Psalm 29

Posted: May 12, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 29

Start: Read Over Psalm 29 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

Have you ever received something or used something and you weren’t sure what purpose it served?

  • I once received a heated windshield scraper. It sounds like a great idea. The only problem was that it needed to be plugged into the car in order to heat up. So, by the time it heated up and was ready, the car was already warm enough that it melted whatever was on the windshield. The heated windshield wiper didn’t really serve a purpose.
  • One of the main questions we end up asking ourselves sooner or later is, “What is my purpose here on this earth?” Psalm 29 gives us a resounding answer to that question.

 

Vs. 1-2

What does it mean to ascribe glory to something or someone? What might be another way of phrasing that?

  • It means to speak about how great someone or something is. It means to applaud and recognize openly the greatness of someone or something.

What are some things we ascribe glory to? Or in other words, what are some things we applaud and cheer for?

  • A great play in sports; a great drama or actor; a great accomplishment in someone’s life; etc.
  • In all of these things we are people watching and it is our purpose to applaud and cheer. I.E. The point of being a fan at a game is to cheer on the players.

How do these verses help us understand what our purpose on this earth is?

  • We are here to worship God. We are here to draw attention to how great He is. We ascribe glory to God by applauding His works and recognizing how awesome He is through what He has done.
  • As the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism goes: “Q. What is the chief end (the purpose) of man?Man’s chief end (purpose) is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Vs. 3-9

What does David compare God’s voice to in these verses?

  • He’s comparing God’s voice to the most powerful thunderstorm. His voice thunders over many waters, breaks trees, flashes forth lightning, shakes the wilderness, and makes the deer give birth.

What’s one of the most powerful thunderstorms you’ve ever witnessed? What was your response to this thunderstorm?

  • I have this mixed sense of amazement and fear at thunderstorms. There is an amazement in me about how powerful the winds can be, how loud the thunder can be, and how bright the lightning can be. But there is also a sense of fear that this storm could really harm me if I was in the wrong place or if it the winds got strong enough.

How does this comparison help us understand what it means to worship God? What do you think it looks like for us to have a sense of fear and amazement as we worship God?

  • As we look at God’s works, we should see how powerful He is and how powerful His voice is. He speaks and things change. He does whatever He pleases. This should cause us to be amazed by Him. But there should also be a sense of fear as we think about how great and powerful God is. He is outside of our control (just as a thunderstorm is), and we recognize that He could cause us harm if He wanted to. As a result, we are completely dependent on His mercy and grace to us.

Vs. 10-11

How do these verses describe God? What does it mean to say He sits enthroned?

  • God rules over all the events of the world. He rules over the storms, the floods, and everything else that happens in this world. Nothing happens that is outside His control. Nothing happens that He doesn’t decree to happen.
  • God also rules over His people. And as king, He rules in such a way to give them strength and to bless them with peace.

What does this say about how and why we should worship God?

  • We worship God because He is the all-powerful king who rules over every event in the world. But more specifically, we worship God because He is the king who cares for his people, strengthening them, and blessing them with peace. Nowhere is this clearer than in Jesus. He has all power and authority, and he has used that power and authority to come die for us so that we could live with Him. The one who quite literally rules over the storms, is the one who cares for us (Mark 4:35-41). He deserves every last bit of glory that we ascribe to Him.

 

Takeaway: Our purpose in every moment of our lives is to worship the God who is more powerful than we can fathom and who cares for us more deeply than we could imagine.

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “Great Are You Lord” by All Son’s and Daughters
  • Spend some time “ascribing to the LORD glory.” Praise Him for who He is. Praise Him for what He’s done.
  • Take a moment to write down an answer to this question: How does knowing the God who is more powerful than we can fathom cares for us more deeply than we can imagine give you hope today?

Psalm 131

Posted: April 28, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 131

Start: Read Over Psalm 131 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

 Where is one of the most peaceful places you’ve been to? Where is one of the most loud and chaotic places you’ve been to? 

  • One of the things I think we all long for is a type of inner peace and calm. We long to be less and less marked by worry, anxiety, and fear, and more and more marked by peace, happiness and contentment.
  • In Psalm 131, David is inviting us into the process by which he has learned to have a sense of inner peace and calmness.

What would you say is the greatest hindrance to you having peace and calm in your life? Or to ask it a different way, what do you think you need to experience peace?

  • We tend to think that the greatest hindrance to us experiencing calm and peace are our circumstances. If things would just go the way that we want them to, we convince ourselves that we would have a greater peace and less worry.
  • But this Psalm points out a different threat to our peace, it’s our own pride. And what we need to experience peace is the humility found in relationship with God.

Vs. 1 – David tells us he has replaced pride with humility.

  • If we look at the opposite of each of the three phrases in this verse, we get a picture of what pride looks like and why it creates inner chaos rather than peace.
  • The opposite of “My heart is not lifted up” would be “I’m absorbed with myself.” What are ways become absorbed with yourself?
    • One way is thinking that if I just had more _________, I would be more content and peaceful.
  • The opposite of “My eyes are not raised to high” is “I look down on other people.” What are the reasons you tend to look down on other people for?
    • I think I’m better than other people because of _____________.
  • The opposite of “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me” would be “I try to control things and people that are outside my control.” What are ways that you try to stay in control of your life or of the people around you?
    • My life would be better and more peaceful if I could just ___________.
  • David tells us that it’s only as we replace pride with humility that we begin to experience an inner peace that is completely independent of our circumstances.

