Psalm 10

Hello, my friend. We are moving these days into a strange period of history where ancient truths are being questioned, historic morality is being flaunted, national leadership is being eroded and personal convictions are being softened by the world squeezing us subtly but relentlessly into its own mold.   It used to be that, in general, we could agree with that simple phrase on every coin, “In God we Trust”, but that day is gone.  Now people’s trust is more often in the power of money, or political influence or social acceptability, instead of trusting in God, the source of guidance for personal, social, domestic and professional behavior.

PSALM 10 is our reading for the day, and I’m sure, if you have pondered it, that you sense the Psalmist’s despair over the situation that prevailed in his world which is so prevalent in our own.   He lamented over people who seduce the weaker (the more vulnerable) in schemes which he has devised (vs.2).  These people boast in the pleasures, the cravings of the heart, and greed (vs.3).  And he grieves, as he writes in vs. 4, “In his pride, the wicked does not seek the Lord;  in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”    This is an amazing statement, saying that the man who does not seek God is in fact a wicked person, and the result of this neglect will be that in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

We saw in chapter 9, vs. 10, that the Lord “has never forsaken those who seek Him.”  And here in Psalm 10, vs. 5, we see that giving God no place in ones thoughts will make one proud, seemingly successful, haughty, sneering to oneself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.  And he says, in vs. 11, “God has forgotten; he is blind, he never sees what I am doing.”

Have you ever felt like this?  Read Psalm 73, if you have the time, a Psalm written by another person called Asaph, who is also bewildered by the arrogant, the prosperity of the wicked, who not only mock God but refuse to pay any attention to Him and seem to get away with it.  We will see the solution to his bewilderment when we read Psalm 73, vss.17, 18. 

Here in Psalm 10, we are blessed to hear David, the Psalmist, say in vs. 17, “You hear, O Lord, the cry of the afflicted; you encourage them and you listen to their cry.”  Here we find this precious word “encourage” for the first time in the Psalms.    Remember in Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   This is the source of encouragement, in the midst of our questions, the Lord is with us.  And that is true prosperity. 

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this stirring description of the times in which we live and the promise that in them you will be our encouragement.  Thank you, Lord, that you are with us all, around the world.”  Cheerio!  

Psalm 10

A Thanksgiving Quiz

See if you can answer these 10 questions about Thanksgiving, or try them out with friends and family.

  1. Which countries celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday?

Harvest festivals spanning cultures and continents have been celebrated over the millennia, however, the only countries celebrating thanksgiving as a formal national holiday are the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia.

  1. In which Old Testament books would you find the Biblical origins of thanksgiving?

Exodus 34:22 commands the Israelites to observe the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering. Thanksgiving is emphasised in many other Old Testament books, including Leviticus, Chronicles and Psalms.

  1. Name some New Testament books where you would you find strong encouragement for thanksgiving

The Old Testament emphasis on thanksgiving for God’s provision continues into the New Testament. See for example Ephesians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:17; and 2 Corinthians 4:15.

  1. How and when did thanksgiving rise to prominence in England?

In the 1500s there were 95 holidays in the Catholic calendar in England. During the Protestant Reformation, Puritans wanted to simplify and reduce this holiday extravagance to just two kinds: Days of Fasting in response to disaster (e.g. drought, flood and fire), and Days of Thanksgiving (in times of plenty) for special blessings from God.

  1. How did Thanksgiving get to English-speaking territories in North America?

Puritans (English Protestants) emigrated to New England in the 1620s and 1630s, bringing with them the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving.

  1. When was the first thanksgiving in North America?

Not all historians are in agreement on this question.

