Stories of the Redeemed

Scripture Focus: Psalm 107.19-22, 43
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, 
and he saved them from their distress. 
20 He sent out his word and healed them; 
he rescued them from the grave. 
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love 
and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings 
and tell of his works with songs of joy

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things 
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. 

Reflection: Stories of the Redeemed
By John Tillman

Psalm 107 commands those redeemed by the Lord to tell their stories. Then the writer tells about several groups of the redeemed. One might expect stories of glorious kings, great moral leaders, righteous prophets, and powerful warriors. If that’s what we expect the stories of the redeemed to be, this psalm would be highly disappointing. 

The psalmist chooses to highlight the losers, the castoffs, the unwanted, and the condemned:
There is a story of migrants wandering in a desert, looking for a country to settle in…
There is a story of prisoners sitting in darkness because of their rebellion against God…
There is a story of foolish rebels who suffer illness and affliction because of their sins…
There is a story of wealthy and powerful merchants confronted with their own mortality and powerlessness…

What is the point? Why should we care for stories of the vagrants, the vagabonds, and the vanquished? We are listening for the turnaround point. Each of these stories has one and these stories are our stories too.

We are redeemed by a God who turns situations around. God turns rivers into deserts and deserts into flowing streams. He makes possible cities and gardens where before there were only wastes and wilds. He lovingly pursues those who run from him. No matter how far we run, whenever we turn around to return, God will be standing right there to receive us.

When we run to wealth, when we run to empty philosophies, when we run to addictions and distractions, even when we run without a destination, God patiently waits for our turnaround point.

In each of the psalmist’s stories, the people reached a crisis before reaching out to God. We don’t have to wait for a crisis to find a turnaround point but we often do. All followers of Christ have a story of redemption with a turnaround point. 

Which of these stories is closest to your own? 
How did you reach the point where you “cried out to the Lord” in your trouble”?
How was your life different after your “turnaround point”?

Prayerfully recall your story of redemption. Thank God in prayer for his patience and persistence in pursuing you. Prepare yourself and ask God to give you the chance to share your redemption story.

What is your story of redemption? Tell it to someone who needs a turnaround.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your Name give glory; because of your love and because of your faithfulness. — Psalm 115.1

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 20 (Listen – 2:55)
Psalm 107 (Listen – 4:12)

Read more about Waking Up With Pigs
God deals with hard-hearted people throughout the Bible. God is consistently calling, pleading with the hard-hearted to return to him.

Read more about Unobligated God
Thank God that he pays debts that he does not owe. He is a God who gives when he has no obligation.

Helping Fathers and the Fatherless

Psalm 109.9-12
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.

Reflection: Helping Fathers and the Fatherless
By John Tillman

People of David’s time understood that fatherlessness was a known cause of suffering for children and families. If children were fatherless, they were expected to be poor, wandering beggars. God’s people are commanded to be compassionate to widows and orphans precisely because God knew and cared for their hardship. 

What David may not have foreseen, however, is that today’s fatherless children would suffer not only the disinterest of society but the disinterest of their own fathers. Most of the fatherless children in David’s day knew that it was the horrors of war or exile or accident that had taken their fathers away unwillingly. Today’s fatherless often are left fatherless by choice not by catastrophe. They aren’t orphans of war, but of willful abandonment.

According to Vincent Dicaro at the National Fatherhood Initiative, fatherhood in the United States has made some gains in recent years, but not for everyone.

“While it is true that among middle-class families, father involvement is looking very good, it is also true that America has record levels of father absence, a crisis that mainly affects lower-income families. In fact, 24 million children, 1 out of every 3, lives in a home in which their biological father does not live. That rate is closer to 2 out of 3 in the African American community. And among those children living in father-absent homes, 1/3 have no contact with their dads, and another 1/3 have contact once per month or less.

So, the picture is actually quite bleak in too many communities across the country.” 

Fathers in our communities need the church’s help and support, not our judgment. The fatherless are in our communities not to suffer for the sins of their parents, but that we might have an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God, their true Father.

May we, along with introducing our communities to God the Father, introduce them to a definition and example of fatherhood that is based on the love that God has shown us.

May we work to ensure that the benefits of fatherhood and the resources needed to be a good father are spread to all levels of our communities.

May we lovingly bless the fatherless in our communities knowing that they are not there because of the sin of themselves or their parents, but that through them we might show the glory of God.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doings toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 19 (Listen – 3:04) 
Psalm 106 (Listen – 4:52) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 20 (Listen – 2:55), Psalm 107 (Listen – 4:12) 
Deuteronomy 21 (Listen – 3:33), Psalm 108-109 (Listen – 4:28) 

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Read more about Fatherhood’s Collapse, Love’s Destruction
Our view of love is anemic because our view of fatherhood is so damaged. It is God’s fatherhood that gives the depth, intimacy, and love we desire most

Read more about The Father of Fathers
You are the Father all fathers should be.
Gentle. Caring. Loving. Righteous. Just.