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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Journey Inward, Journey Outward*

Psalm 46; Proverbs 8:1-21; Mark 3:13-19a

Each and every day we can give thanks for “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We do not need to live in fear for the Lord is always near.

Furthermore, God is the source of all wisdom for us, more precious than silver or gold or rubies. “Nothing [we] desire can compare with her [God’s wisdom].” And in the New Testament we find that Christ Jesus crucified is the the power and wisdom of God. “but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24). The wisdom we read about, in Proverbs 8, is thought to be a precursor or representation of Jesus.

In Mark 3 we see again the importance of “God with us,” Jesus’ presence with his disciples. Jesus calls the disciples, why? Here we find two important reasons in verse 14, “that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”

This is important for all who follow Jesus. Jesus wants to be with us and desires to send us out into the world for his mission and vision of life. Thus we have two very important characteristics of what it means to follow Jesus right here in this verse: We are to take the Journey Inward, that is to be close to Jesus who wants to be near us, guide us, and speak into our lives. This is the journey of spirituality, being with Jesus. Next there is the Journey Outward, that is to be sent out into the world to share the love, hope, and words of Jesus with others. This is the journey of ministry and mission, in Jesus name.

I encourage you today to think about your walk with Jesus. Are you taking the Journey Inward, spending time with the Lord Jesus who wants to be with you? And are you taking the Journey Outward, spending time doing what Jesus wants in your world and area of influence?

We can describe the Christian life as the Journey Inward and the Journey Outward.

Prayer: Lord God, our refuge and strength, we are grateful you are near to us, our present help. We thank you for the Lord Jesus who calls us be with him and desires to speak into our lives. This day, help us to pause and listen to the Lord Jesus. May he, indeed, speak to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

*I am grateful to Elizabeth O’Connor for her book Journey Inward, Journey Outward. It’s a great read for insights on following Jesus and being a part of his Church.

Sowing Seeds of Faith

Today’s Reading:  Click Here  –  Psalm 46; Genesis 45:25-46:7; Acts 5:33-42   (to open the scripture links – hover over the highlighted areas, right click, open hyperlink)  

Psalm 46, a hymn of praise for the soprano choir, hailing the deliverance from enemy, foe and ruin. The Psalmist says here, that even if the world should end, we need not to fear, because in the face of wide-spread destruction and adversity, Psalm 46 expresses a quiet confidence, assurance and buoyancy in God’s ability to save us. What a peaceful assurance.  When we consider the dark and daunting thoughts of the world crashing in around us, uncertain misfortunes and mishaps, and being consumed with fear is a natural response either way.  But thank goodness we can find comfort and armor not only in this psalm, but all throughout scripture. We can rest assure that God is our shelter even in the midst of utter destruction.  He is not merely a temporary fix for a moment of despair, but our eternal salvation, refuge and strength in EVERYDAY and ANY circumstance and situation we face.  Sing out. Sing loud, and rejoice and give God praise!

Like Jacob, in our reading from Genesis today, we too can find it hard to take any breaking news, good or bad, without facts and proof, as truth.  In this case, for Jacob, it was an incredible wave of good news; that his son, Joseph whom he had mourned for so deeply, could actually be alive. One can almost visualize this scene; the words, the circumstances, the mystery of indescribable feelings, wanting so much for it to be true. But for an instant, doubt and disbelief interfere, until facts and proof are unveiled that soon settle his unbelief.  Perhaps, deep down, Jacob never lost hope that Joseph was alive and would return to him. It was his dying wish.

Our New Testament passage today from the book of Acts, is best understood if you start at the beginning of Chapter 5 which I included in the above scripture link. It continues the account of the Apostles’ arrest and trial.  Their crime was preaching that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, that the Jewish leadership murdered Him, and that God has endorsed Jesus through the miraculous sign of the resurrection from the dead.   Earlier in Chapter 5, (vs. 17-21) the Apostles were arrested and placed in a public prison and then sometime during the night an Angel came and rescued them and gave them a message from God…’Go back to the Temple and preach the message of eternal life’.  Also, remember that it was the next morning when their trial was to begin that they could not be found in the prison but were found in the Temple teaching the people that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that only through Jesus can one be made right with God.  This teaching and the circumstances surrounding it greatly challenged the authority of the Jewish leadership…and they were seriously angered.