  • Long before the arrival of European settlers, Native American tribes had long celebrated the Earth’s abundance, including the autumn harvest.
  • In 1565, the Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé landed in Florida and invited members of the local Timucua tribe to a dinner after holding a mass to thank God for his crew’s safe arrival.
  • In 1619, 38 English settlers arrived in Virginia and celebrated “the day of our ships arrival [in] Virginia [which] shall be…perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God”.
  • In 1621, the surviving Mayflower colonists shared an autumn harvest feast and a three-day thanksgiving festival with Wampanoag Native Americans at Plymouth, Massachusetts. (The classic American Thanksgiving tradition stems largely from this 1621 festival in Plymouth.) Cordial relationships between the settlers and the Wampanoag lasted over 50 years until eventually war broke out in 1675.
  1. Which American president proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration?

After the War of Independence and the ratification of the US Constitution, President George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America on November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God”.

  1. Which American president proclaimed Thanksgiving for all states?

Before Lincoln, the date for observing Thanksgiving varied from state to state, and Thanksgiving was hardly celebrated in the American South. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed thanksgiving for all states in a proclamation in 1863 in light of the Civil War, when the president entreated all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the last Thursday in November.

  1. How did the Great Depression impact Thanksgiving?

In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the Thanksgiving holiday to the third week in November in an attempt to extend the Christmas shopping season (which begins with the Thanksgiving holiday), in order to boost retail sales during the Great Depression.

  1. Which American president made thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November? 

Because moving the Thanksgiving holiday to the third week in November was not well received, on December 26, 1941, President Roosevelt signed a resolution of Congress making Thanksgiving Day the fourth Thursday in November (which is not always the last Thursday of November). The fourth Thursday in November is when thanksgiving is celebrated to this day.

So, how did you do on this Thanksgiving Quiz?

  • If you answered 7 or more questions correctly, you get the pick of the Thanksgiving turkey.
  • Just bread and water for you if you got none right! 😉

Happy Thanksgiving!


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A Thanksgiving Quiz

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving/ Sufficiency  

Being thankful for what we have is a challenge when our culture inundates us with advertisements of shiny new cars and newest edition iPhone, name brand fashions, and home interior upgrades.  Messages that what we have is not enough shift into the massage that we are not enough.  So being thankful takes purposeful effort; it is truly going against the grain.   

As Lynne Twist writes, “For me and many of us our first waking thought is “I didn’t get enough sleep.”  The next one is, “I don’t have enough time.”   Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. …And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with the litany of what we did or didn’t get done that day…We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity.  Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. …Sufficiency isn’t an amount…it is an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.” (The Soul of Money, pg. 75) 

Ps. 23 opens with the promise of sufficiency, “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” (NLT vs.1) What apparent scarcity plagues you amid our global pandemic?   What would it be like to wake up with your first thought being, today the Lord will provide what I need in my parenting, in my bank account, in my health and energy, you fill in the blank?   

According to Brené Brown’s research, people who describe themselves as joyful practice gratitude (The Gifts of Imperfection).   For years now, one of my favorite monthly rituals is to reflect on what I am grateful for.  I find a quiet place and write 30 things that I am thankful for in groups of 10.   The list ranges from a good cup a coffee to having a job that I love to being a Mom to my son, John.  What I find is that my tendency toward comparison and self-pity quickly fade as I focus on God’s gracious gifts.  This simple exercise also strengthens my faith as it lifts my eyes from my wants and desires to a God whose values are eternal.  It helps bring me back to embracing sufficiency in all the ways God provides.   

It is my prayer that during this season, you and I will more fully experience “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”  As we soak in this promise, our renewed perspective will likely clear the way to look toward others who may have needs that we can meet.  Serving others with what God has graciously provided for us is another way to live the value that sufficiency isn’t an amount but rather a mindset.   

However, you spend the Thanksgiving holiday, may you know the Village Schools of the Bible community is grateful that you are a part of us!  Happy Thanksgiving!  

Happy Thanksgiving!

