Journey with Daniel
Seeing God Through the Psalms
Have you ever heard a song that touched you? That moved you? That expressed such real emotion? There’s something powerful about music, about songs. Have you ever been so happy that you just sang or hummed a joyful tune? Have you ever felt so low that the only solace you found was in a melancholy song? Are there songs that remind you of loved ones, here or gone? Are there hymns that when you sing them, though you’ve sung them hundreds of times, they still seem to stir your soul?
One of the richest books of the Bible is the book of Psalms. It’s not a historical book, through each Psalm is wrapped in a historical context. Though found in the “Books of Wisdom”, the book of Psalms is not written like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. The Psalms are a collection of songs. What’s so endearing about these songs is that they express is such beautiful and imaginative language things we have a hard time finding the right words for. They describe God in such glorious ways. They praise God with genuine and creative fervor. They express the real, raw depth of suffering and pain – and how captivating life is when lived by faith in God.
This year, for our February Special, we’re journeying through the Psalms. We’ve selected 28 Psalms. Our hope is that through this month in the Psalms, we’ll come away with an enriched vision of God. The Psalms can help us in our worship. The Psalms can help us in our prayers. The Psalms can help us face dark days. The Psalms can help us more clearly see the majesty of the Almighty.
Journey with us with month as we read through, pray through, and sing through the Psalms.
“What About John?” - John 21
Peter has just heard about how he’s going to die, and he turns around, and John is right there and he says, “What about John?” And Jesus said, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22). And the “you” is emphatic! He didn’t say, “you” back in verse 19 when He told Peter to follow. But now Peter is focusing on things that were not important. What is important is, “YOU, follow Me.”
Isn’t that the question? “What about the other fellow?” Jesus tells Peter, “What is that to you?” He will take care of John. Peter is to follow Jesus. Whatever happens to John has nothing to do with you, Peter. Peter, you take care of your business and I will take care of John.
How many times do we allow the affairs of others to hinder us from following Jesus? How many times we do we seek self-justification based on what someone else is doing, or not doing? Measuring ourselves by others is not wise (2 Cor. 10:12).
This is something that all Christians do well to take to heart. We all find it so very easy to comment on the service of other Christians, and criticism becomes pretty easy. But our main task, our focus, is to be making sure “WE are following Jesus.” Peter is the forerunner of the favorite indoor sport of some Christians called “Comparison.” I am convinced there are people who think their calling is the managing of other people’s lives. That’s their ministry.
Could it be that strife is the result having our eyes focused on the other person rather than on having our eyes focused on the One we are supposed to be following? Could it be we are keeping score to make sure we get our 15 minutes of fame?
Just suppose that it was your job to tune all the instruments in the symphony. You go and tune the sax and the piano. And then you tune something to the sax, and you try to tune all the instruments to each other. I don’t know what you are going to have when you begin to play, but it’s not going to be harmony.
Now, what you do is really pretty simple. You take one little ole tuning fork. Then, you tune all the instruments to that one fork. And then, when they play, there will be harmony, and they will play well together.
Could it be that we would have more harmony among Christians if we’d all just try to follow Jesus and stay out of the other fella’s business? We are a body, and we’re not all alike. We have different abilities and temperaments. Peter’s work involved an emphasis on shepherding. John’s work had emphasis on evangelism and writing. They both brought glory to God. But, both were to follow Jesus.
Peter, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Prayer: Lord, help us to stay in our lane. Help us to measure ourselves by You. Help us to take of ourselves. We know You will take care of the others.
Do You Believe? - John 20
“…but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
As we’ve been reading through John’s gospel, have you wondered, “Why these stories? Why this account? Why these events/signs/miracles?” Why did John specifically record what he did? So that we may believe. Each sign, each teaching, each moment John shares is designed to produce within its readers genuine faith in Jesus.
Isn’t that the theme of chapter 20? The Apostles running to the tomb to see for themselves (v. 4). John going in, and from what he sees, he believes (v. 8). Mary, who believed Jesus was taken, talks to the Lord face to face (v. 16-18). Jesus appearing in the Apostles presence (v. 19-23). Thomas’ refusal to believe without the evidence (v. 25), and the Lord’s answer – providing the proof, resulting in his belief (v. 26-28).
There’re similarities in all these. Their faith needed time to grow. Each of them had their doubts. Thomas was not the only one to doubt. Just see Mark 16:14. They needed teaching. They needed evidence. For their faith to grow, they needed help from the author of faith (Heb. 12:2).
And we are the same. There are times like the Apostles that we don’t understand everything completely (v. 9). There are times when we doubt. Everyone has those moments. Apostles had them. Parents have them. Preacher and elders have them. What we need, like the disciples of old, is to look to the evidence, to look to the author of faith, to come and see, and believe.
Jesus said, “blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (v. 29). That’s us! There’s a song we sing that conveys this thought:
We gazed not in the open tomb
Where once thy mangled body lay;
Nor saw thee in that "upper room,"
Nor met thee on the open way;
But we believe that angels said,
"Why seek the living with the dead?"
But we believe that angels said,
"Why seek the living with the dead?"
No, we did not see the Lord. We did not feel His wounds. We did not hear Him speak. But we are not left without evidence. These things are written so that you may believe. We have the words. We have the miracles. We have the teachings. By faith, can you see Him? By faith, can you hear Him preach? By faith, can you see the empty tomb? From all that John recorded, do you believe?
