive to trust God, like David trusted God.

Today – reread Psalm 16 below and pray it as your prayer. Today let God’s eternal presence fill you with His complete joy and live free knowing that you are secure in the one who made you.

Amen

 

Psalm 16

A miktam[a] of David.

1 Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you I have no good thing.”
3 I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
4 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.

5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 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.

psalm 17



“David Prays”

Psalm 17:6-8 states: 

“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.”

 

Don’t you just love that we can pray; that we have this gift where we can just call on His name and He turns His ear to hear us?!!! I love David’s confidence where he says ,“I call on you, my God, for you will answer me!” I then equally love David’s prayerful request of “Show me the wonders of your great love...” and how can anyone not love the ending? — “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”God does love us and we are the apple of His eye. I even think when we pray, we are drawn within His shadow by prayers power so close He hears every word. Call out to Him in your needs and praises. He will answer you like a Savior! Perhaps right now, today in prayer, ask God to show you the wonders of His great love and to keep you the apple of His eye and shelter you beneath His wings.

Lord God, Thank You for Your love, shelter, and protection! We love that You hear and answer our prayers. Today, keep each of us the apple of Your eye and show us Your great love as You draw us near.

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen

Pastor John 


psalm 18


“I Love You O Lord”... and “I Call To The Lord”

 

“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.” 

Psalm 18:1-3

 

Every Sunday when you come to Essential Rock Church and look at your bulletin, you find a clear reference to Psalm 18 within.  Psalm 18 is a “Praise Psalm” attributed to and confirmed to be by David. In an amazing biblical rarity, the Holy Spirit saw to it that the chapter be repeated, nearly in full, again in the Bible. It's repeated in 2 Samuel where we also find out why David wrote it. So today as you open your personal Bible to read all Psalms 18:1-50, please turn to 2 Samuel 22:1-51 and see why David was singing praises to God.  In 2 Samuel 22, in verse 1, you’ll learn David wrote this Psalm as a song praising God as a confirmation God had delivered him from all his enemies and also from the hand of Saul. Scholars believe David wrote this song of praise towards the end of his life after all his ups and downs and could see how God as His Rock had delivered him through his everything’s and David had a lot of them.  So if you are a devout follower of God, though like me and even David still imperfect and always in need of a loving Savior, know we have a Lord all people can call to and love.

 

So what would it feel like for you if God delivered you from all your enemies?  What would your praise song say? Would your words say... "The Lord is my Rock? My Fortress? My Deliverer?  My God is my Rock, My Refuge, My Shield, My Horn (which means strength) of my Salvation, My Stronghold?" And would your song of praise say, “I call out to the Lord who is worthy of praise?"  Would your words, whatever they are, be to God because He is your Essential Rock, your Stronghold, Salvation, Strength, Shield, Refuge, and Most important, Rock and Deliverer who is your Fortress to love, as your amazing Lord?! 

 

Questions:

 

1.) How are you showing your love to God currently in words, thoughts, and praise, even in song?  Even if in the midst of a struggle? (Know by faith we can show love to God and take refuge in Him).

 

2.) How and for what are you calling out to God for today?  (Today call out to God for a need for yourself or another and just maybe He will give a response that is worthy of Praise!!!

 

Let’s Pray—Lord God, You are my Essential Rock, my most needed Rock everyday. Whether in times of needed refuge, or as my Shield, I know you’re the strength of my Salvation. Thank You for letting me call on You, Lord, as I count it a privilege to say I love You because You first loved me! In Jesus Strong Name, Amen.

 

Essential Rock Church in part extrapolates its name from Psalm 18 & 2 Samuel 22. They deserve a depth of gratitude from all of us for leading us to our Church's name! 

 

“Our God is the Rock of our salvation! And that makes Him our most Essential Rock! Thank You Jesus!!!”        

 

— Pastor John Slotten

psalm 19


“Natural Law


Psalm 19:1-2 states:

“The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge."

Have you ever looked at something in nature and been amazed at God's creation? Have you ever seen something that left you with the thought 'this couldn't be here if it wasn't for God'? I remember being a Senior in high school dissecting an animal for anatomy class and having that reaction. Each and every part of the body works in such specific ways and even if something is a little off here or a little off there often major pain is a result. Nature points us to Christ. Paul highlights this in Romans 1:18-20 that creation is all one needs to see to know that there is a God and a natural law God created to govern the world. Often, natural law is a term used in Catholic circles but we can use it here in Psalm 19. We see through the God-given institution, the family that when we follow God's commands on marriage, sex, spiritual leadership, etc., that it not only feels right because it is, but that it also is better for the individual, family, and society.

Application: Go for a walk today, or enjoy the sunset, or something else that helps you reflect on the beauty of God through nature. God has given us all these beautiful treasures on earth to point us back to Him!


In Jesus Strong Name,


Dan Degner

psalm 20


The Name


Ever name-drop?  Ever drop someone’s name, intentionally or unintentionally?  The idea behind name-dropping according to Webster’s is, “the practice of casually mentioning the names of famous people one knows or claims to know in order to impress others.”


The psalmist David is one of the biggest intentional name-droppers!


“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.” Psalm 20:1 NIV


“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” Psalm 20:7-8 NIV 


David’s loves to name-drop!  In this prayer, he shamelessly name-drops God's Name, boasting in God’s abilities, achievements and possessions.  Even as a boy tending his fathers sheep and carry supplies to the troops, we see this is his practice.


Young David faces one of his biggest giants in 1 Samuel 17 and wastes no time boasting on God!  David says, “You come to me carrying a sword and spear and javelin as your weapons, but I come armed with the name of the Eternal One, The Commander of heavenly armies, the True God of the armies of Israel, the One you have insulted.” 1 Samuel 17:45 TVB


David isn’t casually mentioning God's Name, but does so with great intention.

To impress others?…yes!

Who?? …everyone, friend and foe alike!!


Then David takes Goliath down.  Not with a sword, spear and javelin but in the name of God, His strength, and a stone in a slingshot.


We name-drop because of insecurities but David shows the way to redeem name-dropping.  By putting our confidence in the name of God, Who He is, what He has done, and can do.


God of Jacob - You are The Living God.  The God of David.  My God.


Lord Jesus - You are The Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  The Commander.  Victorious Champion. 


As kid, then king, David learned how to put his confident in the name of The Lord God. He shouted Your Name in his need, confident he would joyously shout it again in victory.  


I’m asking for Your help please, Holy Spirit, to redeem name-dropping in my life.  Psalm 20:4 NIV says, “May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”  I desire to put my confidence in the name of the Lord God, Who You are, what You’ve done, can do and experience success in plans in Jesus Name, Amen.


Today’s question: Since my battles are not with human beings but spiritual foes, am I willing to take time to pray, intentionally using God's Name, until I’m able to rise up, standing firm believing Him for victory in my circumstances, for God’s glory alone?

psalm 21


“For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken."

Psalm 21: 7


Psalm 21 speaks of the king and his relationship and unfailing love of the Lord. But, of course, this Psalm can be easily applied to all of us normal Joes as well! David trusted the Lord in all things, he was a man after God’s own heart! He wasn’t shaken when all hell broke loose and he was running for his life multiple times, some of those times were from his own flesh and blood. Can you imagine?! Your own kids wanting to kill you so you are hiding in caves, leaving your spouse, children, family, and best friends behind, not knowing where your next meal was going to come from?  Can you really imagine that?! How horrible, yet David trusted the LORD. In so many Psalms, David starts out angry, scared, frantic, complaining, but then he always came back to praising the LORD. He takes his eyes of himself and the circumstance and  starts to focus on the Faithfulness of God and can’t help but change his attitude and come back to trust, praise, and peace at the end. This happened over and over again. We need to learn from David. We need to get our eyes off ourselves, get our eyes off our circumstance and fix our eyes on Jesus. Praise Him and trust Him. 


There’s an old saying that says, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair.” When horrible circumstances come our way, it’s only natural to freak out, be scared, cry, scream, and get mad. Our loving Father made us, understands us, and gave us emotions. He wants us to feel them and not to stuff it. But, we need to make sure we’re not camped out on the problem and we turn our focus on Him, reading the Word, spending time in prayer, trusting His Character and Faithfulness. Remember all the times He came to your rescue in the past. He will do it again, He wants to! Because he trusted the LORD, David escaped EACH time, he was given huge victories over his enemies, and Psalm 21:6 states, “Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” Trust moves God and in turn blesses you abundantly. What do you have to lose if you trust Him? Nothing to lose, but all to gain. He’s Faithful and True. For today’s homework, please read all of Psalm 21 and meditate on Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”


Dear Lord, thank You for Your love and patience with us. Thank You for helping us, never leaving us nor forsaking us, especially when we doubt. Please help us to focus on the realities of Heaven, fixing our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is seen is eternal! Glory to God! Holy Spirit, please help us to stop doubting and please come rule and reign in us to love and trust You with all our hearts, souls, minds, and might in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!


psalm 22


 capsulized


“The Lion Never Sleeps"


1 My God my God why has thou forsaken me?! 2 Oh my God, I cry by day but Thou dost not answer.  7 all who see me sneer at me,  10b Thou has been my God from my mother’s womb. 11 be not far from me for trouble is near.  16b a band of evildoers has encompassed me.  21 save me from the lions mouth.  25 from Thee comes my praise in the great assembly.  26 the afflicted shall eat and be satisfied.  28 for the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations. 29 all the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship.


This Psalm is one of the more descriptive in man’s struggles and the prophetic proclamation of Jesus’ agony on the cross. You must read the whole Psalm to connect and commiserate with David’s painful struggle so you can parallel your present or past traumas with David.  Can you feel his pain in the moment of crying out to God, pleading, “Where are You, God?!”  We all can.  It’s inevitable, Jesus warned us, life will be challenging, confusing and painful BUT, He immediately soothed our anxious hearts by telling us not to be afraid or worry. He overcame all the troubles that the world can throw at us.  


How comforting it is to read that one of the greatest authors of our scriptures is a man who experienced the same pain, fear, confusion and shame we experience and asked the same questions we ask.  And within the whole context of David’s life, we see the endless, redeeming love of God always there, carrying David  through the turmoils of life. This is the same God and same love He has for us during our time of testing and tribulation. I have to quote the bridged lyrics of a Newsboys song, which states, “God’s not dead, He’s surely alive, living on the inside roaring like a Lion!”  (I bet that song is stuck in your head now!)


In past devotionals, I’ve spoken of the “knower” that’s built in you, given by God, to experience His creation in us. You, me, and David know where to go when the bottom of our lives have fallen out from under us.  When hope seems to have fled into the fears of our minds, our “knower” kicks in and it “Roars like a Lion” reminding us to turn to our Redeemer, our Savior and Advocate; where we find in Philippians 4:6, “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” 


David’s struggle and torment is nothing new to man. He knew where to turn and knew God would be there, right in the middle of his stuff! Dear reader, are you struggling, in pain, confused, tormented?  Let God’s Spirit, already in you, guide you to Him.  In the midst of your painful struggle, no matter what you feel or think, the truth is, God’s got this.  Surrender and let Him teach you Psalm 46:10 to “be still and know He is God.”


Come, pray,

Father, we are so grateful You are the God of our salvation.  Our Elohim Shomri, God our protector and defender. Where can we go but to You?  In You, we live and have our being.  Father, continually remind us we are Your children and no longer orphans of this world.  Redeem our hearts from the struggles we face today and open our spirit to Your love and reveal Your name in our hearts, Elohim shomri, the God who defends us!  And let us experience the comfort and rest under the shadow of Your wings, knowing You’ve got this and we’re ok because the Lion of Judah never sleeps!  In the name of Yeshua our Lord and Savior, Amen


-TR

psalm 23

Secondary Title


“The Lord Is My Shepherd”
The 23rd Psalm is the single most known and often used Psalm in the book of Psalms, and what makes it amazing isn’t just its words in 6 short verses, but knowing the whole book of Psalms was the most used book in the Kingdom Period. It is still today widely used in churches for liturgy, devotions, song, services, as well as the most quoted book of the Old Testament. So it’s exciting to tell you Psalm 23 is the single most known and used Psalm of all 150! Now let’s look at this amazing Psalm 23 in full: 


1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters,

3 He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


Imagine David saying these words, “The Lord is my Shepherd” believing full heartedly that the Lord is his guiding, protecting, caring Shepherd! Then David has these words follow: “I lack nothing”. David is obviously feeling safe and complete in life with God having provided all he needed! But these 6 verses tell us even more about our Shepherd by digging into the key descriptive words David used in the form of “He”, “You”, and “Your” to show us how the Shepherd led David to believe, “I lack nothing”. Notice where each descriptive word for God leads David:


He:

  • He Makes...
  • He Leads...
  • He Refreshes...
  • He Guides…
  • How is our Lord and Shepherd making, leading, refreshing, and guiding you in His love and care? Notice God did these as David’s Godly Shepherd for “His namesake” (vs. 3) to grow Himself within David’s heart and soul as his God. 


You:

  • You are with me...
  • You prepare a table for me...
  • You anoint my head with oil...
  • Now notice the descriptive word for the Shepherd shifts from the less personal word of “He” to a more personal descriptor of “You”. This happens right after David walked “through” the valley of darkness showing us what God does with us in true relationship. God did these things as a trusted Shepherd so David’s “cup overflowed” within a personal loving relationship. How has God been “with you” in relationship lately to fill or overflow your cup?


Your:

  • Your rod and staff...
  • Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life...
  • Now notice the descriptor word shifts from "you" to “your” and becomes even more personally intimate. God has become David’s Shepherd and personal Savior in comfort for goodness and love for all his days!!! How has God shown you His comfort, goodness, and love lately? Is the Lord “Your” Shepherd? If not, ask Him to be right now!!!


In closing, notice how David responds with his own “I” statements: 


  • I lack nothing...
  • I walk through the darkest valley...
  • I fear no evil...
  • I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


An amazing 6 verses and 109 words of how, through faith by grace, we can lack nothing now, and later dwell with the Lord forever! Is the Lord your Shepherd? If so, praise Him today in your own personal prayer and if not, invite Him in now because you then too can truly lack nothing!!! Amen Amen


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 24


Is The Who You!!!”


Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?

The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Psalm 24:3-6


Brenda and I have a daughter, who was overly rambunctious when she was young. She needed Brenda as mom, to take her loving, motherly hands and place one hand on each of our daughter's cheeks, then look directly into her eyes to seek her full attention. It didn’t take long before this daughter started grabbing both of our cheeks to get our full attention when she wanted a blessing, vindication, or a deep desire known or fulfilled from mom or dad. It was awesome. We began to seek each other’s best!!! So I love this Psalm and Scripture and the idea of all of us seeking God's face!!!

I pray the WHO in this Scripture is each of you, including myself! I pray we’re all the generation that seeks God’s face, becoming those blessed to stand in His Holy Place! Yet to achieve this, we must have clean hands, a pure heart, and not trust in idols or swear by a false god. So how do we gain clean hands, a pure heart, and full trust in the true God? It’s by seeking the Savior's Holy face. It’s by becoming the generation of true believers thus blessed and given vindication through forgiveness by God. Can you attest as I, that when you’re far from seeking God and His face, it usually leads to needing vindication. But when you truly seek His face, you’re blessed and forgiven. Today seek God's full attention by seeking His face. Picture in your mind's eye today holding God's cheeks while He holds yours. Know this; when I do, my hands feel so clean and my heart so incredibly pure! 


Let your prayer be in your own words right now as you gaze into His face holding His cheeks truly seeking Him and His full attention. Remember those who seek, will find!!! Then you’ll know, the “who" is you!!! Don’t you feel blessed and vindicated?!!! Amen Amen


*** I dedicate today's devotional to my wife, Brenda Slotten ,and our amazing daughter, Breyann! I praise God for them teaching me how to best seek God's very own face with my full attention!!! Please read all of Psalm 24 today!


In Jesus Strong Name, Pastor John Slotten

psalm 25


Trust in the Lord

 

  "To you, O Lord I lift up my soul, in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me."  

 

Psalm 25:1

 

Trusting in the Lord.  It’s so easy right?  We know we can, we know we should, but do we always put our whole heart and trust in the Lord?  It is really a choice we need to make everyday – several times a day.  God’s ways are not our ways, His plans are not always our plans.  So when things are going well, it is easy to say, “God, thank You for Your blessings.”  It is much harder to trust in His plans when our plans are interrupted by pain and heartache; by trials that we never could have imagined would happen in our lives.  The psalmist is telling us that we must, daily, be willing and eager to put our trust and hope in God.  We must be willing to submit, whatever our situation is, into God’s hands.  It is hard to go through the trials of this life.  It is at times, unbearable.  Psalm 25:10 says, "All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant." Trust that He loves you and He is always faithful to His people. What is it in your life today that you need to surrender to His plans, His love, His faithfulness?

 

Lord God – You are good.  You are so faithful to me, even when I wonder from You.  Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting You.  Help me to seek You daily, in all circumstances and situations.  Your ways are not my ways.  Help me, Lord, to eagerly seek Your will; to trust in You, and surrender my situation to You.   Amen

psalm 26


“The Call for Holiness”

 

Psalm 26:1-2 states:

“Vindicate me, Lord for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Examine me, Lord, and put me to the test' refine my mind and my heart."

 

In College, the book "The Hole in Our Holiness" by Kevin DeYoung radically changed the way I viewed discipleship. DeYoung claims, "God didn't just save you from something, but for something." That something is holiness. As Christians we are to bring something different to the table, we are to be set apart from the worldliness in the world.

 

Later this chapter highlights how David avoids sinners and it is important we unpack this. David is speaking in that he will not partake in the action of the wicked, however, we see clearly in the Gospels that Jesus did sit with "deceitful people" (vs. 4) and "the wicked" (vs. 5). The key is that as Christians, we MUST live differently than our peers and family who are without Christ. While at the table next to them, our lives and holiness should point them to what they're missing out on and how great Christ is. For an example of how your holiness can lead others to Christ watch this I Am Second video with former Korn Guitarist Brian Welch

 

In Jesus Strong Name, 

 

Dan Degner

psalm 27


"One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in his temple." Psalm 27:4

 

The other day as I was riding my bike, I found myself praying and talking with the Lord, which happens almost all the time when I ride. 

 

I was saying... "Lord I just want to be by You, to see You, to be in Your presence."  Not to get anything out of it but to simply be in His presence and experience incredible love, joy, peace, comfort, and even security. 

 

Then I felt the presence of the Lord deep in my heart.  This is an amazing place to be; to know He is with us and we with Him is beyond description. To know our bodies are a temple unto the Lord, once receiving the Holy Spirit through our confession of who Jesus is and who we are...simply incredible!  We have to go no further than to our hearts and call on His name to be in the presence of the Lord. 

 

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, "come to Me..."  

 

So then my questions becomes, am I coming to Him? Are we coming to Him?  Like King David are we seeking, are we desiring, are we longing to gaze upon the beauty of Christ?  Do we call on the name of the Lord for no other reason than to gaze on the beauty that is, Christ in all His splendor?

 

Question of the day:

How do you make time to enter into the presence of the Lord to come to Him that is Jesus?  Is this a common daily experience or a longing not yet fulfilled?

 

Dear Heavenly Father, Who loves us so fully and Whom we seek and discover; thank You for Your kindness, we praise You, Lord, that Your door is always open to all those who want to seek Your face and come to You. Holy Spirit, our bodies are a temple unto You.  It is where You dwell in our hearts, always that close!  Jesus, we praise Your holy name, we kneel at Your cross, we are in awe of Your beauty and Your compassion for us...and Jesus, it is in and through Your beautiful name that we pray. Amen.

psalm 28


“To you, LORD, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.”
Psalm 28:1-2

 

This Psalm, as almost all of the Psalms do, covers all the bases. It starts out with David crying out dramatically as we see in the above verses basically saying, “Hear me!” "Answer me!” “If You don’t, I’ll die!” David definitely had a flair for the dramatics, but I absolutely love that about him! He then comes back to calling out the Lord’s attributes and praising Him for His goodness in verses 7 and 8, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.” He wasn’t afraid to be real with God and scream out to Him for help. Do you do that? Oh, I have! “Lord, why aren’t you helping me?!” "Help, Jesus, help!” And You know what, after that, I always come back to the fact that He is so good and kind. I melt and end up praising Him. He covers me and holds me, even though I don’t physically feel it all the time, but I KNOW it, because I know who my Daddy is…Kind, Faithful, Loving, and a Mighty Warrior to fight my battles. Take time with Him today, be real with Him, not disrespectful, but real and honest. He already knows your feelings and loves all of you. He created you; you will in no way surprise Him. He’s there ready to snuggle you up if you only let Him.

 

Lord, thank You for being so kind and gentle with us, for being real, nothing fake, completely genuine. Thank You for being our strong Refuge. Please help us to seek Your refuge in times of trouble and rest in the fact You fight our battles and if You are for us, who can be against us? Greater is He that lives in us, than he that lives in the world!!!! What a battle cry! Thank You, Lord, and we ask this all in Jesus’ powerful name, AMEN! God bless you all.

psalm 29


The Storm Maker is Our Peace

 

3The voice of the LORD is over the waters; 

the God of glory thunders; 

the LORD is heard over many waters.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; 

the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.

11The LORD gives His people strength; 

the LORD blesses His people with peace.

Psalms 29 (in part)

 

 

David has witnessed many storms in his life and I’m talking about natural occurring storms: windstorms, thunderstorms, rain, and sand storms.  In this Psalm I, want to address one of the metaphors which David recognizes the Lord as being the storm Maker.  

 

God deliberately and creatively sent a storm over the Sea of Galilee when the disciples were crossing. So important were these storms, He created them twice on these poor fellows...and at night too!  Ever been in a storm at night?!  It can be scary at times.  How much more on the water?!

 

So in this Psalm, David tells us some of his experiences with storms, which he survived, obviously, or he wouldn’t be telling it. He gave not only credit, but glory to God for being the Creator of these storms.  He alludes to the unprecedented power of these storms, such as the cedars of Lebanon.  These cedar trees are considered one of the largest and strongest cedars in the world. It’s suggested that one of the larger Lebanon cedars in David’s time, had enough lumber in it to build a house. Can you imagine the sweet aroma of that home?!  So important are these trees, that Lebanon proclaimed the great cedars on their national flag.  These cedars are mentioned several times in the Old Testament.  They must have been of great importance to God to be used in His teachings.  David proclaims that God splinters these great cedars to shavings by just His voice!  He  also tells us the Lord’s voice; is heard over the waters, strikes with fire, shakes the wilderness and strips the forest bare!  

 

On a personal note….I love thunderstorms….the sound of rolling thunder while it rains is relaxing.  It lulls me into a sense of comfort.  As a child, I was told thunder was the sound of Angels bowling.  That was an odd vision to carry as a child!  I couldn’t wrap my head around an Angel wearing a bowling shirt with Vinny’s Pizza on the back and bowling shoes!

 

We’ve all experienced many natural storms in our lives, some very scary but each one created from the same source.  David brings us to the realization that the God who can speak these powerful storms into existence is the same God and Father who tenderly loves us, watches over us and protects us with the shadow of His wings.  David reminds us who the Lord is and the praises He deserves and desires from His people.  

 

Today I encourage you to read the whole of psalm 29 and come to the Creator of storms, our Abba, and sit with Him, praise Him and give Him glory with your words and deeds. And He will, as He promised in the last verse of this Psalm, “bless His people with strength and peace”.   In Jesus name….Amen

 

TR

psalm 29


The Storm Maker is Our Peace

 

3The voice of the LORD is over the waters; 

the God of glory thunders; 

the LORD is heard over many waters.

5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; 

the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.

11The LORD gives His people strength; 

the LORD blesses His people with peace.

Psalms 29 (in part)

 

 

David has witnessed many storms in his life and I’m talking about natural occurring storms: windstorms, thunderstorms, rain, and sand storms.  In this Psalm I, want to address one of the metaphors which David recognizes the Lord as being the storm Maker.  

 

God deliberately and creatively sent a storm over the Sea of Galilee when the disciples were crossing. So important were these storms, He created them twice on these poor fellows...and at night too!  Ever been in a storm at night?!  It can be scary at times.  How much more on the water?!

 

So in this Psalm, David tells us some of his experiences with storms, which he survived, obviously, or he wouldn’t be telling it. He gave not only credit, but glory to God for being the Creator of these storms.  He alludes to the unprecedented power of these storms, such as the cedars of Lebanon.  These cedar trees are considered one of the largest and strongest cedars in the world. It’s suggested that one of the larger Lebanon cedars in David’s time, had enough lumber in it to build a house. Can you imagine the sweet aroma of that home?!  So important are these trees, that Lebanon proclaimed the great cedars on their national flag.  These cedars are mentioned several times in the Old Testament.  They must have been of great importance to God to be used in His teachings.  David proclaims that God splinters these great cedars to shavings by just His voice!  He  also tells us the Lord’s voice; is heard over the waters, strikes with fire, shakes the wilderness and strips the forest bare!  

 

On a personal note….I love thunderstorms….the sound of rolling thunder while it rains is relaxing.  It lulls me into a sense of comfort.  As a child, I was told thunder was the sound of Angels bowling.  That was an odd vision to carry as a child!  I couldn’t wrap my head around an Angel wearing a bowling shirt with Vinny’s Pizza on the back and bowling shoes!

 

We’ve all experienced many natural storms in our lives, some very scary but each one created from the same source.  David brings us to the realization that the God who can speak these powerful storms into existence is the same God and Father who tenderly loves us, watches over us and protects us with the shadow of His wings.  David reminds us who the Lord is and the praises He deserves and desires from His people.  

 

Today I encourage you to read the whole of psalm 29 and come to the Creator of storms, our Abba, and sit with Him, praise Him and give Him glory with your words and deeds. And He will, as He promised in the last verse of this Psalm, “bless His people with strength and peace”.   In Jesus name….Amen

 

TR

psalm 30



A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple.[b] Of David.
Have you ever been so joyful that you couldn’t stop smiling? So happy that your feet just danced and the you just couldn’t stop yourself from singing?
I know I have. I felt that way a number of times while I was in Israel a year ago as I watched the Bible come to life in front of my eyes. I felt that way when my kids were born. I felt that way when I first fell in love and I am sure I will feel that way when my son gets married in 2 years. Can you identify those times in your life?


The joyful times I have had in this life probably don’t compare to the culmination of joy for the people of Israel than the dedication of the Temple of David, brought to a nation. It was of such significance that it is covered in 2 Chronicles 5:2-7:22 and in 1 Kings chapters 6 and 7. This was the fulfillment of many long-held promises from the time of Moses, the building of the Arc of the Covenant and the “Tent” Temple that housed it on the long journey to the promised land, through the life of David. The funny thing about this Psalm and its heading is that while the Psalm is a song for the dedication of the temple of David, David never saw the temple. It was built by his son, Solomon. It was David’s dream, but unrealized in his lifetime. Imagine the joy of a son who was able to fulfill his father’s lifelong dream and the dreams of a people, in finally having a permanent temple after so long?!
Today, do you have unfulfilled dreams of your own? Are you waiting on God’s timing for something good in your life? Are you seeking to build your own temple in your life, or seeking to build God’s temple in your life? Look at your life today... Where do you find your joy? Where do you spend your time and money? Are you chasing earthly desires, or are you firmly grounded in building your life as a permanent temple to God?
Sadly, I have let my joy in this life be stolen by many people and things. I have placed my hope in the wrong things at times. Today I choose joy. Today I choose to rededicate this body as a temple unto the Lord God and sing, shout, and dance for joy over the love and promises that He has showed upon me. 
How great is our God – to love us so much. Let us sing His praises forever!


Let’s pray - 
Heavenly father, I will exalt you, Lord,
  for You lifted me out of the depths
 and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help,
 and you healed me.
 3 You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
 you spared me from going down to the pit.
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
 Lord, be my help.”
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
 you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
 Lord my God, I will praise you forever."
Amen

psalm 31


“True Love and Hope In The Lord”


“Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”

Psalm 31:23-24


Today as you read all of Psalm 31 and you get to these above two verses, let me ask you, "What are you most true to?" Is it to your spouse, your friends, your family? Or your favorite sports team or hobby? Or to your health and exercise? Or to your job or career? Or are you most true to the Lord you love?


I can remember being most true to sports, then friends and drinking parties, then my wife Brenda. Then one Thanksgiving Day in 1984, I faithfully counted my blessings and started my successful journey to quit drinking. But then I became most true to pursuing success in my business.

A couple years later there came “The Day” my heart and mind needed to be true to God. I could see other people being true to God around us and helping us. I could see my wife needed me to be most true to God, even over her; I also knew my family required it. On that day, April 1st, April Fools Day, my Lord and Savior preserved the life of our prematurely born son. God had made His loving presence known to me during a moment of prayer in a tiny hospital chapel. He answered mine and many people's prayers and gave our son life each day during the five days the medical experts told us, "Don’t get hopeful as your son will not make it." Yet I was true to the Lord and found hope beyond human understanding within my heart. God was making me strong in Him as He made our son stronger for life. I had taken God truly to heart, which allowed me to share His heart in confidence, all while God was healing my son's physical heart. It was in those moments when I look back and think, "Shouldn’t we all first and foremost be true to “Loving The Lord” always?" If you and I are true to loving God, know this… He preserves you and gives you strength as one of His faithful. This experience lead me to preach God's Word at the Church we attended at that time for my very first time. I shared three stories that day. One in the loss of a baby by Brenda and I three years earlier by miscarriage, and of our heartache, as well as this story on how God preserved the life of our son as a true blessing. The third story was of Jesus as our Savior, the One who tasted death, yet rose on the third day; the One Who came to save and bring eternal life!!! That preaching experience touched me with God's call on my life. What our true God did through my wife, our friends, neighbors, families, prayers, and my son Jacob, taught me deeply what being true in loving the Lord is all about. I am your Pastor today because my Loving Lord answered my prayers as I stepped up to becoming true to Him! So... “Love the Lord, all His faithful people” be “true to Him”… “all you who hope in the Lord”

Question:

1.) How can and must you become more true to God starting today?

  • Is it simply beginning by truly loving the Lord?
  • Or is it being true to Him by getting back into Church to becoming       
  • stronger and growing your heart with all His faithful people together?
  • Or is it loving God in true, trusting prayer with hope and trust in every outcome?
*I say it’s all three because all three play a huge part in being true to God as His faithful people!!!


