A Life with God

“For you are my hope, Lord GOD,
my confidence from my youth. 
I have leaned on you from birth;
you took me from my mother’s womb. 
My praise is always about you. 
Don’t discard me in my old age. 
As my strength fails, do not abandon me.
Psalm 71:5-6,9 CSB

Who can say that God has been their hope all the way from their youth until their old age? That was the case with David, as we can see from reading this Psalm today. He even goes as far as to say that God was with him even from the moment he was born. When he wrote these verses, David was obviously approaching his twilight years, but reading the Psalm you can see he was still being pursued by undesirable people, a common theme throughout his life. In verse 4 he wrote, ”Deliver me, my God, from the power of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and oppressive”. 

In verses 17 and 18, the Psalmist wrote this: “God, you have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wondrous works. Even while I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come.” David wasn’t going to retire quietly. He wasn’t going to fade into oblivion, disappearing into the grave without completing his mission in life. And the one thing he mentioned was that he was going to ensure that the next generation knew about God’s power and strength. Not for David was an epitaph on a tombstone, nice words but largely unread and of little impact on those around him.

I’ve blogged before about the legacy we will leave when we cross the great divide. Although I was brought up in a Christian home and went to church with my parents, I was in my late twenties before I made a personal commitment for Christ. But there is one thing that I am confident of – I will be a follower of Christ for the rest of my life. Furthermore, being a closet Christian, someone who hides his light instead of being a beacon of hope and light in his community, is not for me. I recently heard a Sunday message about sharing our faith, and how important it is that we have our stories ready for the times when God wants us to share them. And also to be ready with the “Sinner’s Prayer”, for when we get the opportunity to lead someone to Christ. David was focused on sharing what he knew about God with the next generation, and asked God to be with him while he did it. We too must be focused on the mission God has given us. And He will be with us while we do His will. Note that sharing our story is not something we do at the end of our lives. Jesus didn’t say in Matthew 28, “Therefore [when you are a pensioner] go and make disciples of all nations…“. No – making disciples was an instruction Jesus left for all His followers, young and old. Sharing our stories will often be the start of the disciple-making process. 

In verse 9 of this Psalm, David asks that God doesn’t abandon him in his old age, as his strength fails. He doesn’t necessarily mean physical strength, but mental strength as well. So many dear saints come to the end of their lives, blighted by illnesses such as dementia. The last few words of Matthew 28 read, “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age“. God will never abandon us, even when we are failing in our last days. And a new body is waiting for us in our future home. What a wonderful God He is.

Book of Life

Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
Psalm 69:27-28

David is bothered by his enemies again. And he spends time and ink in thinking and writing about what he would like God to do about them. “Let their eyes go blind”; “Pour our Your fury”; “Let their homes go desolate”; “Pile their sins up high”. Such sentiments appear in David’s thoughts. And he finishes this section appealing to God, that He would erase their names from the Book of Life. 

The Book of Life. A book where God writes down the names of His righteous ones. His sons and daughters. All those who, through Jesus, have an inheritance in Heaven. References to the “Book of Life” appear in both the Old and New Testaments. There are preconditions to having our names recorded in this Heavenly Book. Those who have overcome evil, those who don’t practise idolatry and dishonesty; those who are not sinners or unrighteous – these are all qualities that will ensure our names will be recorded. But why is it the Book of Life? I suppose another name would perhaps be the Register of God’s People. Or perhaps “Afterlife” would also be an appropriate reference. But whatever we call it, it is of paramount importance that our names are written in it. Imagine how we would feel, standing at the pearly gates, hoping to gain entry into Heaven, perhaps seeing people we have known waiting for us, but being turned away because our names are not written in the Book of Life.

There is only one way to ensure that our names are recorded. And that is through Jesus. It is through our acceptance that we have sinned, have repented of those sins, and that we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. In Romans 10:9-10, the Apostle Paul wrote, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” So there you have it. If your name is not written in the Book of Life, don’t waste any time. My name is there. How about yours?


Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favour.
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.