The primary claim of this text curtails 1 Corinthians 1:18  ‘For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’. 

For us, this passage directs us to consider our own cost of following Jesus Christ.  What if we encounter trials, hardship or sufferings as a result of speaking the name of Jesus and peaching the good news of the Gospel?  Because, truthfully, the initial effect the gospel has on the unbeliever, is uncertainty, anger and insulting because the message of the crucified, risen and exalted Savior is an offense to those who do not believe.  Are we prepared, are we passionate in our walk and relationship with Jesus, to face such a magnitude of anguish and upset, yet believing wholeheartedly that is it NOT in vain? We pray, that upon hearing this good news, they would humble their hearts and put their faith in Jesus, or at the very least, the sowed seed of faith would take root.

We are called to speak this truth and to stand firm in the midst of persecution for Jesus’ name sake. (Luke 6:22)  We too must seek power from on high, trusting that God, in every form, is every ounce of our strength and refuge as we work and move to do whatever is required of us to see that the name of Jesus is proclaimed to all the people and the nations.  

One hardship that I endured early on in my faith walk, was the loss of a 40year old friendship over time. I knew that she did not believe in God and my new life seemed so disturbing to her, that her heart hardened towards me, to the point our friendship endured lengthy periods of silence and was never the same.   As I mourned this friendship, what I really wanted to do was to lash out and give her a piece of my mind.  But my heart was soon comforted by the words of  (Matthew 5:10-12) .  I have to believe seeds of faith were planted through my words and actions back then as a new Christian. It has been over 5years now since I last heard from her. I pray for her so often.

Maybe you are experiencing something difficult in result of your faithful life and actions. Whatever it may be, stay true to God’s word ‘Be Still, and KNOW that He is God’ and He will fill that void, heal that hurt and bring restitution of any situation to light, all for His glory and endless love for you.

Here are a few songs for your spiritual growth and listening pleasure:

‘Psalm 46 – Lord of Hosts’ – Virtual Choir by First Alliance Church –  Calgary, Alberta

‘Psalm 46 Hymn’ by Church Works Media      

‘Truth Be Told’ by Matthew West

‘There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do’ by Passion Ft. Kristen Stanhill  

PRAYER

Lord, I sing praise through the beautiful choruses of the Psalms. My heart is still, for I know you are with me. You set my feet on lofty places, and I will dwell with you now and forever. With your gentle nudge and fierce love, keep me on the straight and narrow path that leads to you, to life eternal. Let truth and trust be words for this day. I rest in you, and I am comforted. I speak your holy word to fall fresh on deaf ears. Things and people will come and go, but you Lord remain. You are my constant in every valley and mountain top. I praise you this day and everyday. In Jesus’ name I declare His victory. Amen.

Kris

Resource: gccwaverly.net/k.davis

Salvation or Destruction

Revelation 18:11-20

Psalm 62: 5-12

Jeremiah 19: 1-15

Revelation 18:11-20 “Wherever there is idolatry, prostitution, self-glorification, self-sufficiency, pride, complacency, reliance upon luxury and wealth, avoidance of suffering, and violence against life, there is Babylon.” (Expositors Bible Commentary) These verses in Revelation refer to Babylon’s destruction, and many interpretations of Revelation, try to identify the imagery of the ‘city’ as an actual location, ranging from Rome, to Nineveh, to Jerusalem, to Babylon, and many more. The bigger picture is to understand that whatever location, if it is, it will be typified by the above description. The world, in contrast to Christianity, is ready to embrace, and longs for, any political system, or leadership that can give them luxury, no suffering, and leisure. It’s origin, the cost, it’s ultimate results are of no consequence to those that follow this leadership. But when destruction comes, for it’s basic economic model cannot sustain itself, the destruction will be exceedingly swift, and all who embraced it will be mourning, weeping, and devastated by the loss. John has already warned the churches to beware of this deceit and the snares of this system. In todays current condition in America, the vast majority of citizens don’t care where our so-called stimulus money comes from, how it will be paid back, or for that matter, how much is wasted or misdirected as long as they get their share. And it is a world wide condition. The real hope is for ‘someone’ to make my life better, richer, easier, like in the movies.