Let your prayer today be you asking God to help you to be true to Him! Ask God to help you step fully into all three above ways to be true to God as His faithful, then watch Him transform you with strength, heart, and preservation!!! Amen Amen


I dedicate this devotional to the Lord I love, my faithful and loving wife Brenda, and to my amazing son Jacob. He’s a gift from God to me, his mom, our/his whole family, and to the world. Every sermon I give has this story stamped into its foundation.

In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten


psalm 32


Maskil – This Hebrew word means “to be wise or skillful”.  Since this word is used in the title, it may indicate that this is a teaching Psalm.  What is it teaching us?  That sin leads to destruction, and repentance (turning away) from our sin will lead us into the forgiveness and life giving gifts from God.


Verse 3 – "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long".

When we try and hide our sin, when we minimize the impact that sin has on our lives, when we refuse to confess our sin, it is like a heavy burden, weighing on our hearts and minds.  It hurts our mind, heart, and body in ways that we may or may not be aware of.  It is a burden to carry around unconfessed sin.

God is so good that when we turn to Him and confess He is merciful and we are blessed by His forgiveness.  


Vs. 5 – "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord – and you forgave the guilt of my sin."  David knew that he was doing things that did not please God.  He knew he was living a life of deep sin – and needed to repent and ask God to forgive him.  

In doing so, he was able to live a life free of guilt.  We can all live a life free from the things we have done wrong when we go humbly and honestly before the Lord and pour out our hearts to Him.   Vs. 10 sums it up by this – "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him."

In this Psalm, David is teaching us to not wait; confess your sin to God today.  Stop living a heavy hearted life, full of guilt and regret.  Turn to Him – wipe the slate clean, and make room in your heart for all the love and forgiveness that God has for you.  

psalm 33


“How Great Is Our God”


Psalm 33:1-2 states:

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp' make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre."


Have you ever heard the song, "How Great is our God" by Chris Tomlin? If not, listen to the song after reading Psalm 33 today. Both the song and the chapter highlight how awesome and great God is. God isn't great because of what He gives us (although it's a plus), He is great because He is God.


Pastor R.C. Sproul once claimed that "everyone is a theologian." We all have beliefs about who God is and Psalm 33 is a great place to learn basic truths about Him. Here are just some of the highlights we read about God in Psalm 33. He is (1) worthy of praise, (2) His word is true, (3) faithful, (4), righteous, (5) just, (6) creator of the universe, (7) sovereign over all.

Today reflect on these truths about God and rest in love.


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner

psalm 34


"...keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” 

Psalm 34:13-14 NIV


Some of us may remember the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me." If only that saying were true!  How many of us have been killed by words?  The raw power of words, I ponder, there is no stronger force on all the earth than a spoken word. 


In Luke 6:45, Jesus says this, "A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."  So then, these verses in Psalm 34:13-14 are really about the condition and position of the heart. 

You see, we have a choice. We can choose to keep our tongue from saying evil things, murderous things, deceitful things, lying things. We can choose to turn from evil and do good. Seeking and pursuing peace starts in our own hearts. For if we do not possess these things first in our hearts, we will not be able to give away what we do not possess. 

The beauty of The Cross is that we can choose to receive Christ as our Lord and Savior and upon doing so, we receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts. This gives us the heart of Christ. We can have a new heart.  A heart that is soft, not of stone, and a new spirit, the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:26-27). 

Jesus says to seek first the Kingdom.  Are you seeking The Kingdom that rests in your very own hearts? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you and lead you in all righteousness?  Are you taking your hateful feelings towards others to The Cross of Christ, seeking peace and pursuing it, so then you are able to speak words of life over others, and not that of evil?


Let's pray,

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your mercy and great love for us. Jesus, we call on Your Name, asking You to fill our hearts with the same compassion You have for us, until it overflows in our hearts for others.  May all the words we speak and things we do, portray Your character, Lord. Holy Spirit, please guide us gently in our times alone with You, showing us the beauty of Jesus Christ.  As we see You Jesus for Who You truly are, our sins will be exposed so we can repent and be changed. Thank You for such mercy and grace! Please, fill us afresh and anew for the days ahead. And Jesus, it is in and through Your beautiful Name, that we pray. Amen

psalm 35


12 They repay me evil for good
    and leave me like one bereaved.
13 Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth
    and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered,
14     I went about mourning
    as though for my friend or brother.
I bowed my head in grief
    as though weeping for my mother.
15 But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee;
    assailants gathered against me without my knowledge.
    They slandered me without ceasing.
16 Like the ungodly they maliciously mocked;[a]
    they gnashed their teeth at me.

Psalm 35:12-16


Have you ever felt like David in this situation? Have you ever prayed for your enemies and were kind to them only for them to spit in your eye? I have. I remember a time in high school when there was an upper class-man girl who just despised me. No matter how nice I was to her, she’d make fun of me to my face to her friends, mocking the way I smiled at her, and her pals would just laugh. It was humiliating. This went on time after time until one day, she went through a very public fight in school with someone she cared deeply about and he called her out on her meanness…in front of the whole school! It was a very powerful moment straight out of the movies. I think I may have even started a slow clap after he let her have it… (O.k., that part never happened:) That night, she must have been so convicted and wanted to make things right. I received a phone call from her to my amazement (especially as she NEVER talked to me, let alone called me!) She said to me, “I’m sorry I’m so mean to you. I just don’t like you because you’re just too nice.” That made me laugh! I told her it’s fine and continued to be overly nice to her...maybe to annoy her:) But, I came to realize that day, some people just aren’t gonna like you, no matter what you do! Stop trying so hard! Who cares?! As long as our Father in Heaven loves you, what else truly matters? Even if they don’t like you, and may even hate you…pray for them. Pray the Lord heals their hurts they have endured from others and soften their hearts to receive and give love as only the Good Lord can do through them! And if they stumble, don’t gloat over this. Proverbs 24:17-18 says, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them.” Be kind like David, I believe this truly blesses the LORD, and who doesn’t want to do that?!


Father, thank You for loving us so well. Please help us to grow in Your love so deeply that we stop caring what others think of us, and only care what You think of us. Please fill us with Your love and light so brightly that all darkness leaves us so Your love abounds through us to the world around us. God bless and heal our enemies, creating in them new creatures to receive Your amazing gift of salvation to love the world around them in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

Psalm 36

Secondary Title


The Hood is Stayin!


1 I have a message from God in my heart

concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: b

There is no fear of God before their eyes.

4 Even on their beds they plot evil;

they commit themselves to a sinful course

and do not reject what is wrong.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast on the abundance of your house;

you give them drink from your river of delights.


Psalms 36 (in part)


Look around!  What do you see and hear in the media these days? These words of David were proven to be written over three thousand years ago and his words resonate the same condition of our society today!  David could have easily been the news anchor of our day!


Look at Ecclesiastes 1:9, “9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again there is nothing new under the sun.”  Man’s sins haven’t changed!  Since the fall of man, nothing has changed!  We, as a human race, haven’t changed! And praise God, neither has God’s mercy for His children! I can’t imagine living in such confusing and perilous times without God’s loving kindness and mercy.


As we sit and watch the slow deterioration of our Christian principles by the hatred of some of our country’s leaders and the main stream media, I’m reminded of Jesus encouraging remarks found in John 15, 17-19, “17 This is My command to you: Love one another. 18 if the world hates you, understand that the world hated me first. 19 If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” 


I don’t know how you feel reading His words, but for me it brings me comfort.  Yes, we have to carry the burden of attacks from these groups for standing on the Gospel truths, but, when you read the whole Psalm, look what the Father promises us in the midst of our persecutions!  He will extend His lovingkindness, faithfulness and righteousness to us and protect us by allowing us to take refuge under the shadow of His wings and He will not let the wicked crush us and drive us away.  BOOM! Drop the mic! Our Hood is here to stay!! (those of you who don’t understand the term “Hood”, it’s referring to our Christian community and you’ll have to look up the term “Drop the mic!”) just sayin.


  So when you’re experiencing the weight of the world’s sin pressing against you and you feel like it’s pushed you in between a rock and a hard place, remember Who that Rock is! He is the Rock of Salvation!  The bright and morning Star, lighting up our path to find our way to Him!  The Rock we stand on is the Solid Rock of our foundation that will never shift!  Take heart, Christian traveler, you are destined to overcome any situation, challenge, or trouble.  God has already created a way out before it started. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:13.  Now that’s a promise I keep in the pocket of my mind to remind me when temptations show up.  Rest assured, temptations will arise in your life.  The question is…..what are you going to do when the temptations show up?….Are you going to fall into the pit, or grab the “rope of hope” and swing over it?!  The Rope of Hope!  I like that.  I can picture the other end tied around Jesus’s waist, both His hands holding it with a smile.  


Come on, let’s pray to the Rope Holder….

Jesus, thank You for being the source of our strength and the One who holds our rope of life. We know in You we are secure to handle any situation that comes our way.  You promised that if we put our complete trust in You and put on the full armor of God, every fiery dart thrown at us by the enemy, You will extinguish!  Not just a few or a couple, but ALL OF THEM!  Thank You, Jesus, for being our Great Advocate and Provider.  May we never forget that we can do ALL THINGS  in You.  In Jesus mighty name, we pray….Amen


TR

psalm 37


Psalm 37


“Do Not Fret”

Several times in Psalm 37, we hear the words: “Do Not Fret!” To me, this word fret has disappeared from our vocabulary. When I was young I heard it often. It was heard from my grandparents when they saw me worried, agitated, anxious, concerned, or emotional. I heard it from my parents, we’d hear it said in a TV show, and you’d hear it in church. It was used with a sense that opened up discussion that often lead to understanding there was something much better on the other side of your worry and your fret/worry was noticed and cared about. In fact, I heard it said this way most often, “Johnny, what are you fretting about?” It was noticed and I was invited to share my discombobulated feeling(s). It seems to me today we more often hear something like this first: “What’s wrong with you?” That’s accusatory and not caring. Or worse, it’s ignored first by someone having noticed my condition. Then they go to another person and say this: “What wrong with Johnny”? 


David in this Psalm, uses the words “do not fret” because we all fret! He shares it because fretting should be noticed and recognized and addressed. He addresses it with these kind of words:


Do not fret


Instead:

“Trust in the Lord and do good”!

“Take delight in the Lord and he’ll give you the desires of your heart”!

“Commit your way to the Lord”!

“Be still before the Lord”!

“For the Lord will not forsake his faithful ones. Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed; the offspring of the wicked will perish”!


David recognizes the depth of fret and brings all worry back to the Lord's control. God's got us and has what we can delight in. What fret can you take to a friend, and more so to the Lord right now? David ends the Psalm in these powerful words:


“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him”

Psalm 37:39-40


Lord God,

Help us bring back the biblical word “fret” and notice people’s struggles with care. Then give them refuge in the Lord's love as their salvation and stronghold in their time of trouble with the promise He delivers and saves! In Jesus Strong Name, Amen Amen.


Pastor John Slotten

psalm 38



“A Penitential Psalm”
“I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain. But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done. I have many aggressive enemies; they hate me without reason. They repay me evil for good and oppose me for pursuing good.

Do not abandon me, O Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”

Psalm 38:17-22

When we’re anguished in guilt, sin, and in relational hardships, most often, there is a need of repentance. David writes knowledgeably about such situations in Penitential Psalms in prayerful words of reconciliation or confessions for repentance in Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. 

Scholar Charles Spurgeon speaks on this Psalm, “A sense of sin shall melt into the joy of salvation; grief shall lead on to gratitude, and gratitude to joy unspeakable and full of glory”.

  • Has a need to repent and seek forgiveness ever led you or someone you know to seek God and you/they found salvation? 
  • Has grief ever led you to gratitude? Think of grieving the death of a loved one; didn’t the Holy Spirit give you a heart of gratitude for having that person to love and be loved by!
  • In this Psalm Charles tells us gratitude can lead us to joy unspeakable and full of glory!!! David shifted through these realms of emotions and transformed into glory thinking of his Savior. 

Where will you let God take your pain, sin, sorrow, grievance of evil others pour on you, and rise above those that hate you? Will you be willing to wade through the emotions and still seek God if it happens while you were pursuing good? I’m doing it today myself while I write this. So I suggest we follow David’s actions and words! He had repented, he prayed! In that prayer He asked the Lord for help. David then melted into the joy of salvation in unspeakable gratitude for God's full glory in these words “Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.”  David cried out to the Giver of his Salvation… We should too!!!

Lord God, hear our confessions of sin to bring us to the joy and gratitude of salvation to gain Your unspeakable glory. 

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen Amen

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 39




The psalmist writes about how short this life really is; that we often concentrate on our life here rather than having our hearts and minds set on eternity.  Our hearts and minds should be moving toward kingdom living, not things of this world.  We are all given only so many days here on earth – and no matter how long you live, it is a short amount of time.  The writer is telling us that in his life he has focused to much on earthy things that have brought much heartache to him.  He reminds us that we should be turning away from sin and focus on God’s will for our lives.  


Psalm 39:5  You have made my days a mere handbreadth, the span of my years is nothing before you.  Each man’s life is but a breath.

 

We each need to decide how we will use each of the days that the Lord has given us.  Stop, and take inventory about how you spend your time, talents, and resources.  Are they primarily on moving others toward the kingdom of God?  Do the people around you know how important God is in your life, by your actions and words – or would they be surprised to find out you are a believer?  Each one of us has an opportunity to turn away from our sin-filled, selfish lives, and get serious about living every day with purpose and meaning.  In our homes, in our place of work, out to dinner, in our every day lives, we can each be an extraordinary part of bringing others to the eternal Kingdom of God.  This life is fleeting, but Heaven is forever.  


Lord God, help me (help us) to live our lives focused on You.  Help us to show Your love to those around us by our actions and words, letting You lead the way.  Thank You for how much You love us, so much that You will not leave us where we are.  Help us to remember that what we do matters for eternity.  Amen

psalm 40



“The God that Rescues”


Psalm 40:2 states:

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire' he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

If we're being honest here, we all have been stuck in the slimy pit at one point in our lives. This isn't a literal pit (although it may be for those hog wrestling in Eldorado this weekend)! Our sin entraps us. We can get caught up in it and be ensnared. Thankfully, for those that put their faith in Jesus Christ, they are forgiven of their sin and placed on the firm Rock of Christ!


When we become a Christian by being born-again in Christ, we become a new creation. Verse 8 says, "I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart." Instead of once-living for our desires and selfishness that lead us to the slimy pit of sin, we are called to proclaim the Gospel (vs. 9) and live righteously.


Application: If you're not a Christian, please put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ today and he will bring you out of the slimy pit of sin. If you are a Christian, live a life of holiness. God has brought you out of the slimy pit and has given you a firm foundation in Christ. Start today by repenting of any sin and live in a righteous holy way that is given to us in the scriptures.

In Jesus Strong Name,


Dan Degner

psalm 41



"Because of my integrity You uphold me and set me in Your Presence forever." 
Psalm 41:12NIV

How important is godly integrity? It is because of David's godly integrity that God set him in His Presence forever. God upheld David. 

The word or act of upholding something or someone is to: confirm or support, to maintain a custom or practice. In a Court of Law when something is upheld, it is confirmed or supported. God confirmed and supported David in God's Court!

The definition of integrity can be described as: doing the right thing even when it's costly, having strong moral principals and wholeness of character. David was aware that he was a man of godly integrity.

From his youth, he sought the Lord. David's godly character was shaped through God-ordained encounters like slaying a lion and a bear while tending the sheep, and killing a giant, when no one else could, with complete trust in God while calling on His name with boldness and confidence. 

It all, like an arrow, points us forward to see God's own Son, Jesus Christ, Who came through the line of David. 

Jesus Christ now stands, upholding His own, in God's Court Room! For when God sees us, He sees us through The Blood of the Lamb! Selah! (pause and reflect on that for a moment)

Through Jesus Christ, God sees us as righteous. By accepting Jesus, we become ambassadors for Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:20) As ambassadors, we are to have and continue to grow in godly integrity, until our character resembles that of Jesus Christ. 

Today's question: Are you reconciled to God through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If yes, are you growing in godly integrity by God's grace as you conduct yourself in the world around you?

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that through Jesus we are upheld in Your Courtroom! Thank You that we are declared not guilty because of what Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has done on our behalf. Jesus, it is because You took the verdict of guilty for us and shed Your own blood on The Cross, that we can be declared not guilty! You bore the complete burden of God's wrath so that through You and only through You, our verdict of innocent is upheld. For this WE PRAISE YOU! Please continue, Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us in refinement of our godly integrity and character. May we be strong in the Lord like David when we face our lions, bears, and giants. May our godly integrity shine brightly so as to bring glory and honor to Your Holy Name Lord. And Jesus, it is and through Your beautiful name that we pray. Amen.

Psalm 42


“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Psalm 42:1-2

 

I love David’s heart. He just seemed to live and breathe God. He passionately pursued Him! Pastor John speaks a lot about intrinsic needs, something essential, something you can’t live without. Spending time with the Lord and meeting with Him is David’s intrinsic need. Not safety, not food, not a fancy palace, or beautiful wives. He NEEDED God to function. He couldn’t live without God. But the really cool thing about this is, David was very flawed and had committed some pretty serious sins, but what he always got right, was he always came back and sought after God. We can learn from this. No matter how much we’ve put Him off or put other things first in order of our day, how much we sin, we can change. His mercies are new EVERY DAY! Praise Jesus for that! We need to make time with Him #1 every day. This matters! And the more we do this, the more our souls will pant for Him. The more we will start living that life more abundantly He promised us in John 10:10. This is completely for our benefit, not His, although I know He loves spending time with us as well! 
He’s a good, good Father like that:)

 

Dear Lord, please help us to be men and women after Your own heart. Please help us to live life in You, with You, and for You. Please remove all that gets in the way of our relationship with You and help us to make You the core of our lives with everything in a healthy balance around You! We love You and thank You for the amazing gift of a relationship with You, the God and Creator of the Universe! Glory to God and we ask this in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

Psalm 43

fear for naught


1Vindicate me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation; deliver me from deceitful and unjust men.   2For You are the God of my refuge.  Why have You rejected me?  Why must I walk in sorrow because of the enemy’s oppression?   5Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why the unease within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Psalms 43 (in part)


This has been a universal plea since the expulsion of Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden.  It’s impossible for me to count how many times I’ve laid before God pleading my case and asking “Why do you wait to avenge me?! 

Do you not see these ungodly people threatening me and getting away with slander?!!  Why do you not deliver me?! Where are you?!”  


In the middle of king Saul’s herdsmen seeking to kill David and then his own son Absalom perusing the same, David shows us what to expect in situations like these…. Look what he states in verse 5: "The Holy Spirit that lives in all of us, kicks in, taps us on our noggin and asks….(and I’m embellishing here)...“why are you feeling so scared dude? Did you forget the giant you laid out a while ago? Look up! And go to the God that takes care of business, and watches your back.” 


When I say the Holy Spirit kicks in, think of it this way... we within ourselves don’t have the capability to think in terms of Godly things, only in those whom the Spirit lives, is capable.  Jesus asked Peter who He was. Peter stated, “You are the Christ, the living God”, and Jesus tells him in Matthew 16:17, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven." In others words, at that very moment, in the middle of David’s stuff, the Spirit revealed God’s devotion, love, and sovereignty to him and summoned him to come to the altar to praise, give thanks, and trust the God Who gives us peace and shelter in the middle of our stuff!  


Tell me, what trial and struggle are you facing right now?  What losses do you believe looms over the horizon that strikes fear into your soul?  We have a God who knows your struggles, your fears and frustrations, and Whom also can deliver you from those fears.  


As Paul simply puts it in Philippians 4:6,7, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." I can’t think of any better way to put it.  



Come pray with me…..Father, we are so grateful for Your mercy that rescues our minds from the fear that grips so tightly at times. Help us to see You as David did in this Psalm.  You are JEHOVAH JIREH, (the Lord will provide).  You’ve  promised in Your Word You will provide everything we need and the faith we need to continue our journey home.  Father, we humbly thank You for counting us worthy and approved, abounding in grace, that we may enter the throne room and ask that our petitions be heard. Fill us with the peace that surpasses all understanding and the strength to be still in our struggle, knowing You are God.  

In Jesus name we pray, amen


TR

psalm 44



Psalm 44 is titled to the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. These sons of Korah were Levites who in David’s time seemed to have served in the musical aspect of the temple worship. This Psalm could be looked at as a worship song that could have been sung in the temple.


Psalm 44 is written to call out to God to rescue Israel in a season of great defeat. It could have been written from the point of view of one of the exiles that Israel had from the Promised Land or some other defeat.


This Psalm is part declaration and part petition. The Psalm is:

  • Declaring all the great victories God had provided for Israel. 
  • Declaring that the psalmist is confident for God to provide victory for today. 
  • Declaring the crisis and disappointment of Israel, but also its ultimate trust in God.
  • Petitions to God that Israel has kept faithful to God, but Israel’s obedience was answered with defeat.
  • Petitions God with a hopeful prayer for help and redemption.


This Psalm speaks powerfully to me in this season, a season where we emerge from Covid and the isolation that it has brought in our lives. It speaks to me as the world continues to try to divide Christians from each other. The honest talk and angst of the words in this Psalm could have been spoken by us in many ways over the past 18 months as we each dealt with or continue to deal with the after effects of all that has taken place.


Still, let us all remember the great victories that God has provided us as a country, us as a Church, and us as individuals.


Let us believe and share our confidence that God will deliver us from this continued time of trial.


Let us pray honestly and fervently about fear, our anxiety, our disappointment and our losses over the past 18 months. God is big enough to take all your feelings on and help you deal with them. But let us also remember that our ultimate hope and trust is in Him alone. Nothing else will suffice to bring us eternal peace and joy.


Let us remind God of the promises that He has made and that we continue to be faithful to Him with our lives, and if we have fallen short of that, let us repent and rededicate ourselves to the truth of God’s promises in our lives. Let us remember that we need God and we need to be in fellowship and worship with each other. Church and community are important. Let us not continue to be divided by the world, but united in our faithful God.


Let us pray a bold and hopeful prayer for this world, our country, our city, our Church and ourselves for redemption and for help in overcoming the isolation and divisiveness of this world. 


Father – You have been so good to us. You have truly brought victory upon victory for this country. You have caused it to prosper and given us all advantages we would not have if we lived somewhere else. You have truly blessed our Church and each one of us in specific ways. You are good and we thank You for that. Lord, we are in a period now, where it seems like this country and this world are tearing itself apart, that people seek to divide us and we allow them. That we seek to judge people rather than love them and that we forget that Christian fellowship is essential to living in the community of believers. Lord, we know that we are stronger together than we will ever be alone.

Lord, today I ask for a miracle. I ask for You to restore Your people through a new revival of this Church and Churches throughout this country. That this nation turn their eyes back to You as the source of help, strength, comfort and forgiveness. I ask, Lord, to bless Essential Rock Church and churches everywhere to be places where unity and God’s great and endless love are found for all people. I believe that You can bring this great victory to this country and bring restoration and peace to all who trust in You.


In Your name I pray! Amen

psalm 45

"for ever and ever:

Psalm 45 is a “Maskil” Wedding Psalm! Written by the sons of Korah, Levites, from the family of Kohath who served in musical temple worship (2 Chronicles 20:19). We know it’s a wedding Psalm because of the title, “For Ever and Ever”. Would you agree such words fit well in wedding vows made in a marriage between a Husband and Wife such as: “May this covenant marriage be anointed ‘for ever and ever’ until death do us part”? 


Yet this Psalm tells a story of God's glory about the marriage of Jesus with His Church. Theologian and Biblical Scholar Matthew Henry once said, “The wedding song of Psalm 45 is a prophecy of Messiah the Prince: it is all over gospel, and points at Jesus only, as a bridegroom espousing the church, His royal bride, to Himself as Messiah King ruling in it and ruling for it!” 


So the words “for ever and ever” relate to our marriage by grace to the anointed with glorious, joyful gladness in the eternal for ever and ever with Jesus. Jesus is our Bridegroom and we the Church, His bride, He claims “for ever and ever”! So today’s wedding Psalm is not “for ever and ever” until death parts us… It's about uniting us forever with our Jesus!!!


So as you read this Psalm today, know the words “for ever and ever” show up in this wedding song in these scriptures:

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.”

Psalm 45:6


He is our God and we are His people. 

He is our Bridegroom and we His Church Bride. In marriage, by grace, we gain His just Kingdom for ever and ever!!!


“I will perpetuate your memory through all generations; therefore the nations will praise you for ever and ever.”

Psalm 45:17


Then in this Psalm, as Matthew Henry states, "Our hearts must be filled with high thoughts of Christ, with an entire submission to and satisfaction in His government, and with an earnest desire of the enlarging and perpetuating of His church in the world."  And I say for His Kingdom in eternity for ever and ever!!!


Lord God,

Thank You for Your perpetual Word of Truth that the generations of believers have brought to each of us. So we believe in your grace, thus becoming Your bride and You our bridegroom to gain the gift of “for ever and ever” of eternity with You!

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen


Question: How will you express your earnest desire to share Jesus with the next generation today? 


Please read all of Psalm 45 today,

Pastor John Slotten

Psalm 46



1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  


I love this Psalm.  When we are at our weakest, God is our strength.  He is available to us at all times of the day or night – no matter where we are or what our circumstance may be, He is our strength.  We are so programmed to be strong and independent, not to let our guard down, not to be weak or vulnerable.  The truth of the matter is that there are times in our lives when the troubles just keep hitting us; the circumstance is so painful our hearts alone cannot bear the pain.  God is our refuge and strength.  He is our source of rest and renewal.  We can lay our burdens at His feet and He will carry us.  

This Psalm expresses a trust and confidence in God during our times of instability and insecurity.  We are stable and secure in His care.  4. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  A river – an abundance of flowing grace, life sustaining water flowing from all directions, power, and peace.  If there is to be life, there needs to be water.  God provides all that we need to carry us through the hard times that this life brings and to renew us and give us strength.  

10.  Be still and know that I am God – This popular verse reminds us “Be still” in Him.  This can be translated in Hebrew to mean, “let go”. Don’t hold on to the fear that keeps us from trusting in God.  Don’t hold onto to the fear that keeps us from receiving God’s blessings.  Be still and know that He is who He says He is.  In Him we find our strength.  

psalm 47

"praise him!"

Psalm 47:1-2 states:

“Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth."


Do you ever sit back and just awe in wonder at how amazing God is? My wife, Victoria, and I experienced this while we were on a mountaintop in the Blue Ridge mountains during our honeymoon last week. While looking out from the peak we could see every direction surrounding us for miles and could reflect on that God had made everything we could see and He was active in creating all of it. We praised Him and worshiped Him for what He is King over in that region. Now the amazing part of our worship at that moment is that we understand that God created so much more than just what we could see in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Our triune God is the King of the whole earth and has created everything around us. Verse 7 highlights that "God is the King of all the earth." Today, take time to praise God in your life whether it's through a beautiful sunset or a mountain you've seen God move in your life. We serve an awesome God who is the King and Ruler of this entire earth! 


In Jesus Strong Name, 


Dan Degner

psalm 48



Psalm 48:14
"For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end."

So who is "this God" as opposed to another god? 

The God in Psalm 48 is... 
The Eternal God.  
The Ruler and Creator of all things, seen and unseen. 
He is the God of compassion, kindness, understanding, righteousness and grace. 
He is the God of justice and judgement. 
He is the Alpha and Omega, The Beginning and The End. 
He is Life Everlasting.
He is a waring God.
He is a peacemaking God. 
He is a caring God.

So much so, He feeds the sparrow and makes the prairies more beautiful than any garment worn by royalty. 

He is a relational God.
He is a humble God.
He is an all-powerful God. 

He is a God that wants you to to be with Him for all of eternity! He is a God with a plan and that plan includes you! If you allow Him to guide you back to Him, through His Cross on His Hill at His Calvary through His Son, our Savior and Lover of our souls, Jesus Christ. 
Don't be misguided by a different god - for all other gods are false gods bringing only confusion, death and destruction... those other gods, that bind and choke the life out of you, those gods that makes false promises. 
Only one God can make the promise of eternal life. In John 6:47, Jesus says this, "Most assuredly I say to you he who believes in Me will have everlasting life!" 
Matthew 28:20b Jesus closes with this, "And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age." 
Now that's a God who keeps His word so much so He died for it and rose for it!  

Question for the day: is this God your God?

Dear Heavenly Father - who is the great I AM, we give You all praise and glory.  You are worthy to receive everlasting praise. You Father, who is the lover of our souls, we thank You and lift You up in song. Holy Spirit, please fill us a fresh and anew, making our eyes light up to see more sharply the presence of our God in our daily life, no matter our situations or circumstances. Jesus, dear Jesus our Lord and Savior - we love You.  We desire to keep our eyes firmly affixed upon You, as You lead and guide us on this path of life. These things in our hearts, we pray in and through the name above all other names, the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, who is The Amen!


psalm 49



“Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave.”

Psalm 49:5-9


I just LOVE how the Kingdom of God operates! In this world, we are often drawn to people who are pleasing to the eye, have nice things, fancy cars, clean houses, pretty clothes, etc… God doesn’t. Nope, He doesn’t care a bit about our money, what we wear, how high up on the company ladder or low on the totem pole we are…He only cares about our hearts and what we do with what He’s given us. We can’t buy our way into Heaven, we can’t buy our way out of hell. Our only Hope of Salvation is Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross to redeem us! Something only some can ever believe and others will never be able grasp. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Be so thankful every day that you are saved and believe the message of the Cross. What an amazing gift to be one of the elect! It's something I can never comprehend and get overwhelmed every time I even try to think if I wasn’t! Verse 15 of this Psalm states, “But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of the grave.” This is our anthem! Praise Jesus! He redeemed us and snatched us from eternal damnation! And it didn’t cost us a thing; it cost Him EVERYTHING. We humbly thank You forever King Jesus.


Lord Jesus, thank You for loving us as we are and paying the ultimate price on our behalf. Please help us to be filled with Your love and let it overflow to the world around us, helping us to see we are all a part of Your body and to love every single part as you love them. We pray You help us to be faithful with little and faithful with much and trusting in You alone for our eternal gift of salvation in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

Psalm 50

Mercy, mercy me

14“Sacrifice thanks offerings to God,

fulfill your vows to the Most High,

15and call on me in the day of trouble;

I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

16But to the wicked person, God says:

“What right have you to recite my laws

or take my covenant on your lips?

