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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Families, old and new

[Originally posted by Glenn Murray on 6 April 2017]

1 Corinthians 4

 

Peter Clark has pointed out to us how Paul chides the Corinthians and this chiding continues in today’s New Testament reading as Paul goes on to deride those who have puffed themselves up. That is, to hold themselves as more important and more of a Christian than they really are.

Timothy is being sent to the Corinthians to carry out a form of remedial teaching.  Paul’s anger at their behaviour shows as finally he asks if he should bring a stick when he comes to them (v21) or a spirit of gentleness.

What are we to conclude?

The ancient family, Israel, was sent away into exile because it could not serve and honour God faithfully.  The new covenant family is to be punished too for becoming ‘puffed up’ and against one another.

Do we understand that God is a God of judgement and punishment in the face of our sinfulness?  Do we understand that God expects us to be obedient to Him and follow the teaching of the Apostles whom Jesus chose to commission?

What do you understand God expects of you and I?

May the Lord show us all where we have fallen down so that we may seek His forgiveness and mercy and walk in His paths.

Glenn

God always provides a way

Jeremiah 21

There’s a positive outcome to this glum passage. Did you notice it as you read?

As we have learned already in this book, Jeremiah was an exceedingly courageous prophet. He was called to do a very difficult task – proclaiming God’s justice upon an unrepentant and apostate Judah. Over 40 years he was popularly resented and sometimes the subject of violence. He was seen as a pro-Babylon traitor: in fact he was a true patriot.

On the other hand Zedekiah was a weak and indecisive king who was dominated by his nobles. Their pro-Egypt policy resulted in this siege.

Displaying little confidence the king sends junior representatives to the prophet. He’s looking for a miracle to help him out of his predicament. But Jeremiah made it plain that God’s wrath was coming upon them since every aspect of their society was corrupt (v 12, cp. 22:1-9). Not only the Babylonians but God himself was fighting against them.

God did not need to send a plague – an ancient besieged city had public health problems that made this a natural outcome. Even those not succumbing to the plague will be killed by the besiegers. God’s awful retribution for disobedience appears to show no mercy or pity or compassion.

Yet in all this prophesied carnage God does set a way of escape. In this God reveals his mercy and pity and compassion. But it appears to be an act of treason – abandoning the rest of the city to its fate. And yet this cannot be treason as the people fleeing are obeying the direct command of God. It is the rebellious people who refuse to take God’s “way of escape” (1 Cor 10:13).

There is always a choice. Here it is simply life or death. Death if they remain, life if the leave the city and surrender to the Babylonians. Those who left would become slaves. But the core realisation is that those who surrendered lived to take God’s purposes into exile.

Romans 3

This is one of the pivotal chapters of the Bible. It is a reality check. We humans are in a world of trouble. In its bluntest form, all humankind is separated from God by personal rebellion. But in his love God has forged the way to fix the shattered connection.

Here Paul continues the discussion with his imaginary objector.

The Jews did have an advantage. They were privileged to have revealed to them the commandments of God. They were God’s special people. So they could not do as they like: they must do what God likes! Yet time and time again we read that they neglected or ignored these special duties. In fact by neglecting God’s revelation they were worse than their neighbours to whom God had not revealed himself.

But God remains faithful even in spite of their unfaithfulness.

The objector tries again: “So my sin then is really glorifying God!” It’s like saying than an unfaithful husband is proving how much he loves his wife. That insensitive husband is merely covering his desire to do what he likes.

Whatever way it’s looked at, we humans are rebelling against the standard set by our Creator. We deserve God’s wrath – his pure, perfect antagonism to evil.

What a dark picture! There is no way we can be good enough to approach the holy God. As Paul expresses it, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (v 23). We imagine an archer aiming at his target … and missing! Even if we aimed at perfection we have all wandered from the law of God.

God’s way of reconciliation is shown in the next verse: “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith” (vs 23, 24).

God’s law remains; it is not pushed to one side. The difference now is that he who accepts Christ by faith willingly seeks to apply God’s standard of living. Yes, he will still fail. But repentance and forgiveness through that faith repairs his relationship with God.

Thank you Lord for providing Jesus as the way out of my predicament.

[Originally posted on 20/10/2015 by Nev]

Psalm 103.

Today’s (Sun 04/02/2018) FDR is Psalm 103.

Writing for this blog is a joy, whether blogger or incidental commentator.  But more so the readings of Scripture and the growth in understanding that is opened to us all as we study in God’s name and under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Today, this psalm says all I want to say.  Enjoy.

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
the Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbour his anger for ever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children –
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

 

Singing as we live our lives before us.

Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord oh my soul.)

Thanks to biblegateway for this Psalm.
Thanks to youtube for this beautiful hymn written by Matt Redman.

God who is supreme over all, the seen and unseen.

Today’s (Su 01/10/2017) FDR is Psalm 82 .

It will come as no surprise to you that this is one of the shortest psalms in this book of the Bible.  But my reading suggests it is one of the most debated and written about.

I’d like to draw out two particular points: (i) how its constructed poetically and (ii) how part of it was used by Jesus.

It has three strands of thought with two encapsulated in the prior one so that it is a clear indicator of the simple emphasis that is encouraged by this form of expression.