Psalm 62:5-12

A psalm of David where he starts writing about his pattern of life focused on Jehovah. Verses 1-2 “My soul waits in silence for Elohim only; From Him is my salvation. He only is my my Rock and my salvation, my stronghold, I shall not be moved.” Verse 5 picks up the same theme but now it is a prayer and a desire to continue, “My soul, wait in silence for God only, my hope is from Him. He only is my Rock and my Salvation; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my Glory rest; The Rock of my Strength, my Refuge is in God.” David moves on then to give warning and instruction to his readers, “Trust in Jehovah at all times. Pour out your heart before Him; He is a Refuge for us.”

Continuing in verse 9. “Men of low degree brag without cause, men of rank are prideful without acknowledging God, both have no standing with God, on God’s scale they don’t even begin to move the balance. They are not a part of God’s economy. They both oppress people, and they lie for their own gain, but real Power belongs to Jehovah; and also lovingkindness, O God, You alone repay according to Your economy, which is heavenly, and not of this world.”

Jeremiah 19: 1-15

Jeremiah was ordered by Jehovah to take a clay pot with him and to call some of the Elders and senior Priests together at the Potsherd Gate of the city. He then is to give them stern warning that the path they have chosen is destruction. They have a pattern established in worship of Jehovah as in form only, like a superstition, because they also offer incense, burn offerings, and pour out drink offerings to all the heavenly host, on the rooftops of their own homes. The very first commandment of Jehovah is, “Thou shalt have no other god’s before Me.” How do they think that Jehovah doesn’t see their hypocrisy. Then Jeremiah is to break the clay pot in front of them as a symbol of how Jehovah will break them, and they will be buried in the deserted places, in the waste land like Topheth.

Remember friends, that the economy of this world is temporary at best, Jesus said many times to use the world’s money to bless others, and to never see it as something to be held onto. If you trust government, or money, or yourself, or others to save you, you are mistaken. Jehovah alone is our salvation, through His Son Jesus the Christ, who alone is our true Refuge, and Redeemer. As the Psalmist said,” He alone is my Rock, and my salvation,” and in Psalm 1:3 “Like a tree that is planted by the waters, I shall not be moved.”

Karl

In this Psalm David makes a statement of a past tense behavior of his own saying, “My soul waits in silence for Elohim (God) only; from Him is my salvation. He alone is my Rock, (Psalm 61.3 ‘a tower of strength against my enemies,’ my sure foundation, my house that is built upon the rock) and my Salvation, (Psalm 25:5 ‘For You {Jehovah}, are the God of my salvation,’ the one in whom I trust for eternity.) My stronghold, my tower and my fort that can withstand any siege); I cannot be shaken, ( Psalm 1:3 Like a tree that is planted by the water, I shall not be moved.)

