DO SOMETHING

The title of this psalm Maschil, means ‘ a psalm that gives instruction – instruction in what? 

Actually it instructs believers in how to act when in any distress – that is to turn to God in prayer. 

So, have you ever felt like this?

Perhaps the Eugene Peterson paraphrase The Message makes the emotion stronger –

You walked off and left us, and never looked back.  

God how could you do that?

We’re your very own sheep:

how can you stomp off in anger?    v1

 

 

One commentator suggests that if the Asaph of David’s time wrote this psalm it would have been prophetic pointing to the time when Jerusalem was actually sacked/ obliterated by Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans, or perhaps the author was another Asaph from that time and who wrote like Jeremiah, from exile. Remember Jeremiah’s long lament that we read in the middle of July?  It is a comfort to hear someone else feeling that in spite of constant appeals God is distant and unwilling to engage at all on our behalf.  Yes this Asaph felt abandoned!  Yet he knew God had the power to rescue but  wasn’t acting on his people’s behalf; but still he prayed,

Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?

Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them.     v11

 

Back to The Message:

Why don’t you do something?  How long are you going 

to sit there with your hands folded in your lap?     v11

 

However Asaph’s faith and knowledge of God’s faithfulness and purpose encourages, strengthens, restores him in the midst of his pain and suffering – both for himself and for the nation –

God is my king from long ago;

he brings salvation the earth.   v12

 

This writer agonises over God’s apparent disinterest, but most likely being aware of the people’s disregard of God he anchors himself in God’s character 

(v12) and reminds himself while at the same time reminding God of his almighty power, and care for his creation in the past.

Maybe when we feel abandoned, or when the pressure is too great, or sickness overwhelming we can settle our hearts by focussing on God’s good character and look back over his great actions not only in our own personal lives but also reflecting on the whole  purpose of Christ’s coming to earth and all the steps that remind us of his salvation for now and for eternity.

While we all want God to act on our behalf will we do something too in times of trouble?  Praying is a solid basis for connecting with our Lord God.

 

 

Peter and Elizabeth.

DRAMATIC CONTRASTS

2 Chronicles 27-28.

It is a relief to come in chapter 27 – to the leadership of a good king of Judah! –

 ‘Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God.‘ v 6

It would be wonderful if, while reading this chapter, you could be here with us today in Amman, because the war Jotham fought and won was against the Ammonites, and right here was their territory.

Unlike many of his predecessors (and many of those who followed) Jotham did not let the power he gained turn him from God.  We too need to pray for our leaders that they will be God honouring rather than self satisfying.

However, in chapter 28 by contrast, we once again revert to a king who:

‘did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.’  v1. He was defeated by the king of Aram                 (Syria/Damascus today) and then by Israel – his kinsmen.  It is interesting to note that in God’s sight even in war these prisoners were not to be mistreated and there is no place for ‘killing  in rage.’ v9.       The captives were clothed, fed and given medical care, with those too weak to walk returned on donkeys.  Although these prisoners were from the same ‘ tribe’ it is interesting to compare this treatment to the way current prisoners of war are treated.

May the Lord help us all to ‘ walk steadfastly‘ before Him and to look carefully at ourselves when judging others and justifying our actions. v 10b

 

MATTHW 9:9-13.

Another contrast where Matthew’s life is turned around!                                                                   On meeting Jeaus,

Matthew heard – ‘follow me‘ v9     and                                                                                                   he obeyed – ‘ got up and followed      and then                                                                                   he shared this new found commitment with people like himself, having them to a meal so they too could connect with Jesus. v 10

What a comfort to hear again Jesus’ words, ‘ I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ and to know that we too are accepted (when we hear and obey).

 

Peter and Elizabeth.

REJECTION AND REALITY

1CHRONICLES 28.

As I guess you may know we are writing from Amman in Jordan, surrounded by DAVID!

Beside where we lived last time is the ruin of a Watch Tower believed to have been used by David when he was fleeing from Saul and fighting local tribes.

The Citadel here is surrounded by the remains of a wall which is thought to be where Uriah was placed on David’s command, in order to be killled!

Now today, after reading all the lists of the last few days, we come to a very moving account of David handing over to his son Solomon, all his very detailed plans for the building of the temple.  This happened in a very public way as David had called together all the people and not just Solomon for the occasion.

Have you ever put your heart into something, thought it all through in great detail, even prayed seriously, only to have the proposal rejected by those you thought you were helping?  I wonder how David felt at this point at the end of his life?

While REJECTION is tough for anyone, David has some encouragement for us today.

1.  He heard God ‘you are not the one.   v3

2.   He recognised his own worth in God’s sight.  v4

3.   He passed over all his detailed preparations to Solomon ( leaving it to Solomon to follow completely, in part or not at all and leaving room for Solomon’s own creativity).       v10-11

4.    In handing over to Solomon he acknowledged the first priority for success in leadership (and I guess for all of us) success requires obedience to God.

I found this an encouraging new way of looking at rejection and thank God for it!

 

MATTHEW 1.

Another list!

However, it does for those interested in family history, anchor Jesus’ coming to earth , in the original purpose of God to rescue the human race from destruction.  Abraham was just the beginning!

It is a great encouragement to be reminded that Jesus’ ultimate purpose in coming as a human being was to save us from our sins.  v21.        and

that He was God here with us on Earth    v 23

We have much to thank God for in today’s readings.

Peter and Elizabeth

IN GOD WE TRUST

1 Samuel 1.           Acts 27

‘In God we trust’ is the motto emblazoned on American coins and notes as a statement of faith since 1864. Whether people believe it or not they handle the currency constantly and the reminder is before them.

Today we read of 2 people who really did believe that they could trust God, the Lord of all creation, with their deepest need and with unshakable belief in His word.