Psalms 50 (in part)


Before we venture any further, I ask that you first read the whole of Psalms 50 and if you already have, praise the Lord, pass the biscuits and let’s eat! (It’s a southern metaphor to indulge into His Word)….I know…corny.  


So after reading all of psalms 50, you can see there is a lot going on here.  God is rippin into some folks, but He first describes who He is, how powerful He is, what He desires from us, His love for u,s and His discontent with those who represent Him falsely.  And in that falseness, what they need to do to rectify their deceitful ways or there will be consequences to come.


Can you see the whole picture here? I think it’s fair to say God is showing His love to not only the righteous, but to the wicked as well.  He’s giving us instructions to keep moving in His direction and at the same time, showing mercy to those whom He considers to be completely out of His will, whom He calls wicked!  I don’t get it?  He’s showing mercy and desire for the wicked! I hear Jesus in all this!  Flip forward to Matthew 18:12 which says, What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”


So many of us have labeled God in the Old Testament as a tyrannical, intolerant God who seems to enjoy flexing His muscles in front of His people.  But yet, here He is showing mercy to those whom we think don’t deserve it.  Yes! God is a judgmental God, He has the right to be so.  He wrote the rules, but He’s also a very loving, caring, merciful God who gives second chances, for that matter, endless chances to come back to Him.  We could speak about God's mercy for days on end.  My point is this….at first glance, this psalm seems to be a hard nosed unforgiving, condemning Scripture, but in truth, it’s all about mercy.  


He’s actually far beyond what we would ever do, looking for those who have gone astray.  God is investing time to expose their sin and calling them out to repentance so not to suffer the consequences of their wicked ways, which He will be forced to judge in the end.  What did Jesus continue to say in Matthew 18:14? In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Not one!  Even the wicked, He does not want to lose!  I ask you…Do we practice the same mercy with our neighbors, or for that matter, with our brothers and sisters, family and friends?  God is revealing a standard here for us to learn and live by.  A standard that is the core of Jesus’ message on the cross.


Today, let God search your heart as David stated in Psalms 139:23,24, 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart Try me and know my thoughts![a] 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!  And after He has searched your heart, step into the light of His glory so you can be transformed into the image of mercy in Christ.


Father, You created us as images of Yourself to carry the marks of Jesus to show our neighbors who You are.  Enlighten our souls and enrich our spirit to see Your vision of saving grace so we can bring that message to those whom You’ve chosen. Thank You for Your loving embrace and Your words of instruction so that we might live a life of abundance and not destruction.  In the name of Jesus our Lord….Amen.


TR

Psalm 51

A Psalm of Repentance


Do you remember growing up and getting caught doing something wrong, and having to go say, “I’m sorry” to someone because of it? If you were like me, it was kind of a half-hearted, begrudging, blurted out, “Sorry”. It was said mostly because I knew I was in trouble and I was trying to get out of being in trouble, not because I was truly remorseful for what I had done.

Do you remember growing up and getting caught doing something wrong, and having to go say, “I’m sorry” to someone because of it? If you were like me, it was kind of a half-hearted, begrudging, blurted out, “Sorry”. It was said mostly because I knew I was in trouble and I was trying to get out of being in trouble, not because I was truly remorseful for what I had done.

Sometimes I look back at my life and I recognize that I have been like this with God, praying the begrudging prayer of “I’m sorry” because I am more afraid of the consequences of a sin, than remorseful for the sin itself. Many times, my adult “confessions” are little better than what my childhood confessions were.

Psalm 51 shows us what true repentance should look like. David does a horrific thing in committing adultery and he is confronted by the prophet Nathan. Psalm 51 shows us that true repentance is not only confessing your sins to God but turning away from sin and turning towards God. This is a process that not only alleviates the guilt of sin, but really opens us up to deep peace and joy through God.

What are the steps to grow in honest and true repentance that are found in Psalm 51?

  • Define and confess your sin – David uses three words in the first three verses of Psalm 51 to explain the understanding of his sin. Iniquity, Sin, and Transgressions. Each three words have different meaning and are used to show David’s understanding of how deep his sin is.
  • Appeal to God’s mercy – verse 1 says, “Have Mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love." Verse 1 calls out God’s characteristic of unfailing and unconditional love as the reason for Him to forgive us. This recognizes not only His mercy and love but His authority to forgive sin, no matter how great or small.
  • Avoid excuses and defensiveness – Recognize that our motivations and reasons do not justify the sin. Our confession is to God as our sin was against God. We may have sinned against others in the process, but ultimately, our sin is ours to own and confess to God. (Step 2 is to seek forgiveness from those we have sinned against.)
  • Look to Jesus – David refers to hyssop in verse 7.  “Cleans me with hyssop, and I shall be clean." Hyssop signifies purification with blood in Exodus 24. He knows that blood alone will make him whiter than snow (verse 7). This is ultimately pointing to the blood of Jesus, who gave His life and set us free from sin. (Hebrews 9:26).
  • Ask God to heal your brokenness (v8) and be comforted by God’s Spirit (v11) – Grief over your brokenness and sin, is not a sign of weakness and should not be seen as discouragement. The very grief you feel is a sign that the Spirit of God is working in you and causing you to hate what God hates...sin.
  • Rejoice – v-12-15. Not only is David joyful about his forgiveness through confession, he is so joyful that he cannot help but tell others about what God has done for him. 

Lastly – we can confess our sin and do it with pure intentions, but if in the back of our minds, we are planning on sinning again, true confession is not really taking place. God desires a repentant heart. He wants to free you from your destructive nature of sin. God can and will forgive you, no matter what you have done, no matter where you are today. Will you turn away from sin and turn towards God today?


Let’s pray

Father – have mercy on me, a sinner. Today I name these sins in my life. I appeal to You in Your great and unfailing love to forgive me. Send me Your spirit to strengthen me as I seek to turn from these sins and live a new and redeemed life of peace and joy today. Fill me with that joy so that I too am overflowing and need to tell everyone I know what You have done for me. Strengthen me to be able to stay focused and strong in Your will in my life and that I can meet temptation head on and live in Your Spirit today. Thank You for the blood of Your son, Jesus, who makes me whiter than snow in Your eyes and able to live redeemed, free, and joyful.

Amen.


psalm 52

In What is Your Trust Placed?

“Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold, but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.

Psalm 52:7-8


Where is your trust? Which of these two people are you most like? 


So many people don’t have God as their stronghold. In doing so, they don’t realize how false strongholds and even wealth can destroy others and even themselves. Yet in this Psalm we get these words: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” 


This verse is a contrast to the man placing his trust in wealth. Here the Psalmist proclaims three “I” statements:


1.) “I am like an olive tree”!

2.) I am… “Flourishing in the house of God”!

3.) “I trust in God's unfailing love”! 


The olive tree comparison means: This person is alive, growing to bear fruit, and isn’t dead. Why an olive tree? Because it’s nearly impossible to kill. In fact, a olive branch can be pruned and left out of soil and water and planted a year later. When watered, it will grow to flourish, seemingly as a branch rising to life from the dead. Might this olive tree comparison mean this psalmist, like many of us, was dead in faith by having placed his stronghold in other things until he, like myself, or you, found true nourishment in God's house (church) and grew to trusting God's unfailing love? So I say, let’s be the people who flourish with God, trusting Him as our Stronghold of unfailing love!!! Enjoy all of Psalm 52 today! 


Lord God,

Grow us to trust in You, Lord, by planting us deep into Your church and teaching us Your truth to trust in. Help us find and share Your unfailing love every day so others gain trust in You too!

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen


Question: What is a former stronghold you are letting God replace in your life so you can now flourish in His unfailing love? 

Psalm 53



Why is it so easy to praise God when things are going well in our lives, but so hard to believe He is Who He says He is when there is so much hardship all around us?  If God is for us who can be against us – right?  In this psalm, we learn that as God’s people become more and more involved in the world around them, they are turning less and less to God.  It is like looking for someone you know at a Packer Game!  Suddenly 70,000 individual people all look alike in their green and gold.  The less we are walking with God, the more we will look like those who never knew God.  

The psalmist is telling us that as the people look around, they feel that there is no God as they see no one around them doing the things of God.  They have stopped living by the moral principles of God, they are not seeking God in prayer and asking for His help in struggle; they have become wicked, and they have joined the crowd!

As God looks down upon His people, He sees the same.  He calls them fools.  When you know God, when you have tasted His goodness and faithfulness – trust that.  Hang on tight to your faith, for it is what will get you through the impossible times of this life.  This is not our home.  We are just passing through here.  There will be troubles in this place, we will feel pain and hardships that we never saw coming.  Where will you turn with that pain?  Will you turn to the world who will tell you that God is not real, He is not listening, He can not help you? Will you turn to His Word, to prayer, to His arms of love?  Don’t be like the fools and live a life apart from God.  We cannot trust in the things of this world.  Here there is sickness, and sadness, and evil.  God is for us, but satan wants to destroy us.  Verse 6 states, "You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge."  He is our refuge.  In Him you can trust!

(If this Psalm sounds familiar to you it is almost identical to Psalm 14 – I guess we need to hear it more than once!)  

psalm 54

“God Help Me!”

Psalm 54:1-2,4 states:

“Save me, God, by Your name, and vindicate me by Your power. Hear my prayer God; Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul."


Have you ever had someone lie about you? If, so you're like David when King Saul had lied about him and chased him with the intent of killing him. For most of us, we have had someone at some point in our lives slander us or attack us unjustly. Very few of us experienced the intensity that David did at that moment. David gives us an example of what to do in those situations. 


God is our helper and sustainer (verse 4) we do not have to worry about paying them back for their evils because vengeance is the Lord's (Verse 5). When we are in situations where we feel pressured by others and attacked by them we can hold to the same principles that David teaches. First, God is there to help us through the situation. Lean on the Cross. Second, God will judge righteously. We aren't to repay evil with evil. We are to continually live righteously and we can rest assured that God will judge those for their actions against us.


In Jesus Strong Name, 


Dan Degner

psalm 55



"If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God." 

Psalm 55:12-14

How heart-crushing, soul-deadening, life-eroding it is when someone you love and trust stabs you in the back. 

The utter devastation and shattering of trust in so many cases is never rebuilt. The victim learns to never trust anyone again with their heart, perhaps including Jesus. 

How many times do you hear of business deals or partnerships going bad amongst friends or family members who at the start had complete trust in one another?  And what about couples who divorce or abuse within families?

The truth is, we have all been pierced and stabbed by someone we love and trust.  We all have these wounds inflicted upon us that we now carry.  And we have also inflicted such wounds upon those we love and who trusted us as well. 

The only balm with the ability to heal this kind of wound is The Balm of The One who was also pierced and stabbed and then hung on a cross for us.  The only One who never sinned, only loved even in and through the piercing and stabbing pain.

Oh the balm of the Blood of Christ Jesus!  The healing, cleansing, restoring Blood of Christ Jesus that washes all things clean, including the crushing wounds of a trusted friend, family member, husband, wife and/or child. Only the precious Blood of Jesus Christ can heal these kind of mortal wounds.

As Jesus hung there nearly dead, He still loved those who put Him there.  He loved us when He gave us these words as recorded in Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." 

Today's questions: In and through the wounding, can we forgive those who have inflicted deep pain on us?  Will we allow the healing Blood of Christ Jesus to cover and renew us to the point of saying...Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing. 

Let's pray together.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your grace, mercy and compassion for us all.  We thank You Lord that in our wounding, You are our Healer.  Jesus, You and You alone are The Balm that heals and restores us.  Your Blood poured out for all sins committed first and foremost against You and then each other, can all be washed clean as we come to You by faith through grace.  In You there is hope to be restored, healed and made whole.  In it all, may we sing praises to You forevermore!  Please we ask, restore those whom we have pierced and stabbed even to the point of renewing the relationships all through Your Name. And Jesus it is in and through Your beautiful Name we pray.  Amen

Psalm 56


“I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?”

Psalm 56:4


In this Psalm, I noticed the description says it’s a “miktam”. We were introduced with this word from Psalm 16 and it’s devotional. Curious about what this means, I did some research. Miktams are found only in the book of Psalms and is found six times, all Psalms written by David. They are Psalm 16, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60. Upon my own reading, I wanted to find the commonalities of these Psalms and every single one is David seeking God in times of terribly fearful times in his life, seeking revenge, and refuge from his enemies. But amidst these harrowing times, He comes back to trust in Who God is…his Mighty Fortress, his Deliverer! 


Most scholars say the meaning of a miktam is unknown, but I found one interesting commentary by David Hobbs that stated, “The whole meaning of the word ‘Miktam' is not just a scary remembrance. It literally means ‘engraving’ and spiritually it refers to a time when the dark setting of the dangerous experience serves only to highlight the bright jewel of the love of God manifested in the miraculous deliverance. Therefore, the whole episode is remembered not as a traumatic event, but as a golden demonstration of the faithfulness, love, and power of God in the wondrous escape.” I love that so much and it is so true in almost all Psalms written by David. He’s so scared and running for his life and yells out to the Lord for help, but then it’s almost as if it’s brought to his remembrance time and time again, “Oh yeah, God’s on my side. He will fight for me and I’m going to be o.k.!”  What an amazing example of a rich relationship with God…going through the most terrifying times, but in those times, remembering He is on Your side. We can all learn from this and be like David. May we let these scary, tough times in our lives not traumatize us, but see them as a golden demonstrations, engraving on our hearts  the faithfulness, love, and power of God! Each time our hearts become more and more engraved with these truths, growing us stronger in faith. Take time today and meditate on the Lord and all His attributes; really focus on how huge and powerful He is! He promises to rescue us each and every time! Wow! What a promise to declare in ANY situation. Stand on it and trust. He’s ready to come to your rescue…EACH TIME!


Dear Lord, we thank You for David and what an amazing example of what we should strive for in a relationship with You. Please help us to keep our eyes on You, not ourselves or our situations. Please help us to trust You completely, always coming back to the fact You are Faithful and True. You watch over Your Word to perform It, It doesn’t come back to You void. Help us to stand on that firm truth and love You and trust You in all times, good and bad. Praise the Lord, we are Yours and we’re on our way to Heaven in our faith and trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior! Thank You and we ask this all in Jesus’ powerful name, AMEN!

psalm 57

When Shalach shows up


3. He will send from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

Psalms 57 (in part)


Five words caught my eye when I read this psalm, (for the 132nd time),  and never noticed it till now.  Look at the first part of the 3rd verse- “3He will send from heaven and save me.”


He will send from heaven? Send what?! What is He sending from heaven?  Well let’s first look at the definitions of word “send” in this text.   It comes from the Hebrew word “Shalach”, pronounced “Shaw-la, with an “hk” sound at the end.  It means “to cause something to go or a messenger”.   In nautical terms it means, “to surge upwards in heavy seas”. Another definition is, ”to deliver something great”, “ to have a euphoric reaction, a positive form of being shook”.  You seeing this?!  It took  me 132 times to finally see it!  Well, I really don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but it’s been a lot!  Weird how God makes Scripture, that I’ve read 132 times, to finally come to life.  Or as usual, I wasn’t paying attention.  


So David is in a quagmire, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, sorry for the pun but it’s literally true.  King Saul is out to kill him and he’s hiding in a cave with no place to go but,….and I gotta say it, Up! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.


When you put the definitions together, look what’s really going on here.  God sends a “shalach”, messenger to initiate a great action to lift David above the heavy seas of tribulation and shakes his reality into a euphoric state of peace!  Are you kidding me?!!! It’s all right there! You know that peace you get when you finally surrender your situation over to God, you experience a euphoric kind of comfort?  I believe that’s what David is telling us.  In the middle of our stuff, our Loving God “sends” us a “shalach” to lift us out of the stormy seas and gives us the peace that “surpasses all understanding”. And notice He sent it in the middle of the surging storm, not the beginning of it.  When you finally surrender, that’s where your faith and praises grow!  And when it grows, it grows in proportion to your struggle, and that’s when your “shalach” shows up.


There is so much more to this verse than I have space to write about here.  So I implore you to dig into this psalm so you will discover the root message of God’s love and the power He’s invested in us, to be ready when the raging storms come.  It isn’t a matter of if they will come but when they come.  Jesus warned us they would but He also said, “and He rescued us from our enemies, His faithful love endures forever” Psalms 136:24.  To God be the glory!  In Jesus name….amen


TR

Psalm 58



This Psalm is titled to the Chief Musician set to “Do Not Destroy.” A Michtam of David. “Do not destroy” could refer to a tune, or to David’s determination to not destroy Saul. Michtam indicates this as one of the Golden Psalms.

This Psalm is thought to be composed by David while he was hiding from the persecution of King Saul.

David is praying to God in this Psalm and it is broken into 4 parts:
1 
 David is speaking of the wicked men that have aligned with Saul and passed judgement on him, condemning him to death. V 1-2.
2 
 David describes the wicked men V 3-5.
3 
 David calls on God to ruin the wicked men’s ability to do evil deeds V 6-8.
4 
– David speaks of his confidence in God’s judgement upon the wicked. V 9-11.

David is unjustly accused by King Saul and his men who have condemned him as a traitor, worthy of death. David is outraged at the injustice of it and proclaims it in this Psalm. Yet, David does not set out to repay evil with evil. He leaves punishment to God as he sets out not to destroy Saul. In fact, in 1 Samuel 24, David has the chance to kill Saul, but he does not.

Have you ever been unjustly accused of something? Judged by people incorrectly or perhaps evilly? Have you lashed out in anger and sought to hurt them in return? Or have you sought God in prayer, and left it in God’s hands?

Pray with me 
Father God, today I ask You give me the strong character of David, to come to You in prayer when I am falsely accused and to leave it to You for judgement of those who are wicked. Lord, I know You are in control of all things. Help me to trust in You better and live my life in bringing all things to You in prayer. In Your strong name I pray.

Amen

psalm 59

“Our Fortress


“Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God: defend me from them that rise up against me”…. (Psalm 59:1)

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love;

for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 59:16)


Today as you seek God, think about your enemies and how you have needed to be delivered from them! Now notice in today's Psalm, David is asking to be delivered from his enemies and have God defend him while he takes refuge in God as his fortress. Please note: Historically, this is a time where David is under attack by King Saul. It’s a time when Saul’s war agents have surrounded David’s house with intent to kill him. (Read more about this in 1 Samuel 19:11-17). Yet in this moment, David turns to God, trusting God, and asks for deliverance from these enemies. Also note: the Hebrew word for deliverance means: “Raise me to a high secure place”. So David wanted to be raised up by God and secured by Him! When you’re being attacked, do you seek God and ask God to raise you up high and give you a secure place? David did just that, so notice what David then does in verse 16 well after having asked God to deliver him. He states: “I will sing of your strength, I will sing of your love for you are my fortress, my refuge, in times of trouble!”

David in saying such words shows his trust for God. He has experienced God in truth and in protection previously. He thus sees God as his stronghold as his fortress and refuge. He’s loving it and singing it because he totally believes it. Why? because he has experienced it first hand. Today, may you experience God. Pray for protection from your enemies, ask for deliverance to rise up and gain a secure place over anything with God for your life. Then sing praises of God's strength and love in your life during all situations and find God as your (and my) fortress always and your great refuge when something troubles you!!! Today, find a song and sing your praises to God as your prayer after enjoying all of Psalm 59 even if, like David, you’re under attack!!! Amen Amen


In Jesus’ Strong Name Pastor John

psalm 60



A Miktam – which means a teaching Psalm.  David is on the throne.  His kingdom is prosperous, but there are still many wars/battles going on both around them as well as within them.  David writes this Psalm as he is reflecting on the past, the present, and the future of God’s people, Israel.  

In verses 1-3 he reflects on the hard times that the people have fallen on. "You have rejected us O God and burst forth upon us; you have been angry – now restore us!" (vs. 1)  He is talking about the consequences that Israel (the people) had to face as they turned away from God and toward other idols. "You have shown your people desperate times, you have given us wine that makes us stagger." (vs.3).  He is referring to the people being so out of touch with God’s commandments, God’s will, God’s direction that they staggered around like drunk people – not knowing what direction to go in, had clouded vision and could not see what they were even doing.  

These verses not only were teaching the people David was writing for – but they should teach us how important it is for us to remain in God’s faithful Word, not changing it to fit our needs/wants, but staying true to every word.  

"But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow." (vs. 4).  David is acknowledging the happy times, the times of peace and prosperity.  They were living this out – both prosperity and battles were going on all around them during the time of this writing.  David was feeling God’s faithful presence as he battled through life’s ups and downs.  How are you doing with the ups and downs of life and keeping God at the center of it all?

David prays for the people, for their deliverance from the evil that they have done so that they may live as God’s chosen people in peace. (vs. 5)

Verses 6-12 David pours his heart out in hope for the future.  That God would carry them through – as he always has – as they dwell in his presence.  "Give us aid against the enemy, the help of man is worthless.  With God we will gain the victory and he will trample down our enemies." 

(vs. 11-12). 


Lord, we ask that You forgive us when we have failed and not walked in Your will.  We pray that You strengthen us today that we can see Your face and feel Your presence as we walk through this day, and that You are our hope for the future in the middle of such uncertain times.  Help us to stay true to You and remember that You are faithful and the Author of Truth in all circumstances.  Amen. 

Psalm 61

“Confidence in God!”

Psalm 61:3-4 states:

“For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings."


King David had confidence in God's protection over his life. This was evident in his whole life. Time and time again, God protected and provided for David. While looking at your own life, reflect on how God has provided and protected you.

While reflecting on God's protection in your, life use this as a way to worship Him. Just as David said, "I will sing praise to Your name forever, we should worship God for the things He has provided. We can be confident in God because He is our Sustainer Who has provided everything we have.


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner


psalm 62


“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Psalm 62:5-8


Psalm 62 is titled: “To the Chief Musician. To Jeduthun. Jeduthun was a musician appointed by David to lead public worship (1 Chronicles 16:41; 25:1-3). 


I love this Psalm that was meant to be publicly shared in worship for all to hear. When I recite it I hear David’s love and trust in God very clearly. What I love even more is David wants all people to love & trust in the Lord God. Can you imagine in your minds eye, maturing children reciting this and visitors to the temple hearing it and expressing it in song and worship?! Notice the words David recites in what he believes and personally experiences in God, then how his heart shifts to all God's people as he states: 

  • My soul finds rest in God!
  • My hope comes from Him!
  • He is my Rock & Salvation!
  • He is my Fortress!
  • I will not be shaken!
  • My Salvation & Honor depend on God!
  • He is my Mighty Rock!
  • My Refuge!

Then the shift comes where David, as a devote follower of God, shares his heart for all God's people to pour out their hearts to Him too:

  • Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

So like David, may I as your pastor, ask you to “trust in God at all times”? To “pour out your hearts to Him”? Because the benefit for each of us is… God is where rest, hope, salvation, honor, and the fortress of His might and refuge is found. For He is our Mighty Rock! So as people believe it individually they can come to say, “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” When these words are believed, our hearts melt into God's heart and He becomes the Rock of our Salvation, which then makes Him our “Essential Rock” the Rock we want all people to believe in! 


Lord God, Help us to be that kind of believing and worshiping church that cares and shares this truth with everyone!!! In Jesus Strong Name, Amen


Question: How do you publicly share your belief in God and invite others to experience it? 


Love & Blessings,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 63


“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek You; I thirst for You, my whole being longs for You, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”


Psalm 63:1


It states in my Bible when this Psalm was written, David was in the Desert of Judah, probably running for his life. I believe he’s speaking both physically and spiritually. I feel like the land we’re living in right now is a dry and parched land where there is mostly no water except some wonderfully watered patches scattered all over the world. It seems that as the news would love for us to feel isolated as a believer, that we’re the only ones who hate the moral decay of society, using their news as a platform to conform to their belief system that is contradictory to the Word of God. I find myself so sad and helpless when I’m fixed on what’s going on around me. But then the Spirit brings me back to the Word where I’m renewed with hope and strength that He’s got this and we’re on His side, and He has us no matter what. I need this reminder daily. Now is not the time to have a dusty Bible sitting on our nightstands. Now is not the time to be passing on prayer time, giving more time to our phones, than to actually spending time with Him. We need to redeem the time because the days are evil! And keep His praises on your lips! Verse 4 beautifully states, “I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise You.” There you have it. Be the reservoir of water in this dry, parched land! Get the Word of God in Your heart, hands lifted up, and lips praising the Lord to flourish and refresh yourself and the dehydrated world around you!


Lord, we praise You and thank You for giving us Your living water forever here and for eternity, that we NEVER have to be parched! Please help us to stay near to You, the Source of Life and direct others to Your living water so they too will be refreshed. We love You and praise You with all our hearts in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 64

"deal with the real"

1Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;

Preserve my life from dread of the enemy.

7But God will shoot at them with an arrow;

Suddenly they will be wounded.

10The righteous man will be glad in the Lord and will take refuge in Him;

And all the upright in heart will glory.

Psalms 64 (in part)


This is another diary entry of David’s continuing story with life’s battles.  What stands out to me is the word “dread”, from the Hebrew word “pachad” (paw-kkad).  It means that you believe something horrible, life threatening is coming or about to happen, completely convinced in fear that you are about  to be destroyed or forced to great loss.  It hasn’t happened yet but David was convinced his demise was at hand and he pleads to God to save him from his thoughts of doom, and destroy the enemy that plots against him.  


You see, it hasn’t happened yet, but David lost confidence and thought there might be a chance God might not show up to see him through it.  So he comes to God and lays out his case of what he knows, as if God didn’t.  I can see David, frustrated, angry, fearful and just stressed out, showing God all the facts that was given to him from his spies and the things he’s experienced, proving to God “this is going to happen to me if You don’t do something!”.  I can envision the gentleness of God’s hand resting on David’s shoulder as David panics through his presentation.  God deeply loves David, as He does all of us, but God declared David as a man after his own heart!  


Abba God patiently listens to David’s fears and worries and He embraces David to comfort him through it.   Isn’t that what our hearts want to do when our children come to us when they were fearful and afraid? I distinctly remember one of my daughters coming to me scared and really angry about a situation that happened at school that day.  I held her tight as she cried and without hesitation, I drove to the school to deal with the issue.  They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorn but…..threaten a father’s daughter?!  Hell hides itself from such a thing!  


Some might say this Psalm is another one of David’s cowardly, whining defeats but the truth is, David was dealing with the real.  He could have easily jumped the gun and sought his own revenge by killing King Saul as he slept, seek revenge on those who have come against him which God actually put David in position to do, but David honored God and chose not to.  David knew he needed to bring it to God in confidence that Papa will deal with it, and He did!


David’s 64th psalm is a guide for us when troubles, persecutions, and calamity strikes.  In faith, he first asked for an audience with God, to hear his complaint of what has come against him; the actions of his enemies.  Basically “Venting”.


He then recognizes and faces his weakness that he is powerless to fight such a battle. That is a hard one for me!  But David was dealing with the real in his life.  

By faith, David proclaims God’s deliverance, not by his own efforts but in faith of God’s promise record in Deuteronomy 32:35, It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  


And finally, David shouts and singing praises about God’s rescue to everyone, how He avenged and saved his life from the enemy.  And all those who were with David shared in the  rejoicing, celebrating God’s mercy through their victory.  


Have you gotten to that place where you know you’re powerless to change it?  I can’t count how many times I’ve been in that neighborhood.  If you’re struggling against the unknown, it’s time to deal with the real in your life.  Bring all your cares and worries to the One who loves you beyond measure.  Plead your case and let the truth of Philippians 4:7 come to life in you.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.……Amen


TR

psalm 65


Psalm 65 is a song of praise to God. It is thought to be connected with the coming of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem in 2 Samuel 6.

The theme of this Psalm is that our God is a God of Triumph and God wins the battle for His people. God should be praised for all He has done in providing rescue in battle and victory over the enemy. Because God has delivered victory to His people before, they can be confident that God will provide future victories.

This was written a long time ago, but the words are still true for God’s people, which we all are. Think about the battles in your life that God has won for you. We should be grateful and thankful for all He has done for us. But there is more. 

We know we can trust God to deliver us in future battles. We can have confidence that God will deliver us. This was true in David’s time, and it is true today. We can confidently quote Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us.”

Just like David, let’s vow today to trust God with our whole heart and praise Him for all He has done in our lives today.


Let’s Pray –

Father, today I am thankful for all the times You have delivered me from my own desperate situations, my own foolish mistakes, and from all of the times the enemy has sought to ensnare me. You are good, You are holy and You are Almighty. I praise You for Your boundless mercy and for Your dedication to Your people. Today Father, help me to trust You with my future battles, as I know that You will continue to guide me and deliver me from evil today and always! Amen.

psalm 66


Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!


Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You.”

Psalm 66:1-3 NIV


I love this Psalm and I so admire people who trust in Him with their glory and honor lifted up to Him for God to experience and all to see. Yet so many today are missing out and have ceased to find God. Notice His great works and come to enjoy Him, let alone live it out in truth, praising His glory to honor God in joy by worshiping Him. Yet Psalm 66 goes on to invites us in Scriptures to praise God's glory and share it with others.


Look at these inviting scriptures all our world should experience:

  • Psalm 66:5 states - “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind”
  • Psalm 66:6b states -  “Come, let us rejoice in him”. 
  • Plasm 66:16 states - “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me”!!!


I have come to believe for more and more people to live out the opening first three verses in this devotional. It starts with me and expands to us all. Each of us must continually come to worship and learn. In coming, we can then tell others what God has done for you and I by telling our testimonies and worshiping Him with our glory and praise. What’s neat is this Psalm tells us where to do so by fulfilling our vows and coming to “His temple”, His house, that in which we call Church. Then each of us can joyfully invite others as we fulfill “let me tell you what He has done for me” as we share our glory for God in front of them to seerejoice, and hear!!! Then, just maybe they submit to God's goodness, as I/we have, and proclaim, “How awesome are His works?!” Oh how I long to hear all the earth shout with this kind of joy! 


Say this with me today in your prayers... Lord God, let this Psalm start with me as I invite others to see, rejoice, and hear about God's amazing love through me! In Jesus' Strong Name, Amen


Question: Who will you invite to God's Essential Rock Church this weekend or to your local church home after reading this _________________________? Add this name to your prayers!


Please read all of Psalm 66!  

