Setting free – releasing (Prayer day 18)

Bitterness hardens your heart, darkens your world and impedes your freedom.  It makes your world very small and gloomy.  But the gift of forgives will change all that in an instant. 


Psalms 23:5-6 – A Psalm of David

5  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.


  1. Describe the scene that verse 5 sketches. Who is present?
  2. What is the state of the Psalmist in this portion of the Sheppard Psalm?
  3. What do you think the Psalmist would want the Lord to do with his enemies?
  4. David expects “goodness and mercy… forever” form the Lord. What does this passage suggest the Lord expects from David?
  5. In this context, what do you think does “prepare a table”, ”“anoint my head”  and “cup runs over” mean?

Personal reflection and Application

In this scene the Lord brings David face-to-face in confrontation with his “enemies”, at a table prepared by the Lord, where there is abundant favour and grace.  A table represents a peace meal. 

Consider your life path, and especially the moments of hurt through betrayal, abuse, rejection, etc.  The Good Sheppard knows that, to experience fullness of life requires a face-to-face encounter with these moments, and to make peace with the enemies who caused those hurts.  That’s why he teaches us to pray “forgive us… as we forgive…”

  1. Ask the Lord to search your heart and bring to light any unresolved hurts. Write it down, and the people involved.  Prayerfully reflect on those moments, the people, then articulate your emotions of the events and the consequences. [If it becomes too much, take a break but commit to see this through; perhaps even make an appointment with a Christian friend or counsellor].
  2. Pray for love and then – from your heart – express forgiveness for the people who caused you hurt “as God in Christ forgave us” (Eph 4:32).  Pray until you feel a release of love.
  3. Bless these people who caused your harm: pray God’s goodness and loving favour upon them – because God is generous and good.
  4. Ask the Lord to heal your heart and bring his lasting peace.

Note: It might be helpful for yourself to write a letter to these people – even if you never intend to send it to them – where you express forgiveness and love to them.  And it is always helpful to share this healing process with a Christian friend or small group.





Receiving forgiveness – cleansing (Prayer day 17)

Guilt and shame cause feelings of depression, even physical sickness.  But experiencing the gift of forgiveness brings freedom, a fresh lease on life.

I believe this song by Elevation Worship will greatly enhance your reading and prayer today.


Psalm 32:1-5 –  An Instruction of David

1  Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

2  Blessed is the man against whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3  For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.

4  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

5  I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Observations and reflections

Explanatory Notes“imputes no iniquity” is a legal term by which the judge declares you just, meaning the judge finds no wrong in you. “transgression” means the act of breaking a law. “sin” usually refers to “missing the mark / aiming for wrong” in general. “iniquity” means the inherent tendency to doing wrong, such as in alcoholism. “deceit” means pretense or falsehood.  “Redemption” means purchasing freedom, like paying a fine or releasing a slave.  

  1. Note the parallelism (two ways of saying the same thing) in verses 1 and 2. What words are used for (a) sin and for (b) forgiveness. What do you learn from this?
  2. Describe in your own words effect guilt had on for David. (v3-4)
  3. How did David receive freedom from his guilt? (verse 5)
  4. What does this Psalm teach about (a) God and (b) our relation to Him?

Personal reflection and Prayer

Guilt is a gift from God – the deep knowing that I have done what is wrong is needed to make right with God.  The feelings of guilt (doing wrong) and shame (being wrong) should not lead us into hiding, because “silence makes our bones waste away (and) strength dry up” (v3-4).  But blurting out all our wrongs before God brings freedom, receive forgiveness and a fresh lease on life. That’s why Jesus taught us to pray “forgive us our sins…”

Let’s pray this prayer of David slowly, by talking to God through the outline of this Psalm.

  1. Can you recall a time when you felt heavy under guilt for doing something wrong that you had done? Describe your feelings and behavior. Why did you feel that way? When and how did you receive freedom from that guilt?
  2. Can you recall a time when you felt worthless or ashamed because of your tendency to do the wrong thing, even though you wanted to do right? Describe your feelings and behavior. When and how did you receive freedom from that guilt?
  3. In the presence of God, do you feel guilty for doing wrong, or shame for being wrong?
  4. When and how did you receive freedom from that guilt? Then blurt out your wrongs to God one by one and say these words to him: “In Jesus I have redemption (freedom) through His blood, the forgiveness of my sins, according to the riches of Your grace, which You lavished upon me” (Ephesians 1:7-8)

Note: Speak to God about your wrongs until you have assurance of forgiveness. Sometimes it helps praying with a friend or councilor.