It’s Complicated

Genesis 16

Review & Remarks: Since Abram is a wealthy man, old in years, and without a bloodline heir, his wife Sarai, who is barren up unto this point offers her Egyptian maidservant Hagar to him to conceive a child (vv. 1-3) … And so it goes, Hagar gets pregnant and a natural animosity is born between Sarai and Hagar (v. 4) … Sarai confesses her wrong to to Abram in conceiving, both in plan and execution. (v. 5) … Sarai deals “harshly” with Hagar, sending her away (v. 6) … At that time, childbearing was the mark of a successful woman, one favored by the LORD … In her estrangement, an Angel of the Lord meets Hagar telling her to obediently return to Abram’s estate. She will bear a son, Ishmael, whose descendents will be innumerable (vv. 7-11) … Ishmael’s disposition is wild, not the peaceful sort (v. 12) … Ishmael is the Arabs forefather, those “ites” in the OT … Hagar encounters God at a water well between Kadesh and Bered (vv. 13-14) … At the age of 88, Abram becomes a father, Hagar bears him a son, Ishmael (vv. 15-16) … Later (Gen. 21:9-21), after the birth of Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael are cast out for good … This is the start of our present day peace difficulties in the Middle East … Muhammad, founder of Islam, says the Arabs are favored. His claim is based on Ishmael as the first born heir to YHWH’s covenant with Abram (Gen. 12:1-3, 14-18, 15:1-6) … This saga seems strange to us looking at it around 4000 years later. However, it closely follows the precepts of the Code of Hammurabi, the conduct/law code of Mesopotamia, the homeland of Abram (Gen. 11:27-28) … Judaism/Christianity also claims the heir’s of Abraham through the birth of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-8), claiming his birth legitimate and Ishmael’s birth illegitimate … The viewpoint of each is easily understood… Sarai’s scheme has begot complications … God has used these descendents of Ishmael to discipline Israel up to the present hour … Some of their encounters have been God endorsed, many sections of the OT says as much. Others, based simply on their hatred of Jews, are not endorsed by God … Knowing exactly where the LORD’s will ends and human-kinds will begins is not easily discerned, at least by me … We’re left wondering, was there a better way? … In the fallen world in which we reside, possibly there was/is not a better way. It seems the plan of YHWH to create diversity among human kind … He certainly was/is perfectly capable of creating a human species completely devoid of diversity – all the same color and race, yet He did not … The rest, given our will is free, should always be a response to make the best of it … To this entrusted responsibility, well, you decide?!

Trust and Obedience

Psalm 86; I Samuel 15:10-31; Acts 5:1-11 (NIV)

In the prayer of David, Psalm 86, we find him expressing his utmost trust and dependence upon the Lord God. He asks God to answer his prayers for he is “poor and needy.” David depends on God for life, safety, and guidance. “Arrogant” and “ruthless people” are attacking him and trying to take his life. This could be about enemies within Israel or enemies outside the nation. We don’t know. Nevertheless, David holds on to God and lives by faith and trust in the Lord.

When we turn to King Saul in I Samuel 15:10-31 we find a King who is head strong and willful. Saul gets caught up in the moment, the experience of victory’ and does not listen to the Lord who wanted Israel to not bring back any spoil from the battle. However, they do bring back spoil and the Lord is upset with this personal aggrandizement and disobedience of a clear command. Saul was more interested in being a popular King than being an obedient servant in his role. The Kingdom is taken away from him and given to another. Samuel has to speak truth to power, telling Saul this sad news. Samuel stays up all night praying realizing that bringing such bad news to the King could be the end of his life. Yet Samuel trusts the Lord and does what God asked and is spared.

In Acts 5:1-11 we see another example of disobedience on the part of a couple, Ananias and Sapphira. As others in the church had done they sold a piece of land and brought the proceeds to the feet of the Apostles. However, they pretended to bring all of the proceeds while actually bringing only a part of the money. That would have been fine had they been honest about it and told the Apostles here’s a portion of the sale. But they wished to appear more generous than they were and enjoy the praise of the early church. Their deceit, dishonesty and pretended generosity, as we see in this story, were most serious. The early church needed people of integrity, real generosity, and faith and trust in the Lord to impact their world.

In every time, there are temptations to God’s people to go with what appears to be popular and easy in the moment. Sometimes fear overcomes faith, convenience replaces commitment, self-trust shuts out trust, and greed nullifies grace. We are all “poor and needy” people who need the mercy of God. We can always call on the Lord who is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

We can “Trust and Obey” as the old hymn says. Let’s trust the Lord in all things this day and always.