Love & Blessings,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 67


This Psalm is written to be a song.  How fitting that as I write this, I have spent the past few days with my joy-filled, singing granddaughter.  This girl – she is constantly humming a sweet tune.  You can hear her wherever she is in the house.  It does not matter what she is doing: painting, putting together a puzzle, playing with her barbies... she is humming.  Her songs make me smile – her songs make me pause and listen – her songs calm me – her songs have brought peace and joy into our home.  All around me people are hurting.  Friends have lost loved ones.  Someone is sick and hospitalized.  Many are struggling with mental health.  My dear aunt passed away this week and I am waiting to hear about her funeral arrangements where we will celebrate the life that she has lived.  Through it all, this humming in our home has been a constant and welcomed joy.  This beautiful granddaughter of ours does not know how her songs have blessed us these past few days.  She is not doing it for any other reason than the blessing that is in her.  The childlike faith, that she is not yet even aware of, but it is there.  She is spreading joy and blessings within the walls of our home.  

Psalm 67:1-2 sings out like this; "May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations."

Do you know how blessed you truly are to have Jesus in your heart?  To know the past and the future promises because of His Word?  Will you sing out with joy in your heart and feel His blessings so that you can be a blessing to someone else?  I challenge you all to hum this week.  To sing out this Psalm with all the blessings that come with knowing our Lord.  Thank Him.  Be grateful.  Be blessed.  Share the blessing.  Amen!

Psalm 68

"God's Chosen PEople"

Psalm 68:19-20 states:


“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death."

Psalm 68 is written to bring praise to God for choosing them as His people. This was a good reminder for the people of the day to be content in YHWH regardless of their circumstances in that they would be eternally saved by God and they were His chosen people. After the cross, this is extended to all who have faith in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we should praise God for breaking our chains and saving us from eternal death. God's chosen after the cross has extended from just Israel to now all of the nations and people groups. Praise God that we no longer have to be Jewish to be saved but that we are saved by faith in Christ! When we're in a trial or a situation of frustration take yourself out of the moment. Remind yourself that if you are saved due to your belief in Jesus Christ that you are a part of God's chosen people. In those moments, praise God and be content in being in Christ!


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner

psalm 69

Secondary Title

“The Eternal listens to the prayers of the poor and has regard for His people held in bondage.” Psalm 69:33 TVB


To truly appreciate this verse, it’s worth pausing to read all of Psalm 69.


Wow!  How awesome is our God, who knows exactly when Psalm 69 is posted for you to read and what the current weather conditions have been!  David starts out using the imagery of storm-like conditions: flooding, deep water, and mud to describe the state of his soul in his current circumstances. 


David’s has pretty much experienced it all:

True enemies, false accusations, insults.  

Abandonment and rejection by those near and dear.  

Heartsick, needing compassion, he is met with empty stares.


Something tells me somewhere in all of this, you can relate.


Take heart, dear reader!  “The Eternal listens to the prayers of the poor…” (vs 33)


I've been pondering the poverty David is experiencing.  An awareness of his spiritual poverty.  The Hebrew word picture for ‘poor’ in this verse is of empty hands desiring to be filled.


David has resources he can call upon but he doesn’t have what it takes to get out of this storm and flood of trouble.  Think about it, David has more than most, yet, in the midst of his circumstances he realizes - he is honestly poor and needy.


Yet, David’s knows God cares.  He expresses this truth…”and has regard for His people held in bondage.” (vs 33)


Please consider taking time today to read Hebrews 11.  God's Word is full of His people experiencing different types of difficult circumstances - forms of bondage to their souls.


But as we know, by faith, not one of them was ever alone.  In each individual story the hero is The Eternal God.  A Father who is willing to stretch out His Hand …to take theirs and ours…and go through it all with us.  If only we ask and stretch out our hands.


A key in it all is bold faith.  David springs forth in invitation to praise God in it all.


“All God's creation: join together in His praise!  All heaven, all earth, all seas, all creatures of the ocean deep!  The True God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah so that His servants may own it and live there once again.  Their children and children’s children shall have it as an inheritance, and those who love His name will live in it.” Psalm 69:34-36


Today’s Question: In the pressure and stress you are in or under, have you become aware of your own spiritual poverty to the point of lifting up your empty hands in pure desire to have them filled by the One who listens to your prayers and will not abandon you in it?


Let’s pray: God, I will keep singing praises to You, as I extend my empty hands before You, my soul bowed down, waiting in faith, trusting You will come through for me.  You are faithful and Your love endures forever.  Jesus, Psalm 69 truly points us forward to all You endured for my benefit.  I love You Lord and I love Your Name!  Holy Spirit, may the only waters that ever rise to overtake me, be the water of holy baptism into Jesus Name and being washed in the pure water of Your Word.  Amen. 

psalm 70


“But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay.”

Psalm 70:5


This Psalm is pretty short, only 5 verses. I wonder if it was one of those days David was exhausted from running from his enemies. Like he just had enough of the day and felt defeated and could only mutter a quick prayer of help before falling asleep from exhaustion. I’m not really sure of the situation, but nonetheless, after pleading to the Lord for help in verse 4, David praised the Lord and rejoiced in Him saying, “The LORD is great!”


He really needed God’s help and intervention, even telling Him in verse 5, “Lord, do not delay.” Do you know you can ask the Lord to quicken the healing, quicken the answer to your prayers? He’s not offended by that. In fact, so many don’t know they can do this. It says in James 4:2, “You have not because you ask not.” Ask Him for bold requests and you’ll get bold responses. We have an awesome God! Did you ever hear that claim that we only use 10% of our brains? I googled it and that’s actually a myth but a great metaphor for us as Christians. We tend to limit God and what He can do. Maybe we only utilize 10% (probably even less) of the great, world creating power He has! Quit limiting our great, awesome God! Come for tiny requests, normal requests, crazy requests, HUGE requests. Ask Him to quicken the answer to your prayers. He’s a great God, Abba Father, who wants to help you in mighty ways. He loves you and has your back in EVERY situation.


Oh Lord, we love You and thank You for being our mighty God, the God of Abraham! Please help us to trust in You completely to come to our rescue and help us in our times of need. Holy Spirit, please help us to pray and not limit You. Help us to come boldly to throne of grace! May we rejoice in You always. You are our everything and we praise You! In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 71


Too young to be old!

 

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”
Psalm 71
(in part)

 

King David was getting up there in years and he expresses some of the concerns typical of those, like me, who are getting older.  He fears he will become vulnerable, be overlooked, passed by, and not heard. Don’t most of us elderly feel that way?  In truth, you don’t have to be an elder to feel that way.  Read all of Psalms 71 and you’ll get the picture.  It is also suggested David wrote this when he was older but at the height of his son, Absolam’s rebellion.  It’s difficult enough to deal with growing old, losing your sense of sight, hearing and the rest of blessings that comes with aging, but having to deal with your own son on a rampage to take your life?  I can’t imagine! In the middle of that, David believed he had good reason why God should consider keeping him around awhile longer.

 

Like many of us who are getting up there, he didn’t want to die until he accomplished what he believed God put on his heart.  He believed he was called to lead the next generation to see they need God.  I think that’s a struggle we all wrestle with.  There are moments I want to grab the youth by the the shoulders and shake some sense into them!  But that’s not allowed anymore…(too bad. Sometimes they need a good shakin. I know I did when I was young.) I constantly tell my grandchildren, “I’ve been where you are but you’ve never been where I am”. They still give me that deer in headlights look and the “whatever grandpa” smirk.

 

So I can relate to David’s frustrations. Getting older is challenging in itself, but feeling this hunger and struggling aspiration to get one more thing done; completing unfinished business, can be daunting. I personally know that frustration caused by a powerful drive in my soul.  After forty years walking with the Lord…I know, that I know, I have something to finish before I go home. And in the middle of that, it seems I’m bumping up against one road block after another.  So, I continue to remind myself God’s promise to me, from the Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you, is faithful to complete it until the day of our Lord”. 


David was a man after God’s own heart.  In his heart, he knew he needed to be a guide for the next generation to find God in their lives.  Can you feel his struggle?

The years, whether younger or older, are catching up to us and at times, we can see the end of our lives getting closer.  Do you feel like David? Do you believe there is still something you need to do before you go home?  I feel the same. So come with me and let’s bring this to the cross together and everyday encourage one another with Philippians 1:6, promising He will, “get-r-done”!

 

Father, You have already equipped us to accomplish a task for You in our lifetime.  Guide us to that path that was charted just for us and open our eyes to Your heart’s desires.  We have a tendency to get lost in the forest of our minds, attempting to do Your work.  As Psalms 119:105 tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path.” Help us to find our path in Your Word and through Your Spirit that lives in us.  In Jesu’s name we pray, Amen.

 

TR

 

 

psalm 72

a prayer for our children

In Psalm 72, David is praying for his son, Solomon. This prayer is not only about Solomon, but is a foreshadowing of who Jesus is to be, because there are things in this prayer that cannot apply to Solomon, but definitely foreshadow the coming of the true King of our hearts.

 

David’s heart for his son is evident here and is second only to his heart for God. 

 

If you have children, think about if and how you pray for your children. If you don’t have children, what about your parents, siblings, or friends? If they are far from God, do you lift them up daily to the Lord? Do you pray for wisdom and understanding of who God is in their lives? It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day problems, that sometimes we forget that the end goal for our family, our children is to be together in heaven with God.

 

If you haven’t prayed for your family, those who believe and those who maybe are further from God than you want to admit, start today again. Plant some seeds with them and see what the Holy Spirit does in their lives to grow their understanding of the truth as they are granted the wisdom to see. 

 

Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.

 

Pray with me – Father, today I lift up my family members. My parents, my siblings, my children and those I consider my family. Lord, grant them strength to resist the devil and the temptations of this world. Lord, grant them wisdom to see and know the truth of Your Word. Lord, help me to sow a seed of Your light today and send Your Spirit to them to cause it to grow. Father, You alone save, You alone provide peace and in You, I place my trust and hope for my family. Amen.

Psalm 73


“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds”.

   Psalm 73:26-28


I love this Psalm as it’s a song about real life, filled with times of human-envied sin in being far from God, to weathering huge temptations with God as a devoted Place of Refuge and strength in a person's heart. 


I can so relate to these Scripture words! With flesh and joints failing me, with my damaged heart of less than 50% supported by an ICD, it is God who is the strength of my heart. I have learned to desire being near God, to keep Him as my strong refuge of truth as I tell everyone of His good deeds! But know this everyone… like Asaph in this Psalm, I have not only been tempted, but have fallen to such temptations as these words are described earlier within Psalm 73:2-4: 

“But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong”.


It’s in my times of envy (more often than I wish to admit), I’ve been drawn into the world's ways and fall to sin. It seems so often that people pursuing the world's ways (over holiness) are people appearing often as prospering, without struggles, and are healthy and strong. Yet deep down, we all know our health eventually fails, that wealth doesn’t follow us after death, and that holiness will always be greater than any temporary happiness! Furthermore, Scripture teaches us it’s better to give than to receive! Better to serve than be served! Better to put others before ourselves! And, better to love and forgive than to hurt or hate others! Yet in knowing both sides of this Psalm’s poetic story, as a song fitting to my life, what comforts me for encouragement for you is: Keep God near, making Him your refuge; make Him your portion forever and you’ll be able to tell people of all God's good deeds you’ve experienced and truly believe in!!! Please read all of Psalm 73 today and take refuge in it. Then, share its truth and watch hearts change as they find their strength in God above all else too!!!


Father God, 

Help us all avoid the unfaithfulness within this world and find our refuge in being near You. Help us all make You the strength of our hearts and our complete portion as our one, true, eternal God! Help me/us fulfill Your desire in sharing all Your good deeds with people of the world that desperately need Your amazing love!

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen 


Question: How do you need strength and your refuge in God today?  Once there, watch for good deeds to share with others. 


Fruit for thought - Who will you “tell” and invite to Church this week to hear God's Word of truth? Ask them _________ and pray!


God Bless,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 74

Why God, Oh Why?


The first line of this psalm is a lament, “O God, why have you rejected us forever?”  It sure feels like the whole world is crying out asking God where are you?  So many terrible situation going on all around us.  This particular psalm was written while the Jewish people were in captivity in Babylon.  They were basically prisons of war.  They were forced into slavery and treated horribly.  They had forgotten to stay close to God.  They had left his commands and although he tried to warn them what would happen if they continued to worship false idols and assimilate into the pagan world around them, they thought they could live without God.  They were captured and then they wanted to know, where are you God?

  

Our God does not leave us or forsake us.  We sometimes wonder away from Him but He is always near.  Often times our consequences are directly to us, and it seems that often times the consequences of sin as an entire people group affect God’s people as a whole.  After several lines of lamenting, complaining and asking why God, the writer turns a corner and remembers in verse 12, “But God is my King from long ago; he brings salvation on the earth." He brings hope to His hurting people.  He is God and we are not.  As the world crumbles around us, as our friends and family are hurting and fighting for hope, we who are his believers must be a beacon of light in this hardened world.  We must be His people and let the light of Jesus that is in us shine bright even in the darkest of times.  To bring hope to a hurting world.  To remind others to hold on tight to God and his promises.  The Jewish people lived in captivity for 70 years.  Brothers and Sisters – let's lift each other up, surround one another in the hope and light and love that is Jesus.  


Lord God, help each one of us to remember Your promises, to live close to You through Your Word and prayer.  Help us to remember those in need and step into their troubles with them and bring them hope.  In Jesus name, we pray….Amen  

psalm 75

god will judge with equity

Psalm 75:2,7 states:


“At the set time that I Appoint, I will judge with equity. 7 but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another."


Many have heard the term equity thrown around recently in our culture. So what does it mean that God judges with equity? The definition of equity according to New Oxford American Dictionary is, "The quality of being fair and impartial." Psalm 75 is writing in the context of the Jewish people in exile. This Psalm can be looked at as praise and a way for the psalmist Asaph to remind the Jewish people that God is the ultimate judge that judges with equity. 


For God to judge with equity that means that He is a perfect, impartial judge. For the Jewish people and us today we can relax in knowing that we don't need to take vengeance for wrongdoing because God will judge all with equity. In the Psalm, we learn that God will judge all. He will promote the humble and will cast down the proud. Even greater than that God will eternally condemn the unrighteous and reward the righteous who follow Christ.


In your own life, is there an issue or circumstance that you're seeking revenge or holding a grudge? If so, give it unto the Lord. God will judge those who have wronged you. He is a perfect judge who will judge all with equity relax in his goodness and let Him take your burdens.


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner

Psalm 76

no place like home

“The One known in Judah is The True God; in Israel, His name is great.  He has made Salem (Jerusalem) His home; indeed He rests in Zion.  There He destroyed the instruments of war: flaming arrows, shields, and swords.  Selah.  Psalm 76:1-3 TVB


There are 2 selah in this psalm.  Let’s practice this selah or pause by waiting to read more of Psalm 76 until careful consideration has been given to these few verses. 


This psalm begins by declaring the God of Israel is the True God and His name is great.  His home is in Jerusalem, where He rests.  And He also destroyed the instruments of war.  


What a truth worth pondering!  The God of the entire universe has a ‘home’ on earth.  The God Who is omnipresent, at the same time present everywhere, has a home in Jerusalem, Israel. 


‘Home’ here paints a picture of a farmer who is keeping careful watch over livestock and crops.  It includes the idea a shelter, where one can find rest from the heat, wind and rain.  It’s an image of something being carefully watched over because it’s important and valuable.


In our current sermon series, we are in Ephesians. Resting in the middle of this letter by Paul, we find a prayer of his, written while being held as a prisoner.


“Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people.  Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts.  May love be the rich soil where their lives take root.”  Ephesians 3:16-17a


Because of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection, now with the power of the Holy Spirit, God can reside in our hearts.  If it’s worthy to pause and ponder God's home in Jerusalem, how much more is it worth pondering that our own hearts can be God's home.


The soil of our own hearts can be a place where God watches over what is so important to Him - our very own lives.  A place for Him to dwell, to rest and take up residence.  Where He is willing to wage war to destroy the things that come up against us - the flaming arrows, shields and swords…through the Blood of Jesus Christ and calling on His great Name.


Psalm 76:1 says, “The One known in Judah is the True God.”  He is known.  Do you know Him?  That means to: learn to know, to know by experience, to see and perceive, to be acquainted with.  


Today’s question: Do you know & are you experiencing the truth that your heart is God's home?


Please consider finishing Psalm 76, pausing at the next selah, to lean in and listen for God's Voice speaking to your heart. 


Let’s pray.  God, I want to know You!  You shine like the dawn and are more majestic than the mountains!  No one can raise a hand to stop You!  You are to be lovingly respected.  You deliver all those who depend on You.  I want to grow in what it means to live a life of lovingly respecting You, in healthy dependence on You.  In faith, by grace, I call on Your great Name, trusting You will meet me here and move me another step closer to really knowing You more.  May it be so You are known both in my heart and all across the earth.  In Jesus Great Name we pray, amen.  

psalm 77



“Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

Psalm 77:7-12, NIV


Asaph is showing such wisdom in this Psalm. He remembered. But first, he starts out crying out to the Lord for help and asks in a roundabout way, “Have You forgotten about us and Your promises?” Israel must have been enduring hard times and probably punishment for their rebellion and disloyalty once again. 


Sometimes God seems like He’s not listening or something horrible happens in life that leaves us wondering, “Why did this happen? Have You forgotten about me, about Your promises?” But if you notice, in normal Psalm fashion, he shifts his focus from the problem, to God’s goodness and faithfulness. Asaph reminds himself how the Lord showed up and rescued in times past. He remembers how God showed up for the Israelites through Moses. It’s important to do this as well in our own lives. The Lord allows us to go through tough times to grow us stronger and closer to Him. But, He helps us to overcome. Each time He comes through for us, it grows our faith. My mom said one time that tough times grow us to the next faith level. I believe it with all my heart this is true, especially as I experience this firsthand. 


I urge you today to start a journal of all answered prayers so the next time you go through something hard, you’ll have a track record of what He’s done for you in the past to help remind you of His faithfulness in the past victories He gave you. Like Asaph, look up and study all the victories God gave His people in the Bible! Make note of them. Asaph has Old Testament scriptures to go by, but we have the whole New Testament of promises on top of that! We’re so blessed to have His written Word. Now we just have to read it, speak it, live it, and trust it! Remember all the victories in Christ through the Bible or your very own life. Remind Him of these victories and just see Your faith grow to the next level!


Lord, please grow us strong in the power of Your might. Please help us to trust You and always remember all the times You came through for us and may this grow us strong in the Lord all for Your glory, honor, and praise in Jesus’s powerful name, AMEN!

Psalm 78

love in rebellion

21Therefore the LORD heard and was filled with wrath; so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and His anger flared against Israel,

22because they did not believe God or rely on His salvation.23Yet He commanded the clouds above and opened the doors of the heavens.

24He rained down manna for them to eat; He gave them grain from heaven.c

 Psalms 78 (in part)

 

Brothers and sisters, I exuberantly encourage you to read the whole psalm.  I promise you, you will marvel and shake your head at their unbelief!  What were they thinking?! Why were they so blind?!  

 

Asaph, the author of this psalm, is a “Maskil”, a sort of musical director/poet/temple scribe at the time.  It’s been accounted that Asaph authored 12 of the psalms.  And in this writing he recaps the history of his people, to remind them of God’s infinite mercy, to shake their noggin into reality!  

 

It’s the perfect modern day sermon for our ears today.  I picture Asaph as a modern day Billy Graham, standing in front of tens of thousands of Israelites proclaiming who God is, what He’s done and how much He loves them.  He attempts to humble them, to bring to memory the sins that were committed in the wilderness, bringing it full circle to the sinful state of their existence at present.  I can see the whole stadium hushed in silence, cameras panning through the crowd, zooming in on the people who are weeping over their personal stories as the preacher resonates the reality of there diminishing spiritual condition.  You can see the pain, the brokenness and shame in their faces as Asaph recites all the violations committed against God’s law.

 

But as Asaph brings this hard reality check before the people, he also brings a compassionate message, reminding them of all the wondrous things God performed in the wilderness.  Throughout their whole journey, they grumbled and complained in the back seat, constantly asking “Are we there yet?”  And without skipping a beat, God continued to protect, feed, and lead them to His promised land!  

 

I believe this psalm is a wake up call to our relational condition with God.  Are we in complete trust in Him?  Do we walk in faithful confidence that The Father has our good intentions in mind?  Do we give Him praise in the middle of our struggles, knowing this too shall pass?  Do we teach our children of His wonderous works and Amazing Grace?  

 

Y’all know me.  I’m not one who casts spiritual stones or inflicts condemnation on anyone. I’ve lived through more than my share of such pain and loneliness.  I know, without any doubt, I was called to encourage those who struggle or have lost hope.  But there are times we all must take inventory of our walk to see our spiritual condition.  David exemplified that truth in Psalms 139:23-24 “search me oh God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Do you see what David is asking?!  He asks God to test him!  That is a brave soul right there.  Not just brave, but confident God has a good outcome for him.  I’m not suggesting you ask God to test you, but I am suggesting we all go to Papa and ask Him to reveal anything that blocks or hinders our connection with Him.  The testing part?…Well, I’ll leave that decision with you.  

 

I want to leave this with you as well:  On the surface, this Psalm can be construed as a tongue lashing, but if you dig deeper, you’ll find just the opposite.  Asaph is reminding us of God’s mercy, love, and kindness.  God has a beautiful plan to heal and prosper us and not to harm us. (Check out that infamous scripture, Jeremiah 29:11).  God loves us beyond anything we’ve ever experienced.  And He just wants us to ALWAYS remember the truth about Him.  God is love and we are number one on His “ta-do list”.  

 

“Father, we’re anxious at times to all the pressures and challenges around us.  Life is hard here and we know You understand.  Even when we falter and lose sight of you, You never lose sight of us.  Your mercies are new everyday.  Strengthen us we ask, to not only endure each day, but overcome the battering waves of life, so we may celebrate and then rest in Your care.  Thank You, Father, that we are allowed to experience Your loving hand of mercy because that’s who Your are.  May we always remember the truth that “You first loved us”.  In Jesus name we pray…amen”

psalm 79


It is believed that this Psalm was written after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies. This is an event that is so important in Jewish history that it is described four times in the old testament. (See 2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 36:11-21, Jeremiah 39:1-14, and Jeremiah 52.)

Have you experienced tremendous loss and upheaval in your life? Have you felt like you were at the lowest of lows, that God was angry with you and that you just didn’t see where His anger would end? This is how the people of Israel were feeling when this Psalm was written.

How long, Lord?

Will you be angry forever?

I have been in long stretches of my life, where I have wondered how long God? How long must I suffer? How long must I struggle with my circumstances? 

The question of how long is still a question of confidence in God. It is acknowledgement that God will deliver me from my situation, that He has a plan for good in my life. The answer to the question of how long is, “In God’s perfect timing”.

Yes, we can plea for rescue from the situations in our lives. We can pray like the Israelites did in Psalm 79 for mercy and deliverance. We can vow to give thanks. God will prevail for us, just like He did time and time again for the Israelites, in His own perfect timing.

Trust in God today. He loves you and He has a plan for good in your life, in His time, not yours and not in mine.


Pray with me – Father, have mercy on me, a sinner. Today, I need You to give me patience. Patience to wait on You and Your perfect timing for my life. I have confidence in Your plan for good in my life and I ask You to help me seek Your wisdom and good and perfect will for me. I love You. Amen

psalm 80

the radiance of god's face

“Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself.”

— Psalm 80:14-15


Psalm 80 is “Poetic Prophesy” written as a song. I love the opening line which states: “Hear us, Shepherd of Israel” as Asaph calls God “Israel’s Shepherd” and it goes on to speak of Ephraim and Manasseh, asking for deliverance of the northern tribes kingdom before its fall in 721 B.C. The song's plea requests: “Return to us, God Almighty!” And then reveals a prophetic message, “The root of Your Right Hand” “The Son You Raised Up” Who is none other than Jesus Christ the Messiah. (Pause now and ask God how you need to return to Him today?!)


Now take those thoughts to the part I love most in this Psalm. It’s in the song's refrain that’s repeated three times. (Note: Each repeated time has a slight word change)!


Refrain 1 - “Restore us, O God;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.”

Refrain 2 - “Restore us, God Almighty;

    make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.”

Retrain 3 - “Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us,

    that we may be saved.”


Charles Spurgeon saw in these lines “The description of the factors in revival. First there is the “restoration” or turning of the people to God, and then there is the radiant face of God, shining in all the goodness of His “presence”. In those two combined, we see the work of true revival happen.” 


People being saved in God grow up and into the words “Lord God Almighty” in radiant restoration within His shining presence, living within to be shined outward!!! And as I like to say as your Pastor, “Revival is always radiant!!!"


Asaph's radiance and reliance was in God! By God’s inspiration, we get the prophesy of Jesus, the Son of Man, to shine God's face into the world He desires to save! It is Jesus alone Who saves, delivers, and restores. 


So today, ask God to return to you and restore you. Then ask the Lord God Almighty to raise up a revival through each us and His Essential Rock Church. So in Jesus, the face of God is shining upon each of us in His Grace.” Let us seek and know we’ve returned and are restored in our own radiant image of You, all to bring revival in Jesus' strong shining face and in His Almighty Name as our Radiance of God to all others to gain. Amen Amen


I dedicate this Psalm Devotional to my parents Don and Shirley Slotten who have witnessed their personal need of God to me and shine their own restored lives with the radiant face of Jesus to each other and to all they love! Thanks Mom & Dad,

and may all the vine branches of the Slottens come to sing this Psalm's refrain!!! Love, Johnny


Read and meditate on all of Psalm 80 today, 

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 81

A psalm of praise and repentance

"Sing for joy to God our strength, shout aloud to the God of Jacob!"

The psalmist is singing praises to the Lord our God.  Giving Him praise for all that He has lead His people out of and the good He has led them into.  They are singing a song of repentance, knowing what God has done for them, but continuing to slip back into old ways, looking toward other gods and not their God. 


Verse 7 states, "In your distress you called and I rescued you.  I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah."


Sometimes it feels like the trials come at us faster than the blessings.  I know there are times when I feel like I am wondering in the desert, confused and unable to find my way.  There are times when I feel like life is so heavy that I have a hard time breathing.  And then, God is there.  Reminding me that He is with me.  That He is leading my way and guiding me in my days and nights, with me in my sorrows and my joys.  When I stop and turn to Him – He is there, waiting for me.  He has always been calling His people to himself.  He was there in the days of freedom for the Israelites, He was with them in their days of captivity, He waited as they turned to other gods, and He rejoiced when they came back.  


He continues to do the same for us today – tomorrow – and always.  If people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes.  Vs.13 Lord help us to turn to You, especially when the days are hard.  When it seems like you are far away, teach us, Lord, how near you really are.  We love You Lord, thank You for loving us!  Amen

psalm 82

God judges the judges!


Psalm 82:1;8 states:

“God takes His position in His assembly; He judges in the midst of the gods 8 Arise, God, judge the earth! For You possess all the nations."


I'm so glad that we get to talk about judging and judges leading up to the sermon this Sunday on Judges 1-16. I don't believe that the Psalmist Asaph was speaking about the same judges as I will, however, he's speaking over those that judge unfairly and unjustly. We see in this chapter that God questions the unjust judges. He uses this to command them to judge honorable with equity in verses 3-4. In verse 5, He exposes their weaknesses. I find it interesting that Asaph calls them lower case gods in the text. Sometimes our political rulers of this day can view themselves as gods with power and might, however, God is the only God who is sovereign and the ultimate Judge. Any ruler or judge on this earth is temporary but God is eternal. In verses 6-7 we see that God pronounces a judgment upon the unjust judges. The Psalm concludes in verse 8 with a prayer for God to practice His perfect judgment.


We can use this Psalm to take rest in Christ. God is the ultimate Judge. We may have been treated unjustly by someone with leadership authority over us, however, God will ultimately judge them for it. We can cling to the cross during our times of being treated unjustly knowing that God is the perfect Judge who will judge all people.

In Jesus Strong Name,


Dan Degner

psalm 83


“With cunning they conspire against Your people; they plot against those you cherish. “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.”  Psalm 83:3-4 NIV


The attacks can come in an instant with what may seem like a cold, calculated, cunning onslaught out of nowhere. All in an attempt to take you out, to silence you, and cause you to doubt the faithfulness of God.  


Psalm 83 speaks of the persistent danger of being annihilated Israel has so often lived with.  Some commentators believe the backdrop of this psalm is 2 Chronicles 20, where King Jehoshaphat defeats many armies that are set to attack Israel.  It says of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:3, “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all of Judah.”  Either way, Psalm 83 is a serious cry for help in the face of very real and great danger.


What happens when you fall under attack from an enemy? Be it a single person, a group of people or perhaps those enemies from within your own mind and heart. 


What do you do?  Where do you go? What do you turn to? Who do you turn to? 

Do you turn to our own strength to fight your enemies?


If the psalmist and the king would have done this, all of Israel could have been defeated.


Perhaps together we can learn from their humble approach when fighting our enemies. Perhaps we can resolve to inquire of the Lord, to seek Him Who is The Lord Most High.


The question then becomes, do we believe and trust God enough to fight our battles and rest in the victory that is assured because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on The Cross of Calvary, or do we rush headlong into battle without His leadership and end up defeated?


Our greatest weapon of warfare is to worship God and pray to Him — Who is greater than all our enemies. To trust God and also love people enough to cry out for God to be merciful, even to those who seek to destroy us.  We just learned in The Uncommon Journey Series — in Ephesians, that we war not against flesh and blood.  So, will we like the psalmist, offer to The Lord Most High, our true hearts — fears and all, even our anger and hate?


Let’s pray: God, You alone are Most High over all the earth.  Even though at times it seems You may be silent or still, we know the truth in Your Word, from The Law to the Prophets to the Psalms and New Covenant…You are always at work doing good!   Psalm 83:5 says of the enemies, “with one mind they plot together; they form an alliance against You—“…but God I praise You that I can have the mind of Christ, when I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord, and that You will accomplish greater things as I come into one mind with my brothers and sisters in Christ anywhere my two feet are.  That like Joshua, I can walk, pray, and take possession of what truly belongs to You as an ambassador of You, The Lord Most High over all the earth.  May Your Kingdom be expanded, as we trust in Your leadership in overcoming our true enemies, for Your glory alone.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

psalm 84


“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God the dwell in the tents of the wicked.”


While reading this Psalm I came across this verse and automatically started singing the song. (Of course on key, in perfect pitch). I probably sang the song a hundred times in my lifetime, but the words never really sank in until I read it now. And I can’t help but say, AMEN! 

This is so true! 


