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The Sleep of Death

Monday, October 24, 2022

“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” Psalm 13:3.  No one likes to go through a hard time, but life can’t always drop rose petals upon an unrolling red carpet in front of your feet.  Stoned at Lystra for preaching the gospel, Paul (not dead) entered the city to preach once again and strengthen the disciples, saying, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14.  Hounded by Saul and other enemies, David penned this classic lament, asking God first about the duration and intensity of his suffering through a series of questions.  Then, in the next two verses, he recognizes that only God’s intervention in his struggles will bring relief.  Here, he notes that death is the great-est affliction and worst harm that can come upon man in this life.  Having prayed, David then backs away to allow God to intervene, declaring that he will trust in God because of the grace that He has given him in the past.  But from an eternal, heavenly perspective, this life is a ‘mist’ and our struggles ‘light’ and ‘momentary.’  They sure don’t seem like it at the time though, and God cares about us now as well as in heaven one day.

Everything in Common

Monday, October 17, 2022

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common” Acts 4:32.  Preaching from this passage before, I had a notorious ‘taker’ tell me that this was proof that individuals and the church as a whole wasn’t doing enough to take care of his needs and that we were being selfish for having homes, cars, food, clothing, and money in the bank that he didn’t have access to.  First, scripture is meant to be applied to the hearer, not on others.  In other words, even with what little he had in resources and gifts from God, how was he using it to benefit Christ’s kingdom?  Secondly, he missed the point.  The early church had great unity in Christ, their Savior; believers “were of one heart and soul.”  It’s from that unity that they internally decided to give to others as they had need rather than being externally enforced in their benevolence.  This was demonstrated recently when one member gave me a ride to church because my vehicle wouldn’t start and another diagnosed the trouble that afternoon and got me to an auto parts store.  How’s your unity affect your giving?

The Faithful Have Vanished

Monday, October 17, 2022

“Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man” Psalm 12:1.  A community lament, the first four verses of this Psalm are a prayer lifted to God as the faithful see so much wickedness prospering all around them.  Not just a problem in David’s time, the church to-day certainly utters this same prayer lamenting the evil that surrounds us and exalts itself loudly while we are left to wonder if the gentle whisper can still be heard through the chaos.  The prayer specifically asks God to cut off the flattering lips of those who lie—that the community claims is everyone.  It sounds a lot like Elijah running from Jezebel’s death threats who needed reassurance from God that He had reserved 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal and that the prophet was not alone.  God answers them (and so us) in the second half of the Psalm, reassuring those who lament about the evil in our time that He will arise and “guard us from this generation forever.”  He also assures us that the promises He has made us can be trusted as His words are pure like silver refined seven times.  Can you take God at His word while vileness is surely exalted around us?          

The LORD is in His Holy Temple

Monday, October 03, 2022

“The LORD is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven: his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man” Psalm 11:3.  A direct quote from verse 1, the lyrics of “Flee as a bird to your mountain …” have been a favorite song for many.  But, the context is David’s friends telling him to run away from his struggle—like a bird would do before an impending storm.  David begins, however, by reaffirming his trust in God as his refuge.  If his “friends” are correct and the foundations are destroyed, then what can the righteous do?  This is not case, though, as the LORD is in His holy temple of heaven and tests all of mankind.  The last verse upholds that His character is righteous and that those who reflect His character, the ‘upright,’ shall behold His face while the wicked and the one who loves violence will be judged with ‘fire and sulfur and a scorching wind.’  Despite what his friends see about the world (and how could they not with all the chaos that they saw that has just grown worse today), David and the faithful today know that the LORD is always a firm foundation and a refuge in which the upright can always take refuge.  Do you flee like a bird to your mountain—who is the LORD?    

But You Do See

Monday, September 26, 2022

“But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless” Psalm 10:14.  Why is it that when we’re going through a rough time and we get a note of encouragement from someone that it means so much to us?  Perhaps we even set it on a stand and reread it over and over?  It means more if the person is someone we love or has gone through a similar struggle.  That’s how we can feel when we see how the wicked seem to prosper in our immoral world while we, who try to live by God’s commands, face hardships.  While the wicked mock us and increase in their iniquity, we might ask if our just God is turning a blind eye to us and to them, but the turning point in this psalm is the phrase, ‘but you do see.’  He sees our struggles but also what others do to us ‘that you may take it into your hands.’ God’s got it.  He’s a ‘helper to the fatherless’ while calling ‘wickedness to account.’  And, while we should love the struggling and help how we can, often helpless to do more, our Savior’s intervention on our behalf comes with real power … and made like us in every way, He’s been there!      

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