 

Vs. 2 – In verse 2 David describes the process of gaining internal peace and humility

What do you think David means by using the picture of a weaned baby? What is the process like of weaning a baby or child off of something they have come to depend on and cherish (i.e. Milk, or a pacifier, or something else)?

  • This process is anything but calm. A child will cry and fuss and perhaps even throw a fit as something that was very precious is taken away and they are weaned off of it. But at the end of that process, the child is calm and peaceful completely independent of whether they have that thing or not.
  • David is saying the process of gaining a type of internal peace is difficult. It means being weaned things you thought you needed (i.e. People’s praise, success, free-time, comfort, a certain amount of money, a career, control, etc, etc.) To have these things taken away from us is difficult.

What are ways that we get weaned off the things we think we need for inner peace and instead find that peace completely in relationship with God?

  • We walk through suffering and lose things that were really important to us.
  • God exposes idols in our lives and we repent of them.
  • We learn that God’s love for us and his promises to us are far better than anything else.

 How does this relate to the struggle between humility and pride?

  • Pride would say, “I determine what I need to have peace and calm.” Humility would say, “All I need is God. I trust him with my wellbeing. He knows and what will do what is best for him.” As a result, I can soak in and enjoy his presence (like a weaned child with his mother), no matter what may be going on around me.

Vs. 3 – Finally David gives us the reason he has internal peace and humility

 What does it look like for us to hope in the LORD? How does that give us an inner peace?

  • To hope in the LORD means to trust Him to fulfill His promises. It means to believe that he will never abandon us and will always do what is best for us. It means to rest in His control rather than your own control. It means to say, “His love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). It means to constantly humble yourself by casting all your cares on Him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)

 

Takeaway: The main reason we lack inner peace is not because of our circumstances, but because of our own pride. Pride stirs us up inside like a blender. The gospel teaches us to put our hope in God and not in ourselves. As we put our hope fully in Him, we find that the inner noise of anxiety and worry gives way to peace.

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “Be Still My Soul” by Kari Jobe
  • Interrogate yourself – What is causing you to feel worry, fear, or anxiety today rather than peace and calm. Take a moment to take those things to God in prayer.
  • Put your hope in the LORD. What’s a specific way you can look to God in hope today?

Psalm 34

Posted: April 23, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 34

Start: Read Over Psalm 34 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

Vs. 1-3

What is the last thing that you’ve tasted, watched, or experienced that made you say “This is so good!”

  • Two things come to mind for me. One is a burger I recently had from Speckled Hen. It was one of the best burgers that I’ve had in a long time. I think I’ve told about 5 people since then how good that burger was. The other thing that comes to mind for me was a movie I just watched on Friday night called, “A Hidden Life.” I think within the next two days I told 3-4 people how good it was and recommended watching it.
  • This is the interesting thing: when we experience something good, we can’t help but talk about it and recommend it to other people. Praise springs out of our mouths.
  • In this Psalm praise gushes forth from David’s mouth as he tells us about the goodness of God that he has experienced.

Why do you think we can’t help but praise and talk about what is good? Where have you seen this happen in your own life?

What’s the difference between simply knowing about God versus tasting and seeing that He is good?

  • The rest of the Psalm is going to give us some of the ways that David has tasted and seen God’s goodness in order that we might also taste and see that God is good and have His praise burst from our lips.

Vs. 4-7

How do these verses describe God’s goodness to us? What has happened in these verses that has enabled David to taste and see that God is good?

  • God hears and answers our prayers. David sought the LORD and He delivered David from all his fears. I love how he describes it in verse 6… “This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.” What a great way to describe prayer and God’s response to our prayers!
  • Read 1 Samuel 21:10-15 if you want to see the exact context that motivates David to sing this.

 Vs.8-10

How do these verses describe God’s goodness to us?

  • He provides for us. We fear him (or in other words put our trust and confidence in Him and revere him) and we see that we lack no good thing (vs.10).
  • 10 is “Not a naïve belief that God’s people will prosper, but rather that those who fear God recognize that their relationship with God will satisfy them completely.”[1]

Vs. 11-14

What do these verses teach us about what it means to fear God?

  • To obey God’s commands and live according to what He teaches us (vs.13-14)

Why do you think we tend to identify God’s commands to us as a burden rather than a source/sign of His goodness to us?

  • From the start of the Bible, God’s commands were challenged as being bad rather than good (Genesis 3:1-7). But for the those who love God, His commands should be seen as good. They are not a burden. They are guidance for the person who desires to enjoy life. In other words, a good life is found in obeying God, not in doing whatever we please. This means that God demonstrates his goodness to us by teaching us how we should live. How much more does this show the awfulness of sin when we reject God’s commands and are convinced that He doesn’t know what’s best for us?

Vs. 15-18

How do these verses describe God’s goodness to us?

  • He is near to us and cares for us. He watches over us and is with us.”
  • I love the promise of verse 18 – “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” That gives me great hope in the midst of the despair, discouragement, and brokenness I face in my life!

