Posts tagged ‘Psalm’

November 17, 2014

The Linchpin of Generous Words

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading
Amos 6 (Listen – 2:22)
Luke 1.39-80 (Listen – 9:58)

Emotions run high during the holidays… people in the United States are more likely to feel their stress increase rather than decrease,” notes the American Psychological Association. [1] In this way, the human experience around Christ’s birth hasn’t changed since Mary responded to the angel’s announcement. Mary initially replied not with exuberant praise but simple obedience; “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Her unadorned submission stands in stark contrast to the deluge of joy-filled worship Luke records from her just eight verses later:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” [2]

Mary was overwhelmed in her first response, not only by the presence of an angel in front of her, but also by the immense pressure of the news that she would soon become an unwed mother. Her plans for her future——her marriage, social status, everything——would have vanished in an instant. She tells no one, rushing out of her town before anyone can see her body is changing, and walks into the house of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s generosity of spirit was the linchpin. Luke records, “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” [3] This is when everything changes. God has affirmed her through the words of someone else. Mary wasn’t self-anointed——and there is such power in the affirmation of her trusted friend she immediately bursts into ardent worship, looking toward the future with profound hope [4].

It’s a risk to affirm something unseen in someone. Elizabeth’s words made no sense apart from her faith. Yet they were the very thing that led Mary to her need for a Savior and her faithful response to live into the journey to which God called her.

Prayer: Father, help us see what you see in people and give us courage to affirm them in your love and will for their lives. Use our lives, even if it costs us the vision we have for our future. We rejoice in you; you are our Savior.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf | [2] Luke 1.46-49 | [3] Luke 1.41-42 | [4] Luke 1.46-55

Tags: ,
November 14, 2014

The Justice of God

by Bethany

Daily Reading:
Amos 3 (Listen – 2:01)
Psalm 146-147 (Listen – 1:03)

Rwanda: As a young attorney at the Department of Justice, Gary Haugen took a leave of absence to direct the United Nations’ investigation of the Rwandan genocide. He saw human rights atrocities – burned piles of bodies, children hacked to death with machetes, the decaying body of a woman with her child’s corpse beneath her. Perhaps the most disorienting thing he discovered, however, was that those who were tasked with bringing about justice, e.g., the police, were the ones who had carried out the injustice that he saw. Who are you supposed to turn to when the justice-keepers become the justice-breakers?

Justice: Justice has two aspects – showing favor to the oppressed and enacting punishment for the perpetrators. The Psalmist praised the Lord for possessing these twin aspects of justice: “[The Lord] executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” [1].

Truth: Today, Haugen serves as President of the International Justice Mission, which seeks to reform the rule of law in the developing world [2]. In his book, The Good News About Injustice, Haugen says that the good news about injustice is that God cares about it. He writes, “Amid a world of injustice, oppression and abuse, we can know some simple truths about God if we study his Word. No matter what the circumstances, we can depend on what he has revealed about himself. In regard to injustice, our heavenly Father bids us to trust in four solid truths about his character: (1) God loves justice and, conversely, hates injustice, (2) God has compassion for those who suffer injustice – everywhere around the world, without distinction or favor, (3) God judges and condemns those who perpetrate injustice, and (4) God seeks active rescue for the victims of injustice” [3].

Prayer: Lord, You love justice and hate injustice. Yet we recognize that, as sinners, we perpetrate injustice. We may not murder, but Jesus teaches us that we commit murder if we are angry with our brothers [4]. Yet we praise him for bearing judgment for us. On the cross, justice kissed love. Therefore, cause us to cherish your justice and, in response, seek it. Amen.

 ___________________________________

Weekend Readings

Saturday: Amos 4 (Listen – 2:22); Psalms 148-50 (Listen – 2:40)
Sunday: Amos 5 (Listen – 2:22); Luke 1.1-48 (Listen – 9:48)

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Psalm 146:7-9 ESV  |  [2] For more information on the International Justice Mission, see www.ijm.org. See also Wikipedia, International Justice Mission.  |  [3] Gary Haugen. The Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World. InterVarsity Press. (1999), p. 69-70.  |  [4] See Matthew 5:21-26.

Tags: ,
November 13, 2014

God’s Willingness to Grant Our Prayers

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading:
Amos 2 (Listen – 2:32)
Psalm 145 (Listen – 1:59)

God’s Willingness to Grant Our Prayers | by John Calvin
Throwback Thursday: Commentary on the Psalms (1557)

Psalm 145.17-19

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.

The Holy Spirit, by the mouth of David, tells us, that God will accommodate himself to the desires of all who fear him. This is a mode of expression of which it is difficult to say how much it ought to impress our minds. Who is man, that God should show complaisance to his will, when rather it is ours to look up to his exalted greatness, and humbly submit to his authority? Yet he voluntarily condescends to these terms, to [comply with] our desires. 

At the same time, there is a check to be put upon this liberty, and we have not a license of universal appetency, as if his people might forwardly clamor for whatever their corrupt desires listed, but before God says that he will hear their prayers, he enjoins the law of moderation and submission upon their affections, as we learn from John, — 

“We know that he will deny us nothing, if we seek it according to his will.” (1 John 5:14) 

For the same reason, Christ dictated that form of prayer, “Thy will be done,” setting limits round us, that we should not preposterously prefer our desires to those of God, nor ask without deliberation what first comes into our mouth. David, in making express mention of them that fear God, enjoins fear, reverence, and obedience upon them before holding out the favorable indulgence of God, that they might not think themselves warranted to ask more than his word grants and approves. 