Psalm 9

Devotional by Monty Sholund, Founder, Village Schools of the Bible

Hello, my friend. Today we are reading PSALM 9 and I love the way David makes clear the only way to enjoy the Lord:  it is by giving Him my all.  “I will praise you, O Lord, with ALL my heart;  I will tell of ALL your wonders.”  When I give the Lord all that I am, He shares with me all that He is.  This is a precious partnership, which I know many of you are enjoying.  Then, if you remember last week, I suggested you highlight in particular three very special words in these Psalms, words frequently repeated.  You will find, interestingly, all three in just three verses in this Psalm.  Vs. 8..” God will judge the world in RIGHTEOUSNESS…”; vs. 9, “The Lord is a REFUGE for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” vs. 10.  “Those who know your NAME, will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”   I love these words, defining God’s nature, God’s presence, and God’s characteristics, revealed in His name.  Then here we meet, for the first time, a fourth significant word in the Psalms, SEEK.   So you may want to highlight this word as well, perhaps in different colors.  It will help make the Psalms light up with joy and praise.

To seek the Lord implies effort, a real desire and devotion to know Him.  It means much more than just a brief thought now and then.  And the promise is great:  Heb. 11:6 says, “God is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  To seek also implies focus and direction, a specific intention which is expressed in my studying the Word and my spending time in prayer.  We are so privileged to be invited by a Holy Creator God to know Him.  Such love deserves all we have and are. 

“Thank you, Lord, for the wonder of sharing with us your life, your nature.  Thank you for inviting us to find perfect refuge in you.  Thank you, Lord, for giving us a window into your nature, through the wonder of your names.  And thank you Lord Jesus, for welcoming us, inviting us to seek you, to prove our sincere intention and our commitment to knowing you.  Oh, Lord, bless my special partner who has joined this fellowship, even as we think of those who daily face great testings and difficulties.  Let us live fully in you, Lord, with joy and thankfulness.” 

Thank you, my friend, for being along.   The Lord is good.  Cheerio!

Psalm 9

Psalm 8

Devotional by Monty Sholund, Founder, Village Schools of the Bible

Hello, my friend.   Here we are together again and the weeks swiftly fly by.   Today we take a look at a great Psalm, PSALM 8, which I call “God’s Ode to Man”.  It introduces us to another word which occurs frequently in the Psalms, the word “name.”  I mentioned yesterday that one should especially note the words RIGHTEOUS and REFUGE.  Here is the third, the word NAME.  It might be helpful for future reference if you can highlight these three words, as you read through the Psalms. 

Psalm 8 starts with a great shout of praise, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”  My students will remember how we pondered the Name of the Lord as we studied I Kings chapter 8, where the word occurs 8 times.  We learned that God says He was going to build a Temple ‘for His Name’, and we reviewed the various names of God in Scripture: “jireh” (provider), “shalom” (peace), “nissi” (my banner), “rapha” (healer), “tsidkenu” (righteousness) and “shammah” (His presence.)  When we pray in Jesus name, we are really referring to the great attributes of our wonderful God, referred to in these names.

Here (vss.2,3) David declares how God can be praised by the lips of children and infants, by the wonderful celestial stars, the sun and moon which He has created, and then he asks, “In the light of all this glory, what is man that you care for him?”  And vs. 5 says, “You have made him a little lower than God, and crowned him with glory and honor.”  You may notice your Bible says, “a little lower than the angels”, but your marginal reference refers to the correct translation “a little lower than God.”  We haven’t been created lower than angels, my friend, we have been created just a little lower than God, created in His image, created to live for Him and shine for Him, and share His glory wherever we are, day by day .  And how do we do this?  By listening to vs. 6, where David says, “You have made man ruler over the works of your hands; you have put everything under his feet.”  Marvelous promise, to know that by God’s Grace, I can triumph over sin, and can successfully control everything committed to me, in my family, my job, my relationships with people. 

“Oh, Lord, how majestic is your name, as you have crowned each of us this day with glory and honor.  May we live in the light of this great truth, free from the sin and corruption that is all around us.  You live in us, and we are thankful.  Bless us in this new day, as we glory in your Word.  Bless my friend who is alongside, and those in special need for whom we daily pray.” 

Thank you partner, for your strong encouragement.  Cheerio! 