Vs. 19-22

How do these verses describe God’s goodness to us? Do these verses promise that God’s goodness means everything will go well for us? If not, what do they promise?

  • David makes it clear that those who know, trust, and obey God will face many afflictions (vs.19). I like to think of it this way: God does not promise to keep us from suffering, difficulty, and affliction, but He promises to keep us through suffering, difficulty, and affliction.
  • We can see this in verse 20. This is a prophesy that points forward to the type of death Jesus would die (see John 19:36). Clearly Jesus was not delivered from every affliction because he died on the cross facing the wrath of God. But God the Father delivered Jesus through this affliction by raising him from the dead and giving him great glory. In the same way, if we know and trust in Jesus, we can be confident that God will deliver us through all afflictions and sufferings in this life including death. He will hold onto us and not let us go until the day He brings us safely home to be with Him. Is there any greater way than this that God demonstrates His goodness to us?
  • Listen to what Kathy Keller said as she walked through suffering, “I will walk through death and come out on the other side fully healed, restored, saved, and protected. God does not protect us from things that harm us, he protects us as we go through them, to the other side of the resurrection, where our real hopes and happiness lie. Now there’s a thought I can cling to.”[2]

 

Takeaway: As we personally experience the goodness of God, praise for Him should spring from our mouths. This Psalm reminds us that we experience God’s goodness in answered prayers, His provision for us, the commands He’s given us, His presence with us, and His promise to deliver us safely through every affliction including death. It is because He has already delivered us from sin that we can be confident of all these things and “Bless the LORD at all times!”

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “The Goodness of God” from the Worship Initiative.
  • What verse or promise in this Psalm sticks out to you the most? Take time to memorize this throughout the rest of this day or week.
  • Where do you most need God’s help today? How are you already a recipient of God’s goodness today? Take time to pray to God for your response to the first question and praise God for your response to the second question.

[1] Tremper Longman III, Psalms, 170.

[2] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kept-safe-through-death/

Psalm 30

Posted: April 21, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 30

Start: Read Over Psalm 30 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

Has there been a time in your life where you’ve went through something difficult, only to come out with great joy on the other side?

  • I think of my wife and I’s journey through infertility. For years we longed to have a child, but it just seemed to be one disappointment after another in this area. And then after years of difficulty and disappointment, God brought the incredible joy of a little boy into our lives through adoption. God turned our weeping into joy and our mourning into dancing as we experienced His incredible gift in answering our prayers and providing us with a child.
  • The rhythm of life tends to be such that we face difficulties and tough seasons that then give way to joy as God shines His favor on us in a new way. Although not every difficulty gives way to joy in this life, and some of the most painful difficulties serve to make us long more seriously for heaven and the day when every weeping will be turned to joy.
  • Psalm 30 is David’s song looking back on the difficulty that God has brought him through and praising God for deliverance and answered prayer.

Vs. 1-3

What type of difficult experiences does David describe facing in these verses?

  • Threats from enemies, sickness, and being close to death.

How does David speak of God’s response to his difficulty?

  • God lifted David up, healed him, and restored his life.

Vs. 4-5

What is David’s response to answered prayer in these verses?

  • He sings and praises God and he calls others to do the same. There is an important thing to see in this. God responds to our prayers, not just so that we can be more comfortable and have relief, but so that we would have clear reasons to worship Him. And these stories are not meant to be kept to ourselves, but are meant to be shared with others as fuel for worship.

What stories do you have in your life of God turning weeping into joy? How might you share these stories as fuel that can encourage other people to praise God?

  • I love Keystone’s Thanksgiving Eve service because so often this is what is involved. People share stories of how God has poured out His favor on their lives and how he has turned weeping into joy. But we don’t have to limit this to just one night a year. Every time God clearly demonstrates His favor in our lives, we should look for the ways He wants us to tell that story to others.

Vs. 6-10

Verse 6 tells us that when life was good, David was prone to trust in himself rather than God. What ways are you prone to forget God and trust in yourself when all is good? How does this verse shed light on why God might bring difficulty into our lives?

  • It’s very easy for me to think that I’m the one who is in control in those moments. Rather than praising God for the goodness I’m experiencing; I can tend to take credit for it and feel that it is something I deserved or earned.
  • As David looks back, he recognizes that God was both the source of the good times and the difficult times. The difficulty in David’s life served to remind him of his dependence on God for all things and the truth that God is the source of every good thing.

Why does David call out to God for deliverance and help in trouble in vs. 9-10?

  • Notice that he doesn’t say, “God deliver me so that I can be comfortable again.” Or “God deliver me so that I will have a better life and good things..” He says, “God deliver me so that I might praise you!”
  • Do your prayers tend to have God’s glory as their end goal or your comfort and prosperity? Why do you think that is?

Vs. 11-12

How does the gospel best illustrate the ideas of verse 11, that God turns our mourning into dancing?

  • Jesus faced the ultimate sorrow, suffering for our sin and dying, only to come out on the other side with the bright joy of conquering sin and death for all who trust in him. (Look at Hebrews 12:2)
  • As a result, we can be confident that as we walk through suffering in this life, God will one day turn it into unimaginable joy and dancing. We may get tastes of that in this life, but we also ultimately look to the future when we will be resurrected and be with Christ (Look at 2 Corinthians 4:16-17).