Prayer: Gracious, compassionate, and merciful God, look upon us with your favor and love this day. Empower us through your Holy Spirit to be faithful followers of Christ Jesus. We make this prayer in the Savior’s name, Amen.

Equipped to Follow

Today’s Reading:  Click Here  –  Psalm 86; 1 Samuel 9:27-10:8; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:16                                         (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)  

Today, I plan to look more closely at our 1 Samuel passage, bur first a quick glimpse of the other two.

Our 2nd Corinthians message today, is one of great importance. Paul is urging us to be aware and alert to being caught up ‘IN’ the ways of unbelievers that could possibly compromise our faith and divide our loyalties, but not to isolate from them completely, With our guard and awareness, we are to be active in their presence as witnesses for Christ Jesus. This bold passage also holds strong for marriages because a marriage of faith with unity in Christ Jesus is honored and blessed. Forthright passages, such as this one, instruct their importance by the force and weight they foster toward living in complete holiness.

Prayer. I remember early on in my Christian faith, actually telling God that I want to pray like THAT.  Like that of someone whose heart aligns with God and Christ lives within them. I prayed this over and over when I would hear a profound, almost poetic prayer, and think…’Yea, like that.’   When I read through Psalm passages whether it’s a Song of Solomon or a Prayer of David, many of the reminded of those early days trying to find the words of my heart to put them in prayer.  Time and time again, it’s as if I discover undeniable humbled relief through scripture, when I can’t seem to find my own words.  God, who knows my heart before I even speak, Psalms, like this one, are pure expressive bliss of my heart.

I soon realized there is no right or wrong way to pray or talk to God.  Matthew 6:9 says, ‘Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’   I can do that. I know that prayer, and that alone is conversation with God.  Then, Matthew 6:7 says “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.”  And I think, I can do this too. A heart to heart with God, my own heart, my own words. Besides, He already knows my heart and requests, my voice is pure music to His ears. So, I pray so often, it keeps my thoughts aligned with Him.

When we read 1Samuel scripture today, we witness how God’s call to power can be unfamiliar, perhaps even uncomfortable for any one of us, as it may have been for Saul. Who are we to judge God’s sovereign call of us or anyone else?  I imagine how Samuel may have felt, wondering what exactly God’s plan could be for such a mas as Saul, but yet he remained faithful and followed the instructions given to him.   

When we are called by God in any measure, we my experience a similar journey as that of Saul; First, there is a letting go of the past. Maybe it’s cleaning up unfinished business.  Maybe it’s letting go of old hurts. Whatever it is, once we let it go, we can more clearly look to the future and our new calling. Saul had a lot of past to face if he was going to be transformed and adhere to God’s call.

Next, the required and needed provisions are given to us.  Maybe it’s spiritual gifts. Maybe it’s people. Maybe it’s a willingness to learn and grow into the calling. I certainly felt God’s work early on in my faith walk through the people of my church, who soon became friends and mentors. It was and continues to be a willingness to learn and grow, as I am always a work in progress.  God rarely calls us to tasks that we are incapable of handling. We might not yet be fully equipped to manage it, but that all comes with time. We have within us what we need to follow God’s call — sometimes it just takes a little nurturing to bring those gifts to fullness.  I was called to many roles and tasks within the church early on, that I actually questioned my ability.  Someone shared a quote by Rick Yancey based on 13:21, ‘God does not call the equipped, He equips the called’, and I was being called.  What this meant for me was that He would see me through and that I needed to trust and call on Him through it all, especially when I did not feel suitable for such a time or task. There are more than a dozen scriptures to confirm this: (‘God Has Equipped Us’ )

Finally, like Saul, God’s calling is often unfamiliar and uncomfortable, especially when we are complacent in our ways.  Perhaps you are called to a role in Children’s ministry at the church or to lead a women’s bible study group.  It was so early on, but I knew God had plans for me, so I trusted Him, put on my big girl pants and jumped right in. I think that’s part of what makes it exciting!  Every time I’ve ever been challenged to learn, grow or do something outside my comfort zone, I have always come out on the other side better than when I first began and truly experienced God’s power and guidance through it all.  