Psalm 8

Psalm 7

Devotional by Monty Sholund, Founder, Village Schools of the Bible

Hello, my friend.  My students will have heard me say, often, that the theme of the Bible is God and His righteousness, not man and his need.  So often we hear sermons dealing with human difficulties, domestic crises, personal problems, and this is appropriate, but the list is never-ending.  The purpose of the Bible is not so much to focus on man’s needs but on God’s nature.  And the one word in Scripture which encapsulates all that God is is the word righteousness.  Romans 1:17, “In the Gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘He who by faith is righteous shall live.’”  In other words, righteousness reflects the life, the nature of God, and when one is born again he is justified by faith in Christ, or made righteous, and is now sharing God’s nature.  Righteousness represents God’s life.

Hope this doesn’t sound too heavy, but it is so important.  People get the idea they are saved by merely signing a decision card at the altar.  But salvation is much more than merely agreeing with certain steps; it is being made new, becoming a new creation, because I have received the life of God, who now dwells in me.

So one can expect to find the word ‘righteous’ frequently in the Psalms.  May I suggest you should highlight the word as we encounter it in our reading.  We found it first in Psalm 1:6, “For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous…”, again in Psalm 4:1, “Answer me Lord, when I call to you, O my righteous God.”  And vs. 8, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness.”  Marvelous to know that when I was born anew, I was joined to Christ, knowing that all that God is, is available to the person who is available to all the God is.

Now, our chapter for today is PSALM 7. We find the word righteous five times in this chapter, vs. 8, David, asks the Lord to judge him according to his righteousness.  You see, he had received a new nature, and had become righteous in His new life in the Lord.  Then vs. 9, “O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts…” and what a blessing it is to know that God cares enough to search me enough so I can know enough to live a holy, righteous life.  Vs. 8 reminds us that God can make the righteous secure, because God is a righteous God, and I can give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness (vs. 17).  How wonderful to know that I am welcomed into the presence of the Lord all day long, because I am sharing His nature all life long.  That’s what it means to be a committed Christian.  How wonderful! 

“Thank you Lord, Oh thank you Lord, for the wonderful gift of your life, as you, Lord Jesus, live in us, love through us, work with us, and we can enjoy the journey together.  Thank you for my friend who is along, even as we pray for those in special need, and know You’re with them day by day.” 

Thank you, partner. Cheerio!  

Psalm 7

Psalm 6

Devotion by Monty Sholund, Founder, Village Schools of the Bible

Hello, my friend.  Many of [our] students admit they had never read the Psalms through, until they came to our Cover-to-Cover Class.  We are so inclined to look here and there in the Scriptures for a helpful verse, or to read some familiar passage, but there are treasures to be found, if we dig for them.  As Jeremiah shouted, “Thy Words were found and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart, for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts, as the old King James Version powerfully states (15:16).   “Your Words were found”…. by my searching, my seeking God, my digging into the Book.  Shame on us for being content with just a few pleasant verses, chosen at random here and there.  What a blessing to dig with you into the heart of the Word of God.

Now our reading for today is PSALM 6.  I think this is one of the most candid looks into the anguished heart of David, when he was in turmoil with his son, Absalom, and in the struggles of his kingdom.   Notice how absolutely open he is in saying, in vs. 2, “Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony, my soul is in anguish, How long, O Lord, how long.”   What a cry from the heart of a man in some terrible situation, with both body and soul in agony.  Ever felt like that?  Sometimes suffering of mind and spirit is even worse than suffering in the body because it seems relentless in its effect on every day’s activities.  David’s anguish was very great, as he cries in vs.6, “I am worn out from groaning, I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.”   In all of Scripture, I think this is surely one of the strongest expression of deep human despair.