 

Takeaway: Every story that involves weeping turned into joy in this life is a reason to praise God and a story to tell others so that they might praise God. These stories encourage our faith as we face new times of difficulty and mourning and as we look to the day where every sorrow will be turned to joy when we are with Jesus face-to-face.

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “Never Once” by Matt Redman
  • Write down one way that God has turned weeping into joy in your own life.
  • Take time to pray that God would bring about joy in your life as a result of the specific difficulties that you are facing right now.

 

Psalm 139

Posted: April 16, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 139

Start: Read Over Psalm 139 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

Who is the smartest person that you know?

  • There are certain people in our lives who stick out because of how much knowledge they seem to possess. Perhaps being around them even makes us feel dumb at times. And yet as we think about the smartest people in comparison to God, it’s like comparing a preschooler to Bill Gates (even that comparison is giving us way too much credit!).
  • Psalm 139 is a hymn praising God for His knowledge. But it’s not just praising Him for His knowledge in general. Rather, it’s praising Him for His personal knowledge of us.

Vs. 1-6

What are the ways that David uses to describe God’s perfect knowledge of us?

  • He knows all our activities and plans; He knows our every move; He knows our thoughts; He knows the words we are going to say, before we even say them.

Is the fact that God knows everything about us good news or bad news? Why?

  • Think if you would replace God in this Psalm with “the government” or the “random guy down the street.” We would immediately recoil at the thought of them knowing everything about us. We would call it an invasion of privacy and maybe try to call the police. So how should we feel about the fact that God knows everything about us? We’ll come back to this…

Vs. 7-12

What are the ways David pictures trying to outrun God’s presence in these verses?

Is the thought of God’s constant presence with us comforting or fearful?

  • Again, think of another person here. We all feel the need to escape and get away from other people for a little while, even those who are closest to us. But this Psalm tells us there is no way to escape God’s presence. He is always with us. Jonah found this out the hard way as He tried to run away from God’s call on his life. Again, we’ll come back to this…

Vs. 13-18

As David thinks about the fact that God is the one who “formed him,” “made him,” and “knit him together in his mother’s womb,” what two truths does he focus on?

  • “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” In other words, nothing about me is a mistake because God has completely fashioned me.
  • “Wonderful are your works!” David is led to worship God. The fact that God fashions every human being is an incredible witness to how great and awesome He is.
  • This Psalm is often used to point out the value that humans have as God’s creation. And while that is true and part of this, it’s important to see that ultimately this Psalm is focused on how great God is. It’s not a Psalm about how awesome we are, but about how awesome our God is.

What is David’s response in vs. 17-18 to God’s knowledge? (Look back at vs. 6 as well)

  • As he contemplates God, he springs into praise. It’s like someone looking out over the Rocky Mountains and being utterly amazed by how great they are. As David looks out over the landscape of God’s personal knowledge of him, He is utterly amazed.

Vs. 19-22

As I read through this Psalm, every time I hit these verses I think, “Whoa! That escalated fast! David goes from praising God’s incredible knowledge to saying, “Slay the wicked!” What is going on here? Why do you think these verses are part of this Psalm?

  • I don’t know perfectly, but here would be my best explanation. As David thinks about the fact that God knows him perfectly, he also recognizes that God knows everything about the wicked (those who reject and rebel against God) who are God’s enemies and also David’s enemies. This causes David to pray to God to carry out justice on these people who hate and oppose God.

Let’s think back for a second… how does this connect to the question of whether it is good or bad that God knows everything about us and that we can never escape His presence?

  • For those who reject and oppose God, it is the worst news ever. In their case God will use his knowledge of them to judge them and His presence will overwhelm them.
  • But for those who are loved by God and love God, it is the best news ever! See the fact that God knows us perfectly and is always with us is only good news if we are confident that He also loves us perfectly. Otherwise he would use that knowledge against us to judge us. The gospel teaches us that although we were once God’s enemies who should have cowered at the thought of Him knowing everything about us, now because of Jesus, we are God’s sons and daughters (1 John 3:1-2) who should rejoice that He knows everything about us and never leaves us. We know that He will use His perfect knowledge for our good.

Vs. 23-24

What does David pray for in these verses?

  • He asks that God would expose any sinful ways in Him and that ultimately God would continue to lead and guide him to live a life that is pleasing to God.

How can this prayer shape how we respond to all that is happening right now?

  • I think one of the ways that this can shape how we respond is that it can enable us to say, “God we don’t know what is best for us, you do. Please do what is best for us in this moment. Expose any sin in our lives that we might not see, and draw us closer to you through these difficult circumstances.”

 

Takeaway: The God who knows us perfectly is also the God who loves us perfectly through Jesus. He always knows exactly what we need and He is able to expose things in us that we don’t see. This should shape how we worship Him and pray to Him.

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “Ancient of Days” by CityAlight
  • Spend some time praising God for His perfect knowledge and perfect love.
  • Take a moment to put vs.23-24 into your own words and pray them to God.

Psalm 20

Posted: April 14, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 20

Start: Read Over Psalm 20 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

One of my favorite parts of movies that involve battles is the pre-battle speech. The leader stands up and gives a rousing speech that is meant to instill courage and confidence in the people who are listening. What’s your favorite pre-battle speech from a movie?

