A Psalm 63 Journal
Don’t set aside Psalm 63 and its truth, but rather
purpose to knead its truths into your daily life. Begin
today—start a journal. The following journal instructions have been designed to help you set your feet
on the path of becoming more like David and, most
importantly, of growing in your dependence on God
as you travel through your wilderness.
1. Describe the “wilderness” troubles you face today.
Include the ordinary and the extraordinary—the routine
and the arid. Be specific. Put your sufferings into words as
David did in the psalms.
2. Seek God in the words of Psalm 63:1. Memorize these
words. Speak to God. As part of seeking God, evaluate
what you are tempted to seek after instead. As you seek
Him, confess what tends to distract you.
3. Search for truth about God’s character and works in your
daily Scripture reading. Start with what Psalm 63 says.
Then branch out. In every passage you read ask, “What
does this show me about Who God is and how He works?”
Throughout the day, set your mind on transforming the routine elements of your situation into wonderful reminders of
God’s character and works revealed to you in His Word.
4. Plan to praise God in word and in deed. Connect the truth
of Psalm 63 to the admonition of Hebrews 13: 15 and 16:
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice
of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks
to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share,
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” List some
of God’s blessings. Include the ordinary as well as the
extraordinary. Pray a prayer of thankful praise for these
blessings in your life. Name the person with whom you
will share these blessings today. Next, list several key
responsibilities that you plan to fulfill today as an act of
praise to God. Choose responsibilities that you might normally neglect. Make the list concrete and specific. Finally,
be proactive. Plan one way that you can reach out to
someone with love and kindness. Be realistic. Be specific.
David’s growth in his dependence on God in the wilderness
involved repetition. For example, many times David meditated
on God as his refuge. Your journal should reflect this same
repetition. When you find yourself routinely replacing a desire
for God with seeking after financial security or with wanting
people to accept you, confess it each time. If God’s holy love
captivates your thoughts, list it again tomorrow. Resist the idea
that you have to come up with some new thought each day.
Success is not escaping the wilderness, but growing to
become like Christ in the wilderness. The growth continues
until that day when we see Him face-to-face—when God
completes His glorious work of transformation in our lives.
4. Confess your sins.
At times we find ourselves in the wilderness because we live
in a sinful world with other sinners and much suffering. But
at other times, we find ourselves in the wilderness because
we ourselves are sinners. How do we bring praise to God in a
wilderness of our own creating? God offers us the clear answer
in His Word: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous-ness” (1 John 1: 9). Also, seek the forgiveness of those you have
sinned against. Reflect again on God’s glory and His faithful
works on our behalf. Then share the story of the faithful, forgiving, transforming God with other fellow travelers who need
His encouragement in the wilderness.
As the time of our family vacation drew closer, I assembled
a notebook for each of my children to guide them through our
trip. I included travel brochures and printouts that described
in words and pictures the destinations and activities we had
planned. In addition, I printed maps using my map software.
The first map showed the entire route on one page. Each page
that followed pictured the distance planned for one day of
travel. But I forgot to include the scale on each map. My two
astute geography students immediately noticed and reminded
me that each day’s trip looked like it was the same length as
the others. Whether the particular map was of the entire trip,
50 miles, or 400 miles, every map looked like we would have
to travel only about six inches!
In a sense, God operates in a similar way, but purposefully.
He has told us the destination. He has promised us a sure and
safe arrival. He has left us with a Guidebook to follow as we
travel. In addition, He has given us our own personal Guide in
the person of the Holy Spirit. His Son has traveled the path
before us. Yet He does not give us a scale to determine how
long each leg of the journey will be.
Truthfully, most of the time I want a scale. Instead God
says, “Seek after Me earnestly.” Turn from seeking the desires
that lead to dead ends. He calls to us, “Reflect on Me continually.” Refuse to allow the road construction and rough terrain
to distract you. God invites us, “Praise Me submissively.” Speak
words of praise to Him. Finally, one day, on that final day, we
will look back across the entire journey and see it as a path to
becoming like His Son.
Jeff Newman (DMin, Westminster Theological Seminary) is a professor of
Bible and Biblical counseling at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary. This article was originally published in The Journal of
Biblical Counseling (Fall 2003, Vol. 22, No. 1). A condensed version is
reprinted here with permission.
One day we will look back across the
entire journey and see it as a path to
becoming like His Son.