I remember having a conversation with my sister and she was saying how she hopes Heaven isn’t boring. We kind of giggled at the thought of what if we get Home to Heaven and being bored. A funny thought, but TOTALLY incorrect. There are times when I spend time with the Lord and feel like I could just burst with love and joy. I get those feelings every now and then and think it’s those feelings multiplied and forever.  I can honestly say with all my heart, I could sit and worship at His feet in His courts for a millennia and be perfectly content. I think it’s that amazing to be in His presence. We have no idea the beauty, peace, excitement, and joy Heaven holds, but the Bible vaguely gives us a clue that it’s beyond our wildest dreams. 


Today, please spend time in the Word reading this Psalm. It is wonderful and it will bless you. Focus on the realities of Heaven. Meditate on the fact that someday, you will get the chance to be with Him, see Him, feel Him, be hugged by HIm.


Lord, please help us to no focus on the world, but focus on Heaven, our true Home. Please help us to live a life dreaming of being with You forever and living out a life that blesses You, so close to You. Please help us not to dwell in the tents of the wicked, but wisely surround ourselves with people who draw us closer to You in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 85

remember when?


1 You, Lord, showed favor to your land;
    you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
2 You forgave the iniquity of your people
    and covered all their sins.[b]
3 You set aside all your wrath
    and turned from your fierce anger.

Psalms 85 (in part)

 

The authors of this psalm are the “sons of Korah”. And there is a huge back story to this family.  I suggest to you to….. How did Pastor John put it?…. Oh yeah! “google smoogle it”.  I don’t know what that means.  You’ll have to ask Pastor about that one.  I just liked the way he said it!    But when you do “google smoogle it”, you’ll find some good back drama, how these brothers had a part in writing some of the psalms.

 

I don’t know where your thoughts have been lately but since the world has taken to all this change and craziness, I find my thoughts running back to days gone by when life seemed a little simpler and understandable.  My comfort zone was bigger and thriving back then.  Life seemed to have a clearer direction and purpose.  But today’s events of  political and moral unrest has challenged everything I was raised to believe.  But truth be told, in all this….. human change and challenges have been the norm since Adam and Eve were tossed out of the garden.  The moment Lucifer was expelled out of heaven, sin became aware of its purpose.  And so there was Adam and Eve and ever since, mankind suffers.

 

When you read Psalms 85, you can see the same cycle of man repeating sin, repenting sin , discipline of sin, God’s mercy, redemption and finally, blessing.  This is the basic cycle of man’s existence and it’s never going to change until the day Jesus returns to come get us.  

 

I see the author of this psalm, boldly proclaiming to God, what His people are doing again, (the continual sinning) and then taking a bolder step, by telling God….“Oh and God!, don’t forget about the forgiveness and blessings at the end of all this, ok? God?!…please, thank you!"  But I also see him turning to us, reminding us to remember all the sins we’ve struggled with time and time again.  The internal pain and discipline of sin and then the end product of our humility, facing our sin before the feet of our God, which brought us to redemption and sanctification.  The end product of all this is God’s mercy and love for us, His chosen children.  

 

History has shown that out of political and moral unrest, God’s people brought revival into the land. And I believe it’s going to happen again.  Every man and creature is God’s creation and with that, the Spirit of God’s creation keeps everything alive.  When all mankind is faced with terrible uncertainties and fear, they cry out to their Creator.  I guarantee you, if you put an atheist in a cage with a hungry lion, guess who’s name he or she will cry out to?!  It comes natural because out complete existence is rooted in God as our Creator. 

 

So for us who believe?….In Romans 1:16 it tells us “it’s the power unto salvation”.  I could write on and on about all the blessings of salvation.  It’s not just the saving or our souls.  It’s beyond man’s ability to understanding.  It’s connected with everything good!  

 

You struggling today?  Got something going on that’s beyond your understanding and reasoning of what good can come out of it?  All of us have or still are in the middle of it.  For me, it’s building endurance to keep holding on to God and His promises.  I’ve lost my grip many a time, BUT, God’s lifeline pulled me back in, to learn to hold on longer each time…..building endurance toward the perfecting of my faith.  

 

There was a quote floating around workout gyms during the time I was going, (hundreds of years ago), and it said this, “pain is weakness leaving the body”.  I correlate that statement with my spiritual walk.  In my weakness, the Lord is strong, in turn, strengthens my faith to believe and lean on Him more.  Which means to me, now is the time for salvation from whatever hinders your faith to believe.  Walk closer to our Father and You will find He’s been walking closer to you the whole time.  And that my friend, is the true essence of God’s love.  He will never leave you nor forsake you….ever!  

 

TR

PSalm 86

god's abounding love

David opens this Psalm as a prayer beginning in these words: 


“Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long."

Psalm 86:1-3


Notice how David asks for answers, guarding, saving, and mercy?! He’s asking in a personal way in the form of a relationship. David came before the Lord and asked Him to “hear me” as he came humbly as poor and needy as a faithful follower and servant who trusts in God and tells God in his prayer, “You are my God” as David goes on to state, “I call to You all day long”!!! David’s psalm of prayer then goes on to gloriously state God's relational attributes we can all use and need:

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Psalms 86:5

Don’t you long for God's forgiveness and goodness and want it for yourself and all who call out to Him? 

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 86:15


Don’t we all need God's attributes of compassion, grace, and love? 

He’s slow to anger. 

David asked for it, experienced it, and states it, through his prayerful relationship with the Lord. In so doing, David shows his relational faithfulness to God and shows God's “abounding love” can be experienced!  


In what ways do you need God to lift you up from a poor place in life? Where are you needy for God? What do you need answers for? How do you need guarding, saving, and mercy today? I suggest we all ask God in our prayers today. In fact, try what David did and call out to God “all day long” as you trust in Him as your God… I believe we’ll experience God's abounding love as we abide in seeking Him today!!! For the one thing I know, I know… is the more I abide in seeking and serving Him, the more I abound in His love!!! Enjoy the whole Psalm today as you start your prayerfulness!!! Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John 

psalm 87

your name is god's goal

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

1 He has founded his city on the holy mountain.

2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion

more than all the other dwellings of Jacob (Israel).

3 Glorious things are said of you,

city of God:

4 “I will record Rahab (Egypt), and Babylon among those who acknowledge me — Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush — and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”

5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said,

    “This one and that one were born in her,

    and the Most High himself will establish her.”

6  The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:

    “This one was born in Zion.”

7 As they make music they will sing,

    “All my fountains are in you.” (Salvation’s living waters springs forth from Jerusalem in all who believe!) 


Psalm 87 is very interesting because we get a biblical introduction of people being written into “The Book of Register”. In fact, we read about being written into God's Book(s) multiple times in the Bible: Psalms 139 states: “all of our days are written in His book before one came to be”. We learn we can be written in “The Book of Life” Phil 4:3, Psalms 69:28, & Rev 3:5! Then we get information about our names being written in “The Lambs Book of Life” in Rev 13:8, and Rev 21:27. The Bible also talks about people being written in “The Scroll of Remembrance” in Mal. 3:16. So like me, do you want your name registered, recorded, and remembered in God's Books for your eternal joy?! If so, give your heart to Jesus!!!


Today’s Psalm is telling you and I we can have heaven-based citizenship because it's entitled to all converts who are convicted in their hearts to follow God's covenants and truth. We can be Jew or Gentile and from any nation. So as we believe, our Lord God gives us eternal privileges. We are born in His image and He’s already prewritten all of our days. We then get a chance to become seekers of Jesus and get registered to be adopted into God's family, by His will (John 6:39), we then become saved and written into the Book of Life! And as we remain in God, we will never be blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life. Let that convince us we can stay on “the scroll of remembrance” now and for all eternity. No higher honor awaits you and I, that is derived from God Himself, than to be written into His Book of Life for eternity. Let’s make it our prayer today that we and all people we know, make God's Eternal Hall of Fame and see their names handwritten by God Himself in “The Lambs Book of Life” forever!!! Oh what love, and to God be the glory!!! 

Amen Amen. 


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 88

the saddest psalm

What a sad, sad psalm this is.  Some have said that this is the saddest of all the psalms.  In the midst of what seems to be a lifetime of pain and heartache, the psalmist continues to cry out to God.  He has not abandoned God – but he may be feeling that God has abandoned him.  Have you had seasons in your life where you felt like God was completely silent, that you cried out and begged God to save you from the pain and suffering, that you prayed hard for a miracle that never came, and God seemed silent?  We are not told about why the psalmist is suffering, but we clearly hear that he is.  Perhaps it is physical pain, or he has lost loved ones, or he is unable to care for himself or his family.  There are times in our darkest days when there seems to be no apparent reason for the problems we have or the silence of God we are experiencing.  There are times in our life when the pain just seems to keep hitting us.  Wave after wave of darkness that we never saw coming.  


It is in these times that the faith we cannot see, the God Who we put our trust in, has to be enough.  There are things on this side of Heaven that we may not have answers to other than, we live in a sinful and fallen world.  A world where bad things happen to good people, faithful people, people who seek after God’s will and live a life that shine’s the light of Jesus.  We will just never understand some of the why’s of the hardships we go through.  


But our God is faithful and just and He will see us through all of our circumstances.  Vs 1 states, "O Lord the God who save me day and night I cry out before you."  Keep praying, keep crying out, keep laying it down at the feet of Jesus.  "There is nothing that can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."(Romans:8:38-39)  


Lord, we ask You to be with us through the toughest of days; through the darkness that seems to fall all around us.  Give us strength, courage, and mostly, Lord, a faithfulness to trust You always.  Amen.  

psalm 89

wisdom and truth in a song!

“I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;

with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.

I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”


In Psalm 89, we get a Maskil Psalm of not only a song to worship by, but additional wisdom by its author to faithfully grow in. Maskil means: Wisdom. Something many people don’t know as Psalm 89 ends the third book of the five books that are compiled together to form what we know today as the book of psalms within our Bibles. So here God is closing out this third book with the addition of great wisdom. 

As you read the whole psalm today, this psalms heading states: 

“A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite” 


Beautifully, the Bible tells us who Ethan is! Ethan the Ezrahite is mentioned in 1 Kings 4:31 as a wise man, yet not as wise as King Solomon, who “was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite”, and we learn he was of the tribe of Levi. Then in 1 Chronicles 15:17, we learn Ethan was involved with bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. 1 Chronicles 15:19 teaches us that Ethan was a musician. So we’re receiving a Psalm to worship by from a musician who is one of the wisest men known within Scripture, other than King Solomon. Wow!!!

What can we learn about Ethan the Ezrahite through this Psalm itself? Verse 1 opens, “I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations”. Ethan praises God for His covenant with David in (verses 1–4) and then honors God’s power in (verses 5–18). Then in a vision in verse 26, we get, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior”.  Ethan then laments at the king’s defeat in (verses 38–45) and asks God to remember the covenant in (verses 46–52).

Ethan closes out this Maskil Psalm with these words: “Praise be to the Lord forever! / Amen and Amen”. It is clear that God is using Ethan to teach us to trust in and praise God in all situations: the hardest, as well as the most blessed and beautiful. Blessings eternal are in that kind of faith and wisdom. 

Question: How are you praising our Lord God, honoring Him, gaining the vision that He’s your/my Rock and Savior, and even lamenting and hurting with Him? All to be able to say: “Praise be to the Lord forever!” “Amen and Amen!” 

So what can lead us all to come to know this is true? Let’s gain some Maskil wisdom now when the wise Ethan wrote these words: “I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.”

Ethan’s wise truth takes us to his declaration that love stands firm forever and God and His faithfulness is established in Heaven itself. So every imperfect thing here is perfect and perfected in Heaven, and every good thing here is just a taste of the greatness to come!!! That’s why, like Ethan, I as your pastor, end many of my prayers with the words “Amen and Amen”… meaning: “let it be” and “it shall be so”!!!

Amen and Amen!!!


Pastor John Slotten

psalm 90


“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12NIV


The title for Psalm 90 is, “A prayer of Moses, the man of God”.  

It has more depth than first meets the eye.


The Hebrew language paints a word picture in the title — as someone coming to speak to authority.  


Between the title and how Moses addresses the Lord in vs 1, there is the understanding that Moses is the one coming to speak to The One in Authority.  So in prayer, Moses is before God as Judge.  “Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations” Psalm 90:1


But there is more.  There is a sense that this Judge has the heart of a passionate father.  There is tender love and respect in Moses words as he prays.


As the psalm continues, Moses words reveal the eternal nature of God.  In Gods Presence, Moses the man of God becomes aware of a deep personal and generational need.  A need for pure wisdom.  


I hear Moses crying out, in sober reality, of how challenging life can be and how quickly it passes by.  “Our days may come to 70 years, or 80, if our strength endures yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10


The word he uses for trouble is an expression of how life can be full of toil and labor.  And for sorrow, like that of searching for something for the purpose of producing something. 


Combining these 2 thoughts, I believe Moses wants his life to matter.  He also has a passion for all the lives in his generation to make a difference for good.  That as decisions are made and work is done, it is for an eternal purpose.


“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” vs 12


Moses offers up his emptiness to God, asking essentially that He would plant seeds of truth deep in the soil of all their hearts.  He knows, if it takes root and grows mature, it can be harvested as skillful wisdom that could feed the rising generations.


The psalm ends with Moses calling on God's abundant compassion.  Moses knows the past.  The decisions and work that were done void of pure wisdom.  He wants the days ahead to look different!  Moses longs for God's passionate Presence to be known because it will change him and his people.  He wants them to be a people who finish strong, full of joy and happiness.  True wisdom has this effect on hearts and lives.


Deuteronomy 34:7 reveals how powerfully God answered Moses prayer.  “Moses was 120 years old when He died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.”


Let’s pray: You are The Everlasting God — to Your days, there is no beginning or end.  Lord, we acknowledge You as The Judge of all the universe but we also desire to know You more as our Father.  We know Your heart is that all come to love and respect Jesus Christ Your Son.  Jesus, in You is where we find the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered — heaven's wisdom and the endless riches of revelation knowledge.  Holy Spirit, would You help us to grow in our love relationship with Jesus and The Father so that so our lives make a difference today and on the upcoming generations so they might see the glorious wonders You are famous for!  In Jesus Name we pray, amen.

psalm 91

Secondary Title

Psalm 91 is an anchor for the soul in times of hardship.  Like a safe haven in a storm.  It’s both invitational and conditional.  The promises are experienced while abiding in God's Presence.  Its many promises are available to the one who is willing to return to God and find rest in Him.  


The whole psalm flows out of vs. 1-2, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”


The picture painted in Hebrew of ‘dwelling’ is: like returning to a place of residence where one sits.  It includes the idea of one finding the love of their life, getting married and settling down.


One could read it and believe their life will never encounter a storm of tragedy, trial, trouble or trauma, but a closer look reveals where God is in it — He will hold you, shelter you, rescue you, protect you, cover you, and not allow evil to overtake you.


Part of Psalm 91 is also found in Matthew 4, where Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness to experience the ordeal of being tested by the devil — its a time of tribulation.  


It’s worth noting that right before this time, a Voice speaks from heaven saying of Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17


Though the devil tries to use Psalm 91:11-12 to tempt Jesus, he fails.  Jesus responds to the temptation by speaking the truth in Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Matthew 4:7


Jesus passes the test by speaking The Word of God, in the love of God, and in doing so, overcomes the tribulation.


Earlier in my faith-walk, I started memorizing Psalm 91 line by line.  It’s a long psalm and it seemed like it was taking forever.  Over a year passed and I was still only in the middle of it when a tempest stormed into my life.  My spouse broke both legs in an accident.


The days spent in the hospital and then at home again settled in for a long recovery, Psalm 91, line by line, kept rolling gently over my mind and heart.  Like gentle waves on a shore or a perfect song set on repeat.  Truly God goes before us, is with us in it, and has us covered on all sides.


Question for today after considering 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” 

Do you think your love for God matters?


Looking again at Psalm 91:14-16, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him.  I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” 


Let’s pray: God, Psalm 91 is full of assurances that in relationship with You, we can experience a place of rest, without fear or terror of what may come into our lives.  Jesus, thank You for living a life of dwelling in God, to the point of trusting Your life into His care, as You shed Your Blood to cover all our sin and shame.  Thank You for all You’ve done in pure love so we could receive what we truly need — a Father, a Family, and a Home to dwell in forever.  Holy Spirit, please help us to be teachable so we can continue to learn how to live in the love of God until we experience what it means to abide continually in Jesus Name, Amen.

psalm 92

a twist to real

1. It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
   And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2. To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
   And Your faithfulness every night,

12. The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
   He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
   Shall flourish in the courts of our God.

 

Psalms 92 (in part)

 

As I read this psalm, I feel a personal sense of duty to give thanks to God for all He’s done for me.  This psalm is a song of thankful prayer and worship to a God who has been there though out all our times of turmoil, pain, and confusion.  In this psalm, we celebrate the strength and goodness of God who saved us from every foe that was out to destroy us.  Whether it was a devastating medical report, a great financial loss, or personal struggle and situations that caused great pain; this psalm is a song of thanks to God Who saved us from ourselves and our enemies. 

 

But as I look back and remember those times, I also see a twist to real, in this psalm.  It ignites memories of times that were so devastating, it broke me to the core of my existence.  There were moments during those times I couldn’t praise God for anything.  I lost all hope of ever recovering!  I felt as if I was living the life of Job, one behind the other, bad news followed.  Loss on top of loss…..it seemed endless!  In my mind, God had abandoned me and I was left for dead.  I was to live this horrible life, on my own.  I struggled everyday asking myself, “Why do I take the next breath?” and I turn to God and ask, “What’s the reason for my existence? To die in torment?!”  Truth be told here, I blamed God for all of it!

 

It’s been said that time heals all wounds.  I personally don’t believe that’s completely true, but time can be somewhat credited to build endurance and patience, as it tells us in James 1:2-4.  If you don’t recall that scripture, please take a moment and read it and you’ll see what I mean.  I can tell you that I had no use for the first part of verse 2.  I considered none of what I was going through as joy!  It was no joyride.  In fact, I was convinced it was a death march….a march to my grave.  I gave up all hope for life.  I was disillusioned, confused, and very angry.  I exclaimed in the middle of my pain to find answers, "How can a so-called God of love, allow such things to happen to me, to us?!" "What did I do that was so horrible, it warranted this punishment?!" Anger was my main staple of emotional nourishment.  But in the middle of my darkness, God showed up, lit a torch in my heart, and guided me out of the dark caverns of my soul.   

 

Ya know what the key of my salvation from all this was and still is?  “God showed up!”  When I was too weak and wrecked to reach up, God reached down.  In my opinion, this psalm is based on horribly wrecked individuals who now have recovered from their darkest moments and can once again proclaim the magnificence and splendor of God’s character for what He’s done. They can then give their testimony of a thankful heart for those of us who need to be strengthened and encouraged.  

 

There might be some of you who are in the middle of your dark place, feeling abandoned and alone.  It’s ok to feel that way, but don’t give into that lie.  As horribly painful and debilitating your situation is…. God deeply cares for you. In the 12th verse, David sings that we “shall flourish like the palm tree." 

 

God created the palm tree to withstand hurricane force winds.  When the winds come, the ball root is designed to pivot with the force of the winds and then return to its original upright position.  So when your winds of trouble blows against you….yes, you will bend and pivot but you will not be uprooted and you will return to your upright position after the storm.   And then in the last part of that verse, he writes, “He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon”. One of the most majestic, powerful, and saught-after trees in its time.  That’s the transformation that awaits us.  Just as James scribes in chapter 1, verse 3-4, “ that the testing of our faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may become perfect and complete, lacking nothing”.  Get that?!  Lacking nothing!! Right now, this moment, right where you are….whether you believe it or not, you have everything you need to get through it.  So whatever trial, trouble, or tribulation you’re been chosen to go through, know this, you will be lacking nothing at the end of it all.  Which means, you will discover, that you already had everything you needed to endure the storms and when they are gone, (and be encouraged, they will end, every event in life comes to an end and this too shall pass)..…you will stand tall and upright again, with everything you need to continue your journey; to continue your story.  As John Bradford stated; “There but for the grace of God, go I”.  

 

TR

psalm 93

praise and thanks

When is the last time you just praised God for who He is and what He has done for you? Asked nothing in return, only giving glory and thanks to Him?


I challenge myself and any of you reading today, to begin each of the next 7 days, praying this psalm, recognizing the greatness of our God, His might, His Majesty, and His glory. He alone is God and He alone is eternal.


Praise be to the Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. Our Creator and Redeemer. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise, forever and ever and ever!


And just think, this almighty God loves you so much that He knows the intimate details of your life. He loves you so much He sent His only son to die for you, to forgive your sins, because He loves you so much that He wants to spend eternity with you.


Let that sink in as you praise Him this day and always!


Amen.

psalm 94

the just judge

“But the Lord has become my fortress,

and my God the rock in whom I take refuge”.

Psalms 94:22


What would ever help drive you to find the Lord as your Fortress and take God as your Rock and Refuge? Would it be seeing a miracle? A powerfully answered prayer? Or the wicked getting what they have coming? Or your life being saved? Just maybe, all this happens to this psalmist!


Obviously it took life experiences for this psalmist to have the Lord God become such a Rock for him. Look at its beginning words again. It starts with this: “But the Lord has become my fortress,”.  To “become” something, you have to experience certain situations that brought it into place; in this case, to “become my fortress”. The psalmist goes on to say that the Lord is “my God the Rock”, a Rock this psalmist confidently takes as his fortified refuge.


So what drives the author of this Psalm to come to such confidence? A deeper look into this Psalm teaches what scholars call a “Psalm of Imprecation”, meaning it’s filled with harsh language, condemnation, and issues to the point of cursedness. 


Look at this Psalm's concerning words:

  • Repay the proud what they deserve.
  • Lord, how long will the wicked gloat?
  • They pour out arrogant words.
  • Evildoers boast.
  • They kill the widow, foreigner, and fatherless.
  • They say God doesn’t see or pay attention. 

Yet this psalmist knows important truths:

“Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise? Does He who fashioned the ear not hear? Does He who formed the eye not see? Does He who disciplines nations not punish? Does He who teaches mankind lack knowledge? 

Then the Psalm says this:

“The Lord will not forsake His people or abandon His heritage”


I teach you all this because Psalms 93 - 99 are "Royal Psalms". We call these "Royal" because they call God "King" or Majesty. Yet Psalm 94 is not a Royal Psalm in the same sense. It lays between the Psalms that fully qualify as royal. So why is it here? Because God is the ultimate Judge and will destroy kings, rulers, and evil ones that do not obey Him. This makes this Psalm uniquely royal and calls all to take notice of the Lord/King/Judge. So He must become our God and Fortress, and the Rock in Whom we take refuge. My experiences make Him my known and needed Rock. Is He yours? Today, thank the Lord for His fortress for you and run to Him in faithful trust as your Rock and Refuge as your royal King of kings!!!


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 95


This psalm is a reminder to us to “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our Salvation!” vs 1.  It is a reminder that in all things, all circumstances, all situations, we must have a surrendered heart to the Lord; a heart that trusts in Him always and for all things.  In the days of old when the Israelites failed to trust in God, (just after he led them out of captivity from Egypt), they failed to be obedient to Him, and they went about trying to make life work on their own.  They knew God, but their hearts had become hardened to Him.  Because of that, many of them did not receive the “rest” that was to be the Promised Land.  We are called to open our hearts to the Spirit and to hear (and listen) to His voice.  Today, if you hear His voice, "do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the dessert where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did." vs.8-9.  As it always is with God, He is looking for a heart transformation.  He does not care about what we do, the sacrifices we think we make, the hard work we put into what we do for Him.  He cares about what He does for us when we will let Him in.  He cares that our hearts are right with Him, that we allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and through us, and that our “rest” is in the salvation of Jesus Christ at the cross.  It is about what He has done for us.  Because of that, there should be nothing that we won’t do for Him!  


Father God, I want to surrender my heart to You, fully and freely.  I want to be obedient to Your will and Your ways.  I want to know truth in my life so I can speak truth into others lives.  Help me Holy Spirit to be more open to You.  Thank You, Jesus for all You have done for us.  Amen

psalm 96

soli deo gloria

Psalm 96:2-3 states:



“Sing to the Lord, praise his name, proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples."


You may be reading this title and wondering what does "Soli Deo Gloria" mean? It's a Latin term the reformers used that means "Glory to God Alone." That's exactly what Psalm 96 does; it causes the people to bring Glory to God for all that He has done. This psalm highlights that God deserves praise because He is the Alpha and Omega. He has created all things and is the One and only true God. The psalm also calls for the entire world to bring glory to God. One of the interesting parts I find is in verse 8.  "Ascribe to the Lord, the glory due his name." It reminds me of my work with the legislature and how we should treat all elected officials. Romans 13 teaches us that we should honor and show respect to our governing authorities because God has appointed them for our good. This is why I'm respectful of those authorities and use their name as Representative, and Senator, regardless of who they are and what they believe. This is done out of respect for their position. The same should be done for God. We should bring Him glory and respect Him because He is God.


This Psalm also has an important reminder for all of us in verse 13. We should bring glory to God and rejoice in Him because there will be a day that He comes to judge all. When God does judge this earth, He will do so with equity and will reward those who are faithful to Him. So take time to bring glory to the name of God, whether through sharing the Gospel with a friend, meditating on God's Word, or other ways you've can actively glorify God.


In Jesus Strong Name, 


Dan Degner

psalm 97

Secondary Title

“Clouds both dark and mysterious now surround Him, His Throne of glory rests upon a foundation of righteousness and justice.  All around Him burns a blazing glory-fire consuming all His foes.”  Psalm 97:2-3 TPT


A few years ago, I had a dream.  It’s still vivid to this day.  Since then, anytime a Scripture is revealed about dark and mysterious clouds surrounding God's Presence, the words bolt off the page like lightning.


So, while away on an overnight fishing trip as we settled in for the night reading, Psalm 97:2-3 jumped off the page.


Up early the next morning with the hope of catching some fish, as the coffee brewed, clouds unexpectedly began to roll in.  Waiting to see what they might bring with them, we could hear thunder off in the distance.  As the clouds thickened, it became darker.  


One’s thoughts could go to…???…this time and place had seemed so divinely orchestrated.  God's Presence had seemed to be with us each step and breath.  How could this possibly be?  The hopes for this unique opportunity, in this special place — like a distant dream.


Then, The Word came back to my mind and heart.  The presence of these dark and mysterious clouds were not an absence of God's Presence, but a witness to His Presence!…even though our agenda was slightly altered.


And so, we lingered reading the verses in Psalm 97 again, worshiping God for making His Presence known in such a majestic way.  That just as the sunshine burns off the morning mist — His glory-fire blazes around Him, consuming all His foes.  And when we belong to Him, all our foes as well!


And it is surely true that, “when His lightening strikes, it lights up the world.” vs. 4a


As we sat in a greater awareness of His Presence that morning — simply awestruck, it was like our hearts were melting in the heat of His love, as the Lord of all the earth drew near. 


Verse 6 says, “Heaven’s messengers preach righteousness, and people everywhere see God's glory in the sky!”  As we were caught up in the wonder of this mysterious morning, we were reminded that Jesus will one day return, in the clouds, revealing His Majesty!  


“Behold!  He appears within the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.”  Revelation 1:7a


Today’s question: Will you read Psalm 97 and see how You can experience God's Presence and His Word being alive and active in and around you?


Let’s pray: God, Your Word tells us that The Lord Jesus will appear with a declaration of victory, the shout of an archangel, and the trumpet blast of God, that Jesus will descend from the heavenly realm and command those who are dead in Christ to rise first.  Then those who are alive will be transported together in clouds encountering You, to then be with You forever.  We praise You, God, for this truth and for Your faithfulness!  Would You help us to grow in encouraging one another with these truths so that our hearts burn with the flames of holy passion as we wait until the day that we see You face to face…in Jesus Name we pray, Amen.


And God — thank You also for the clear skies that came later and the best day of fishing!

psalm 98


1 Sing to the Lord a new song,

for he has done marvelous things;

his right hand and his holy arm

have worked salvation for him.

2 The Lord has made his salvation known

and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love

and his faithfulness to Israel;

all the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation of our God.


4 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,

burst into jubilant song with music;

5 make music to the Lord with the harp,

with the harp and the sound of singing,

6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—

shout for joy before the Lord, the King.


7 Let the sea resound, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it.

8 Let the rivers clap their hands,

let the mountains sing together for joy;

9 let them sing before the Lord,

for he comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness

and the peoples with equity.


Just think, some day, everyone and everything will fall down and worship the Lord. All creation will praise Him! Verses 2 and 3 point to Jesus as our Lord and Savior making His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations. He didn’t offer His salvation to a select few. He didn’t offer His salvation to the best looking or most qualified, or the one who sinned the least.


Did you ever have the feeling of not really fitting in, not getting picked to be the teacher’s favorite, or were the last one picked in anything? It’s a horrible feeling, but great news, you’re never the last picked with the most important One. You’re not only favored, but you were picked before you were even born. How amazing is that?! He made His salvation known to ALL the nations. That includes me and that includes you. He wants you and wants to spend all eternity with you! Now that’s something to join in with the sea, mountains, rivers, and all of creation in rejoicing. Imagine the sound of that? Someday we won’t have to imagine it, we’ll be a part of that amazing orchestra of praise. I can’t wait!


Dear Lord, thank You for loving us more than we can ever imagine and including us in Your amazing plan of redemption. Thank You for loving us just as we are. You are so kind, and we are so blessed to be a part of Your family. We can’t even fathom all the amazing benefits of being Your child, but let us seek them out and not forget them so to keep us running the race strong with excitement and joy all for Your glory, honor, and praise in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

psalm 99

Contradiction to consecration: A Reality Check

8 Oh Lord our God, Thou didn’t answer them

Thou wast a forgiving God to them,

And yet an avenger of their evil deeds.

9 Exalt the Lord our God,

And worship at His holy hill;

For holy is the Lord our God.

 

Psalms 99 (in part)

 

At first glance, you might mistakenly see a contradiction .  So I ask that you to take the time to read the whole psalm and then come back and see the complete message of David’s song.

 

This psalm first brings the raw truth of who God is….HE IS HOLY!  That’s it! Case closed!  He is completely separate from everything we know, but yet, He is everything we need.  He is set apart from what our minds consider to be the norm.  He is the Creator of the universes….all of them; what the Hubble telescope can see, and then beyond that!   