  • Take a quick look at this one from Lord of the Rings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MsRcq9rvTQ
  • This Psalm is set in the context of a battle. It would be a Psalm that could be prayed or recited before running into war. But it also applies more broadly to any day of trouble.
  • The general question we could say this Psalm is answering is, “Where will we place our confidence in the face of trouble?”

Vs. 1-3

Put yourself into the shoes of the Israelites for a second. Imagine yourself standing on the battlefield and seeing the enemy lined up across field. What is going through your head and heart in that moment?

How do the Israelites respond to the fear and uncertainty they are facing as they head into battle?

  • Notice first of all how they don’t respond. They don’t say, “We can do this. We are stronger than they are. We just need to believe in ourselves.”
  • They call out to God to help them and show them favor. They know their fate is directly tied to what God will do.

Vs. 4-5

On the surface, these verses can sound like a blank check – “May God give you whatever you want.” How does the context of this Psalm help us to understand these verses?

  • They are specifically asking for victory in battle – which would have been the desire of the people in that moment. And they are asking that the battle plans they have made would succeed.
  • Notice also that they are praying for this so that God would be exalted. In other words, the desires of their heart in this moment are shaped by wanting God to be glorified.

What does this teach us about what we should desire when we face trouble? What are some other desires that might crowd out a desire for God to be glorified?

Vs. 6-8

These verses shift from making requests to God to placing complete confidence in God in the day of trouble. What is the reason given in verse 6 that the people have confidence in God in the day of trouble?

  • Because God gives victory to his anointed king. The people are confident that God will not abandon the King He has chosen, in this case David. And as a result, they are confident He will not abandon them, the ones following the king.

Verses 7-8 are probably my favorite verses in this Psalm, but they are also some of the most challenging. They recognize that there is a constant temptation to put confidence or trust in things other than God in the day of trouble (horses and chariots in this case).What are some “chariots” and “horses” we may put our confidence in instead of God in the face of trouble?

  • Money/Bank Accounts, Jobs, Family, Government, Healthcare, etc.
  • Notice that none of these things are bad. Most, if not all of them, are actually good gifts from God. Just as chariots and horses would have been good gifts to the Israelites. But these things are not where we are supposed to place our confidence. And verse 8 reminds us why: because chariots and horses and money and jobs and government and more may fall and fail us. And if our confidence is in them, we will fall with them. But if our confidence lies in God, we will stand firm through the toughest day of trouble.

What are some ways we can respond differently in the face of trouble (specifically right now in the face of all that is happening with coronavirus) if our confidence is in God?

  • We might be generous rather than hoarding because our hope is in God rather than money and stuff.
  • We might have peace about the unknown future rather than being anxious about all that might happen.

Vs. 9

As a Christian, we would say our King is Jesus. How incredible it is to then think that our fortunes and future are tied up with him! How does knowing our fortunes and future are tied up with Jesus give us reason to be confident in God’s help today?

  • God will not abandon us any more than he will abandon Jesus! He will give us the grace we need today. And he will ultimately keep us and preserve us for the future He has prepared for us.

 

Takeaway: It matters where our confidence lies. If it lies outside of God, we can be easily let down. But if our confidence lies in God and His promise to help us and deliver us through trouble, we will stand firm in the day of trouble.

Wrap-Up:

  • List to “This We Know” by Vertical Worship
  • Pray that Jesus, our King, would be exalted in and through you during this time.
  • Write down some other things you are tempted to put your confidence in rather than God in this moment. Praise God that He has given you these good gifts, and ask Him that you would ultimately be confident in Him and not in these things.

 

Psalm 130

Posted: April 10, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 130

Start: Read Over Psalm 130 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

What is one of the longest lines you’ve waited in? What were you waiting for?

  • Although no one likes waiting in lines, we are willing to wait if we believe what is being waited for is worthwhile. For example, people are willing to wait hours to go on the newest amusement ride or even days to get first access to the newest iPhone. People wait because they believe that what they are waiting for is worth the wait.
  • This is a Psalm about waiting patiently to experience God’s forgiveness and redemption. And it applies more broadly to waiting for God to fulfill all His promises to us.

Vs. 1-2

What do we learn about how the Psalmist is feeling from verse 1?

  • He is feeling a sense of desperation or even despair. He feels in over his head and is crying out for help. We could picture this as someone who is drowning calling out for someone to come rescue them.

The Psalms are full of language that calls and pleads with God to “listen,” “hear,” and “be attentive.” Why do you think that is?

  • There seems to be this childlike aspect to the prayers in the Psalms. A young child doesn’t know how to ask quietly for something. They make their needs known and they cry out for a response from their parents. They know that they can’t feed themselves or fix a problem they are encountering on their own and so they cry out to parents in desperation. The Psalms seem to be teaching us to do the same thing with God as our Father.

Vs. 3-4

How does verse 3 shed light on why the Psalmist is feeling despair?

  • He is feeling the weight of his sin and perhaps experiencing suffering as a result of his sin. He recognizes that if God kept a record of our sins, no one would have any hope. Our sinfulness is like a credit card that we add charges to day, after day, after day with no hope of ever paying it off. Our only hope is that God might wipe the record clean.