Faith is a journey, not a destination. It grows. There are times it’s strong, and times when it’s weak. There are times when we soar with confidence, and times when we stumble in doubt. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t quit! God gave us something special – He gave us these words. Every word, every account, every story specifically chosen so that we would believe. Our faith is tied to this book (Rom. 10:17). Would you like a stronger faith? Are you looking to grow more confident in what you believe? Open the book. Read these words. See the Lord, and believe.
Our Father in Heaven, thank you for the incredible gift you’ve given us through the Bible. To have your mind, your will, your plan in our hands is amazing. You truly love us, and are good to us. I was not there when Jesus came to earth. I did not see Him with my eyes, nor hear Him with my ears, but God, I believe. I believe these words. I believe that He came. I believe in His signs. I believe in the cross – the death for my sins. I believe that He rose, that He lives, and that today He reigns. I believe in Jesus. Lord, strengthen my faith. Take me to new depths, to a greater maturity, to an even firmer conviction and assurance in my trust in You. Blessed be Your name!
Darkest Before the Dawn – John 19
John 19 is the fourth account of what may be the saddest and darkest day in humanities history. It picks up with Pilate having Jesus beaten within an inch of his life, the soldiers placing a crown of thorns in His head and beating it into place. Pilate then brings the beaten and bloodied Jesus back to the crowds hoping that was enough punishment for them as he had not found anything wrong with Jesus. But the crowds cry out “Crucify, crucify.”
Their reaction scares Pilate, and he asks Jesus one more time who He is, but receives no answer. Pilate tries to threaten Jesus but the only response given is “Pilate you have no power over me, everything that is going to happen has been determined.”
Pilate cannot deny the people what they are craving, so he hands the Son of Man over to be crucified.
They take Jesus to Golgotha, drive stakes into his hands and feet, and place him between two truly guilty men. Pilate then puts Jesus’ crime on the cross for everyone to see, and it reads “Jesus the Nazarene, The King of The Jews.”
There He hung, the Son of Man guilty of nothing but trying to save His people. The crowd did not realize that this was their true King. They had been looking for a messiah of war, a strong,mighty military leader to bring them out from Roman rule and back to a position of power and prominence.
What they got (and needed) was a King trying to bring the people back to a place of spiritual prominence. One who was trying to prepare them for the spiritual war with Satan. One who was trying to bring them into a kingdom of eternal joy, peace,and freedom. One who loved them so much that when He was dying, He still called out for their mercy and forgiveness to the Father.
He then cried “It is finished” and breathed His last. He was then wrapped and laid in a new tomb, and the stone was rolled into place.
BUT, praise the Lord this is not the end of the story! It does not end in darkness, hopelessness, and sadness. Just wait, like the apostles the disciples and ladies, for the next chapter is the rising of the Son! A new day for man, a day of heaven and hope!
Prayer: Father, your Son, had to endure so much for my sake. Thank You for sharing my burden of sin, for providing a perfect sacrifice in my stead that I may have a hope for that beautiful new day with You!
Dark Days - John 18
“…for this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world-- to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice." John 18:37
Dark days are ahead. They are the darkest in human history. The sinless Son of God, the Word that became flesh, now faces a hateful crowd, determined to put Him to death. The people who should have anticipated and welcomed Him the most were the most adamant that He should die.
There’s a felt tension that should exist in the heart of the reader as they read this chapter. Did you feel it? An ambush in a garden of peace. A heartless betrayal from a close friend. A reckless SLASH of desperation from a frantic apostle. A fraudulent trial from a malicious priesthood. Denied three times by One He loved. The truth of God in the hands of a clueless governor. The One who brought life now faces His death.
Yes, I’d like to think that were I there, I would have spoken up. I would have stood by His side. I would have defended His honor. I would have pleaded His case. I would have fought for His freedom. But in being honest with myself, I’ve found myself acting like the others in this chapters. Times when I betrayed the Lord through choosing sin. Times when I wound an enemy in defense of a friend. Times when the Truth is mocked and I’ve remained silent. Times when my actions denied the Lord I claimed to love.
Oh that these painful chapters, these dark days could be erased… could be replaced with more moments of joy and victory. And then Jesus reminds us, “I came for this purpose.” From His first steps, His path has been leading to Calvary. His time has come. Through His death, real truth is revealed. Through His sacrifice, sin is removed. Through the cross the path to God is opened. Through what seems to be defeat, Christ would claim the ultimate victory.
There’s a reason the Word became flesh… a purpose. The reason was Calvary. The purpose was the cross. The purpose was me…was you. The Light of the world stepped down into darkness – the darkness of evil… the darkness of sin… the darkness of pain… the darkness of death.
Father in Heaven, my heart pains when I read these words. What love! What grace! What darkness that surrounded Your perfect Son. In sadness I wonder, “Did He have to be betrayed? Did He have to be denied? Did He have to suffer such pain? Did there have to be a cross?” Yet I hear Him say those words, “For this purpose I have come…”. What an amazing plan you wove together from the beginning of time! How can I question Your love? How can I doubt Your care? Forgive my moments of weakness, when in pain I forget about Calvary. Your Son carried Your will, Your purpose to the cross. Help me today to bear Your will, to fulfill Your purpose – ever thankful, ever mindful of Your love, Your Son, of His gift of life.