Day 80: Be blessed
16 Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.
How do our brothers and sisters survive the traumas of persecution?
When the vine is cut down and burned in the fire, when God’s people perish, how do they remain steadfast?
Asaph prophesying unwittingly but probably speaking of Israel gives us the answers more relevant today than in his day:-
They stand because of the one at God’s right hand.
They remain because they look to the Son of Man.
They survive for they call on His name.
We know the name.
There is no other.
And those who suffer are blessed.
Day 79: Be blessed
Composed long after David’s death but exactly when and what happened is almost impossible to know. Except this was a traumatic persecution of God’s people.
As we read this Psalm today spare a moment to think of people in the family of God who this Psalm speaks of.
“People invaded, defiled, reduced in size, killed, objects of reproach, scorned, ridiculed, devoured, groaning and condemned.” Right now members of your family are experiencing these very things.
Egypt is at the moment under great strain. But one supporter of the ousted President said on video: “I am a religious Egyptian lady. I tell the Christians one word. You live by our side! We will set you on fire! We will set you on fire!”
The Islamic jihad against Christians in Nigeria is proving to be the most barbaric. A new report states that 70% of Christians killed around the world in 2012 were killed in the African nation.
There are so many stories. Right now, your brother and sister in Christ is crying out as in the day of Asaph.
Join with them as they call out:
“O God. How long O Lord? Let your mercy come quickly. We are in desperate need. Help us, O God our Saviour. Deliver us. May the groans come before you. Preserve us who are condemned to die. Pay back. We are your people, the sheep of your pasture.”
Let those who are robbed be blessed.
Day 78: Be blessed
Asaph begins his longest Psalm by far with a deep longing for people to hear him, he calls them to listen and to follow his teaching.
Covering the story from Egypt and the Exodus to the present day where David is leading them as a shepherd-leader, there is no doubting Asaph’s passion.
His passion is for the next generation.
I woke this morning to the news that the two 16-year-old Chinese girls who died in the fiery crash at San Francisco International Airport of Asiana flight 214, were planning to attend a three-week academic church camp in Southern California. There are many questions once again. Yet in the difficult world we live in let our passion match that of Asaph’s.
That they may know, trust and not turn away from God no matter how difficult it gets.
That through an honest appraisal of the past they learn from the sins of the previous generation.
His passion is for the fathers.
In the UK 1 in 3 children now live without a father– that’s nearly 4 million fatherless children. Of course in some cases the children are safer and it is the best thing for them not to be with their cruel, abusive father. However you read this, there is an absence of fathers. Then there are fathers present who are absent from their responsibilities. We need the passion that Asaph had.
That fathers pass on their experience and knowledge of God.
That fathers testify of His power causing their children to believe that God can do all things.
His passion is for David.
David came from the sheep pen to the royal court leading the whole nation. But his rise is not as important as how he leads. Many start well but don’t continue. We need to have passion like that of Asaph to see our leaders:
Lead with integrity
Lead with ability and skill.
With these 3 passions being fulfilled the world will be blessed.
Day 77: Be blessed
If He is walking with you then where are the signs of Him?
Where are His footprints?
Some days you just cannot see Him.
Yet the circumstances see Him.
The waters, the very depths, the clouds, thunder and lightning, they see Him.
Your circumstances are at work even right now, responding to the command of God, just like they did when the Red Sea was parted, when a way was created for God’s people.
He is making a way for you.
He is commanding your circumstances into obedience to Him.
He has your future in His hands even if you cannot see His footprints.
This is blessing.
Day 76: Be blessed
Whatever happened to inspire this Psalm what is known is that it took place at the centre of the nation. In Salem, otherwise known as Jerusalem, the most important city to the Jew. Out of this place flows the laws, values, culture of the Jewish nation.
It is here that God is known.
It is here that His name is seen as great.
It is here where He is dwelling.
It is here where He shines.
It is here where the enemy is plundered, rebuked and stilled.
It is here where He is feared.
It is here where promises to Him have been made.
Asaph writes this Psalm for the people of this city to remind them of these things.
Today the local church needs to be reminded of the same things. Something has happened, a special victory has been won and the result is in the above for every church, for every Christian.
This is the blessed life.
Look at Asaphs list again and share it today.
Day 75: Be blessed!
What about you?
What do you say?
Yes you can look at the insecure world around you.
You can pay attention to those who are arrogant and even wicked.
There is so much flexing of muscles.
But let God say and do what only He can.
What about you? What do you say?