Psalm 69:4,13-14 NIVUK

Is David being paranoid here? Apparently, the average number of hairs on a person’s head is about 100,000. So did this many people really hate David? Were his thoughts being driven by his feelings of persecution and a lack of justice, or was he really in a very difficult place? Whatever the answer would be to this question, David always ending up being reminded of God and His love, salvation and deliverance. And he prayed. David was doing what we all do from time to time. Who has never wondered what other people are thinking about us? Who has never had thoughts that the whispering and quick glances in our direction are gossip about us? David was setting out his feelings, graphically describing what was going on inside of him. And the expression of the negatives were followed through by his arrival on God’s door step. Where he prayed and received the assurance that he was seeking. And in the process he was setting us an example to follow when we too feel a bit paranoid. 


“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, 
who daily bears our burdens.”
Psalms‬ ‭68:19 ‭NIVUK‬‬

How can it be that every day, God will bear our burden? That’s what David wrote in this verse in Psalm 68. But what is a burden? The dictionary refers to a heavy load – imagine a rucksack filled with all that is needed for a camping trip and food for a week. And we have to carry it for miles across the Scottish moors. Another definition is perhaps something repetitively unpleasant, that needs to be dealt with every day.

But what is the Psalmist referring to? I think his mind is dwelling on the difficulties of living in an environment where things are hard. An environment where every day issues and problems weigh us down but have to be faced and they never seem to go away. The burden of caring for a loved one, who is suffering from an illness that never seems to get better. The burden carried by a parent trying to look after a child with acute learning difficulties. The burden of dealing with an illness such as arthritis, so severe that just getting up in the morning is almost too much to achieve. Even the burdens associated with our senior years, where, physically, we now cannot do the things we used to find so easy. The burdens that the Lord will carry are those that we are struggling to carry ourselves. And we cry out to Him for relief, in faith receiving the help we need. We cry out to Him daily, perhaps many times each day, because He is always there for us. And many testify to God’s burden-carrying help.

God uses His people to become “burden bearers”. It says in Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” So today, daily, we must look around us to see who is having difficulty carrying their burdens. Paul in his letter to the Galatians wasn’t supplying an invitation. It was a command to do something in accordance with God’s law. It may be something as simple as putting out somebody’s refuse bins. Or running an errand. Or helping with transport to a hospital appointment. Something practical and simple that costs us little but helps the person in need through a crisis that otherwise would have been almost too much for them to bear. It could also be to invite someone in for a cup of coffee and a chat, because loneliness can be a terrible burden. Yes, it may cost us something in terms of our time and money, but who knows, one day we too might have an intolerable burden we struggle to carry. We must pray for God to reveal to us what burdens He wants us to carry on behalf of others – we will probably be very surprised at what He says!

So we can look up to our wonderful Saviour God, praising Him for His intimate interest in our everyday lives. I’m looking out of my office window as I type. All quiet at the moment. No obvious burdens or people in need. But wait a minute – the lady next door might need a lift to the shops. Perhaps I need to knock her door and ask her. And what did God say to me in my prayer walk this morning?


Your procession, God, has come into view,
the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary.
In front are the singers, after them the musicians;
with them are the young women playing the tambourines.
Praise God in the great congregation;
praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel.
Psalm 68:24-26

Processions. The British people love their processions. At royal weddings. On days of great occasions. Cavalry, beautifully dressed on especially chosen horses. Lines of soldiers marching in perfect unison. A band playing rousing music. The cheering crowds waving flags. A great time of national fervour. In Scotland, we have the occasional town gala, with floats depicting local and other themed displays, accompanied by pipe and accordion bands, threading their way through a town centre and ending in a park for a picnic or some other event. But there are, of course, sad processions as well. The funeral cavalcade. People dressed in black, walking slowly and sadly behind a black hearse and a limousine or two.