What is God calling you to do?  

Talk to Him in prayer, to reveal His next plan for you.

What can you do to prepare?

Perhaps find some online Christian Ministry classes, or seek involvement in your church of things that interest you. Pay attention when others speak highly of your success or talents, those are a good pivotal point.

Is now the time?

Most likely, if you are even thinking about it.  No better time than the present as God will pave the way.

So, begin with saying “yes” to God’s calling. It most likely be the best thing you’ve ever done.

I know it was f or me, and it continues to be, because I know He is not done with me yet.

Here are a few songs for your spiritual growth and listening pleasure:

‘God Is Able’ by Equip Church International

‘I Will Folllow’ by Chris Tomlin

‘Live Like That’ by Sidewalk Prophets

‘Different’ by Micah Tyler

‘No Matter What’ by Ryan Stephenson    

PRAYER

Lord, I am grateful for your word that reminds me of whose I am, the life you have called me to and the warnings that could easily lead me down paths of destruction.  Thank you that you KNOW my heart and hear my prayers no matter what words I choose or not choose to use. My heart aligns with your Spirit, which fills me and guides me always. I am a humbled servant to do your will, because you promise to provide all that I need.  When I begin to feel uncertain and question my abilities, I will RESET my focus and steps toward you. Thank you for calling me to task to serve and honor you. For all I do, may it bring you glory always.  I pray this all, and so much more, in Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Kris

Redemption Draweth Nigh

Psalm 69: 1-5, 30-36

Isaiah 41: 14-20

John 1: 29-34

Psalm 69: 1-5, 30-36 In this psalm of David, he cries out to Jehovah because of injustice. His adversaries hate him, not because so much of anything he has done, but because he appears holy and he is chosen by God. The courts won’t hear his case but rubber stamps all accusations against him. David is a type of Christ in this first passage. He then continues with songs of praise for what he expects Jehovah to do, and what he knows of the character of God. Jehovah is our Redeemer, and is going to send One who will actually redeem, that is pay the price, for the sins of the world.

Isaiah 41: 14-20 Isaiah writes before Assyria and Babylon takes Israel and Judah captive, removing them physically from their land. Isaiah prophesies these events, and reveals that it is Jehovah who causes nations to prosper and conquer for His purposes, and that Israel should not fear, for redemption will come.

John 1:29-34 Redemption is on the horizon, as promised by these prophets. This passage is the introduction of the New Covenant as prophesied specifically in Jeremiah 31.31, where Israel is being told of a Spiritual relationship to be brought to them through the Works of God alone, the letter of the law being superseded by the work of the Spirit, and fulfilled by the coming Messiah, who will redeem Israel and the world also. John was baptizing with water in relation to repentance of sins, Luke 1:17, “so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” When Jesus appeared in the crowd, John saw Him and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world !” John then admits that he did not recognize Jesus physically, or as KJV states “he knew Him not,” meaning there were no distinguishing physical attributes to attract anyones attention to Him. Jesus had done nothing, no healing, no teaching, no ministry at this time to attract notice to Himself. Moreover, though John and Jesus were related by blood, they had not lived in close proximity to each other and not really met each other until this very day. It was, in fact, the Holy Spirit who revealed to John alone, that Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” and not merely a lamb of God but the “Passover Lamb of God.”

The Holy Spirit told John, vs. 33. “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” John then says emphatically, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” No one else in the crowd there, saw the dove descending and resting upon Jesus, only John to whom it was revealed.