Dealing with guilt and shame (Prayer day 10)

As David discovered, it is often harder to deal with one’s own betrayal and failure, than forgiving another’s vindictiveness and treachery. A soul that is burdened by guilt and shame feels dirty, depressed, down and deserted by God. But God is forever ready to forgive and restore.


Psalms 51:1-19 A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had sinned sexually with Bathsheba and orchestrated the death of her husband Uriah.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


  1. Describe David’s emotional state in writing this Psalm. (v8-14)
  2. Look at verses 1-2.
  • What is David’s chief motive(s) for this prayer?
  • How does David know God to be, and on what basis does David approach God?
  1. What does David want from God? (v7-14)
  2. What does God want from David? (v17)
  3. Who was involved in this sin of David? (see the heading of the Psalm before verse 1). But against whom does David say he sinned? (v4) Why does he write that?
  1. What is the root cause of David’s sinful acts? (v5)
  2. What is the David’s hope to overcome his sinfulness? (v6)

Personal reflection and Prayer

David’s conscience constantly convicted him of his lust and betrayal of his marital vows to his wife, his leadership entrustment for Uriah, his kingship entrusted by God and his devotion to his Lord. In his guilt-ridden state he felt dirty, depressed, down and deserted by God. But he knew God to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15) and humbled himself before God who hears.

  1. Try to imagine yourself before God after committing adultery and murder. Do you have the same confidence as David that God would show you mercy? Ask God reveal himself as the God of Mercy to you.
  2. In which way can you identify with David’s betrayal of his wife, his soldiers, his convictions and his God? Have you been there? Speak to God about that. Ask him for “a new spirit” and “truth in the inward parts.”
  3. Can you presently identify with David’s feeling of guilt and shame before God or others? Follow the pattern of this psalm and pray your own words to God, confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness and a new nature. Pray until you feel the burden of guilt lift.

The Love of God 6 – ready to forgive

The aim of this devotional is to reflect on God’s loving nature, which makes him “ready to forgive”.


Psalms 86:1-7 [A Prayer of David]

1  Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

2  Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you–you are my God.

3  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.

4  Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

5  For you, O Lord, are good and ready to forgive, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

6  Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.

7  In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.



Note: In this Psalm David give a reason for every petition he prays or every phrase of praise – it is meant as an encouragement and a teaching.

  1. Complete this Table by filling in the reasons or motivation (in your own words) why David petitions God for help in his troubles:
86:1   For audience with the LORD.  
86:2a   For preservation.  
86:2b   For temporal salvation.  
86:3   For gracious consideration.  
86:4   For joy and gladness.  
86:5 [following the previous petitions]  
86:6   For audience with the Lord.  
86:7   For help in the day of his trouble.  

(table from the Believer’s Bible Commentary)

  1. Focus on verse 5: “For you, O Lord, are good and ready to forgive, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”
    1. What do you learn about God’s character and nature in this line?
    2. Consider the Lord’s “steadfast love”, “goodness” and “readiness to forgive”
      1. What do you understand under each of these phrases?
      2. How does the Psalmist see the link between these characteristics?
    3. David wrote this Psalm. Can you think of a particular time in his life when He relied on God’s “steadfast love… ready to forgive”?

Personal reflection and prayer

  1. When you become aware of your character failures or your tendency to sin, do you tend to
    1. Shy away from God or godly people?
    2. Go confidently to God in prayer alone?
    3. Pray with a godly friend or small group/ Bible study group?
  2. What do you think the Psalmist did when he became aware of his sinfulness? And why?
  3. Mediate prayerfully on verse 5: “For you, O Lord, are good and ready to forgive, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”
    1. Are there sins you need to confess to God? He is “ready to forgive!”
    2. Ask that the Lord to reveal afresh his “steadfast love” to you!