But when did we last observe a procession in honour of God? A procession made up of God’s people, playing instruments, musical and percussion, and choirs singing His praises? It must have been a wonderful sight in David, the Psalmist’s, day. A wonderful time to join in the experience and get lost in an abandonment of praise to our wonderful and amazing God. Occasionally we have a procession of religious or academic dignitaries pompously walking through a university city. Or sometimes a church will have an Easter parade for a short distance, ending in the local church. But what about the praising excitement of a procession in honour of our God? The King above all kings. Our wonderful Saviour. Not an embarrassed walk of a few people in a line, largely ignored by the community through which they pass. A procession worthy of God’s honour, noisy with shouts of praise, attended by many people, with cheering and a wonderful sense of God at the head of the procession. In several places in Scripture there are references to wonderful processions – we have a Biblical model to follow.

O Lord. Please forgive us for not giving You the honour and the public praise that is Yours by right.

God’s Provision

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, 
is God in his holy dwelling. 
God sets the lonely in families, 
He leads out the prisoners with singing; 
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Psalms‬ ‭68:5-6‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

In this Psalm, the author, David, puts his finger on two people groups who were social outcasts in his day. Orphans and widows. In a society without a social security safety net, these people were vulnerable to abuse and injustice. In His time spent with God up the mountain, Moses particularly highlighted and wrote about those people in his society who were in need (Deuteronomy 10:18), and David repeats the principle in these verses. The verses we are reading today declare that God would provide for the orphans and widows. In those days, begging was a common way of receiving provision, as well as the expectation that friends, neighbours and the wealthy, would show favour to those in need. But as we read from Jesus’ words in the Gospels, caring for the disadvantaged was an aspiration rather than a realisation.

Today there are still orphans and widows. But the responsibility for looking after them has shifted from members of society to the state, with the provision of benefits for those in need, or foster homes for the orphaned. Progress? Perhaps. But we still have a responsibility, as Christians, to look out for those people in our society who are disadvantaged. Being a friend to the lonely. Keeping an eye on that elderly widow lady next door, doing her shopping or cutting her grass. And through us, God will look after those in social need. But is this an aspiration rather than a realisation? It’s up to us to turn it into a reality.

But what about the prisoners? From what were they being set free? We are all prisoners of something, to a greater or lesser extent. Many things can imprison us. Lack of finance. Mental and physical illness. Disabilities. Loneliness. Abusive neighbours. Lack of education. Substance abuse. The list is endless. But David says that through God we can be set free from the incarceration we experience. We can rise above our cells of misery and want. We can look up through the bars and see our loving Heavenly Father, and be filled with a new song of joy and freedom. One of my favourite Scriptures is Isaiah 40, and the last verse reads, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Through God we can soar into Heavenly places, elevated from our bi-dimensional existence. 

Finally, there is a sad side to these verses. The last part of verse 6 mourns the fact that those who have rebelled against God, by rejecting or ignoring Him, will have to live in a dry and hot place. Is this a prophetic muse about the time to come, when those who have rejected God will spend eternity in the place of their default choice?

But back to the message in these verses. As God’s servants on this planet we have a responsibility to look after those less fortunate than ourselves. And when we do so we too will have song in our hearts. 


“May the nations praise you, O God. 
Yes, may all the nations praise you. 
Then the earth will yield its harvests, 
and God, our God, will richly bless us. 
Yes, God will bless us, 
and people all over the world will fear him.”
Psalms‬ ‭67:5-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We continue in Psalm 67. Just a short Psalm but it’s positivity uplifts and encourages our lives. And at the end of this Psalm, the Psalmist makes the connection between the national praise of God and universal provision for mankind. But how can that be? How can that connection work in our so called sophisticated societies, consumed by our love of gadgets and secular philosophies? The answer is that it won’t, and doesn’t. There is a special relationship available to all, between us and our loving Creator God. That personal connection started at Calvary’s cross and will never end because we will live with God Himself forever. 

