Tremble in Hope

Scripture Focus: Psalm 99.1-9
1 The Lord reigns, 
let the nations tremble; 
he sits enthroned between the cherubim, 
let the earth shake. 
2 Great is the Lord in Zion; 
he is exalted over all the nations. 
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name— 
he is holy. 
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice— 
you have established equity; 
in Jacob you have done 
what is just and right. 
5 Exalt the Lord our God 
and worship at his footstool; 
he is holy. 
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, 
Samuel was among those who called on his name; 
they called on the Lord 
and he answered them. 
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; 
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them. 
8 Lord our God, 
you answered them; 
you were to Israel a forgiving God, 
though you punished their misdeeds. 
9 Exalt the Lord our God 
and worship at his holy mountain, 
for the Lord our God is holy. 

Reflection: Tremble in Hope
By John Tillman

God loves justice, the psalmist says. Nations should tremble before him when their rulers, courts, or laws do not establish justice.

Justice fails when victims are ignored, not believed, or when evidence is covered up. Justice fails when prominence, power, or personality prevent prosecutions from proceeding. Justice fails when it falls heavily only on the poor and powerless, while the wealthy and well-connected find leniency.

Are we establishing justice or undermining it? 

God establishes equity, the psalmist says. He loves even, level, and straight paths with fair access. God has no favorites. He poured his Holy Spirit onto men and women, Jews, Greeks, and every other race. His rule, justice, and gospel allow all people and places to live in unity and brotherhood.

Equity dies as tribalism and racism take hold. Jealousy, suspicion, and fear produce hatred. Fearing others’ success exposes our greed and selfishness. Refusing to lift others up gives tacit approval to those who pushed them down.

Are we insisting on equity or resisting it?

What nations do (and what individuals support) does not go unnoticed or unpunished. Sometimes, God punishes from without, sending one nation to crush another for their sins. Sometimes, God punishes from within, allowing nations to fall on their own swords or poison themselves…

Whether committed by dictators or appointed representatives, wicked deeds blossom, and the poisonous fruit stains the fingers and mouths of those who profit from it. Their dead bodies lie exposed beneath the trees as a warning, yet those hungry for power take the fruit and plant it in their gardens. This has happened, will happen, and is happening.

Are we eating the fruit of wickedness? 

If we tremble in conviction, we do not tremble without hope.

The psalmist also says God is forgiving. He punishes but also restores. He exiles but also calls us home. Wicked nations and individuals who repent will find him willing to bless.

Never lose hope. Christians are most gullible and vulnerable to manipulation when we lose hope and fail to trust in God. Grasping for hope in this world, we are liable to take the hand of the devil. 

When all seems lost, it isn’t. Our faith is founded on a moment when all hope seemed lost. Jesus went to the grave praying in hope to God. We can tremble in hope that our God will forgive and redeem us as we worship him.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in your; I have said to the Lord, “ You are my Lord, my good above all other.” — Psalm 16.1

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

Today’s Readings
1 Chronicles 23  (Listen 4:20)
Psalms 99-101 (Listen 2:48)

Read more about No Such Thing as God Forsaken
Maturity is shown when we agree with God not about others’ sins but about our own.

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His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer

Deuteronomy 11.26-28
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.

Reflection: His Blessings, Our Curse :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

The blessings and curses of the law were a consistent theme of Moses’s final messages to the people of Israel. Moses gave instructions for a gigantic visual demonstration as a community learning event that was eventually carried out by Joshua.

Half the tribes would stand on Mount Gerazim and half on Mount Ebal. The tribes on Gerazim would pronounce the blessings that could be theirs if they obeyed. The tribes on Ebal would pronounce the curses if they failed to follow the laws that Moses was leaving them.

May we hear in God’s Word, always the tender love of our father who wants blessings for us.

May we also give thanks for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who became a curse for us. He died to release the curse’s hold on us, then he rose to bring to us the full blessings of life that overflows with good things.

Praise and thank him this week using the prayer below that is based on our readings for today:

His Blessings, Our Curse
Oh, Lord, we are your people.
We are the sheep of your pasture and we need your provision.

Your care for us Lord goes deeper than
The superficial service of hired help.
You are our Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us.
You became a curse for us.
You became sin for us.

We have your blessings today, Lord,
Because you took our curse!
We stand on Gerazim and you stand on Ebal.

If only we would hear your voice today, Lord.
If only we would walk your path of service.
If only we would walk your path of grace.

May we proclaim your salvation day after day and
May we never cease telling of your wonderful deeds.

Let the heavens, the seas, the fields, and the trees resound with praise
As you come to judge the world with equity!

As Israel was to be your instrument in the world, Lord, make us instruments of your grace and truth to others.


Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples; make the voice of his praise to be heart;
Who holds our souls in life, and will not allow our feet to slip. — Psalm 66.7-8

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

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 11 (Listen – 4:38) 
Psalm 95-96 (Listen – 2:37) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 12 (Listen – 5:11) Psalm 97-98 (Listen – 2:19) 
Deuteronomy 13 (Listen – 3:05) Psalm 99-101 (Listen – 2:48) 

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Read more about Balaam’s Success
No matter what sins or idols we are tempted with, may we approach God humbly, seeking repentance and redemption through Christ.

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Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that are filled with life, not death.
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