What does verse 4 teach us about why God forgives us? What should God’s forgiveness of our sins produce in us?

  • God doesn’t forgive us so that we can just keep sinning as if it’s no big deal. He forgives us so that we might worship Him. Like the woman in Luke 7:36-48, we are reminded that the one who is forgiven much, loves much and worships much.

Vs. 5-6

What do these verses teach us about what it means to “wait for the LORD”?

  • The Psalmist seems to be teaching us that to wait for the LORD means to trust God to act according to His character and promises. Waiting is not a passive sitting around, but rather an active believing in God’s promises even when we may not feel them to be true. In other words, to wait for God is to trust Him and His Word even above our feelings.
    • The watchmen believe that morning is coming, even when it is pitch black outside.
    • We believe in God’s mercy and grace even when we feel guilty.
    • We believe in God’s presence with us even when we feel alone.
    • We believe God is perfectly in control even when everything feels out of control to us.
  • Obviously, we want how we feel to match up with what we believe and we should pray for that to be the case. But waiting on God is an act of believing His character and promises are true, and livingaccording to that, even when we don’t feel those things to be true.

What characteristic of God or promise of God do you need to put your hope in right now and live according to even as you may not feel it in this moment?

Vs. 7-8

Why does the Psalmist tell other people (other Israelites in this case) to hope in the LORD?

  • Because of His steadfast love and abundant redemption. The Psalmist is confident of God’s constant love and redemption. Whatever mess he is facing right now, he believes God is still loving and will one day redeem the mess.
  • In a way, he is like the person who walks past everyone else standing in line and says, “It’s worth the wait. Don’t bail out now.” In the same way, he is telling us, “God is worth putting your hope and trust in. Don’t bail out. Don’t give into feelings of despair and discouragement, put your hope in God.”

 

Takeaway: The Psalmist looked forward knowing that God would redeem Israel from all her iniquities. He may not have known exactly how God would do that, but he was confident God would. We have seen how God has done this. Through Christ, God has redeemed us from all our iniquities and forgiven us our sins. How much more should that lead us to worship God, and put our hope in Him to act according to His character and fulfill all His promises to us!

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “I Will Wait For You” by Shane and Shane.
  • It’s likely that in the midst of all that is happening God might be exposing some sin or idolatry that you weren’t aware of before. Take some time to confess this to God and praise Him for His mercy.
  • Come up with one characteristic of God or promise He has made that you need to hope in right now even though you may not feel it to be true. Pray that God would help you to believe this, live according to it, and ultimately to feel the truth of it as well.

Psalm 90

Posted: April 8, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 90Start: Read Over Psalm 90 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

 How many people could you name who were living 100 years ago? Take a moment and try to come up with a list without googling it.

  • I could come up with about 10 – all either presidents or famous historical figures.
  • If you search for how many people were alive in 1920 it says there were about 2 billion people living at that time. Stop and think about that for a moment, 100 years ago, there were about 2 billion people living, and you and I can name maybe 10-20 of them! How quick we are to forget that our time on this earth is short and we will soon be forgotten. Psalm 90 seeks to remind us and teach us to see what matters in light of this.

Vs. 1-2

How do these verses describe God?

  • God is eternal. As generations come and go, He remains a refuge. Before anything ever existed, God was there. From forever to forever He is God.

What makes it hard for us to wrap your head around that?

  • Take a moment and try to think of something that didn’t have a beginning and doesn’t have an end. Everything we see has a beginning and an end.
  • To think of a being, God, who has always existed and will always exist, who had no beginning and no end, is beyond our grasp. We can comprehend it but we can’t fully understand it.

Vs. 3-6

How do these verses describe humans (us included)?

  • In comparison to God, we are described as dust and as grass that is green in the morning and withered up by the evening. Even if a human lived for a thousand years, it would only be like a day in God’s sight.

The Bible often compares humans to grass. Why do you think that is? (See also Psalm 102:11; Isaiah 40:6-8; James 1:11)

 Vs.  7-11

What do these verses teach us about how God views our sin?

  • These verses speak about God’s anger and wrath toward sin. Moses has witnessed God’s anger against sin many times in his life, first against Pharaoh and Egypt, and then against the rebellious Israelites in the desert. Moses was no stranger to how devastating God’s anger can be.
  • The Bible consistently want us to see our sin how God sees it. And trying to ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and justify it does us no good. We must see how much we deserve God’s anger because of our sin if we are to learn to fear Him and worship Him (vs.11).

What do these verses teach us about the effects of sin on our lives?

  • They are teaching us that death and the shortness and struggle of life is a result of sin. It is not how God originally created the world. But because of our sin, our lives are like a sigh and even the best years of our short lives are still marked by sorrow and struggle.

 Vs. 12

What makes it difficult for us to “number our days” and see how short our lives are?

  • Because we feel healthy and think death is a long distance away, we tend to live as if our life on this earth will last forever. It’s only when death comes near or our bodies begin to break down that we often begin to seriously realize how short our lives is. Perhaps one of the gifts of coronavirus is that God will use it to teach us to number our days.

Why does Moses ask God to make us aware of how short our lives are?