Asaph recognises the power of community where:-
They give thanks to God
They recognise His close presence to them
They testify of what God has done.
Asaph also recognises the power of one:-
As for me …
I will declare this for ever
I will sing praise to God.
The key to staying blessed in your difficult world is found in the community of believers who are looking to God positively and also in your own attitude. What about you? What do you say?
By doing this Asaph was able to cut off the strength and effect of the wicked on his life and at the same time saw the strength of himself and God’s people empowered.
These are the keys to being blessed today.
Day 74: Be blessed!
We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. v9
We can join the camp of those who say there are no miracles and that God does not speak today.
We can join the camp of those who criticise the church and point fingers for having no miracles and no voice of God.
Or we can join with Asaph in this lament.
How long Lord? How long before we see the signs again? How long before we hear you again?
Perhaps the reason why we do not see and do not hear is that when God revealed His presence we did not recognise Him and when God spoke to us we did not hear Him.
Perhaps God is saying the same thing about us, where are the signs of your worship? Where is your voice towards me?
“We leave our places of worship, and no deep and inexpressible wonder sits upon our faces. We can sing these lilting melodies, and when we go out into the streets our faces are one with the faces of those who have left the theatres and the music halls. There is nothing about us to suggest that we have been looking at anything stupendous and overwhelming. … And what is the explanation of the loss? Preeminently our impoverished conception of God”.
John Henry Jowett in “The Ministry of a Transfigured Church.” Christianity Today, Vol. 41, no. 8.
The poorest people in the world today are those who know they belong to a miraculous speaking God but have not experienced this.
If you hear of His move, if you hear of His voice, don’t stay in poverty, run towards His presence.
How long God?
Yes how long my child?
Day 73: Be blessed
The 3rd book of Psalms begins.
Asaph, a priest and David’s musical director not only wrote the music for a lot of the Psalms but he also penned 12 Psalms himself.
What do we know of him?
He was also director of music to Solomon in the new temple. He had come through a golden age, this was Israel’s best years and Asaph was experiencing them. But then it all went wrong. Solomon rebelled against God and worshipped his wealth and the foreign gods of his many wives.
The people were oppressed by a heavy taxation system imposed upon them. Yet it was the murder of Asaph’s brother, Zechariah, by Solomon’s ‘police force’ because he had opposed the King that was behind this Psalm 73.
It is a familiar story for us, we know disillusionment, we know how people disappoint. We know the man who started out well but to only fail in the end. We know the feeling when we see these people getting away with actions that are unrighteous and never find themselves judged. We know how easy it is to become angry and even envious of those we do not even want to become like. And we know what it is to almost have fallen ourselves. We nearly lost our way because we took our eyes off God and put them on men.
But almost and nearly is not the end.
Asaph recognises he has no one but God, v25
His God is everything for him, v26
He is near to God, v28.
So although we almost did and we nearly did, we didn’t.
And that’s why we are blessed!
Day 72: Be blessed
So we come to the end of Book 2 of 5 arranged books of the Psalms. Mirroring the 5 books of Moses where God is speaking His word to His people the Psalms are the responses to Him, our word to Him. This is shown by verse 20 “this concludes the prayers of David.”
However because it is clearly a Psalm of Solomon it would seem he had heard this prayer of his father and after David’s death penned the Psalm himself.
Solomon was now king by inheritance. But he knew it was more than that, he was God’s appointed one. So he begins “Endow the King …”
Solomon knew the mortality of man as he saw his father die. But he knew the truth of immortality. So he continues “May his name endure for ever …”
Let this be our prayer, our song today.
“Endow me Lord, equip me, empower my life with all I need to live today for you. I will spend my life on righteousness and justice, I will defend and save and crush. I will refresh, rule and defeat my enemies. I will deliver the needy, have pity and rescue the oppressed. But I need you to give to me all that I need for this life. So furnish me with your ability. Endow me.”
“Endure my life. May I continue to live. If I am slain let me rise. “
We should live for today in the light of tomorrow, one eye on this life and an eye on our next life, now and then.
This is the blessed life.
Day 71: Be blessed
v17-18: Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvellous deeds. Even when I am old and grey, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Being blessed is to have 3 generations all living comfortably inside of you.
You need to continue to be young, to learn, to be corrected, discipled and to grow.
You need to be a generation who have walked awhile with God to be able to testify of His power.
You need to be old enough to have something to pass on, to mentor and coach those who will come after you.
This is a different kind of 3 in 1 person. It is a blessed person.