But back to praise and provision. When we start praising God we are transformed into a new dimension where He Himself overtakes the world in relevance and importance. Where the Divine supersedes the mundane. Where we are elevated into Heavenly places far from the drudgery most experience. The Psalmist paints a picture of a perfect world where every person in every nation knows God intimately and all praise Him together. What an amazing place that would be. And to be an inhabitant of such a world would be too wonderful to get our minds around. But that’s never going to happen, I hear the sceptical and cynical unbeliever say. Well, I’ve got some good news and bad news. One day such a world will exist, because God said so. Read Revelation 21. And we who are God’s people will populate that new Heaven and new Earth. The bad news is for those people who have chosen not to be inhabitants of the new world to come. But don’t worry. Another place has been reserved for them.

The last line of this Psalm brings in the word “fear”. Do I fear God? As a child of God, I don’t “fear” Him with feelings of terror and panic, imagining being in perilous and life-threatening situations. The “fear” I have of God is a sense of respect and awe. I am not afraid that He is about to zap me because I’ve done something wrong. We have a wonderful Heavenly Father. A God who loves us, cares for us, forgives us, is gracious to us. Is patient with us. The wonderful qualities of God fill His Book, the Bible. When we read it we are changed. Transformed. And all we can do in response is praise Him.

A Shining Face

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us
Psalm 67:1

Have you ever seen anyone with a “shining face”? Not literally of course, but I have been in someone’s company when they seem to have come alive, and their face seems to light up with expressions of enthusiasm and excitement. They seem to radiate with an infectiousness that impresses and invites us as well to get caught up with whatever is illuminating their thoughts and communication.

Psalm 67 starts with a request that God would make His face shine on us and that He will be gracious to us and will bless us. But what does that look like in our societies today? Would we know if God behaved in that way to us? Calvinistic theologians talk about “common grace”, which is defined as the protection and care that God provides for everyone. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45, “…For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” So this would include the air we breathe, or the rain watering the crops in the fields. The sun for warmth, and so on; everyone, Christian or not, will benefit from His “common grace”. But the Psalmist was meaning more than that. He was asking God for His specific grace to be poured out on His people, encompassing natural and spiritual blessings. So in the natural world today, as God’s people, we will ask for blessings that will encompass good health, provision for our everyday needs, success in whatever we turn our hand to, for example, our employment, and so on.  And God’s graciousness also extends to spiritual blessings. We can find a few in the first chapter of Ephesians. In verse 3 it says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing because of our relationship with Jesus. And, amazingly, these blessings are not held back because through Jesus we are holy and without fault in His eyes. We were chosen and loved by God even before He put the world together (verse 4). We have been adopted into God’s family and we give Him great pleasure (verse 5). He has smothered us in His grace (verse 6). He forgave our sins through the blood of Jesus (verse 7). God has poured out on us His kindness, wisdom and understanding (verse 8). Through Jesus we have an inheritance from God (verse 11). The spiritual blessings that we receive are limitless, and available to us just for the asking. 

So when we pray the first verse of today’s Psalm, we are tapping into God’s unlimited resources, both natural and spiritual. But is that our experience? Do we enjoy God’s blessings on a daily basis? But do we ask God for His blessings? Do we ask for more of Him in our lives, with more love and more power? Do we pray for Him to meet our needs, thanking Him for the provision He continually makes for us? That is not to say that we will not encounter problems in our daily lives, but His provision and presence will always help us to overcome them. Too many questions? The Psalmist was quite simply asking God for His blessings, and so must we. And as we stare into the face of Jesus, His shining face dims the world and its contents around us. Jesus is enough for me. You as well?

Come and See

“Come and see what God has done, 
His awesome deeds for mankind! 
He turned the sea into dry land, 
they passed through the waters on foot – 
come, let us rejoice in Him. 
Come and hear, all you who fear God; 
let me tell you what He has done for me.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭66:5-6, 16‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