God’s willingness to grant our prayers is not always so apparent that he answers them at the very moment they are made. We have, therefore, need of perseverance in this trial of our faith, and our desires must be confirmed by crying. The last clause — he will save them — is also added by way of correction, to make us aware how far, and for what end God answers the prayers of his people, namely, to evidence in a practical manner that he is the faithful guardian of their welfare. 

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Abridged from pp. 255-56.

 

Tags: ,
November 12, 2014

The Greater Battle

by Steven Dilla

Daily Reading:
Amos 1 (Listen – 3:18)
Psalm 144 (Listen – 1:50)

Wartime: David’s words in Psalm 144, “Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle,” are shocking in our modern world. Militaristic references to the Christian faith peaked somewhere after the great wars of the early 20th century. Hymns like the British-written, “Onward Christian Soldier” and children’s songs like the American-written, “I’m In The Lord’s Army” began rapidly decreasing in popularity as Americans processed the realities of Vietnam. Modern tragedies, like religious terrorism, have only intensified trepidation to war-related themes.

While the Word of God is the root of our deep longings for peace, and Scripture serves as the foundation to historic human rights frameworks, it is not adverse to viewing battle as a posture which is normative to faith. David’s had his battles against men, but it was the greater battle of David’s faith that stands as the most compelling part of his story. 

The True Enemy: The author of Ephesians reminds us that “we do not battle against flesh and blood.” Evil is consistently personified in Scripture because the ancients understood that evil wasn’t a passive force. The faithful have, for centuries, viewed evil as precise, cunning, and intensely personal. In light of such evil, the English clergyman Thomas Scott talked about the Christian’s need for readiness; “Happy are they whom the Lord teaches to fight the good fight of faith, and to whom He gives that noblest victory and rule, the conquest and dominion over their own spirits!”

Ephesians tells us that we are ready for spiritual battle only through putting on The Armor of God: truth, righteousness, the good news of peace with God, faith, salvation, prayer, and perseverance. These are not things we can spin up on our own——they are gifts of the Spirit——which is precisely why David thanks God for readying him. Only by God’s grace and sacrifice was the victory from the greatest war imparted to us, and only by God’s Spirit can we be equipped and ready to win the battle inside our hearts.

Prayer: Father, thank you for defeating the enemy we are powerless against.  Our battle is not against humankind; you have done all that is necessary to restore those relationships. Help us to extend your peace on earth. Strengthen us for the battle of our hearts, give us your Spirit, that we may live.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Tags: ,
November 11, 2014

843 Acres: Our Greatest Need

by Steven Dilla

M’Cheyne: Joel 3 (txt | aud, 3:18 min)
Ps 143 (txt | aud, 1:37 min)
Highlighted: Joel 3.18

Water. ”Jerusalem is the only city of antiquity that wasn’t built near a great river,” notes Warren Wiersbe. “Rome had the Tiber; Nineveh was built near the Tigris and Babylon on the Euphrates; and the great Egyptian cities were built near the Nile.” [1] The hearts of the ancients would have leapt with joy at Joel’s prophecy about Jerusalem after God’s return to make all things right: “a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord.” Water is life’s most foundational need, and God wanted his people to trust in him rather than what they saw in front of them.

Life. Water isn’t just about what a person has to drink, it’s foundational to life and culture. International non-profits like charity: water work to bring clean water to the hundreds of millions of people who still lack access to it. Their founder, Scott Harrison, often speaks of the broad impact water has on realities of life as broad as healthcare, education, economics, and gender equality. For example, the responsibility of walking miles to a well each day falls disproportionately on women, accounting for some 40 billion hours of annual labor in Africa alone. [2]

Dependance. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, we see ancient Israel turning to Baal. These weren’t mere wanderings of distraction; the name Baal often refers to the pagan god of thunder and rain. To them, it seemed Baal had once responded to their performance quid pro quo, it was pragmatism vs. promise. The Israelites hadn’t overtly rejected their God, they were just leveraging everything they had to maintain control rather than grow in faith.

The heart of idolatry is a rhythm of living where people turn to God only after exhausting their own resources, energy, and ideas. “In the kingdom, Jerusalem will have a river that proceeds from the temple of God,” Wiersbe concludes. [3] Water flows to us from the Temple because Jesus’ blood flowed for us from the cross. It was always supposed to be this way—our deepest needs found flowing from the Throne of God.

Prayer. Father, we know you are good beyond what we can imagine and delight in supplying every need. More than that, we know that you are our greatest need. Thank you for pursuing us with such mighty love and sacrifice. Help us this day to see you as our provider, our portion, and our hope.

___________________

FAQs

How can I make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.
How can I get these devotionals in my inbox? Click here.
What is the reading plan this blog is based on? Click here.

 ___________________________________

Footnotes

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, “Joel,” in The Bible Exposition Commentary/Prophets, p. 340. | [2] http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/ | [3] See Rev. 22.1-3

Tags: ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 163 other followers