 

Many a night I’ve sat under clear starry sky, gazing at the majesty of His creation.  I lay back in my gravity chair mesmerized, almost dizzy, caught up in the vastness and depth of this explosive celebration of His imagination!  Have you ever had the chance to swim in the deep part of the ocean and couldn’t see the bottom?  The thought of free floating a thousand feet above the ocean floor is beyond description. It causes your mind to lose balance!  That’s what I experence when I look straight up into the immeasurable space above me.  

 

The psalmist tells us that our Mighty God, Who is the creator of all things past, present, and future, is not only mighty and holy, He’s concerned about you and I.  It says in verse 6, “they called to the Lord and He answered”.  He answered!  He didn’t turn away, or look aside…. He answered because He loves and cares about us, concerned for us to become all we’ve been predestined to be.  

 

I believe this psalm is a short summary of the true nature of God.  He is Holy, He is mighty, He loves justice and hates sin. He is also a forgiving disciplinarian.  Yup, this loving and forgiving God, whom I believe we’ve stuffed in a shoe box of our very limited imagination and understanding, longs for His creation to live in His expectations and standards.  Nature itself tells us there is an order in development and existence.  We as a created human race, have taken this God of ours and minimized the reality of His being.  God is the avenger of His order, His statutes and commandments.  His holiness can not allow His creation to rebel against His order without consequences.  He created us, we didn’t create Him, and this psalm is a reminder of that truth! 

 

We were created in His likeness.  The heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  I call it our “knower” and our sleeping “knower” came to life when our hearts accepted and gave way to Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Before the fall of man, they knew Who God was and lived by His expectations perfectly until that moment when man thought and reasoned on his own and gave birth to sin in the garden.  But God, our Creator, our true Father, at the perfect time, sent a fix for our defective “knower”.  Jesus, is the fix that saved us from our wretched life, separated from Him.

 

David is declaring and reminds us today that our God is a mighty God Who avenges His law and ordinances, BUT, He is also a God who loves.  1 John 4:19 reminds us that, “we love BECAUSE, He first loved us”, so much so that He gave His Son as a ransom for our sins so that we could be in Paradise with Him.  I don’t know about you, but when I wrap my inept, feeble mind around that truth, it brings me to tears.  

 

So my suggestion today is we take time to bow to His Majesty, our Lord, God and King, to give honor, praise and reverence for who He is….our God who first loved us.

 

Father we bow before you, in gratitude, that You first loved us and have given example how we should love one another.  Instill in our hearts the faith, the power, and majesty of who You are; that we may come to  know the revelation of Your heart.  Give us your desires and change our hearts so that Your Spirit and our souls are one.  Lead us, direct us, and guide us down the path that You’ve honed out of the rock of our lives so we might display the greatness of Who You are.  In the name of our King and Savior, Jesus our Lord, Amen

 

TR

psalm 100

A psalm for Giving grateful Praise

About a year ago, I wrote a devotional about my apple tree and the one single apple that I was able to pick from that tree. It was pretty much dead on with how I felt about 2020. I was having a difficult time remembering to praise God for all that I had, even if it was one single apple on that tree.

 

This year, my apple tree is overflowing with apples. Some are half eaten by insects, some apples are small, some malformed and a few are perfect. This year however, I am thankful for them all. Just as I am thankful for apples, I am I able to find many, many things to be thankful for in my life this year. Furthermore, I am remembering to be more grateful to God in my praise for all that He provides for me. Maybe it isn’t everything that my heart desires, but it is certainly more than I need to live life in the fullest.

 

How about you? When is the last time you have taken the time to name the things that you are thankful for and really give God grateful praise for all He has provided for you? As I walk my dogs each day, I challenge myself to name those things and people in my life that I am blessed by God to have. I ask God to keep me grateful and to let my attitude of gratitude work its way into my day as I express my gratitude to the people around me for all they do for me.

 

Gratitude is contagious and you will find that when you spread it around, you will make a difference in the way you view yourself and how others view you.

 

Shout to the Lord, all the earth. 

Worship the Lord with gladness;

Come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God

It is he who made us, and we are his;

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

And his courts with praise;

Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

Thank You, God, for Your goodness. Today I name these specific blessings in my life that I am grateful to You for ________. Amen

psalm 101

a vow of integrity

“I will sing of your love and justice;

to you, Lord, I will sing praise.”

Psalm 101:1


How often in your life have you said, “I will...”? What usually follows is our commitment to actually follow through on what we said “I will” to.


Earlier yesterday, I told my wife, “I will” make dinner for us… and I did. Yet, just a few weeks ago when my parents were visiting my mother asked me, “Johnny, will you take the recyclables out to the collection container?” I said “I will” and later that day when I got home from a church appointment, she was quick to point out… “You didn’t take the recyclables out!” We succeed and fail at our “I wills” in life don’t we? Yet trust this: When God says “I will”, it’s always completed to His will. Isaiah 46:10 states, “I will do all my will” and a careful look at all of Isaiah will teach us God said, “I will behold, carry, and keep you… I will never leave you!!!"


How often have we all said “I will” to God and completed the commitment? Is that total more or less often than when you said “I will” to God and didn’t follow through? Yet, 11 times In today’s Psalm David writes, “I will”. 

  • I will sing of your love and Justice
  • To you Lord, I will sing praise
  • I will be careful to lead a blameless life
  • I will conduct the affairs of my house with a blameless heart.
  • I will not look with approval on anything that is vile
  • I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it
  • I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
  • Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence
  • Whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate
  • Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land
  • I will cut off every evildoer from the city of the Lord

Today, let’s sing praises to God! And as we sing, notice the praises, commitments, and justice within. God so deserves our praises applied afresh in the words David penned. We must love God and love each other, and let God be the Judge. If we live this way, it becomes our vow of integrity lived out in worship, praise, love, and justice. What are your “I will’s” you’ll sing out in your vows of integrity to God today? For me, I will sing Psalm 101 and do my best to live it out… and when I sing it, I’ll make sure my windows and doors are closed… to best love my neighbors, knowing God can hear me praising Him everywhere!!!

Lord God, hear our songs of “I will” today and, Holy Spirit, help us fulfill them in worship, praise, love, and justice!


In Jesus Strong Name, Amen Amen

psalm 102


Have you ever gone through something so difficult, upsetting, and overwhelming that you didn’t know where to turn or what to do?  Maybe you’ve suffered through physical illness or extreme emotional pain related to a situation in your life, or possibly a combination of things.   Perhaps you were in such despair and so consumed with the problem that you couldn’t eat, sleep, or even function.  You may have felt alone and like you didn’t have the strength to fight.  Perhaps you cried out to God for help only to be met with silence, thinking He had turned His back on you, was angry with you, or didn’t even care. 


In times of deep distress when we pray but don’t seem to hear from God, we may assume He has abandoned us, is angry, or is punishing us.  The psalmist surely felt this way but was able to shift from his own misery to focus on the truths/promises of God: His eternal greatness, unlimited power, and His complete control over everything.  He trusted and had confidence that God hears, cares, and will act to make things right and good, maybe not in the present, but in days to come.

Remember that no matter how bad, difficult, or impossible a situation may seem, God always keeps his promises and will help us.  He has helped past generations and will help us now and in the future.  When there is silence, there is a reason, but God is always listening and working.   Don’t give up!  Keep praying, trusting, and above all, remain hopeful.  The answer/resolution may be different than what you expect, but God knows best.  His ways are higher than our ways, and His timing is perfect.  He may not change your circumstances, but instead, may want to change YOU in some way—your perspective, attitude, thoughts, or feelings.


Dear Lord, in my darkest times help me to remember you are always there and will help me.  I realize your answer may be different than what I expect but you are in control and can handle any situation no matter how difficult or impossible it seems.


Challenge:  In difficult times will you give up, assuming God is not going to help you, or will you maintain an attitude of hope, trusting and waiting expectantly for answers, direction, and comfort?

Psalm 103

the heart of god is what he is

1Bless the LORD, O my soul; 

all that is within me, bless His holy name.

2Bless the LORD, O my soul, 

and do not forget all His kind deeds—

3He who forgives all your iniquities 

and heals all your diseases,

4who redeems your life from the Pit 

and crowns you with loving devotion and compassion,

5who satisfies you with good things, 

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Psalms 103 (in part)

 

David was given the daunting task of describing the nature and heart of God.  God is so many things.  Where does one start?!  David decided to direct us first, to bless the Lord with everything within us.  Every molecule, atom, cell, thought, action, and word.  That leaves nothing out.  Isn’t it only right that we should first bless and praise the God and Father of everything?  Nothing is in existence that was not created by Him.  

 

Some people want to get silly about this and defiantly say, “Well He didn’t create the latest and greatest stylishly designer products!”  May I direct you to every atom and molecule that science infused to form whatever creation you speak of.  He created the core and fiber of man’s so-called creation.  Everything seen or unseen was created by Him.

 

David brings us to why we should praise and bless Him.  He reminds us of all His benefits, the past, present, and future.  Not one of us can say, "God has never blessed me."  At the very beginning….He gave us the blessing of life!  Just keep it there for a moment.  According to Psalm 139:14, He sat in His eternal glorious workshop and designed you just as you are, fearfully, and wonderfully made.  Well it didn’t mention “workshop” but you get the picture.  That, within itself is a miracle.  And with that, He knows you!  All of you!  Not a single second of your life is unknown to Him.  Look at Psalm 121:8, "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."  That tells me He is always watching over us.  And He never stops!  How encouraging is that?!  

 

Now David lists all the benefits of God.  When you look at these benefits, you can see all the goodness and committed love in God’s heart.  He actually made the earth and everything on it for us, so He could enjoy us! That is a very humbling reality.

 

Look at this list of blessing, just for us...

      He:

  • Forgives
  • Heals all our diseases 
  • Redeems us from our downfalls
  • Crowns us with love and compassion
  • Satisfies all our desires with good things
  • Renews our youth
  • Compassionate with love as a father is to his children
  • Slow to anger and harbors no anger
  • Removes our sin and remembers them no more
  • He knows we are frail and came from dust and we return to dust

What a list of love! David reminds us that God’s love is “from everlasting to everlasting”. Why wouldn’t anyone want to bless God for who He is?!  David even commands the angels and the heavenly host and all dominions and everything created, to bless His holy name!  That, my dear friends, is the power of the Holy Spirit speaking!  God loves us and He wants us to bless Him with praise and worship. Not for His sake, but for ours.  And He tells us exactly why…. Because He first loved us.  God is good all the time and all the time….God is good.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

 

TR

psalm 104


“O Lord, what an amazing variety of all You have created!  Wild and wonderful is this world You have made, while wisdom was there at Your side.  This world is full of so many creatures, yet each belong to You!  Psalm 104:24 TPT


Such an amazing psalm 104 is!  It’s worth reading and re-reading.  Consider checking it out in different translations — it’s so wonderful!


Where to begin?  There is truly so much!  If you’ve read the creation story in the beginning of Genesis, in the beginning of the Bible, Psalm 104 will seem familiar to you.  David is surveying the wonder of how God above, created all that is here below, wild and wonderful!


As one gives time to become more aware of God's Presence, like David, a response of praise may come from deep within.


“Everything I am will praise and bless The Lord!  O Lord, my God, your greatness takes my breath away, overwhelming me by Your majesty, beauty, and splendor!”  Psalm 104:1TPT


We are living in a crazy time.  It seems like many experiences of having our breath taken away are more like a quarterback getting repeatedly, unexpectedly sacked — down on the turf, trying to catch a breath, from hit after hit.


So, when was the last time you were moved to breathless awe and wonder of Who God is?


By the One who — wraps Himself with shimmering, glistening light, wearing sunshine like a garment, who stretched out the starry sky like a tapestry, built His balcony with light beams, and rides as a King in a chariot made from clouds.  


Psalm 104 goes on and on, giving endless reasons to praise and bless The Lord!  It reveals and gives insight to how The True Triune God like an architect, designs, creates, and builds in pure wisdom, pleasure, and delight.  


Consider pausing today to read (and possibly reread) Psalm 104.  Contemplate Who He is, all He has done, and is still doing today.  See if it causes you, as it did David, to joyfully, blissfully shout, "hallelujah!"  Hallelujah!! HALLELUJAH!!!  


Question: Have you discovered what it means to be created by and belong to God? If yes, are you living a life of continual praise in how He made you by His design in His desire?


Let’s pray: God, I love You!  You are beautiful and all You do is great!  Father, it seems there is so much going on and taking place all around me that is trying to move me from awe to apathy and from faith to fear.  BUT Your timing is always perfect and there could be no better day than today to visit Psalm 104 and be moved to shouting Hallelujah!


Holy Spirit, please help me to turn my attention to Psalm 104 today until it becomes alive and active in my soul, creating within in me a desire to praise You with all that I am, in all that I do.  As I survey Psalm 104, please help me not overlook The Cross of Jesus Christ, the most wonderful finished work You have provided, out of Your heart of compassion, for my good.  Please help me to fully live every day by Your design, in Your creation, for Your good pleasure. And God, thank You also for what is so easy to take for granted — the meat, fruit, grains, and vegetables You provide for us - hallelujah!  In Jesus Majestic Name, Amen

psalm 105


"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts."

Psalm 105:1-2


"Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced."

Psalm 105: 5


The Psalmist calls us to remember what He has done; His amazing miracles, and His judgments. This Psalm remembers what happened with Joseph, Egypt, then eventually Moses and how the Lord came to the Israelites rescue in miraculous ways. If you haven't read this story, please go back to the books of Genesis and Exodus. These are some amazing, true stories that need to be remembered and told to our children, and for them to tell their children. As I sit here on my comfortable patio furniture and sip my tea, I cannot even fathom the horrible slavery and pain the Israelites had to endure in Egypt.  They were brutally whipped, overworked, and underfed. Can you really imagine that?! They were in slavery in Egypt for 400 years. But, I believe in the darkest of times for them was when the Lord came shining His light in that darkness and sent Moses to deliver them from the bondage. He wanted them free. 


Don't let satan deceive you. God sees absolutely everything that is going on in your life and today's world. Every bit of it recorded and every tear that falls, is collected. He will fight for us. Just trust and believe that. Amidst the chaos, lawlessness, confusion, fear, distraction, He is for us. He may allow things to go on in the world to bring His people closer to Him, but ultimately the battle is won, and in Christ, we are on the winning side.


We are called to remember what He has done. This includes what is recorded in the Bible, but we are also called to remember what He has done in our own lives. Start a journal, record His faithful ways He came to your rescue in the past. This will not only strengthen your faith, but bless you, reminding You of how kind, faithful, and loving our Father is, and that He will do the same in the future.


Lord, we thank You for coming to the Israelites rescue, parting the Red Sea, and freeing them, bringing them into the Land of Milk and Honey. Please help us, free us from our bondages and from the evil one. Help us to remember how You always come to our rescue and praise Your wonderful name. Please give us victory and live out our days more abundantly, on purpose for You in Jesus' name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 106

that's how he rolls!

40So the anger of the LORD burned against His people, 

and He abhorred His own inheritance.

41He delivered them into the hand of the nations, 

and those who hated them ruled over them.

42Their enemies oppressed them, 

and subdued them under their hand.

43Many times He rescued them, 

but they were bent on rebellion

and sank down in their iniquity.

 Psalms 106:40-43

 

There is such a large contrast of this Psalm to the previous Psalm.  In Psalm 105, God is praised and glorified for Who He is and the wonderful works of blessing and favor shown on the people of Israel.  But this Psalm is a record of the horrible rebellion of God’s folks.

 

The writer of Psalm 105 announces the majesty of God’s love and blessings on His people, whom in the next Psalm, comes face to face with their rebellious sin.  106 is a reality check to all of us, revealing the depth of His love.  Look at the line-up! ….rescued from Egypt, destroying their enemy, parting the Red Sea, and in the middle of their complaining, feeds them!   Even His guidance through the wilderness was a miracle!  Pillar of smoke by day, and fire by night. God displayed His love and commitment time and time again, and what did these people do?!  

 

I have to give an apology for my next statement, because I’m going to say something a little course….. “We’re these people that blind, daft, and ignorant?!!”  What more did they need after witnessing so many miracles?!  Talk about commitment issues!! 

 

After thinking about it….I too have witnessed many miracles, not as dramatic as the Red Sea parting, but all the same…they were miracles.  I too have lost sight of God’s love for me many a time, and He still reached down and loved me through it as He’s always had and will continue to do, because that’s how God rolls!

 

I believe the point of this Psalm is the last few verses.  In the middle of our sinful behavior, “our stuff”, God remembers the covenant He made with us and then delivers us from our rebellious behavior and reminds us how loved we truly are.  We are marked, branded, sealed with the Holy Spirit and because of that seal, we are His children, we are counted worthy to be disciplined, and through that discipline, we will be transformed to His likeness, and as James 1:2-4 tells us, we will become complete, lacking nothing!  I believe that’s what God is focused on for us... to be completely reliant on Him.  

 

So as you read this Psalm, keep in mind, like any parents desire, God wants us to become honorably successful and more fully in faith on our journey home.  

 

Come on, pray with me….Father, so many times we lose focus on the importance of staying close to You. Too many times we allow our rebellious nature blind us from our connection with You.  We ask, as David asked in Psalm 51:10-19, to “ create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me”, so we too can be examples of Christ’s love by loving one another. And through that, those around us will know, Jesus lives!  In Jesus name we pray, amen.


TR

psalm 107

reflection

Psalm 107 begins with “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” and ends with verse 43 -“Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” In between, there are stories of the redeemed and of how God’s love is unfailing, consistent, and powerful. They are stories to be remembered and pondered and retold to generations so that they too may understand the we need to give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His love endures forever.

 

Reflection – The wise heed these stories and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. Ponder is to think about, to reflect.

 

Have you pondered all the ways that God has shown you that He is good and His love endures forever? Each Christian has stories of deliverance. Stories of mistakes and sins that God has forgiven and used to transform them. Stories where God has done incredible things in unexpected ways in their lives. 

 

I know He has in mine and yet, I become forgetful of all He has done for me, especially when I am chasing my will, instead of listening, reflecting, and remembering that God is good, His love for me endures forever, and I need to get to my knees and be thankful in all circumstances. God has delivered me time and time again, and I know He will continue to do the same all of my days. Maybe not in the way I want, but in the way that is best for me to live the life He has designed for me in this world and the next.

 

Yes our God is good, He loves you no matter what you have done, and we need to remember this and give Him our thanks and praise. Will you join me as one of the wise and begin each day this week remembering all that God has done in your life?

 

Let’s pray – Father, Thank You for Your great love for me. Thank You for Your goodness, for the way You have delivered me time and time again in this world. Give me the heart and will to reflect on all You have done for me in the past, and lead me in wisdom to learn and remember that Your love endures forever. Thank You for being a God that loves me so much, that You know my innermost thoughts and fears. I ask You to help empty me of all my worry today and place my trust in You and Your love for me today. In Your great name, I pray!

 

Amen.

psalm 108

israel's kingdom blessing

I will praise You, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing Your praises among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; may Your glory cover all the earth”!!!


I love this Psalm and when it’s read, or when I hear the modern day song written about it in part, I can’t help but think about how Kingdom blessed we are in God's loving devotion and faithfulness over the earth and heavens!!! Can you just try to wrap your mind around God's loving devotion to us? In fact, His love and devotion to us is so important, four times in the book of Psalms, the author uses these powerful amazing words, For Your loving devotion extends beyond the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the skies 


So today as you read this whole 108th Psalm in your Bible, I ask you to also worship God in it by song. I suggest using Third Day's song: “Your Love Oh Lord” which was inspired (in part) by Psalms 36, 57, 71, 108 plus inspiration from the books of Isaiah, Matthew, & Revelations. The song link is here:

HTTPS://YOUTU.BE/I59U7IPQ81Y

Here are the lyrics to allow “Israel’s Kingdom Blessing” to be shared between you and God today:


Your love, oh Lord

Reaches to the heavens

Your faithfulness

Stretches to the skies

Your righteousness is

Like the mighty mountain, yeah

Your justice flows like

The ocean's tides


I will lift my voice

To worship You, my King

I will find my strength

In the shadow of Your wings


Your love, oh Lord

Reaches to the heavens

Your faithfulness

Stretches to the skies

Your righteousness is

Like the mighty mountain, yes

Your justice flows like the ocean's tides


I will lift my voice

To worship You, my King

And I will find my strength

In the shadow of Your wings


I will lift my voice

To worship You, my King

And I will find my strength

In the shadow of Your wings


Oh Yeah


And I will lift my voice

To worship You, my King

And I will find my strength

In the shadow of Your wings


Your love oh Lord

Reaches to the heavens

Your faithfulness

Stretches to the sky


Let us pray: 

Father God, Thank You for David’s amazing words today in Psalm 108 and for Your amazing love that reaches throughout the Heavens. Thank You for Your faithfulness. May we worship You always as our King and find our strength in the shadow of Your wings!!! And today, may You "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; may Your glory cover all the earth”!!!

In Jesus Strong Name, 

Amen and Amen


Pastor John Slotten

psalm 109


O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me, they have spoken against me with lying tongues.  With words of hatred they surround me, they attack me without cause.  In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.  They repay me evil for good and hatred for my friendship.  

Vs. 1-5


Have you ever felt unjustly attack by someone?  Have you had someone tells lies about you and for no reason, other than to hurt you for personal gain?  This kind of injustice is what the psalmist is speaking of.  A plea to God for some kind of retribution to protect the one who is being harmed.  As I read this psalm, a dear friend of mine comes to my heart.  This friend is going through this entire psalm.  Being lied about and a good name and reputation is being attacked.  For what reason Lord?  We know that we live in an evil and unjust world here on earth.  It is so hard to understand.  Our prayer must be that we hold fast to our faith, that we present our petitions to God and let Him be the Judge.  In this psalm, he is asking for the wicked and deceitful to be punished, for truth to come out.  This side of heaven, life is not fair.  In return for kindness and friendship, hate and anger step in to take their place.  Lord help us when we are in these situations to turn to You, yo pray for Your justice, and for truth. 

 

With my mouth, I will greatly extol the Lord, in the great throng, I will praise Him.  For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.  Vs. 30-31.  Lord, we pray for the day when Your Son, our Savior, Jesus - returns to destroy all evil and to reign on earth!  Amen.

psalm 110

the Lord gives dominion to the king

Psalm 110:4-5 states:



“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Mechizedek." The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath."


Psalm 110 reminds me of the joy I get to experience in my job. For my job, I connect pastors with their "earthly kings", elected officials to advance the Gospel and pray with them. Yesterday and today, I had meetings with members of both political parties where we were able to discuss that regardless of their beliefs, God is sovereign over placing them as representatives of their districts. God is sovereign over today's matters just as He was sovereign over the government in David's day.    This Psalm highlights the power God gave to King David as the ruler of Israel. We see that God isn't just passive in this, but in His sovereignty, God is actively giving David his Kingship and the power that comes with it. The same could be applied to our world today. Those that serve as authorities over us have been placed there by God (Ps. 110, Rm. 13). As Christians, we ought to respect these God-given authorities, but also pray for them (1 Tim. 2:2) regardless of our own political leanings. Today, please take time to pray for those in authority over us in the FDL community. If you'd like to pray with some of these officials in person, I'd be glad to connect you and set up a meeting. Here's a great starting list:

  FDL Police Chief Aaron Goldstein (and for Officer Kurer's family after he passed away this week). State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt

State Senator Dan Feyen

Congressman Glenn Grothman

Governor Tony Evers

President Joe Biden


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner

psalm 111

with all the heart

Let’s pray: Father, I desire to give You my whole heart, attention, and all of my praise.  I desire to draw closer to You, to know You more.  As a child of God, I acknowledge I am still learning how to walk and stand.  Jesus, I pray I can experience Your Presence in a whole new way today.  And Holy Spirit, I ask for Your much needed guidance.  Would You please help me to come as I am before God, trusting that in Your Presence I can be changed for Your glory and move into actions that reveal who You are.  I love You, am in awe of You, and in Your Name Jesus, I pray, Amen.


Psalm 111 begins with, “Praise the Lord.”  Looking closer at the word praise, using the Hebrew alphabet, the word picture formed from the letters is: a picture of a man with his arms raised looking at a great sight and includes the idea of moving closer to a destination.


Psalm 111 ends with, “To Him belongs eternal praise.”  This short sentence holds a great idea.  Because the same word is used again for praise - its the same idea except it’s expanded because the word eternal is included.  Eternal praise.  The idea now includes: to remain standing almost like a living pillar of continuous praise.


So praise bookends this Psalm.  It offers encouragement that with every breath, movement, moment and hour I have, I can move closer and closer to living in unbroken praise of God.  This is a great work of God in itself because I am a broken vessel.


Great, glorious, majestic are all the things He does!  He is faithful and just in it all.  He is trustworthy.  He provides.  He remembers.  He shows.  He gives.  He works.  Why?  Because, “the Lord is gracious and compassionate.” Psalm 111:4b. 


If Psalm 111 were a book on its own, vs. 4b, “the Lord is gracious and compassionate” would be the spine holding the whole thing together.  The word gracious here is the idea of a beautiful large family encampment in a complete circle.  The homes make the walls of this camp and inside there is freedom, beauty, favor, and mercy.  It’s pleasant and precious!  And if that wasn’t enough, it says the Lord is compassionate.  His love is mercy-full!  He has indeed provided redemption for His people!


So, what’s key to having praise be the bookends of a whole life?  It’s in Psalm 111:1b, “I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.”  


Everywhere the psalmist was - was a place to praise Jehovah!  The word extol is similar to praise because they both include active movement.  But extol includes the ideas of the hands - what we work with.  So, alone or together; coming and going; at work or at home, active praise to God with all the heart is what moves us from praising today into eternal praise.  


Hallelujah and Amen.

psalm 112

Secondary Title

Do you want to receive the very best from God, His greatest blessings for your life?  Psalm 112 tells us that in order to receive God’s greatest blessings we must fear Him and trust in Him.   It may be confusing to think that we must fear God in order to be blessed by Him.  From a Biblical standpoint, fearing the Lord means we must have reverence for Him: an attitude of deep respect, love, and awe.  Another condition of receiving blessings is that we are to obey God’s commands.  If we have reverence for Him, then it should follow that we will try very hard to obey, serve, honor, and follow Him.  


When we obey, we are to try to trust God completely to take care of us.  If we put every area of our lives in God’s hands, our fears will subside because we are settled in our mind that God will take care of us.  If we live our lives in this way, according to this Psalm, we will be blessed and happy, but we can also live a life without fear.  In other words, fearing God can lead to a fearless life.

It is important to understand that God is the source of our blessings.  We cannot receive the best in life on our own.  We can do well on our own, make money, have a family, and live a long life, but the best in life is only brought by God.  The conditions for receiving a blessing are putting God first in our lives, fearing, listening/turning to, obeying his commands, and desiring to please him.  By doing these essential things we learn what true blessings are.  Only God makes us Holy, gives us favor, makes us happy and prosperous, and protects us from evil.   

Dear God, thank you for your promise to bless me richly if I fear and trust you.  Help me to put you first  every day and to obey, honor, and follow you.  As I do this, I ask for your greatest blessings to be bestowed upon me and my family.


Challenge:  Will you put God first and obey Him in the decisions that you make and the things that you do today?  As you put this into practice take notice of blessings you receive for living your life in this way.

psalm 113

mistaken identity

4The Lord is exalted over all the nations,

his glory above the heavens.

5Who is like the Lord our God,

the One who sits enthroned on high,

6who stoops down to look

on the heavens and the earth?

7He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

8he seats them with princes,

with the princes of his people.

9He settles the childless woman in her home

as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

 

Psalms 113 (in part)

 

This psalm is filled with God’s identity!  There is so much going on in such a short Psalm.  I could write for days and not begin to touch on the whole message!  I encourage you, take a moment, go back and read the whole thing all over again but this time, read it as if you’re watching it in an IMAX movie theater.  So go ahead….read it….I’ll wait!

 

Did you see the explosion of God’s creation in the scene!  Look at verses 5 and 6….” The One who sits on the throne and stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth”. This writer just told us that God stoops down….stoops down to look at the heavens!  Stoops down?!  Where in heaven is He sitting?!!  

 

Have you ever seen pictures or videos of the andromeda galaxy?  It’s 2.5 million light years away from the earth.  That means it would take us 2.5 million years to get there, traveling at the speed of light, which is 186,282 miles per second!  This galaxy is 110,000 light years wide, has over a billion suns larger than our own, trillions of stars, and a mass that’s immeasurable!  And God stooped down to look upon it and us!!  My head exploded at the enormity of this visual!  I sat back and watched that IMAX movie in my imagination and My soul was stricken with a deep sense of insignificance.  

 

But then my feelings of insignificance dissolved into a surreal reality from the next verse, which states, “He raised the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap”.  

 

Ok so let’s get this straight….this mighty, immeasurable, never ending, beyond what we could ever conceive, God, who personally created and placed these billions of galaxies where they are, which is well below where He dwells….. stoops down to take such notice of us….insignificant us, I might add,  has this personal love for us, so much so He reaches down with a gentle, tender grasp to lift us up out of our destructive, tormenting life, and places us right next to His Son, Whom as you know, was murdered for us, to saves us from ourselves!   My mind and intellect is too obscure and inept to understand such a mystery.  All I can do is drop to the floor and say with a crackling broken voice, “Thank you”.  And then, He’s not done!  He proclaims in verse 9 that, “He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children”.  Wait!…WHAT?!!  Settles?!… I found several meanings of settles”.  Check this out… settles meaning: “reaches an agreement”, “pays a debt”, “to make quiet”, “to fix or resolve”, or “to set in securely”. Obviously whoever these women were, they were persistent with their plea and prayer.  They were driven by their faith to believe God could and would do something about their situation.  So the next question was obvious.  Who were these women?  Again, check this out…it’s really exciting!  Of course Abraham’s wife Sarah comes first in line, but then the lineage of barren women follows.  

 

I don’t have the space to discuss the history of each.  You’ll have to “google smoogle it” to connect all the dots.  These women are as follows:  Rebekah, Rachel, the unnamed wife of Manoah who is the mother of Samson, Hannah, Michal, and Elizabeth.  All these great women were unable to conceive a child. They were completely barren.  They all suffered the emotional, mental effects of their affliction. 