  • Because wisdom can be found in knowing how short life is. That’s not always the case. Sometimes the shortness of life just causes people to live even more selfishly. But Moses is praying, and we should pray, that seeing the shortness of life would cause us to not waste our lives on selfish pursuits but to live wisely for God.

 Vs. 13-17

What does Moses call out for in these verses? How does that contrast with verses 7-11?

  • Moses calls out for God’s compassion. He asks God to satisfy us with His steadfast love, to give us joy, and to let us see His work and splendor. Moses knows we deserve God’s wrath and a life of struggle and sorrow, but he calls out for God’s favor a life of rejoicing in His steadfast love.

How does the gospel help us understand both verses 7-11 and verses 13-17?

  • It is because Jesus died on the cross that we can be confident God’s wrath for our sin is fully taken away. As 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, “God has not destined us for wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” As a result, we have peace with God and so we are constant recipients of His steadfast love, compassion and favor. And because of Jesus’ resurrection, we are confident that the power of sin and death is broken and we will one day be with Jesus in everlasting joy. In the meantime, we still face the sorrow of struggle of life in a broken world, even as we have joy in knowing God and being recipients of His favor intermingled in with that sorrow. And we are called to recognize the shortness of our lives and live them in a way that makes much of Jesus.

 

Takeaway: This Psalm reminds us of the famous words of a missionary named Charles Studd: “Only one life ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

 Wrap-Up

  • Listen to “The Stand” by Hillsong Worship. Or if you’re looking for a great hymn, listen to “O God, Our Help In Ages Past” which is written with this Psalm in mind.
  • Pray verse 12. Ask God to help you see how short your life is and to respond with appropriate wisdom: Making the most of your short days by making much of Jesus.
  • Take a moment and consider how knowing that God is eternal and knowing that we look forward to eternal joy with Him should shape how we think, feel, and act in the midst of this coronavirus crisis.

Psalm 4

Posted: April 7, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 4

Start: Read Over Psalm 4 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

 Have you ever urgently needed to get ahold of someone? Why were you so urgent to talk to them? How did eventually get ahold of that person?

  • This past February, my wife found a lump of fluid on my son’s head and so she quickly attempted to call me. I was in the middle of something with work and wasn’t able to pick up. So, she sent me a text with these words, “Call me as soon as possible.” There was something about the text that told me this is urgent. I’m guessing you’ve maybe done the same thing she did if you’ve urgently needed to talk to someone.
  • This Psalm opens up with David urgently crying out to God. Unlike some Psalms that start out with expressing confidence in God, this one simply starts out with, “Answer me when I call!” Yet, as we read through the whole Psalm, we see David moving from urgency to peace, or perhaps we could say having peace in the midst of urgency. I want to know how that does that happen?

Vs. 1  

How do we see David’s confidence expressed even in this first verse?

  • “You have given me relief when I was in distress.” David looks back and sees how God has come through in the past and it begins to bolster His confidence that God will come through in the present.

How does God’s past faithfulness increase present confidence in Him?

Vs.2-3

We get the image that David is under attack from enemies. Yet he has confidence in the face of his enemies’ attack. What do you notice in verse 3 that gives him confidence?

  • David says that because God has set apart the godly for Himself, He will hear David when he prays. David remembers that God has set him apart, chosen him, and made him part of His people. God will always pay special attention to those who He saves because they are “set apart for himself.”

Vs. 6

The circumstances seem so bad that some people (perhaps people who are currently with David) are wondering, “Who can change this? Who can show us good in the midst of this?” What do you notice about David’s response to this question?

  • God is the source of David’s joy. Specifically, God’s favor and approval on David as expressed in the words, “Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD.”

How does this verse teach us that we can have joy in the midst of bad circumstances?

  • By remembering that God’s approval is better than any amount of money or material things. A smiling God is better than a soaring stock market. Knowing that God approves of you and delights in you is better than winning the lottery. Or for our case, knowing that we are loved and accepted by God is better than knowing that coronavirus will disappear.
  • I have to stop and ask myself: Do I really believe that? Do I really believe that God’s approval and love is better than money, success, stuff, freedom, food, people’s praise, and everything else I tend to look to for happiness in this life? The more I truly the believe that, the more circumstances will not be able to shake my trust in God.

Vs. 8

Put it altogether. Why does this Psalm teach us David is able to lie down and sleep in peace in the face of difficulty?

  • David sees how God has been faithful in the past, he knows that God pays special attention to him, and he believes that God’s favor is better than the best things in life.

 

I skipped over verses 4-5 on purpose. Because I wanted us to see the rest of the Psalm first and then go back to them. When we face increased pressures and difficulty in life it’s easier for us to get angry, snap, and act in sin. David recognizes that temptation in these verses.

 In what ways has being stuck at home and the added pressures of the past couple weeks made you impatient, stressed, or frustrated? Have you seen that come out in the way you treat the people around you right now (i.e. your family)?

  • David faced a similar tendency as he faced difficulty in this moment. And his words here are helpful to us. He talks to himself saying, “Be angry” (or we could say “Be stressed-out”) and do not sin. Instead trust in God and worship Him.

How does trust in God enable us to not sin and lash out when we are under pressure, overwhelmed, and stressed?