Hannah came to God after years of derision from Peninnah, no doubt with feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness.  Elkanah’s human love was not sufficient to remove her deep pain.  So she turned to God and He heard and answered her prayer.

Paul, in spite of the many opportunities for freedom, when appearing before, Governors Felix and Festus and King Aggrippa, moved towards Rome because he believed God’s word to him.  You might remember back in chapter 23: 11 the Lord appeared to Paul in the barracks where he was being held for his safety,

‘Take courage!  As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.’

In today’s account we find the journey to Rome pressing on in spite of ship change, unpredictable winds, a raging storm and finally shipwreck.

Whether our prayers are answered as they were for Hannah – a miraculous response that God brought about and being exactly what Hannah longed for; or whether the answer carries with it difficulties and tests, or is a clear statement from God Himself as it was for Paul; or whether the answer is different from what we really wanted, do we pray and believe?  Then, do we live out our side of the prayer as Hannah did by taking the boy back to serve in the temple as she had promised, or Paul, using the slow process to share the truth of God in unlikely places and with people he would not normally have had contact with or do we forget our promises?

Romans 15:13 is a great encouragement to trust God in all situations in this life as we saw Hannah and Paul doing today.

  ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter and Elizabeth

LICENCE TO JUDGE

1CORINTHIANS 5

This is a difficult passage!   There has been an obvious violation carried out in the congregation and the members are not only condoning but are accepting the immorality of the situation and are doing nothing about it.  They should have been ‘ grief-stricken‘.  Paul is appalled, urging the believers to be aware that claiming to belong to Christ means behaving in a way that honours Him and thus honours all others and also having a real compassion for one another which leads to action.  The reminder for us as we read is to watch our own behaviour ensuring that when we slip up we seek Christ’s help

to be aware, 

to ask for forgiveness and 

to make sure we don’t continue on that sinful path.  

There is another warning too that we do not become complacent and allow the world’s standards to become our standards in the church.

Jesus’ words in Matthew (chapter 7:1-5) are the parallel truth that we must also practise, ‘do not judge or you too will be judged ……’ reminding us to check our own behaviour before going in to battle.

 

1CHRONICLES 7

If you have persevered with the Chronicles lists of dynasties over the last few days you, like us, may have been encouraged by the last verse from today’s reading.  The descendants of Asher are described as ‘ choice men, brave warriors, outstanding leaders.’  They are the only ones with such a commendation.  It would be wonderful for our descendants to be similarly remembered.

Peter and Elizabeth Smart.

GOD IS IN IT ALL

PROVERBS 24:1-22

We have been reading so much lately about WISDOM

God being its source,                                                                                                                     His willingness to gift it to us if we ask and                                                                                       how much it is needed for ‘successful’ living in this beautiful but ‘broken and divided world.’

In today’s reading we were struck by  v11&12    –  a strong warning reminding us that we are responsible for justice being carried out in our world, and we can’t just excuse our lack of action or participation and say –        ‘ but we knew nothing of this.’

While we cannot right all the injustices of the world, we can be prayerfully aware and; much happens from small beginnings.

Perhaps our prayer could be: Lord please give us your wisdom, so we will be aware of injustice and help us to know how we can best act on behalf of those in need.

These’s also a timely warning:    to neither envy the success of the wicked   (v19-20)  or to gloat over them when they fall  (v17)

Does any situation like this come to mind?

 

ROMANS 1:1-15

Today we begin our journey with St Paul through his letter to the Romans – that letter which so clearly presents the argument for salvation through Christ alone.

Just in the introduction we find a strong clear statement of the wonder of the gospel. In the ancient world in which Paul was living, a gospel was a solemn, often political announcement, which was to be taken seriously, good news that it may well be.

Paul is keen for his readers to recognise that Christ is the fulfilment of ancient prophecies concerning the Messiah who would be both human (Son of David) v8                                                                and divine (shown in his resurrection) v4

Paul, while wanting to encourage the faith of his readers, acknowledges the mutuality of ministry to one another. v12.  A real encouragement to us today!

Peter and Elizabeth 

THE POWER OF WORDS

PROVERBS 12:12-28

Did you notice today how important our words are?  Many of us chatter about all sorts of things but we need to remember that what we say MATTERS to God because it reflects who we are and supports or destroys our profession of faith in Almighty God. Perhaps you noticed that God hates 

sinful talk v13                                       

hurtful comments  v18

lying  v19 & 22

but He delights in 

truth v17  v19  v22

wise words v18

encouragement of others v 15, v25

Today’s reading from Proverbs is a clear reminder to use our conversations to build each other up – knowing that our WORDS come from our thoughts ie our true inner self.  We are reminded that being aware of this means we are walking/living ‘ in the way of righteousness …….. the path to immortality.’

 

HEBREWS 13:20-25

When we pray we mostly use words!

What do we wish for?  What better wish and thus prayer could we have for our family, friends, church leaders than the prayer ending the letter to the Hebrews, v20-21?  I have just been challenged to pray this way fo those groups of folk.

We all need the Holy Spirit to ‘equip’ us to do God’s will and to behave and work in ways that are ‘pleasing’ to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself, like St Paul, ‘doing the evil I do not want to do, and I do not do the good I want to do’. Romans 7:19  so what a comfort and encouragement it would be if we were regularly praying this Hebrews blessing for each other.  It is easy and normal to pray for health, safety and success for our children and friends, they are vaid prayers, but ultimately it is our behaviour,  (that is allowing Christlikeness to be our main characteristic and theirs), that is most precious in God’s sight. We certainly all need His enabling for this to happen.

May God help us to trust the power of prayer and walk in His ways this week.

Peter and Elizabeth Smart