Psalm 123 – Looking Up

[Originally posted by Matthew Broadbridge on 16 June 2013]

 

David Cornejo

 

Psalm 123

Yep, this is how I want to be. Too often when the going gets tough I send up short little yelp-like prayers without lifting my eyes to really gaze upon Him. It seems my eyes need filling before opening my mouth. Upon whom do we call? – “The Lord Our God” – not just any ‘deity’! Sometimes when I’ve seen a humble person pushed to their limit they’ve quietly uttered the words “Lord give me strength!” It’s a telling phrase. When proud and arrogant people make life difficult – perhaps only through their plain foolishness and ungodliness – we need a superhuman source of endurance. The Lord provides it (Jehovah Jireh). I don’t have an internal source of forbearance, but if I follow the example of Psalm 123 my supply won’t run out so easily or if I do hit the wall He offers mercy. Also when we lift our eyes off the people giving us grief and look to our Lord we become humbly dependent on God which is not just a good thing it’s the only way to avoid becoming proud and self-righteous yourself. It looks like the eyes have it.

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Vision and Victory

2 Chronicles 20:1-13

I love this portrait of humble and faithful leadership. In the face of overwhelming opposition Jehoshaphat humbled himself and the whole nation fasted. They had no answer without God’s leading and Jehoshaphat wasn’t too proud to admit it. He called on God and together they were all saved by God’s mighty hand. In Australia in 2014 we do not have multitudes of warriors bearing down on us here (but spare a prayer for Christians and other people groups in Iraq and Syria). In Western countries there are more subtle threats to the faithful church such as the rising tide of Christian nominalism, religious pluralism and some efforts by Muslim people to convert others to Islam. Without a renewed vision of Christ nurtured by His word our faith is bound to become brittle and skin deep. It is incumbent on our senior leaders, the parish council and every church member to keep calling upon the Lord in our insufficiency before we can discover His vision for the local church toward 2020 and beyond.

Matthew 9:35-10:42

"Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." v36. NASB

When we look around us and see distressed and harassed brothers and sisters in Christ do we see them as an inconvenience or do we see them as Jesus did? This passage comes right before Jesus sends out the twelve on mission. Healing and miraculous signs come before it and after it. He told them to go without waiting for stockpiles of money, bags, clothing or shoes. In other words he told them to trust his provision. Open the eyes of our heart Lord, to look with compassion on the harvest and trust you with provisions for the journey! May those who receive us receive you too Jesus. – cf Ephesians 1:18; Psalm 119:18

Matthew

Psalm 12

The first few psalms are a great way to be oriented to God and to find True North in Him among the craziness that pervades our world and sometimes creeps into our church. I was reminded of the two greatest commandments here and noticed how the behaviour of David’s neighbours was diametrically opposed: ungodly, proud, obstinate, unfaithful, uncaring and uncompassionate. The focus is on words but the consequences are more visible (oppression and neglect). David, the greatest King of Israel, finds it too much. “God save me!” is his prayer. Ultimately our hope for justice and protection can only be located in God.

Words that are worthless do more harm than good. Broadly speaking untruth can be experienced as lies, insincerity or simply distortion and exaggeration. A myriad of un-helpfulness abounds in false claims, manipulative flattery, deceitful double-talk, boasting, threatening and proud ungodly stubbornness. We don’t have to look far to find examples I think not much has changed (such as much marketing, political spin-doctoring, sensational news items, heretical Christian books the list goes on).

David’s response was not a lengthy engagement in a statement of his defence. Just two words “Save me!” Then God’s active word changed everything as the Psalm continues (and also in many other places in the bible). God’s words by massive contrast are always valuable, effective and trustworthy because of his faithful heart of integrity. God does not change; He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). God’s power is immensely greater than the silly boasting of the arrogant. In the face of rotten social behaviour true justice demands cleansing. David called for his neighbours’ destruction in the Old Covenant paradigm. In the New Testament Christians are called to see themselves as salt – to be an antiseptic that lives among the morally unbound. I’m also reminded that to stand firm as in 1 & 2 Thessalonians takes effort, so as not to be blown away or lost in conformity.