 

In Middle Eastern culture of the day, a woman was considered as property of high value, like cattle, sheep, livestock that aided in the gain of wealth and producing heirs, (and remember, it wasn’t God who felt that way, it was our sinful nature). But if she was barren, she was considered lesser than livestock, a load of uselessness. (That’s a whole other story in itself. We’ll leave it for another time).  But God had a plan for every one of them.  They all were the line up to the birth to our Messiah, the Christ!  God allowed their suffering to show His great mercy and love by using barren women to be the lineage of Jesus' blood line. Talk about messin with us!  When He puts some of the pieces together for us to see like this, I think we miss His true identity.  We mistakenly think we know Him fully.  You gotta remember what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9,  eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  Whoomp there it is!  That verse just nails the mystery of God to the core!  WE DON’T HAVE A CLUE!!  But what we do know is, He loves us all the way to the cross and we are His for all eternity.

 

So when you read this Psalm,  look at the true meaning of its message. I think we’ve all mistaken His full identity.  To me, it boils down to a simple message. God is way bigger than we can ever imagine and more merciful than we can ever comprehend.  I don’t know about you, but this message makes me want to give up and give in because He’s never going to give up and let go.  We are His….Period!  Thank God and Amen for that!!

 

TR

psalm 114

remembrance

This Psalm is an acknowledgement of God’s power and goodness through song. The psalmist is remembering the deliverance of Israel out of Eqypt which gave birth to their nation. This deliverance by God showed His power and set the foundation of the 10 commandments, also setting the nation of Israel aside as God’s chosen nation.

 

The Psalm counts the many things that Israel should never forget as they journeyed to the Promised Land. Remembering what God has done for them keeps them grounded and humble.

 

As Christians, we practice the art of remembrance through worship, prayer, and praise. We practice the art of remembrance of what Christ did for us specifically through partaking in the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. In Luke 22 verse 19 – Jesus specifically instructs us to do this in remembrance of Him.

 

In many ways, our journey through life today is much like the deliverance from Egypt and the journey that ends in the Promised Land. That journey was fraught with detours and disobedience, yet God eventually gets them to the Promised Land. Likewise, our day-to-day life is a journey since the deliverance Jesus provided from our sin. We are now on our journey to the Promise Land of Heaven and our journey is fraught with detours and disobedience.  

 

The art of remembrance is important in each of our lives. Memory is essential to learning, but it also depends on learning because the information stored in one’s memory creates the basis for linking new knowledge by association.  

 

In other words, we can’t grow in our knowledge and faith in God without remembering the foundation of our knowledge is linked only to what God has done for us. Romans 5:8 reminds us that “God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

We can’t earn God’s love, and we don’t deserve God’s love, but we remember how great God’s love is for us by remembering what He has done for us. Then, we build on that remembrance by growing in faith and knowledge by attending Church, worshiping, praying, getting into the Word, and engaging with other Christians.

 

Let’s remember today what God has done for us!

 

Let’s pray – Father, today, I remember all that You have done for me. You have loved me even before I was born. You sent Your Son to die for me and my sins. I pray for Your guidance in my day-to-day life. Let me yearn to grow in my faith each day so that each day I become more like Your Son, Jesus, in how I live and love until the day that You call me into the Promised Land of Heaven. In Your great name, I pray. Amen.

psalm 115

a hymn of thanksgiving

“Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.

But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”


Before the words written above, this Psalm actually opens with these words: 

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” 

Psalm 115:1


This Psalm is about God. Our True God, the Father and Creator of the world, truly getting all the Glory because of His love and faithfulness. Yet much of the world follows false Gods, idols, or superstitions that take from the glory our real God in Heaven should receive. The opening words say so much truth about false gods. Many of these false gods I’ve seen as I have traveled around our world and I think: Simple logic should say a man-made idol made of metal or wood by human hands that can’t speak, see, touch, feel, hear, smell, walk or talk, should never be worshiped or given any glory, let alone God's glory. In fact, when man-made idols get glory, isn’t that really being passed on to the idol maker? 


We worship a God who has made everything, while idol worshippers worship creations by mankind. Simple logic should shine its light here, but why doesn’t it? However, this Psalm for ages has received great attention. Did you know the likes of great composers and liturgists have utilized its content and meanings. Look at these famous composers names: Heinrich Schütz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, Gustav Holst, Albert Kellermann, and Gerald Cohen! 


If these greats find greatness in Psalm 115, just maybe we should too. Notice as you study this whole Psalm in your Bible how it builds towards its ending with these words: 

“May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”

As it ends in these words:

“It is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord.”


So answer me this: How can anything made by man be extolled now, let alone forevermore? We who follow the real God need to praise the Lord!!! Extol Him with thanksgiving, and as we do, make our prayer to God the Father about you and your children flourishing in being blessed by the Lord because they too praise the Lord of Heaven and Earth as God the Creator of everything!!! 

Amen Amen


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 116


This Psalm is written as a praise of overcoming hardship, sickness, even death.  The psalmist is overcome with gratitude for the way God has protected him, and in return, he is praising God for His great goodness.  "I love the Lord" vs 1 begins.  A proclamation of how he is feeling after being rescued from death.  He describes the character of God, "The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects;" vs 5-6.  How we rejoice when God answers our prayers the way we think He should, the way we want them answered.  What happens when He answers in a way that we didn’t see coming, or don’t feel like we deserve?  Is He still gracious, righteous, and full of compassion?  Jesus thought so.  In fact, Jesus sang psalms of praise to God despite the fact that He knew what was to come for Him.  He knew that ultimately, death would take him from this earthly realm.  He also knew death could not hold him and that God the Father would have the final say over death, and for that, we can all sing praises!! The psalmist goes on to say, "For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living." Vs 8-9.  Gratitude is what we hear in these sweet words of praise to our Father in Heaven.  God watches over His people, He shows great compassion and blessings on us.  He knows how hard this earthly life can be. Remember, He was here!!  He has felt the pain and sorrow that we go through, He has experienced the joys that we have felt.  God remains steadfast and unchanging in our lives, even though our lives may feel like a moving target.  Great joy one minute, and just a phone call later, the deepest pain imaginable.  God is with us.  So we can praise Him and say in song and prayer, "I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord – in your midst O Jerusalem.  Praise the Lord!!”  Amen!!

psalm 117

Praise the lord

Psalm 117 states:


“Praise the Lord, all nations; Sing His praises, all peoples! For His mercy toward us is great, And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!"


Psalm 117 is the smallest chapter in the Bible. If you've gotten this far, you have read the entire chapter!


All people should praise God. He has given us everything that we own, enjoy, and see. Regardless if we acknowledge God in our lives, there will be a day when we will all bow our knee to the majesty and glory of God (Romans 14:11). God's mercy towards us is great. Our sin eternally separates us from God, "But, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved."(Ephesians 2:4-5) Praise the Lord that God gives us the opportunity to be eternally reunited with Him for those that believe in Jesus Christ!


In Jesus Strong Name,

Dan Degner

psalm 118

his love endures forever!

“You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

— Psalm 118:28-29


How has God been good to you? Make a list of 10 things today you should praise God for, knowing this praise will endure forever within you! How does this list help God become your confirmed Cornerstone within your life? 


Some reject God's goodness and His ability to be a Cornerstone of Refuge. Yet God wants us within His fortress and fortification of love, as He and His ways are meant to make our pathways straight in life, so our path leads truly unto our salvation; the salvation only He can provide and truly promises. 


Read these closing words of Psalm 118 now and reflect on how God has been with you in the thick and thin of life, and made a triumphal entry into your life to enter the gates of your heart and became your Cornerstone you’ll never reject. 


25

Lord, save us!

    Lord, grant us success!

26

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

    From the house of the Lord we bless you.

27

The Lord is God,

    and he has made his light shine on us.

With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession

    up to the horns of the altar.

28

You are my God, and I will praise you;

    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

    his love endures forever.


God is good and His love does endure forever, so please read all of Psalm 118 today and enjoy this Psalm that is prophesy, highly quoted, sung, and so very true!!!


I pray we exalt You in our hearts, minds, actions and words today, Lord God!!! Amen and Amen.


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 119


“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you.”

Psalm 119:89-91


The message of Psalm 119 affirms the ways of the Lord and living by and in the Word of God is the only way to truly live. His Word gives us life! What other Book or device can say that? I know that even as I type, I find myself distracted by the latest Snapchat and text I just HAVE to answer. I have watched silly videos for hours on end as it entertains me, but in the end, I always feel cheated of my precious time, along with guilt of wasting time I can never get back. I can honestly say I’ve never felt guilt or feel time has been wasted when I’m in the Word. In fact, every time after I spend time in there, I have more peace and joy than prior to reading. No other book does that to me. Now that’s a testament to the fact the Word of God is LIVING and life giving.


This is the longest Psalm in the Bible and is an acrostic poem, meaning each line spells out a word, message, or the alphabet. And in this case, the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. My NIV Bible states that each stanza begin with the same letter of the Hebrew letter. What love and care was put into this Psalm!


There’s a story of the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17 century. He was condemned to death and it was custom for the person to be executed to choose one Psalm to be sung. Well, he was a smart man as he chose the Psalm 119, as we know happens to be the longest Psalm. It is stated that before two-thirds of the Psalm was sung, his pardon came and his life was spared. So wise! I wonder what the rest of his life entailed? The Word of God literally saved his life! 


I pray you’ve taken the time to read this Psalm and even take the time to memorize it! Verse 105 states, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” Now more than ever, we need this light in an ever increasing dark world. Stay in the Word, bask in His light and You will not be swallowed up in darkness! 


Lord, we thank You for the gift of Your Word and that it is a gift to never take for granted. Please help us to read and meditate on it constantly and be filled and saturated with Your light so brightly, that all darkness flees from us and Your light is shared with the world around us for Your glory, honor, and praise in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 120

the aliyah psalms

“I call on the Lord in my distress and he answers me”

— Psalm 120:1


How often do we call on the Lord? For me, it’s often. I believe for many of us it’s often. In fact, I bet we most often call on the Lord when we’re in our distress. As I write this… thoughts come flooding back on how God has answered my calls in my distress. I can attest that my distress has been lifted in nearly every situation. Often, I played a part in its occurrence and whether I caused it, or others did, nearly every time God has answered it and lifted my distress, or even changed my heart. Sometimes it took awhile, sometimes not. But I’ve learned truly God is there in our times of distress. As we begin reading Psalms 120-134, know these are the “Psalms of Ascent”. Some of my friends in Israel call them the Aliyah Psalms! Each Psalm is memorized, recited, and sung by God's people during their pilgrimages to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the required festivals. Let me make them even more joyful for each of you by knowing this: Scholars believe Jesus himself recited and sang these Psalms on His journeys to the Temple for the festivals. Remember, He was going to His Father's Dwelling Place. Many believe these Aliyah Ascent Psalms, 15 in total, 

were sung on one of the 15 steps that the people walked up to enter the Temple Mount as they ascended to the top. In fact, The Prophet Isaiah stated in Isaiah 30:29 that the crowds of pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem often rejoiced, sang, and played musical instruments. Plus, in the Jewish liturgy, this group of Psalms are called the Great Hallel, "To praise". For the next 15 days, picture yourself taking one step ascending to the Temple Mount. Making your Aliyah to our Lord God, singing and reciting the same words Jesus did to praise God and talk to Him. Do this with today’s focus being about truth and peace and calling on God, even in our distress. Let’s sing Him our praise in our Aliyah song of ascent into His everlasting presence.


Join me in making this your prayer for today:

Lord God, I praise You for hearing me when I call on You in my distress. Thank You for allowing me to trust in You and become able to find Your peace for my own personal peace in all my situations. For I have peace right now because of the thousands of times I’ve felt distress in my life, knowing You lifted it and carried me through. You do hear us and You do bring us Peace!!! Amen and Amen.

psalm 121

the second aliyah song of ascent

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth”


Think of Jesus as a 12 year old boy with His family heading to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They make one of their 3 annual pilgrimages to the Temple Mount. It is Jesus' first Aliyah trip. They are thinking about the songs of ascent as they make their ascent to the Temple in Jerusalem. They finally reach the glorious city! They see the house of God!!! They marvel at its greatness, and stand amazed at the gathering crowd of people! They take in the sights, sounds, and smells. Then finally, they step onto the stairs leading them up as they ascend to the Mount. On that first step up, they start singing the Psalms of Ascent. On that first walk up, can you in your minds eye, hear Jesus singing not only the first Aliyah Song of Ascent, but today’s second one as well: One stanza or sentence for each of His 15 steps as He rises up to the temple courtyard? He then steps through Solomon's Portico and heads towards His Father's Holy House. Each day of this Holy Festival, Jesus, His family, and God's people ascended up those stairs and sang and worshiped from Psalms 120-134. This day, Jesus was lifting His eyes to the Father just like all the others! God was here amongst them!!! He was singing with them in the Spirit! He heard His earthly family and the children of God doing the same. Just think, Jesus was amongst us, His people, singing to the Maker of Heaven and Earth together in one voice! Oh yes, God is with us day and night. He truly watches over us in all our comings and goings!!! I can almost see it and hear it! Sing this whole Psalm with me today as you strive to hear Jesus singing it with you. Don’t you just want to worship with Him right now?! 

I do and I am.


Let’s Pray,

Father God, Thank You for sending Jesus to walk amongst us, sing with us, and then amaze us with His wisdom starting when He was 12 yrs old (as found in Luke 2:41-52). And thank You for His love, grace, forgiveness, miracles, and granting us a pathway to salvation. May everyone praying this prayer walk with Jesus by faith and for all eternity.

In Jesus Strong Name, Amen and Amen


I dedicate this devotional today to all my children for all their days of worshiping God in our home in the music room sharing their musical gifts in joy to God's glory in worship! Jackie, Breyann, Shelley, and Jacob (and often your friends), you took me and mom up into God's throne room in worship each time! And I love as each one of you left home in adulthood, those still home kept it going and often invited others to join you! Those days are precious to me and I know to God! Thank You!!!

   Love, Dad


Pastor John Slotten

psalm 122

"a prayer for Jerusalem" 

the third aliyah psalm of ascent

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,

    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing

    within your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built as a city should be,

    Solidly joined together.

Where the tribes,

    the tribes of the Lord  go up

to give thanks to the name of the Lord

    according to the statute given to Israel.”

— Psalm 122:1-4


Picture yourself in days long passed when everyone walked to Church. As you walked, more and more families joined in with you. As you walk, everyone begins to start rejoicing, singing, and praising God in worship!!! But why? Simply because everyone is going to the house of the Lord, and they can’t wait to get there!!! Now picture yourself standing in the gates of Jerusalem and seeing God's glorious city and temple. You let yourself notice and experience all the tribes of Israel are there, and together all rise, ascending as they go up into the house of the Lord to give thanks in worship and praise to the Lord!!! 


In Old Testament times this truly occurred. Yet, I believe it will happen again when Jesus once again returns, and the new Heaven on Earth is established in the new Jerusalem when Jesus reclaims the Temple Mount! So let today’s Aliyah Psalm of Ascent sound a little bit to you like the joy of your song, joining in with other's song as you go to the holy city of Heaven. On that day, your feet will stand beside His feet within the Gates of His Holy City being built as it should be, and solidly joined together with every tribe.


Let’s Pray, 

Father God, please watch over us and give us every opportunity to rejoice and stand within Your gates. As we do… receive our praise Lord!!! Then help us stand with every tribe in unity and faithfulness as we worship You.


Best Regards & Blessings,

Pastor John

psalm 123

the fourth aliyah psalm of ascent

“I lift up my eyes to you,

to you who sit enthroned in heaven.”

Psalm 123:1


What have you been lifting your eyes up to lately? What are you envisioning and most focused on? Is it work? Is it worry? Is it finding a new job? Is it your health needs? Is it getting into shape? Is it your children? Is it school? Is it a relationship you want to develop? Is it about getting married? Is it a money need? Is it getting unstuck from a sticky situation? Is it on wanting something new or fixing up something old? Is it in helping another in need, or maybe is it mostly focused on God? Regardless of what your focus is on, (and everyone’s focus is on something), know this: you can lift up your eyes up to the Lord in Heaven, and He will hear you and see you! Also, He already knows you and longs for you to know Him better!!! And everything is better with God in it… and you in it with God!!! So speak to Him, sing to Him, pray to Him, share with Him, repent to Him, and even cry out to Him. Then as you look up to Him, He extends back His mercies! 

These Jewish people of God knew what it was like to not only be blessed, but to also be enslaved, ridiculed, held in contempt, and had to endure the proud and the arrogant. They made their Aliyah to the Temple Mount looking up to the Lord in this song remembering their past, and knowing their present focus. But this song called them to be placing their eyes fully on the Lord, remembering in all times and all situations that we look to the Lord for mercy until He shows it, and we must ask for it when we need it! So today, fix your eyes up to the Lord in asking for mercy, as well as His presence and blessings for your everything. Keep walking in your Aliyah towards the Lord, looking up to Him by lifting your eyes to Him as you ask and envision Him investing Himself into your everything!!! Then watch Him lift you up as you experience His presence and will. 


Lord God,

Help us look up to You and focus on You and Your everlasting goodness. Help us seek Your mercies and talk to You about everything, knowing You sit on Your throne in Heaven as the One True God with all authority, love, and compassion. Thank You for Your mercies!!! 


In Jesus Strong Name, Amen and Amen


Love and Blessings,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 124

the fifth aliyah psalm of ascent

Our help is in the name of the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.”

 Psalm 124:8


Oh the strong name of Jesus!!! You hear me say it often as your Pastor because I believe in it so strongly!!! Here in this ancient pilgrimage ascent Psalm, we see the name of the Lord being sung with full attachment of the Lord God being our help!!! It’s telling us there is power in the name of the Lord. In fact, so much power within the same sentence that He’s fully credited as the “Maker of Heaven and Earth”As we look deeper into this verse, not only does God have the power to be everything's original Maker, He also has the attribute of compassion to be our great and grand Helper. 


Often when you and I think of our greatest helpers in life, isn’t it clearly those who love us most? Probably because they really care! And those are people God has created as helpers in His image. Yet, He’s our greatest Helper. So notice in this whole Psalm of all 8 verses you’ll learn:

  • The Lord is at His people’s side
  • The Lord is there when His people were attacked
  • When anger flared against them, He was there
  • When raging waters could of sweep them away, He was there
  • They all praise the Lord for knowing He helps them escape. (Think about them leaving Egypt’s captivity).

God doesn’t just create… He also helps. So don’t miss my message on Nov 14th when I talk about all these Psalms of Ascent, and teach how God, and His people, loved people who needed help as they made their Aliyah to the Temple Mount. You’ll be amazed!


When in your life have you found God's help? Where do you see others in need of God's help? Are you taking the Maker of Heaven and Earth to the people who need His help? Are you taking people in need of help to the Maker and calling on His strong name in prayer? I pray we do both; for our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth!!! 


Today worship and praise God by singing to Him in a personal prayer noticing and loving how He’s helped you and others as our Maker and our Helper!!!


In Jesus Strong Name, Amen and Amen

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 125

the sixth aliyah psalm of ascent

"unshakable people of trust"

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore."

Psalm 125:1-2


Can you imagine walking up mount Zion with your friends and family singing these words?! Wow!!! I wish I was there then!!!


What or who do you trust in that’s most unshakable? Is it a friend? Your spouse, a child, parent, relative or...? Trustworthy people are truly worth their weight in gold!!! They pray for us, help us, show up when we need them most, and they love us. Who are those people in your life? Find a way to thank them today. Pray for them today and do everything in your power to reach out in love today and show them how to be one of God's people!!! Being one of God's people takes trusting faith. It takes a trust God designed for us, and gives us freely. In fact, God's people are made to trust. So let me ask... “Are you one of God's people?” As my dear friends Doc and Kay Myers like to say, "I pray you’re one of God's people!" If so, you trust in the best there is to trust in. If you’re in the Lord, you can trust in Him for everything. So never get shook-up because you can look-up to the One who surrounds you with a promise of an amazing, enduring, everlasting, that’s forevermore! Oh to be one of His people and one of His unshakable mountains!!! We love you, Lord. And that’s worth singing like the Jewish people did as they made their Aliyah to the Temple Mount, ascending with their friends and family...each as one of God's unshakable people of faithful trust!!! 

Amen and Amen.


Let’s pray:

Lord God,

Have us reach out in the next 24 hours to our most trustworthy friends and pray with them, and for them. We can do it in person, text, email, or letter. Holy Spirit, help us do it as we grow in our unshakable trusting love in You!!!

In Jesus Strong Name,

Amen


Pastor John Slotten

psalsm 126

the seventh Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"when restoration came"

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.

Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126:1-3


Try to imagine the Jewish pilgrims celebrating at a major festival that’s brought them home singing this Psalm as they enter the Temple Mount. Just maybe being away from the Temple so long had them symbolically feeling like they were just freed from an exile again. So they sing and remember all that God has done. 


Scholars believe this Aliyah Psalm was a true reminder to the Jewish people of two events:
1.) Their return from exiled Babylonian captivity through God's work in Ezra and Nehemiah
2.) David’s return after a brief exile under Absalom’s coup


Regardless of which exile these people were restored from in this writing, know this: These Jewish people knew about God's promises of restoration, but when the actual moment of restoration finally came, can you imagine the joy and celebration felt and experienced? I bet it did feel like a dream! And now after captivity, they’ve found a new freedom in laughter and the joy to be back in Zion; in the city of Jerusalem and at the Temple Mount and close to God. Oh how the Lord does great things for them and how He does great things for us!!! 


So how has God restored you? If you don’t know, ask yourself: “What has held me captive in life that only God could set me free from?” Know this: God wants to restore your fortune of dreams, joy, laughter, songs, and to hear you say, “God has done great things for us.” When we do, we can be “filled with joy” and when God fills, it's meant to be to overflowing! 


Today, overflow with joy in every situation God has restored you in. Pray and ask God for a new area of life you desire restoration within. Then dream afresh, knowing God does great things for each of us!!! 


In Jesus’s Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 127

the eighth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

“The Builder, Watchman, and Rewarder”

Picture yourself walking up to Jerusalem and rising on the steps of ascent to the Temple Mount that Solomon was blessed to have built. Then on one of your ascents, today’s Psalm begins being sung, and others around you join in by singing:

“Unless the Lord builds the house,

    the builders labor in vain.”

Psalm 127:1a

Then you take another step up as you rise singing:

“Unless the Lord watches over the city,

    the guards stand watch in vain”.

Psalm 127:1b

The crowd hearing the song now gets louder with each step!!! Then the crowd sings ever so loud:

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,

    offspring a reward from him.”

Psalm 127:3

You then realize the whole crowd is singing this Psalm of ascent to the Builder, Watchman, and Rewarder of everyone's soul!!! 


All of you reading this are children of parents and a heritage from the Lord! You are also a child of God and offspring as a true reward from Him!!! Pray to God today thanking Him for the heritage of family and how family Godly image bearers have blessed you. Pray, thanking God for being the offspring of your parents and a reward to our world around you from Him! Close your prayer, if you’re so blessed to be parents (or even parent figures), to children God has placed in your quiver to bless, carry, love, cherish, and teach — knowing we have a “Builder, Watchman, and Rewarder” that guards your heart, mind, body, and soul wherever you go, and for all eternity. Every child is a reward from God! Believe it and believe in the Lord so one day we can all be together in God's amazing, heavenly family in the House God built for our everlasting eternity. Oh what a reward that will be!!! Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten


I dedicate this devotion to my Heavenly Father, and my Mom and Dad, Don and Shirley Slotten. Together, these are the ones who have built within me a heritage of Who my Builder, Watchman, and Rewarder is! Thank You, Father God, for blessing me to be part of my parent's full quiver as a blessing from You Lord. Mom and Dad, experience your reward today in joy and honor. For you have quite a heritage of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren!!! What a reward to praise God for!!!

psalm 128

the ninth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"blessed are..."

Psalm 128

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

    who walk in obedience to him.

2 You will eat the fruit of your labor;

    blessings and prosperity will be yours.

3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine

    within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

4 Yes, this will be the blessing

    for the man who fears the Lord.

5 May the Lord bless you from Zion;

    may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

6 May you live to see your children’s children— peace be on Israel.


I’m blessed with a wonderful, loving wife, amazing children and their spouses, and I’m dearly blessed with 13 grandchildren all to God's glory!!! When I see this Psalm, the song in my heart goes to my children, and especially my grandchildren and the fact that I have now lived to see all my children’s children to God's Glory!


What makes this special is 10 years ago, Oct 16th this week, I nearly died and God rescued me from the grip of death while in my wife’s arms. If I had died, I would not of known eight of our 13 wonderful grandchildren! So I feel blessed beyond measure, and even blessed with more than I deserve. So I praise God all the more for all this fruit of the womb I’m so blessed to enjoy!!! So Church, how do each of you feel blessed by God, and what might this Psalm inspire within you to do, add, or desire from God?


I dedicate today’s devotional to Jesus, my Lord and Savior, for saving my life both spiritually first, and then physically later. I also, in my heart of hearts, dedicate this Psalm 128 devotional to each of my beloved grandchildren, truly an amazing blessing for me as my children’s children! So from my heart to all my children and grandchildren: Whenever you struggle and doubt, when you get mad at God, or question God, and even when you feel exceptionally blessed in small and big ways in life, please read this 128th Psalm. Then remember the awe of God with a desire to be obedient, and watch for God's blessings all around you during your whole life. God blessed me abundantly by blessing us with each other now this side of heaven. 

My prayer is that you are also blessed to live to see your children’s children as one of the Lord's devoted follower!!! And one more thing I want everyone to know: They sang this Psalm ascending the steps in Jerusalem rising to the Temple Mount. I’ve walked those steps many times. More importantly, Jesus did too. So has Grandma Brenda, and our daughter Breyann, plus millions of others. I even have a picture of Breyann’s feet ascending those Aliyah steps and it makes me think of this Psalm. It gives me a prayerful desire that all my children and grandchildren make their Aliyah to Jerusalem and see the evidence and truths of our God that will allow you to sing this Aliyah Psalm of Ascent on those steps in your obedient devotion to God in faith as His blessed people!!! Everyone, put Israel on your bucket list to visit!!! Love Grandpa!!! 


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten 

psalm 129

the tenth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"victory comes to the lord's righteous"

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.”


— Psalm 129:1-2


I remember being oppressed as a young child. Those times of being picked on, bullied, even oppressed and ridiculed by a teacher and simply, other evil people. Yet, they could never claim a victory gained over me. Why? Because what they did was always and every time, simply wrong! Sin is always that which goes against God's moral code of love, grace, and mercy. If it was sin against me and God's moral code, it was evil each and every time. Often if it was witnessed by others, they knew it was wrong too, but didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t stand up to what was right. Why do I know that? Because I’ve been in their shoes. I know the times I oppressed others in sin, or stood on the sidelines and did nothing. I too knew it was wrong every time, so I could never claim a victory either. Nowadays, I know my/our victory comes from the Lord. I also know He knows every time I/we are being oppressed and He cares and wants to give you victory through it, or even from it. 

So what’s beautiful in today’s Aliyah Psalm of Ascent is that the people were rising up to the Temple Mount, yet again, singing this Psalm in song remembering they have been oppressed and held captive. Even as captives, the other side never had victory because God's people’s victory was in the Lord God Who delivers His people from bondage and oppression. He sets the captives free! For victory only comes from the Lord!!!


Question: Where do you need victory from God in your life right now? What’s holding you captive? How can you start rising up and reaching to Jesus to help you and get you set free?


Pray today for everyone's freedom and victory to come from the Lord today. Pray for a person you know who is being oppressed. Encourage them, love them, and invite them to rise up the steps of your Church in worship of God this Sunday!!! Amen & Amen.


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 130

the eleventh Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"the lord's unfailing love"

“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;

Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 


If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.


I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,

    and in his word I put my hope.

I wait for the Lord

    more than watchmen wait for the morning,

    more than watchmen wait for the morning.


Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

 Psalm 130:1-8


Here again is a song sung rising up the stairs to the Temple Mount. It’s a Psalm of crying out to God for mercy! A Psalm of knowing God forgives! A Psalm pointing us to reverence! A Psalm of hope in God's Word! A Psalm of the Lord being worthy to wait for! And a Psalm of everyone singing aloud as they rise to the Holiest of Holy places singing of the Lord's unfailing love! They knew of His provision of full redemption and the redeeming of one's sins! It is truly eight short verses that say so much!!! Which part of this amazing Aliyah Psalm of Ascent are you singing to God the loudest today? Is it of His unfailing love for you? Or is it in your crying need of Him? Regardless of your praise or need from God, He is the Mercy-giver for our forgiveness and He’s our Redeemer that restores us with unfailing love. 

Now that is truth worthy of us singing and putting our hope in!!!


Pray today to God in praise for how His unfailing love has been shared with you lately! Also, pray to God in crying out for something you hope for, even if that hope is in your need for mercy. 

Then trust in God's unfailing love!!! Amen & Amen


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 131

"the twelfth aliyah psalm of ascent"

“Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore”

Psalm 131:3


In this very short, 3 verse psalm sung rising up to the temple courts, David gives us what a content heart, mind, and spirit is and what it is to express. He has obviously penned what people must do as they come to sacrificially repent and worship God. It is to have one's mind clear of sinful thoughts, worries about big things of life, or even leaving work that was left behind, to come to make their Aliyah to the Temple. All this is to present oneself mature to spiritually stand before God as one needing Him in faithfulness and forgiveness with all hope. It’s about removing one's pride and having a calm, quiet, content spirit to rise and purely worship God as they, and now we, contently put our hope in the Lord now and forevermore! 


Today, quiet and calm your spirit and seek God in faithfulness and repentance in prayer with your hopes expressed to your Lord right now and for your forevermore!

Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 132

the thirteenth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"zion: God's desired dwelling place"

“Let us go to his dwelling place,

    let us worship at his footstool, saying,

'Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place,

    you and the ark of your might.

May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;

    may your faithful people sing for joy.’”


It’s the great festival of Sukkoth, or as we call it, The Feast of Tabernacles! It’s one of the three major festivals all were required to return for. This double thanksgiving feast of seven days was one of the pilgrimage Aliyah festivals where all Jewish people the age of reason would return to the Temple Mount. As they again rose up the 15 steps to the Temple, they sang the Aliyah Ascent psalms. Today, their song honors God and His promise that a temple place for His throne and Ark would be established through David and his family. It will be a place where the priests are to be clothed in God's righteousness and the people sing with joy!!! On that day long ago as these families returned to worship in God's House, they were singing in joy. They were at God's house;  the Temple promised and now built, finally by David’s son, Solomon. It was huge and amazing, but God's presence and power being there was even greater. People flocked in and worshiped. 