A  God stands and judges the assembly of the gods. (v1)

B  The gods are confronted over their injustice. (v2-4)

C  The chaos left by the gods is described. (v5)

B  The gods are confronted with their mortality. (v6-7)

A  God is asked to rise in the assembly and judge the earth. (v8)

God stands over all for what He desires.  A just world in which He exercises judgement of all for those things done and not done.  For the chaos created.  God’s authority is emphasised here by the use of the word ‘gods’ to include both the earthly and supernatural over which He has supreme authority.

Jesus, God’s son and part of the Trinity, is recorded in John 10: 30-49 as being charged as blasphemous when He says He and the Father are One (v30).  Jesus goes on to defend himself before those wishing to stone Him (v33-36) using Psalm 82:6 through the interpretation that some mortals are “gods’ or immortal.  Jesus goes on to argue that He was sanctified and sent by ‘the Father’ to do the Father’s works.

Here’s how John records this interchange between Jesus’ accusers, attempting to be His executioners, and Jesus.

John 10:30-39 New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

30 I and the Father are one.’

31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’

33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are ‘gods’”[a]? 35 If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.

Footnotes:

  1. John 10:34 Psalm 82:6
(Sourced from Biblegateway.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

 

So we are able to sing in great joy and praise of our Almighty God and His son Jesus:

I know not why God’s wondrous grace

(Sourced from Youtube.com on 29/09/2017.  With thanks.)

May your Sunday be blessed as you praise the Almighty Triune God,

Glenn

Lessons from History, theirs and ours.

Today’s (Su 03/09/2017) FDR is Psalm 78

This 78th psalm is the second longest in the whole book of Psalms.  Do you know which is the longest?  Which is the shortest?

As you begin to read this psalm today you’ll realise its a lesson for us, the readers, about history and God’s punishment because of Israel’s inveterate return to sin.  This psalm is also a note for their and our future.  Each time God’s anger is aroused so too is His mercy.  His judgement is stayed by His great love for us all.  A new beginning is promised to those who remain faithful.  Often those saved are only a remnant.

However, there is also a long range promise of a new beginning from within this Psalm.  Verses 14 and 53 both contain the phrase “he led them” that is used of God rescuing His people.  This phrase is used again in verse 72 and at first, in the Israelite context, speaks of David’s role as King and shepherd of the nation.

Yet this psalm is written for learning from the past and to teach about the future.  Yes, even the New Testament future. The prior phrase (v71d) “His very own”  or “his inheritance” links the “he led them” (v72) phrase back to God.

How faithful is our Almighty God.  Not only does He  rescue Israel, but at the same time He is preparing to rescue us.

Asking Peter’s question from yesterday in a different way;
Are we firmly resolved to stay faithful to the only God who was and is preparing for us before we have being?

Jesus did.   We can by faith in Jesus.

Glenn M

A pair of Kings, from different houses and judgement

Today’s (Wed 31/05/2017) FDRs are 1 Samuel 26 & 27 and Revelation 17 & 18

As we continue our reading in the books of Samuel about two earthly kings from different families we continue to see a stark contrast between Saul and David.  Saul is now under God’s judgement and has been given over to an evil spirit or demon.  Do you remember after which sin God turned His back on Saul?

David is still making day to day decisions with God’s supremacy and will in his mind.  So he chooses not to take revenge opportunities that he comes into but to leave judgement to God.  Given our first impulses many of us will want to react to offences given. Just like David’s men in both the cave and Saul’s tent.  It is hard to restrain the ‘urge’ to strike out at the person who has hurt us.  Perhaps we’ve been passed over for a promotion or the desired cream task has been handed to somebody else! Perhaps our friends have been told a false story about us or our family that they’ve believed!

In the moment we discover that this has happened to us we often want to teach the perpetrator a lesson!

Jesus teaches us that there, in the flash of a thought to take revenge, we have sinned!  How do we remedy this response in us?

Why do you think we see David acting differently?   Look into Jesus’s teaching and the apostles writings about how to keep ourselves from sinning?

As we read our Revelation chapters today, are you struck, as I am, by the immense forces unleashed on  the earth and its people.

We read, hear or see news of apparent threats from North Korea and this country’s testing of missiles that could carry nuclear war heads onto our country.  War heads that can unleash tremendous destruction and desolation.  What will these end-times forces that God is sending in judgement do?  Why judgement?

Whatever you believe the form of these visions in Revelation are, it is pretty clear they depict the end of the world and its peoples.  The way in which these descriptions occur and are written are similar to any other passages in the Bible where God brings judgement on an individual, on a people, on nations and on countries.  As a direct example look at the earlier Samuel passage where Saul is judged as God withdraws Himself and allows an evil spirit to control Saul.

While David’s prime role in the Bible is to continue the line from which the gracious gift of God is made, that of Jesus Christ in the form of forgiveness for our sins.  This is so that forgiveness comes to life personally in our world.  So too we are reminded by Revelation that judgement can and will come to us all.

David’s life, although faulted, becomes an exemplar for our own life.  To live in faith and hope under the glorious grace and mercy of our Triune God.  Our Father God!

I trust this hymn and its words build you up and encourage you as you seek to live as God asks.  I encourage to go into today with these words and your commitment to our Almighty God on your heart and mind.

I, the Lord of sea and sky

May we be blessed by God and bless each other as we seek to walk together as children of God.

Glenn

Thanks to youtube.com for the clip above.