In Revelation the church is constantly under threat of attack as she seeks to witness. She is not promised immediate deliverance out of evil, but helped in her suffering to hold fast faithfully to her true identity – to remain the community of God’s people. We are the people of ‘the God of the Bible’ who is faithful and true, who loves completely yet does not leave the guilty unpunished.

Of Jesus in John 6:68, Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”

References

Paul G. Apple, Commentary on Psalms, Baltimore.
Jim Jarrett, Psalm 12, Calvary Chapel, Palo Cedro.

The greatest FaithfulDaily Read EVER!

Todays Faithful Daily Read is the greatest EVER and I am happy to argue with you about it – Luke 9:46-48.

I often find myself amazed at the behavior of the disciples.  They have witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus, they have seen demons cast out in His name, thousands fed from meager supplies and even have moments of tremendous clarity such as Peter’s acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah… and yet they STILL descend into petty arguments as demonstrated in today’s reading. Such behavior also reminds me that the disciples are, in many senses, just like me!

In today’s society, as with the first century, there is a continual seeking after ‘greatness’. Our definition and recognition of greatness may take many forms such as respect, power, celebrity, prestige, material possessions…  the list goes on. We are conditioned to continually prove that we are better than the next person and will display our claims to others – even if a little less overtly than the disciples. In Australia we will even show how great we are by demonstrating a faux humility – ‘I did alright’, ‘its not too shabby’… or perhaps like the guy who got bitten by a shark, stitched up his own leg and had a few beers at the pub with his mates before heading off to hospital… THAT sort of greatness?

Jesus attitude and response is counter-cultural. He uses an example to turn the typical top-down hierarchy on its head. Instead of starting with God and working his way down to the lowly mortals, he reverses the flow. He brings a child, one who has no standing or ‘greatness’ in Jewish society and draws the line through himself to God. A right understanding of this quells any question of our own greatness. Our personal greatness fades to insignificance in the perspective of Almighty God. True ‘greatness’ comes not from pride in ourselves but in humility before God.

We would do well to evaluate our standing before God rather than comparing ourselves to others. As I read through this passage today I see my pride and arrogance reflected back at me in the disciples actions. I need to allow the Spirit reveal those areas where I am exalting myself, consciously or subconsciously determining my own ‘greatness’… and then remember the Saviour God

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross! (Phil 2:6-8)

In the face of such obedience and humility, what can I claim in terms of my own greatness? Nought but to lay my life down as a living sacrifice to the King of Kings.

As the first month of this year closes out and the flood of routine closes in, may we walk humbly with Christ and seek to focus on Him rather than ourselves.

Steve

PS This isn’t really the greatest faithful daily read EVER… but its not too shabby 😉

Psalm 123 – Looking Up

David Cornejo

Psalm 123

Yep, this is how I want to be. Too often when the going gets tough I send up short little yelp-like prayers without lifting my eyes to really gaze upon Him. It seems my eyes need filling before opening my mouth. Upon whom do we call? – “The Lord Our God” – not just any ‘deity’! Sometimes when I’ve seen a humble person pushed to their limit they’ve quietly uttered the words “Lord give me strength!” It’s a telling phrase. When proud and arrogant people make life difficult – perhaps only through their plain foolishness and ungodliness – we need a superhuman source of endurance. The Lord provides it (Jehovah Jireh). I don’t have an internal source of forbearance, but if I follow the example of Psalm 123 my supply won’t run out so easily or if I do hit the wall He offers mercy. Also when we lift our eyes off the people giving us grief and look to our Lord we become humbly dependent on God which is not just a good thing it’s the only way to avoid becoming proud and self-righteous yourself. It looks like the eyes have it.