It’s autumn in October for us, and the Feast of Tabernacles is now their time of spiritual purification for all people over 20 years old, to then be reconciled with God. The city with thousands upon thousands of people, fill it with overwhelming joy. Storehouses of crops are being harvested, which is our reminder of God’s goodness. Israel remembers God's provisions and protection that accompanied them during their exodus from Egypt into the desert and to the Land of milk and honey. They celebrate and worship the real God!!!


Today it’s our turn to worship and remember God for our past, present, and future. It’s a day to be doubly thankful. Pray today for how God has moved and provided for you in the past as you pray for His best in the future, as we wait now for Jesus' second coming! Amen & Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 133

the fourteenth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"together in unity"

1

How good and pleasant it is

    when God’s people live together in unity!

2

It is like precious oil poured on the head,

    running down on the beard,

running down on Aaron’s beard,

    down on the collar of his robe.

3

It is as if the dew of Hermon

    were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing,

    even life forevermore.


When the Jewish people made their Aliyah ascent up to the top of the Temple Mount, they began singing these words. Notice this Psalm represents the whole of Israel’s people. From those people/tribes of Israel in the North (represented by the dew of Hermon), as those residing around Mount Hermon! We then get a reference to the “Precious Oil” to the Tribes of Israel in the middle of the Nation in its most fertile grounds from where the precious olive oil came from. “Aaron” represents the 2 million people that came into the land from the south through Aaron,  who lead them out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land populating all 12 tribes of Israel, particularly those in the south. Following this, they have a Nation and a Temple on Mount Zion at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. At each of the required festivals, this Psalm was sung by the multitudes, perhaps, lead by the large group of priestly singers in charge of temple worship and songs. Can you imagine being there in the unity of all the tribes and ending your song with these words: 


“For there the Lord bestows his blessing,

    even life forevermore.”!!!


It makes me think of Jesus coming back and reclaiming the Temple Mount and establishing the new Kingdom on Earth… “For there the Lord will truly bestow His blessing, even life forevermore”!!! 


I pray we all join up there together one day to enjoy His blessings forevermore!!! Join me in believing in Jesus as the Savior of the world; your/my personal Savior who died for our sins and thus we gain this blessed life we can share in unity together with God forevermore! 

Amen and Amen


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 134

the fifteenth Aliyah Psalm of ascent

"praise the lord!"

1

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord

    who minister by night in the house of the Lord.

2

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary

    and praise the Lord.

3

May the Lord bless you from Zion,

    he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.


Psalm 134:1-3


Today is the last of the 15 Psalms of Ascent that would be sung as the large crowds of people slowly made their Aliyah up the steps leading into the Temple Mount. This was done for the major festivals that are the Lord's appointed feasts found in Leviticus 23. It is comprised of 15 steps and 15 short Psalms that were sung and repeated so often, they are like the Lord's prayer for Christians. The encouragement in the Psalm today was all about praising the Lord in the House of the Lord and praising the Lord in His sanctuary with lifted hands!!! The song ends with these encouraging words:  “May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.”

This psalm takes us back to a reminding focus on Genesis as God the Creator, our Maker of

Heaven and Earth. These appointed festivals were meant to remind and tell us of God's story from creation to redemption. It’s filled with truth, joy, history, and promise, with a goal for believers to serve God as they remember God and praise Him!


Just wait until you see my pictures from Israel of these steps, hear my summary on these Psalms and learn how people worshiped God, and cared for each other. You’ll learn something few Christian people know about this Aliyah process. You’ll see and learn about how God used the steps, the building itself, and the appointed holidays to grow and care for His people in amazingly loving ways. You’ll learn God's ordained process in making sure the stories and truth of His Word would be memorized and never forgotten! Make it a point to attend church live on Sunday, November 14th and watch the Aliyah Psalms of Ascent come alive like you could never imagine. Let’s make our Aliyah to God's Essential Rock Church Nov 14th at 9:30am! 

Make it God's appointed time for you!!!


Today instead of saying my prayer, would you send your prayer requests to me please?! 

Send them to john.slotten@gmail.com or text them to 920-841-6459. 

Please please please make your prayer requests known to me. They will stay totally confidential between you, me, and God only. And while we await God's answered prayers for you, you’ll learn how the Lord blessed His people from Zion on Nov 14th in their prayer needs. It will amaze you. Amen 


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

Psalm 135

praise, exaltation, and blessing

Psalm 135 is about praise for our Creator and Redeemer. It is broken into three pieces:

  • A call to praise our good God Who created and redeems us. This section gives us many reasons to praise Him and how to praise Him.
  • Exalting God for all His greatness and comparing it to all the emptiness of false idols
  • Finally, a call for the people of God to bless and praise Him.

When is the last time you came to God in praise alone? When is the last time you came to Him and listed all the many reasons that you are thankful and gave Him praise and worship alone? When have you considered the greatness of God versus the emptiness that chasing things of this world can lead to? When have you bowed to your knees and blessed the Lord for all He has done for you?

 

I ask these questions of myself and find myself falling short often. I find my prayers are more me asking God for things for myself, for my friends, for my family, and for my church family, and far less about solely praying and giving God praise, exaltation, and blessing. 

 

There isn’t anything wrong with praying for yourself or other people in your life at all. God encourages us to come to Him with all things in prayer. My point is, if we are treating God as a vending machine alone, we are missing the point. God wants our love, our appreciation, our worship, and our recognition of all He has done for us. We need to be able to separate our worship from our asks, and know that no matter the answer to our prayers, God provides for our needs. God answers our prayers and even when things don’t go the way we want them to go in our daily lives, our God is still good and worthy of our praise.


Get down on your knees with me today and pray. Let’s call on all to bless the Lord today, our Creator and Redeemer.


Father God, I come before You today and praise Your name for all that You have done for me in my life. You are good and provide me with so many things. You are mighty, You have saved me from my sin. You are powerful and can do anything You want in this world and the next. You are love and You demonstrate that to me every day. You are faithful Lord, and You never leave me, even when I deserve it. Father God, You are all I need in this world. Thank You for Who You are in my life and the life of those I call brothers and sisters in Christ. To You be all glory, honor, and praise.

 

Amen

psalm 136

"god's enduring love"

1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

His love endures forever.

2

Give thanks to the God of gods.

His love endures forever.

3

Give thanks to the Lord of lords:

His love endures forever.

4

to him who alone does great wonders,

His love endures forever.

Psalm 136:1-4


This Psalm proclaims God's love, God's wonders! It tells us what God has done and teaches us that our God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords!!!

All truths we can trust in and truly cling to. 


Let me ask you… When did God become real to you? When did He become your God of gods, your Lord of lords, your God of Wonders, the One you trust in for His everlasting love?


My answers are:

  • God became real to me in 1976
  • God became my God of gods in 1982
  • God became my Lord of lords in 1986
  • God became my God of wonders in 1978, 1982, 1984, and 1986
  • God then became the One Who I will always trust in for His everlasting love on Oct. 16th, 2011, as I praise Him now in a new way for everyday of my life.

In all this blessed goodness, I love that it tells us towards the end of the Psalm from verses 23-25 that God:

  • Remembers us
  • Freed us
  • Gives food to every creature
  • And again and again: “His love endures forever

In verse 26, this song closes out in affirming one last time how we should respond in our faithfulness to God’s love:

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”!!!

Today in your prayers, remember God's love and provisions for you. Remember His great love endures forever, and you and I are to give thanks to the God of Heaven for all He has done! Thank You Lord God!!! Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten 

psalm 137

"a mournful song of the exiles"

"By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion." Vs 1  The writer is lamenting about being in captivity and thinking about his homeland.  The Jewish people were warned over and over again that if they continued to seek out other gods, turn their backs on their God, and live in the sin and corruption that they had grown accustomed to, that they would be taken over, captured and sent out of their own land.  They are now living and the reality of all that God had told them through His prophets.  They are missing home, life as it was in “the good old days”.  Have you ever wanted to “go back”?  Go back to a time that was less confusing, more carefree, simple?  Has your life become so filled with heartaches and pain that the sorrow has now taken over, and life looks rather gloomy and grey?


How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?  If I forget you O Jerusalem may my right hand forget its skill. Vs 4-5  The Jewish people sought their Lord WHILE living in the promised land, while God was with them.  They are seeking to go back.  Why is it that we wait until life becomes so unmanageable, so overwhelming and then we remember God?  Life is tough.  Life is unpredictable.  Life is beautiful.  Life is full of surprises.  God is steadfast and faithful.  He is unchanging, and His ways are unwavering.  He will never leave us nor forsake us.  It is we who turn from Him and then wonder what went wrong.  


When life is unfair and things happen that are so out of our control, we must remember that God is with us.  It is not Him who is causing harm to His people, but it is HE who will step in and right all the wrongs.  We  must keep our eyes Kingdom focused (like the Jewish people keep their eyes on the Promise Land), and know that in the end, God will win.  He will correct all that has gone wrong, He will bring justice to those who have caused harm, He will win the war!  We must trust in Him, keep our eyes on Him, obey and follow Jesus!!  Amen!

psalm 138

"thanksgiving for favor"

Psalm 138:6-7 states:



For the Lord is exalted, Yet He looks after the lowly, But He knows the haughty from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will reach out with Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.”


Here we see David reflect on Psalm 23 where he thanks God for bringing him through troubled times. Time and time again in David’s life God provided and stepped up to protect and provide for His chosen King David. 


Just as God provided for David, He provides for us in our daily lives. Whether small or large, every blessing we receive is a gift from God. Every trial we go through, the Holy Spirit provides comfort and peace in times of sorrow. God’s faithfulness was everlasting for David just as it is everlasting for His people today.


Application: Who is responsible for your successes? Remember that everything we have is from God, and thank Him for what He’s given you.


In Jesus Strong Name, 


Dan Degner


psalm 139

a psalm of david

"You're in the lord's thoughts"

“Where can I go from your Spirit?

  Where can I flee from your presence?”


“How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand —“

Psalm 139:7, 17-18a


This chapter of the Bible stands well within my top 10 list of favorites. It’s a Psalm all of us should read and become very familiar with! It’s filled with loving truths! Please open your Bible or app and read the whole Psalm! David is writing amazing truths within God's Word for us all. 


It’s true: 

  • God perceives all our thoughts!
  • God is familiar with all your ways!
  • God knows your words before they’re said!
  • God goes behind and before you!


David is amazed at God's power and knowledge! Aren’t you too? 


Then we learn:

  • God is everywhere with us!
  • God created us in our mother’s womb! 
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made!
  • God has written all the days ordained for us in His Book of Life
  • We also learn: “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of themWere I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand —“

Just think, We have such a big God, He has more thoughts for each of us as an individual, than all the grains of sand! So I challenge you to go to a beach on Lake Winnebago, grab with your hands one big scoop of sand, and count the grains of sand in just one scoopful. Gain a clear perspective of how one scoop full of sand equates to the thoughts God has just for you! Dream in amazement of the truth that God's thoughts that are numbered for you… exceed all the grains of sand He’s created. Wow! What a great, loving, caring God we have. He had a grain of thought for me to write this to you. A grain of thought for you to read it. A grain of thought to give you Jesus to forgive your every sin! A grain of thought to bless you with food, clothing, housing, love, and more thoughts for us than we can fathom or count!!! And a grain of sand thought to put in His Word of Truth!


Psalm 139 ends with these words from David:

“See if there is any offensive way in me,

  and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Today, make these words your prayer as you remember our great God and His thoughts for each of us, 

as we ask Him to lead us to His everlasting!!! Amen and Amen


In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten 

psalm 140

the lord, our strong deliverer

"Keep me safe, LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from the violent, who devise ways to trip my feet."

Psalm 140:4


In Psalm 140, David looks to the Lord's help and protection from the evil, wicked people trying to steal, kill, and destroy him. He starts the chapter out seeking the Lord for refuge, then, starting with the fourth verse, he almost seems to be explaining to God the situation and the kind of people he's up against. But following that in verse 6 he declares and confirms, I believe to himself and reminds himself that His God is the one he puts his trust in. It states, "I say to the Lord, 'You are my God.' Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy. Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle."  I love this. In our prayers, it's so important for us to talk it all out with Him, just as you are talking to a friend. Tell Him the situation. (News Flash: He already knows it, but loves to listen to You and may speak to You while processing it and mulling it over.) Ultimately, and this is important, remember Who He is, how strong and powerful He is, AND recite back and remind Him of His promises. He is Faithful and True. He watches over His Word to perform it, it doesn't come back to Him void. Then lay it at His feet and trust. If you do, He gives you a peace that will help you move on until the next thing that comes up, and it will. But guess what? He's all prepared to help you out of that one as well. Lord God, You are so good!


Dear Lord, we lift up all our issues and problems to You. We lift up the condition of the world and point out to You the lawlessness and wickedness running rampant. Please come to our rescue and protect and deliver us from this perverse generation. May we be Your light shining on a hill for all the world to see for Your glory, honor, and praise. You are Faithful and True, so kind and generous. We trust You and love You with all our hearts, souls, and minds. 

In Jesus' name we declare and pray, amen.

psalm 141

"oops, I did it again!"

3Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

4Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil

so that I take part in wicked deeds

along with those who are evildoers;

do not let me eat their delicacies.

Psalms 141 (in part)

 

For those of you who remember that early 2000’s hit song, I’m willing to bet that song is most likely, thanks to me, stuck in your brain right now and you can’t seem to get it rid of it!  It’s one of those songs that’s considered an “ear worm”. It gets in, but almost impossible to get out.  I’m sorry to say that some of you might be singing it all day…over and over again. I’m truly sorry about that, but the good news is, it will help you remember this devotional context, maybe a little longer.  I do however encourage you to read the whole psalm in its entirety to help you understand the message here.

 

Again David scribes a very powerful prayer.  I venture to guess David struggled with course words and negative behavior in his life. I’ve prayed verse 3 so many times.  If I ran my finger over the words in my Bible each time I prayed…I would have easily worn a hole through the page by now and most likely through several pages beneath it.  I’m embarrassed to say, there have been many times I failed, and verse 4 is the reason why I failed so tragically.  

 

We’ve all had opportunity to experience getting caught up in gossip that was inflicted on someone.  I remember so distinctly one of those situations at work.  One of our fellow co-workers was one of those obnoxious, boisterous fellows when you saw him coming, you’d turn and hurriedly walk the other way so not to be “captured” by his demonstrative conversations.  He was one of those that had no problem expressing his opinions... non-stop!  And, his opinions were always peppered with fowl language.  After a five minute conversation with him, I felt the overwhelming need to shower, to wash off the filth!  Truth be known beneath that rough, fowl, toxic mouth, he had a heart as big as Texas!  Ya had to dig to find it, but it was there!  

 

So with that being said, the other co-workers found sport in taunting, teasing, and bullying this guy.  It almost seemed to be their life’s goal to come up with new and inventive ways to harass, segregate, and embarrass him.  I’m very embarrassed to say I did get caught up in these conversations in the beginning of this Olympic event.  The delicacies David speaks of was in the form of acceptance for me, a sense of being one of the “boys” who ran the building, the “good ole boys club” sort of speak.  And also fear that I could become their next victim.  

 

David knew the wicked set this trap for anyone they could catch and draw into their schemes.  David was well aware of the power negativity had on humans, how blinding it was, and a hindrance to do good and be upright.  Whether Christian or secular, we humans understand the power that words carry.  David knew his words had the power to lead him and others into the light, or darkness.  Like all of us, he did it over and over again.  Hence the title of this message.  

 

So he prayed and pleaded with God to send His Holy Spirit to convict his heart and thoughts before he spoke.  Look at Luke 6:45, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”.   There it is!  You can’t get any clearer than that.  David asked that his heart not be drawn to evil….why?  Because he knew, as with all of us, he was prone to it and he knew how powerfully captivating and destructive it was.  

 

I did take part in the beginning of their gossip, but do you remember the “knower” I’ve spoken of in previous devotionals? Well that “knower” in my heart was greatly convicted by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s be honest about this, I knew I was wrong the moment I entertained the thought of just listening to the gossip, and not confront it.

 

I went to this fellow co-worker and apologized for being a part of the gossip.  I humbly explained my love for God and Jesus and how wrong I was to be apart of such a hurtful behavior.  I befriended this man and helped him to stop the harassment.  Needless to say, the group turned on me as well.  Funny how that happens.  Short story long….he filed a complaint, the big guys from downtown investigated  the harassers, and they were reprimanded and “instructed” with termination, a letter in their file, and a couple weeks off without pay and when they returned, they were required to attend a week of  sensitivity training.  Ever sit through one of those?  It’s brutal!

 

God came through in last verse in this Psalm.  Nope I’m not going to quote it….you’ll have to read it yourself and see.  I could have easily been a part of the “delicacies of the wicked”. But God’s mercy, again, intervened, leading me away from the snare and trap of the wicked.  

 

Gratitude is not enough for the mercies He shows.  Dedication and determination is the driving force of the love we carry for Him.  And in the center core of that love is the energy that ignites us to love one another; that His mercy shines, illuminating the path that leads us away from the traps of the wicked.

 

Father, it’s impossible to give fully the thanks that is due You.  You intervene to save us when we are blind to the snares that the enemy sets to trap us into the delicacies of sin.  What a wonderful and gracious God and Father you are!  Our plea today is to “set a guard over our mouths and keep the door of our lips” so may all speak Your truth and shine Your love in a very dark world.  For Your glory, for Your praise…in Jesus powerful name we pray…amen.  Thank You Father.

 

TR

psalm 142

"a cry for help"

Have you ever been in a circumstance where you felt alone and isolated? Maybe it is because of something you have done, maybe it is a place where God has put you in your life.

 

Psalm 142 is a cry out for help in troubled times. It teaches us how to pray when we feel alone, the circumstances of this world seem to be overwhelming, and there is no way to escape the trials that you are facing.

 

David felt that way hiding deep in the caves during one of his greatest trials. He cries out in the believing prayer of Psalm 142

 

5 I cry to you, Lord;

    I say, “You are my refuge,

    my portion in the land of the living.”

6 

Listen to my cry,

    for I am in desperate need;

rescue me from those who pursue me,

    for they are too strong for me.

7 

Set me free from my prison,

    that I may praise your name.

Then the righteous will gather about me

    because of your goodness to me.

 

If you are struggling today and feel alone. Know that you are not. God hears you when you pray. He loves you and He will deliver you. It may not be in the way you want, or in the time that you want, but He will turn what you are going through for good in your life if you call out to Him. If you don’t know what to pray, pray Psalm 142.

 

Open your heart today and know that you are not trapped and alone. 

 

Pray with me.

Father, no matter where I am today, I lift up this area of my life where I feel trapped and alone. Listen to my cry, You alone are my strength and refuge. Set me free from the prison that I am in. Deliver me from these circumstances, and turn this trial into a triumph, for You.

Thank You for loving me and help me to know that I am not trapped and alone. I am loved and valued in Your loving Spirit.

Amen.

PSalm 143

listen to my cry

Psalm 143:1, "Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief."


Who listens to your cries?  Who do you know who really listens to your cries? 


All of us have cried and have been in anguish.  Some of us are currently in anguish, so beat up from that which seeks to destroy us and seemingly always running or hiding from those things that are in hot pursuit of us. 


Anguish isn't always self-inflected. Being married to a spouse who is unfaithful, or a child who is hooked on drugs, absolutely brings anguish to our souls. Perhaps others with evil intent trying to degrade our name or prevent us from something better in our lives can be the cause of our anguish. 


This was the case for David as Saul pursued him trying to kill him.  Saul was relentless in his quest to kill David. David was exhausted, depressed, barely holding on, and he was at his end. 


In all of this, David cried out to God.  In total exhaustion, he cries out to God. David remembers, he meditates, he spreads out his hands. He thrusts for God, he puts his trust in God, he hides himself in God, and he is a servant unto God. David totally trusts God, even in this dark and difficult time, he completely trusts God with his life. 


David says in Psalm 143:8, "let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You." 


David, in this dark time, clings to the hope in the power of a new day with God. A new day to receive healing and hope for a weary soul. A word from God to restore his heart. 


God is the same today for us, as He was for David.  He hears our cries.  He is close to the brokenhearted and those in anguish. In prayer we can call on the name above all names - Jesus!  He is our Healer, Redeemer, Restorer, Rebuilder, and Lover of our souls! He Who is The Christ is a balm to our anguished hearts. 


Our Lord and Savior suffered anguish as He hung on a cross and died for our sins.  He rose in glorious splendor 3 days later to put an end to death's anguishing grip on us. Christ rose in the morning of the third day.  He Who is Christ, Who is the Living Word, brings you His unfailing love. Put your trust in Christ as David did. Accept Him as Lord and Savior into your hearts and trust Jesus with your anguish.


Dear Heavenly Father, we love You and thank You for Your unfailing love for us. Your love is as the rising sun - warm and hopeful. Jesus, we sing praises to You our King and Savior, the Lover of our souls. Holy Spirit, please continue to show us the way and guide our hearts always to the Bright Morning Star which is Christ.  


And Jesus - it is in Your beautiful name that we pray.  

Bruce Komassa

psalm 144

"my lord, my rock"

“Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; my Rock and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge…”

Psalm 144:1-2


The battle is all around us. The war of good and evil. We have an active Deliverer battling for us and even preparing us for the war and battle on His team. So sing it out with me! “Blessed be the Lord!… He is my Rock!” In fact, He’s to be our essential Rock to believe in! So if He is the essential Rock of your salvation, then recite, and even sing this with me!  “He trains me, He’s my Rock & fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, and where we find refuge!” … Blessed be my Lord!!!


Today, let’s make our prayer the last four verses of this Psalm. Let’s invite the essential Rock of our Salvation, our Lord, to make these words come true as our amazing Rock, Fortress, Stronghold, Deliverer, Shield, and Refuge: 

Lord God,

“May our sons in their youth

    be like plants full grown,

our daughters like corner pillars,

    cut for the building of a palace.

May our barns be filled,

    with produce of every kind;

may our sheep increase by thousands,

    by tens of thousands in our fields,

    and may our cattle be heavy with young.

May there be no breach in the walls, no exile,

    and no cry of distress in our streets.

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall;

    happy are the people whose God is the Lord.”

Amen and Amen


Question: Today, do you need the Lord's training, protection, strength, deliverance, shielding, or His loving, embracing refuge? As you seek your greatest need, remember He is our Rock!!! He’s my essential Rock!!! Blessed be the Lord! Make Him yours and share it!  


In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

psalm 145

"exaltation of the lord"

Psalm 145:4 states:

“One generation will praise Your works to another And will declare Your mighty acts.”


Many of the Psalms we have done to this point have highlighted the goodness of God. This Psalm is no different. Once again David highlights how he will exalt and bring glory to God because of His goodness and faithfulness. I'd like to challenge the Church with verse four. Are you handing down your knowledge of God to the next generation? Are you actively disciplining your children and grandchildren? The only reason we know the goodness of God is because of the work of generations before us who have again and again shared the old old story of the Gospel. Are you continuing this legacy on to the next generation? If not, you can start doing so today by sharing your testimony with someone younger than you and sharing the Word of God with them, and how it has affected your life.


In Jesus Strong Name,


Dan Degner

psalm 146

"food for the hungry"

This Psalm encourages us to praise Him w=Who is worthy of all our praise, our Lord and Savior Jesus.  One of many things that touched my heart is in verse 7, "He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry."

Being oppressed means you are subject to harsh and authoritarian treatment. In other words, you are a slave. You are unable to do the things you were born to do, and instead, you're doing the things someone is forcing you to do.  It's a slow death to the soul. 

This is not necessarily just an issue for a communist country, or being under a warlord dictator, because we can all become slaves to sin, can't we...?

Jesus says in John 8:34, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." 

So then, sin is our warlord or communist leader in that, it is what slowly kills our souls. It is the devil himself that we become enslaved to, as he is the oppressor of our soul. 

Satan will slowly starve our souls to death, feeding us poison, and forcing us to eat the things that have no value, with intent on starving us to death. But God!...in Christ is the Bread of Life. 

Jesus says in John 6:48, "I AM the bread of life." 

In verse 51 Jesus continues, "I AM the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."

So, only in Christ Jesus do we have true freedom from the oppression of sin and the life giving bread that sustains us into eternity with Him.  All who believe in the Bread of Life, Who is Jesus, are invited to the table where their souls can experience filling satisfaction.  So then I say, praise the name of the Lord!  Praise His name in the highs and in the lows, for only He can sustain us! 

And remember to help those who do need the practical things in life as well.  Give freely to those in need. If someone needs food, buy them some food, for in this you are living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let's pray together:
Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your love and care for us.  We praise Your Holy and precious Name. Jesus, You are our life, for in You there is life, without You, there is only starvation and death. We thank You and praise Your holy Name. We love You, Lord.  Holy Spirit, please continue to point us to the truth and love that is Jesus.  Please continue to work in our hearts so we can become more aware of those around us and their practical needs. Please show us the joy in giving freely to those in need, for in this we are giving glory and honor to You God Almighty.
And it is in Your beautiful Name Jesus that we pray, amen.  

Bruce Komassa

Psalm 147

"the lord delights in you!"

This beautiful Psalm is a praising Psalm singing of the Lord’s awesomeness. It speaks of His mightiness and how He alone can do something like create the stars and He even knows each one by name (Psalm 147:4). Do you know He knows your name? Have you ever thought about when you will be standing before Him someday, (and everyone will have that glorious encounter), and He actually calls you by your name? As a side note, someday you’ll even get a new name from Him! That gives me chills to think the God of the Universe knows my name, and not only knows my name, but is his love is so intimate, He knows the number of hairs on my head! 


Some years ago, I was studying my Bible, and read all kinds of areas where it said that we delight in the Lord. David delighted in the Lord. But I thought I had read at one point where the Lord delighted in me. Now, this was before I knew or even realized I could do searches on the internet for this. I was still trying to find it in my concordance and I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was so frustrating. About a week later, I attended Christ the Rock Church, and during one of the sermons, the wonderful Pastor Bill Lenz was preaching. And wouldn’t you know that in the middle of his sermon, he was doing some sort of an illustration on a big white sketchpad and he said, “I just feel like some of you need to hear this today, that the Lord delights in you!” I gasped and nearly fell of my chair! He said we could find it in Isaiah 62:4. Now what blesses me is that it is also found in a few other places in the Bible, but it is again stated here in Psalm 147:11, “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” I will never ever forget that amazing moment the Lord spoke directly to me through Bill in a room of hundreds of people. You know, maybe there were others as well that I didn’t know about whose hearts were touched by that. This is one of the most precious moments in my life and I’m so glad I got to share it with you. I pray this thought blesses you. Our great God, Creator of the Universe delights in you. He laughs with you, cries with you, is there to pick you up, and slap you around when needed. He is involved in every intricate detail of your life, and delights in YOU! How can we not be so in love with Him?!


Lord, we praise You with David and thank You for Your amazing works! Thank You for loving us and delighting in us. You are so kind. Please help our love, fear, and reverence grow stronger and deeper as each day passes. You alone are God and we PRAISE You forever in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

psalm 148


1. Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights above.

14. And he has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD.

 

Psalms 148 (in part)

 

We’re coming to the final songs of the Psalms, or the *Psalter, and I find it interesting that the last 5 psalms start and end with “Praise the Lord!”.  It’s obvious David is communicating the importance of praise above everything.  He even goes as far as to line up the order of praise in these last five psalms. 

 

Psalm 146 instructs our souls to first praise the Lord, to make that personal connection with a very personal God.  David had a handle on that one.  He’s one of the first patriarchs that was bold enough to ask, and I quote, Test me Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind”, psalms 26:2.  That is one gutsy dude!  Like I said, David had a handle on the true nature of God.  

147 tells us, it’s good to sing praises to our God.  The word “good”, in Hebrews is “tov”,  pronounced tove, like stove without the s.  It’s used for the first time in Genesis when God created everything and each time, He said it was “tov”. So it’s obvious the word good is more than the slang we use today.  It means godly, goodness, powerful, well-being, gain, profit, advantage.  Plug in each of these words in this psalm and see where it leads you.

 

148 then he goes as far as telling the heavens and all creation to Praise Him.  Obviously David was exploding with the presence of the Holy Spirit when he commanded all creation and the heavens to praise!  Don’t know what you’re thinking, but the thought of commanding heaven’s inhabitants to do anything is way beyond my faith limits!  That is one guy whom God touched in a powerful way!

 

149 invites us to sing a new song. The key in this message is the word ”New” which has many meanings, but here it alludes to "renew”.  To renew your connection, your faith, and love to our God.  Remember holding your infant child and right then and there started to sing a made up song to them.  That’s the simple raw meaning of the message.

 

150 makes it personal, to connect and praise Him in the sanctuary.  To let everything go and “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16.  

 

David, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, put together an order for us to not only embrace, but to live by.  Jesus Himself told us another order that I believe encapsulates this connection in psalms.  He leads us in Matthew 22:37 to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  Because, as it says in verse 14, “He has raised up a horn for His people”. That horn or “shofar” He speaks of is the horn that was used to declare the victory in battle, the presence of God at the altar, and finally the proclamation of forgiveness of sin, Jesus the Horn or “Shofar” of our salvation.   

 

This list of horns is not all inclusive. You can find many more applications of the horn in the Bible, but it seems this list is the main staple of David’s message.  Today you will have many choices to make. I encourage you to take a moment, set everything aside, and come boldly into the throne room of grace to hear the proclamations of the “shofar” announcing God’s sovereignty and personal connection with His “faithful servants”, so “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”.   

By God’s Grace go I, amen.

 

TR


*(psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar and litany of the Saints.)

psalm 149

"praise the lord"

Each one of the last five of the 150 psalms begin and end with this phrase. For me, this is a gentle reminder that I should begin my day praising God, and end my day doing the same.


It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles, the trouble and the crisis that we bring to the Lord in prayer. It's much like the psalmists do through the first 145 psalms and forget that no matter what, we were created to love and praise God for Who He is in our lives: Creator and Redeemer, Healer and Provider of all good things, Promise Maker, and Promise Keeper. God is all things in our lives. Let’s remember all that He is for us today!


So sing to the Lord a new song today – sing a song of worship and praise. Let’s crank up the radio and sing at the top of our lungs – How Great is Our God! Let’s live a life of gratitude and worship from sunup to sundown.


Pray with me:

Father – I praise You today for all You are in my life. You have done great things in my life, and I ask You to help me remember that when troubles and struggle come my way. You are the Promise Maker and Keeper in my life. I can rely on You always. You are God and I love You! Amen.