  • If we are confident in God’s care for us, confident that he will provide for us, confident that He will give us the grace to face whatever lies ahead, then our stress doesn’t have to boil over into sin, but it bubbles up in confident expectation that God will take care of us and give us all that we need in the midst of every circumstance.

 

Takeaway: David was confident that God would faithfully take care of him and continue to smile with approval on him in the midst of difficulty. How much more can we who have seen God’s faithfulness in the past death and resurrection of Jesus and in the future return of Jesus, have great confidence that God will care for us right here and now?

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “He Will Hold Me Fast” by Shane and Shane
  • Take a moment to reflect on God’s past faithfulness. Then take a moment to reflect on the amazing truth that God has set you apart for Himself and that He is watching over you with a smile right now in Christ.
  • Pray to God about the things that are stressing you out, frustrating you, or making you angry right now. Pray that God would help you to trust Him to take care of you and not lash out on the people who are around you.

Psalm 63

Posted: April 3, 2020 by keystoneyouth in Psalm-A-Day

Psalm 63

Start: Read Over Psalm 63 (Take your time. Read it multiple times. Make note of significant or repeated words). Then take some time to work though these questions.

 When you are going through something difficult, what is something you long for or something you use to motivate yourself through the difficulty?

  • One of the interesting (and pretty ridiculous) things I’ve noticed about myself is that if I’m out for a run and the run is starting to get really difficult, I motivate myself to keep going with the promise of a burger when I finish. It’s incredible (and again a little ridiculous) that the promise of eating a burger can actually keep me going on a run.
  • David finds himself in a far more difficult situation then an afternoon run, and he gives us an inside, behind-the-scenes glimpse for what he is longing for and what keeps him going in such difficult circumstances.

 

Look at verse 9 first. What do these verses teach us about the situation that David is in?

  • David tells us someone is trying to kill him. This could have been one of two circumstances in his life: either when King Saul was trying to kill him or when David’s very own son, Absalom, was trying to kill him. Both times, David was chased into the wilderness which is where he wrote this Psalm.
  • Take a moment and do a google images search for “Wilderness of Judah.” Look at some of the pictures to get a feel for where David is as he is writing this Psalm.

Vs. 1-2

What does David long for most as he is being chased and threatened with death? How does he describe this longing?

  • In this Psalm David doesn’t cry out for deliverance (although he seems confident in verses 10-11 that God will deliver him). He cries out for God. He wants God more than he wants to live. He wants to experience the comfort, love, and satisfaction of God’s presence more than he wants his circumstances to be changed.
  • I find that’s a good question to check myself with right now… “Do I long for God more than I long for coronavirus to pass and life to go back to the way it was?”

Vs. 3-5

How does David describe his experience of God’s presence in these verses?

  • “Your steadfast love is better than life.” “You satisfy me as with rich food.”
  • Look at Philippians 1:21 and John 6:35 for cross references to these statements.

What does David do in response to thinking about God’s faithful love and satisfying presence?

  • He worships! – “My lips glorify you”; “I will bless you”; “I will lift up my hands”; “My mouth will praise you with joyful lips.”
  • There is no greater act of worship to God, then when in the midst of difficulty people say, “Your steadfast love is better than life.” Or in other words, “You are better than life and anything I have in this life. I want you more than anything else.”
  • Or as John Piper puts it so well, “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in Him, in the midst of loss, not prosperity.”

Vs.6-8

What is picture of what David is going through in verse 6?

  • He speaks of laying upon his bed and being awake in the middle of the night. He’s talking about when he faces sleepless nights.
  • Just because David loves God and declares that He is better than life and more satisfying than rich food doesn’t mean David is all the sudden free from the pressures, anxieties, and concerns that weigh down on us in this life.

What are some extra concerns, anxieties, or pressures that are weighing you down in this time and perhaps leading to sleepless nights?

Where does David find comfort in the midst of sleepless nights?

  • He meditates on who God is. He reflects on how God has been faithful and helped him in the past. And he takes comfort in knowing that God will protect him, be near to him, and hold onto him (See Isaiah 41:10 for a cross reference).
  • I know from my own personal experience of sleepless nights that this can be very difficult to do. But I also know that when I’m able to do this it brings far better comfort than turning on the TV, trying to read a book, or any other tactic of trying to drown out the concerns and fall asleep.

As David reflects on these things, he comes to the settled confidence that God will deliver him from his enemies (vs.10-11). The result is that he again rejoices and praises God.  How much more can we rejoice knowing that God will deliver us in Jesus even through even death? And if God’s steadfast love is better than life then we are able to say with Paul, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 

Takeaway: Knowing and believing that God is better than life and more satisfying than anything else can enable us to worship Him in the most difficult of times. And it can motivate us to run to Him for comfort in the midst of worries, anxieties, and uncertainty.

Wrap-Up:

  • Listen to “Christ Is Mine Forevermore” by City Alight
  • Take this Psalm and turn it into your own prayer before God. Pray that you would long for Him more than anything else. Pray that He would satisfy you with His presence. Pray that His love would be better than life or anything in this life. Pray that he would comfort you and hold onto you in the midst of all your concerns and anxieties.
  • Take time to think of one way that God has helped you in the past when things seemed desperate. Use this to bolster your faith and praise Him.