Salvation 13

The Aim of this devotional study is to learn about God’s forgiveness and salvation in response to our cries for help.


Psalms 130:1-8

1  Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!  2  O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

3  If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  4  But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

5  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;  6  my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

7  O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.  8  And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.


  1. Take one word from every section to summarize that portion of the Psalm





  1. Now in one sentence, summarize what you understand this Psalm is about.
  2. What do you think is his link between “depth” (v1) and “iniquities” (v3) in this Psalm?


  1. When you read this Psalm, to whom would you recommend it as encouragement and guideline to help them with their situation? e. into what type of situation does this Psalm speak?
  2. What practical guidelines do you learn from this Psalm response to hopeless situations – even if they were caused by your foolishness or sin?


Personalize and pray this prayer of deliverance for yourself or someone in a tough, hopeless situation.

Salvation 4

The Aim of this devotional study is to increase your appreciation and hope for Christ Jesus’ work of salvation.

This short sermon jam of Judah Smith will greatly enhance this Bible Study:


Ephesians 1:3-14

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

7  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9  making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12  so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

13  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.



Note: you will notice very clear correlation between Ephesians and Colossians since they were written in the same time, to similar congregations who shared a similar challenges by the same man, Paul.

  1. Read through the passage and list the benefits we have in God because of Christ’s saving work in our lives.
  2. Write down what you understand with these phrases Paul uses to describe Christ’s work of salvation in our lives:
  • Blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places:
  • Chose us:
  • To be holy and blameless:
  • Predestined for adoption as sons:
  • To be the praise of his glorious grace:
  • Has blessed us in the Beloved:
  • Redemption through his blood:
  • Forgiveness of sins:
  • Unite all things in him:
  • Obtained an inheritance as sons:
  • Predestined according to his purpose:
  • Sealed with the Holy Spirit as guarantee of our inheritance:
  1. What does Paul mean with the phrase “hope in Christ”?


  1. Reflect on what you know of Scripture (and even what is above). What are you sure of is yours eternally because of what Christ has accomplished for you.  What is your inheritance in Christ – what do you hope for in the life to come?


Pray the following five things for yourself and your small group (or someone you love) the first prayer of Paul for the Ephesians:

Ephesians 1:17-21

17  [I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.Seal

Salvation 3

The Aim of this devotional study is to better understand Christ’s complete work salvation.


Colossians 1:13-23

13  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.  17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

19  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21  And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22  he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23  if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.


  1. Regarding Paul’s readers in Colossi: what were they saved from? (v21) And how were they saved from that? (v20-21)
  2. Read through the section again and list the words that are used to describe God’s saving work in our lives through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. (v13, 20-22)
  3. Now say what you understand with these terms regarding Christ’s work of salvation in our lives:
  • Delivered from darkness:
  • Transferred to Christ’s kingdom:
  • Redemption:
  • Forgiveness of sins:
  • Reconciled to himself, making peace through the blood:
  • Reconciled in his body of flesh:
  • Present you holy:
  • Present you blameless:
  • Present you above reproach:
  1. What does Paul refer to when he speaks of “the hope of the gospel”? (hint: what is the ultimate promise of the gospel – what do hope for through Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension?)
  2. Read verse 22-23 again “to reconcile you… to present you holy and blameless… if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel you heard”. What do you read in that verse?  Would you say from this verse that Paul believed that if you are saved once, you are always saved?  Why?  Why not?


In this letter Paul warns that one can fall away from Christ because you rely on your own efforts to save yourself from the power of sin (which he argues is impossible).  Our hope in the gospel of Christ is that Jesus has reconciled us to the Father through his cruel death on our behalf, and that ultimately he will save us from the power of death and presence of sin and Satan.

  1. Take some time to reflect on your life, your efforts, your thoughts and actions: in which ways are you prone to rely on your own efforts to save yourself from sin or death?
  2. Likewise, how do you trust in Christ’s completed work of salvation? What in your life shows that you trust in Christ’s completed work?


Spend some time thanking God for the fullness of His salvation through Jesus Christ: that He has delivered you from darkness and transferred you to Christ’s kingdom, have been bought back through his redemption and completely forgiven; that God has reconciled you to himself and that you are at peace; that he will present you holy, blameless and above reproach.