Stubborn Praise

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 10.16, 21
16 do not be stiff-necked any longer…21 He is the one you praise; he is your God.

Reflection: Stubborn Praise
By Jane Schaible

We know the story of grumbling Israel. Generations were stiff-necked and stubborn. Their ancestors were known as the ultimate complainers. They were grumblers who often failed to praise God. They had hearts that were headstrong and contrary. We read about them and sigh, thinking, “Again, Israel?”

But we need to be fair here. Before completely condemning them, we should take a moment for self-reflection. Are we really that much “above” the ultimate complainers? 

I’ll confess something to you. I’m probably one of the most critical, stubborn, stiff-necked people you’ll ever meet. And usually proud of it. 

In these moments of self-glorying pride, my eyes land on God’s unchanging words – “do not be stiff-necked any longer.”

When I read them, I get a wee bit squeamish. I can’t take my eyes away from them and I begin to self-doubt. I reluctantly ask myself, has the condition of my headstrong, contrary, stiff-necked heart kept me from praise?

Yes. Yes, I admit that it has.

He is the one I should praise. He is the one I want to praise. He is the one I long to praise. He is the one I gladly praise. That is when I do praise. 

Too often I have stubbornly allowed my prideful heart to guide how I respond to his great wonders. I have been stiff-necked even in my praise. 

Instead of being stubbornly proud, I want to be stubbornly humble. I long for the strong determination in me to fuel praise, rather than complaint.   

Scripture reminds me that God has done his great wonders and gives his words for our own good (Deuteronomy 10.13). These wonders and words of deliverance, grace, affection, and love renew my stubborn ways. They open up my heart and my mouth towards a new kind of stubbornness, one that is stubbornly determined to lift my voice up to him always.

Oh Lord, your mercy is great, and your grace is abundant. I praise you because you are the faithful, committed, loving God, who set his affection on me and my sisters and my brothers. You are the mighty and awesome God who delivers me in my weakness by the strength of your Son. You are the one who saved me and gave me your living word (John 1:14). You have been the determined one.

You, you alone are the one I praise, you alone are my God.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Sing praise to the Lord who dwells in Zion; proclaim to the peoples the things he has done. — Psalm 9.11 – From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 10 (Listen 3:12)
2 Corinthians 4 (Listen 3:02)

Read more about Grumbling and Doubt
Even great leaders grumble. Leaders are prone to doubt, discontentment, and grumbling just as much as followers.

Read more about Complaints and Responses
When the reality of our world does not match the promises of God, complaint can be a spiritual practice rather than a sin.

Thoughtful Trust :: Throwback Thursday

Psalm 94.19
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.

This Bible is a great honeycomb, and it drips with honey. Come and taste its virgin sweetness, O ye whose mouths are full of bitterness ― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Reflection: Thoughtful Trust :: Throwback Thursday
By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Godly people are thoughtful people. Indeed it is often a sign of the beginning of grace in a man when he begins to consider. Believing is not the death of thinking, it is the sanctification of it.

Gracious men take much account of their thoughts, and make a conscience of them. Other men are scarcely alarmed in conscience by their actions, unless they happen to commit some glaring crime, but the saint has lost his heart of stone, and his heart of flesh is conscious of God’s displeasure, and trembles at it, when an impure thought has defiled his soul.

Regenerate men have sensitive minds, so that a word wrongly spoken grieves them sorely; and if it should never go so far as a word, and only an evil thought like an unclean bird flits through their mind, they are troubled lest they should have invited or secretly entertained so foul a lodger.

We must, then, look well to our thoughts, and keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. We must watch thought, think upon thought, and pray about thought, and happy shall we be if we can say, in the language of the text, “In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.”

In times when many thoughts assail us, the attributes of God are each one of them the delight of our soul. The gist of the whole matter is this: the way to comfort is the way where God is to be found. Christian, the way for sustenance, strength, hope, and consolation is the way which leads thee to thy God. Trust ye in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah there is everlasting strength.

And oh, poor sinner, the same way is open to you. Do not look within for comfort, for you will find none. As well go to the Arctic regions and pierce icebergs to discover warmth, as look to yourselves for consolation. Away, away, away, away from your own thoughts to God’s thoughts; away from your own judgings and weighings, and computations, and speculations, and expectations to the firm promises of a God that cannot lie.

*Excerpt from Medicine For The Distracted by Charles Spurgeon.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living — Psalm 116.8

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 10 (Listen – 3:12) 
Psalm 94 (Listen – 2:08) 

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Read more about Prayer for Enemies
Prayer is never lost. If it bless not those for whom intercession is made, it shall bless the intercessors. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Read more about Greed and Envy
The psalmist, is thrown into doubt and pushed to the limits of his understanding by the inequality he sees in the world.