But then, he affirms his faith in vs. 9, “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy.”  In other words, if we can be convinced of that truth we can be quietly confident that what is best for us He will provide.  It may seem anomalous, even ridiculous to say that God has answered my prayer for help, when my problems continue to assault me.  But that is what commitment is all about.  It is easy to trust in the Lord when things are smooth and pleasant, it is proof of the quality of my faith when I trust Him when my heart cries, “How long, O Lord, how long?”  It is no wonder that David was entrusted with these great treasures of inspired Scripture.  Even as He trusted the Lord in the dark, so God could entrust Him with these great Psalms which shine with the Lord’s presence and from which we can learn to reflect God’s glory as well, in darkness or sunshine.

“Thank you, Lord, for this startling chapter which opens up so clearly the depth of the suffering of a great man of God.  May we find encouragement here, Lord, even as we experience testing, from time to time.  Remind us that you have only one Son without sin, but you have no sons without suffering.  Bless that one who senses, Lord, a heart affinity with King David, and with you, Lord Jesus.  Bless each one who is along, that we all may be prepared to trust you fully.” 

Thank you, partner, for being here with me.  Cheerio!     Love, Monty

Psalm 6

Psalm 5

Devotional by Monty Sholund, Founder, Village Schools of the Bible

Hello, my friend.   Welcome to another sharing of these heart-cries of King David.  It’s so important to become familiar with Scripture, to ponder it and get the deep feelings of the writer, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to share these thoughts.  After all, 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable… that the person of God may be mature, thoroughly equipped for good work.   So it is worthwhile to spend a while regularly in God’s Word in a particular way.

It is interesting, isn’t it, how we left David yesterday lying down, to sleep in peace, saying in Psalm 4:8, “For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  What calm reassurance, when that chapter began with David admitting he was in deep distress.  And now,  in PSALM 5, we find David saying again, after a night of peace, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;  in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”   I think that is significant.  Resting in the Lord doesn’t make us indolent or indifferent to waiting on God with expectation.  I heard a man say, facing some need, “Well, I’ve prayed about it, and that’s what is important.”  He is right and He is wrong.   I love the way David says he would lay his requests before the Lord.  In other words, he wasn’t vague about his needs.  He was precise, systematic, conscientious in laying out his requests.  And then, having done that, he says, “I will wait in expectation.”   Real prayer is much more than a glib comment.

And what are some of the requests which he would lay out before the Lord in this chapter?   In contrast to the evil around him, he says, in vs. 7 and 8, that he would come into God’s house in reverence and would bow down, would kneel and would pray, “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness…”   In fact, worship precedes work.  I can do nothing until I have reverently prayed about it, but I can expectantly do anything once I have prayed about it.  To plunge into the day without pausing, thoughtfully, to pray about it, simply means I have no right to expect God to work in me that day.

And then, in vs. 11, in spite of difficulties caused by people whose tongues are speaking deceit, whose words can never be trusted, who rebel against the Lord and His Word, David shouts, “Let all who take refuge in you be glad;  let them ever sing for joy.”  Indeed, praise and shouts of joy are appropriate at any time, but they are particularly significant when I am surrounded by difficulties and discouragements on every side.  David knew that, as we can sense in this chapter.  And he closes the chapter by saying that the Lord surely will bless His people and surround them with His favor as with a shield.  His presence is equal to any of the darts that the evil one can hurl at us.  And the key is simply in that little word, “refuge”, a dwelling place in the hollow of God’s hand. 

“Thank you Lord for this huge encouragement that we have the right by Grace to take refuge in you.  Let this be so for my friend who has joined along and for any in critical need, just now.  Help us to rest in this place of great refuge, as we enjoy you together.” 

Thanks, partner, for being along.  Cheerio!  It’s great to be together.

Psalm 5

Election Day Perspective

“The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that’s where our hope is in this country. And that’s where our hope is in life.”

Chuck Colson founder of Prison Fellowship International

“For he is the living God
    and he endures forever;
his kingdom will not be destroyed,
    his dominion will never end.”  Dan. 6:26b

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  Rom. 13:1

“Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.   Ps.40:10-11  (very relevant for 2020)

Election Day Perspective