“Come and see”. “Come and hear”. God invites us to use our eyes and ears to check out all the wonderful things He has done for us. Traditional Jewish families to this day remember the Biblical events such as crossing the Red Sea, an event mentioned in the verses today. But what about God’s ability to wow us with His abilities in 21st Century Scotland? Or in the societies within which we live? Personally, God never ceases to amaze me as I wander around the woodland paths close to where I live. His creation shouts out His wonderful acts to me and those around me – if we look for it. The plant life in its abundance. The trees growing straight and strong. The birds, filling the air with their music. The deer crossing my path just a few yards ahead. The rodents grubbing around near the forest streams. Even occasionally a fox or two, slinking away into the undergrowth. Further afield, I continue to be amazed by beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The news reports of wonderful creatures not found before. The physicists making discoveries about nuclear particles. The medical scientists researching and finding ways to treat disease. The list is endless. Our natural world is a wonderful testimony to God’s “awesome deeds for mankind”. Sadly, the evolutionists will say this all happened by chance, missing out on the opportunity to be able to rejoice in our wonderful God, missing out on the opportunity to thank our Creator for His awesome deeds. 

But it doesn’t stop there. God also does wonderful things in the realms of the supernatural. Through the power of His Spirit as He permeates the world and people within it. I look back in my life and remember occasions where things could have gone horribly wrong, but they didn’t because God did something awesome. Coincidence or chance the sceptic might say. But to me there have been too many occasions where God has moved in response to prayers, bringing outcomes that fall into the category of “His awesome deeds”. I would go as far as to call some of them “miracles”. And in particular the situation of my own daughter’s healing from encephalitis, a virus attacking her brain with such severity that the medics were convinced that her lengthy time in hospital would not end well. But after her total recovery, one of the doctors wrote on her notes, “This is a miracle”. And as a family we thank God continually for His miraculous intervention, taking every opportunity to tell what He has done for us.

In verse 16 of today’s Psalm, the Psalmist invites those people around him to listen to what God has done for him. Those of us who are Christians have a story to tell. A story of the journey in which God found us and we responded to His grace and love. A story that may not contain the earth shattering events such as the crossing of the Red Sea, but it will contain those personal details of the wonder of what our loving Heavenly Father has done in our lives. I could tell you of drug addicts whose lives have been transformed by the power of God working in their lives. I could tell you of miracles of healings that have brought people back from the very gates of Heaven. But perhaps the biggest miracle is the one in which we have been transformed from a dismal life in the kingdom of darkness into citizenship of the Kingdom of Light. Financially it cost me nothing, but it cost Jesus everything, even His very life on that cross at Calvary. And by so doing we are assured a future with the very Person who does “awesome deeds for mankind”. So I invite you today – “Come and see” and “Come and hear”. “Let me tell” – that’s what I will be doing and saying, grabbing every opportunity to invite those around me to join me in this wonderful life, life with our loving and gracious Heavenly Creator God.

Answered Prayer

You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
Psalm 65:2-3 NIV

Another Davidic Psalm. He was certainly a prolific Psalmist, but so much of his writings bubble up out of a heart firmly fixed and grounded in his Father God. In verse 2 of this Psalm, David drops in the unequivocal statement that God answers prayer. In Matthew 21:22, Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer“. There’s the story of a woman living in the coal belt in Wales, who got so fed up with a slag heap located behind her house that she took the words of Jesus at face value and prayed one night for God to remove the mountain. The next morning it was still there. Her response was, “I didn’t think prayer would work anyway”. An example of unbelieving prayer? When Jesus spoke about asking for something in prayer, there is implied within the request the assurance that what is being asked for is in accordance with God’s will. There is also the implied requirement for having faith that God is who He says He is, and that He will grant the request. Sometimes we try and pray beyond our faith. For example if I pray for revival to break out in my nation, is that within the faith that I have? Perhaps I need to start with praying for my next door neighbour, developing my faith muscles in the process. Both belief and faith required a living, breathing relationship with our Heavenly Father. In Matthew 7:7, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you…”. The word ask in this context means to keep on asking, being persistent in prayer. 

But after all this, we have to accept that our believing, faith-filled, persistent prayer requests may not be answered in the way, or with the result, we hoped for. These are the times when we need to trust God, because only He knows what is best for us. However, there is one prayer that God always answers with a resounding “Yes”. That is the prayer for forgiveness for all our sins. In 1 John 1:9, the Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We need never be overwhelmed by our sins again. We can live a life free of guilt and sin. Thank You Lord!