These writings and testimonies, from the prophets, to John, to us, are of spiritual value only, they mean nothing to the world in the flesh. The unbelievers mock the idea of religion, it is just superstition and nonsense to them, for they cannot see spiritual reality. As Jesus himself told the Samaritan woman at the well, those who seek to worship Jehovah must worship in Spirit and in Truth. The prophets of old spoke by utterance of the Holy Spirit, they were understood by the few who were living by faith in the Spirit realm, and all who believe today, believe by faith, understanding the truth Spiritually. That is why Paul could say things like Galatians 2.20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

As we live in todays world, with deception and untruth all around us, it is only by faith in the Son of God that we can Spiritually understand any truth. Nations rise to power by the hand of God alone. People rise to positions of power, and prominence by the hand of God alone, who also causes their descent when His purposes are accomplished. We as believers follow Jesus, not politicians, as we are born of the Spirit, and He loves us very much, they don’t.

Karl

A Lament of David

Psalm 69

Review & Remarks: David is “up to his neck” in troubles metaphorically – water, mire, and floods (vv. 1-2) … Sobbing, dry throat, failing eyesight are his in waiting for God’s response (v. 3) … He is despised by many (v. 4, cp. Jn. 15:25) … Lord, you know me (vv. 5-6) … Because of my public relationship with You – fasting , sackcloth clothing, I am song for Jerusalem’s drunks (vv. 7-12, cp Jn. 2:17, Rom. 15:3) … I want out (vv. 13-15) … Deal me out!… LORD, listen to me, I have nowhere else to turn (vv. 16-18) … LORD, you’re witness to it all (v. 19), they are treating me horribly (vv. 20-21, cp. Matt. 27:34, 48) … Punish them, consistent with Your righteousness (vv. 22-28, Acts 1:15-20) … To summarize, David expresses God will eventually hear his concerns, and pleas and respond (vv. 29-33) … God will do His part in rebuilding Judah, into making it habitable for generations to come (vv. 34-36) … This is a similar vein to Isaiah 53, something I blogged on for Christmas Day, the Suffering Servant … A reference in my Bible associates Paul’s Rom. 11:9-10 with verses 22-23 … This psalm is classified Imprecatory as it calls for divine vengeance to befall the”enemies” of the writer … Imprecatory calls or prayers have been thought to be inappropriate for Christians to apply … Nevertheless, quite a bit of this psalm is quoted in the New Testament, including from Jesus as indicated above … Make up your own mind in this New Year … For what it’s worth, “making up my mind,” freely, on any matter that matters is not easy, as it comes with responsibility.

By Faith- Updated

Psalm 69:1-5, 30-36; Genesis 17:1-13; Romans 4:1-12 (NIV)

We live by faith even in difficult times.

In Psalm 69, a Psalm of David, we read of a most trying and troubling time for the King. Enemies are seeking to destroy him and so he cries out to God, “Save me, O God…I sink…I have come into deep waters…I am worn out…”

This past year we have all been through deep waters and the beginning of 2021 is challenging as well. We too can cry out to the Lord and share our troubles and challenges knowing that we will be heard. The Psalm ends with the praise of God for many reasons and because, “The Lord hears the needy…” Here we find faith.

In Genesis 17 we find faith in God on the part of Abraham. Just as Abraham left his home (Genesis 12) to go to a land that God would show him, in faith, so here we see Abraham, in faith, accepting God’s covenant with him. By faith Abraham says yes to God’s covenant and promise of many descendants even though he and Sarah are growing older and they don’t even have a single child. In faith Abraham says yes to God.

Sometimes it is in faith that we say yes to God for a future we cannot see but only trust God to bring to fruition. The Lord holds the future and even in dark times we can rest in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

Finally, in Romans 4, Paul reminds us that, just like Abraham we are justified by faith. Abraham’s faith in God was credited to him as righteous. When we trust in the Lord Jesus, put our faith in him, the righteousness of Jesus is applied to our lives and all of our sins are forgiven. We are accepted and loved by God.

It is by faith that we live. We can trust the Lord Jesus to see us through this new year of 2021 in each and every moment.

Prayer: God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we thank you for your saving grace and presence. Guide us this day and through this year and empower us to live by faith. We thank you for your amazing love shown us in the Lord Jesus, in whose name we pray, Amen.

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