July 16 | Daily Devotion

July 16 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

In the Acts narrative the word of God is spreading west through the ministry of the apostle Paul. His preaching has created quite a stir in the city of Ephesus (modern-day Turkey). We are listening to some of the songs that blessed the old and new worshipping community.

Psalm 19

The songwriter gives praise to God for the beauty of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (v. 1). Another word for glory is “greatness”, the Hebrew word literally means “heaviness” or “weight.” A very contemporary word might be “awesome.” Creation declares the awesomeness of God!

In the same poem, God’s greatness is also praised because of His Word. Synonyms are piled up to describe the revealed Word of God: law of the Lord, statutes, precepts, commands, ordinances. All the poetic variation points to one truth, God has spoken to His people and given them guidance for life, guidance that will bless them! The Word revives the soul, makes wise the simple, and gives light to the eyes (direction for life). The Word is precious and sweet because it warns and blesses and rewards!

In this poem, the psalmist is looking at creation and looking at God’s Word and declaring Him good. This realization leads the poet to humbly ask God to forgive him for “hidden” sins, failures he may not realize are exactly that. He also asks God to deliver him from willful sins, his knowing violations of the Word. God is great, look at creation. God is good, look at his Word. He longs to bless us; and, if we have failed Him, He is ready to forgive!

Psalm 20

To desire blessing and success is not wrong. In fact, to pray for God’s blessing and to ask Him to give you success is commended. This song, written by David and set to music by Asaph, his director of music, was produced as a pre-battle anthem. “May [the Lord] give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests” (v. 4-5). The king and his army desired success and victory in battle. Their plans were in place, their military strategy for victory laid out. Their horses and chariots stood ready. But their ultimate trust for victory rested in God’s hands. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (v. 7).

It is proper to work, plan, and prepare. But then you must go about your mission with confidence that only God can grant success. It is good and right to pray for Him to do so. May the Lord grant you the desires of your heart. And when He does, give Him praise!

Psalm 21

Psalm 20 and 21 appear to be linked together. The former was sung before battle, while the latter may have been sung after. Thus the verse, “You have granted him the desire of his heart, and have not withheld the request from his lips” (v. 2). God is praised for victory, success, and blessing. In joy, the king is rejoicing in God (v. 1)! Do you pause to give God praise for the blessings He has bestowed upon you?

Of course, praise is something you should do every week in worship, but it is a great thing to do every single day. When you get up in the morning is a good time, and when you pause to enjoy a meal is too. Don’t forget Him on those special occasions when you realize some great success, either. A wedding celebration, graduation from school, a big blessing at work, or any other good thing He may bestow on you. Pray to God for success, and praise Him when He grants your requests.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.