Archives for category: Devotional

No one who waits for You will be disgraced; those who act treacherously without cause will be disgraced.” (Psalm 25:3, HCSB)

The word translated “wait” here is an interesting word in the Hebrew.  The Passion Translation explains:

The Hebrew word most commonly translated as wait (wait upon the Lord) is qavah, which also means to tie together by twisting, or entwine, or wrap tightly. This is a beautiful concept of waiting upon God, not as something passive, but entwining our hearts with him and his purposes.”

The Passion Translation translates the first part of Ps. 25.3 as: For how could anyone be disgraced When they’ve entwined their hearts with you?

We think of waiting as something passive; the Hebrew concept of waiting, especially when it came to the Lord seems to be something more active.  We wrap ourselves tightly around God and his purposes and then when he moves, we move also, in a seamless, unified manner.  His heart is our heart and his ways our ways, His purposes our purposes, and His will our will.  This puts Isaiah 40.31 into new perspective:

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23, ESV)

The Complete Word Study Bible defines the word “redemption” as: “The recalling of captives (sinners) from captivity (sin) through the payment of a ransom for them, i.e., Christ’s death.”   Paul implies that we are both already redeemed and yet await redemption in Rom 8.23.

That our redemption has already taken place is clear from Rom 3.24: “They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  Jesus already died for our sins at the cross and so recalled us from the captivity of sin into his kingdom through the ransom payment of his own body [praise the Lord for that!].  Having said that, it’s also clear that our bodies have not been redeemed yet, they are still subject to death and decay.  We are awaiting the redemption of our bodies.

So if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, welcome back from captivity fellow captive!  What God has already accomplished at the cross, he will completely accomplish at the resurrection, when Jesus returns and calls us home to be forever with him.

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22.1a, ESV)

His generation yet to be born will glorify him.
And they will all declare: “It is finished!” Psalms 22:31 (Passion Translation)

Depending upon how you count, there were 22 prophecies in Psalm 22 that Jesus fulfilled at the cross.

  1. The Messiah would cry out to God (1a)
  2. The Messiah would be forsaken by God (1b)
  3. The Messiah, anguished, would pray without ceasing (2)
  4. The Messiah would be despised (6)
  5. The Messiah would be mocked by people shaking their heads (7)
  6. Mockers would say of Messiah, “He trusted God, let him deliver him” (8)
  7. The Messiah would be aware of his Father from his youth (9)
  8. The Messiah would be called to God’s service from the womb (10)
  9. The Messiah would be abandoned by the disciples (11)
  10. The Messiah would be surrounded by evil spirits (12-13)
  11. The Messiah’s heart would burst, flowing with blood and water (14a)
  12. The Messiah would be crucified (14b)
  13. The Messiah would thirst (15a)
  14. The Messiah would thirst shortly before his death (15b)
  15. The Messiah would be surrounded by Gentiles at his crucifixion (16a)
  16. The Messiah would be surrounded by Jews at his crucifixion (16b)
  17. The Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced (16c)
  18. None of the Messiah’s bones would be broken (17a)
  19. People would stare at the Messiah during his crucifixion (17b)
  20. The Messiah’s garments would be divided (18a)
  21. Lots wold be cast for the Messiah’s clothes (18b)
  22. The Messiah’s atonement would enable believers to be his brethren (22)

It truly is amazing that David penned this psalm some 9 centuries before the death of Christ.

So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel.” (1 Samuel 7:9–10, ESV)

The Philistines take the occasion of Samuel offering a burnt offering to attack Israel.  Samuel’s correct and faith-filled response was to cry out to the Lord…and the Lord answered him.  The result was the first [and perhaps only] time when the Lord defends his people by thunder.

One can only imagine what kind of thunder this was to send the Philistines retreating in confusion and fear.  It must have been terrifying.

As we saw yesterday, God uses animals to accomplish his sovereign will.  Today we find that he also uses natural events; he harnesses them to bring about his design.  In this case, his plan was to fight for Israel using thunder to defeat the Philistines.  Needless to say, God succeeded.

Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9, ESV) God asks Job this question towards the end of the book of Job.  The answers to these questions are: no, and no. Only God can thunder like God.

We cannot say it enough, God is sovereign over all things and bends everything: animals, nature, time, people, events, to the control of his will.  Everything serves our sovereign God.  Everything.

And they put the ark of the Lord on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. (1 Sam 6.11-12, ESV)

What strikes me about this story is that the writer of Samuel wants the reader to see what happened and feel what happened and understand what happened in the march of the milk cows.

The Philistines have captured the Ark of the Covenant and it has been a disaster and the Philistines know it. Whatever city into which the ark is placed, the population begins to experience terrible things. Very soon, they want nothing more than to be rid of the ark. After some hemming and hawing the Philistine leaders decide to send the ark back…if the milk cows will take the ark back of their own accord. Our verses record what happened. The milk cows go back straight down the main highway to Beth-Shemesh turning "neither to the right nor to the left."

The Philistine leaders do not become followers of Yahweh, but they understand that Yahweh would have his ark back, and he got it back.

Here is the faith lesson in these verses. God is sovereign over milk cows. They are nothing but dumb animals, but they must obey God's command just like everything else in this universe, and so they do obey his command and take the ark straight back to Israel, because even dumb animals are servants of Yahweh. He is sovereign over them.

If this is true for milk cows, then it's true for us as well. God is sovereign over our ways and the course of our life (Ps. 139.1-6).

Following your Word has kept me from wrong.
Your ways have molded my footsteps, keeping me
From going down the forbidden paths of the destroyer. (Ps 17.4, Passion Translation)

David is talking about a couple of things here. First, he points out that, like it or not, choose it or not, desire it or don't desire it, but we are all on a pathway in this life. We are all going somewhere. Even going nowhere is going somewhere in the course of life. Second, one path leads to the destroyer. In other words, there is a path you can take that will lead to your destruction.

There is an antidote to the pathway to destruction, a way through, a choice you can make to not go down the path of destruction. David is very clear on what that choice is, it is following your Word. There is something about God's Word that keeps us from wrong, that leads us away from the path to death and towards life. We won't fully understand until the New Testament that it's God's grace that changes us so that we want to follow God's Word. Grace leads to obedience, and obedience leads to following God's Word, and following God's word leads to life. Meanwhile, the Psalmists were very clear on the place of God's Word in leading us to life. Read any verse in Ps. 119 for instance.

So I say to the Lord God,
You are my Maker, my Mediator, and my Master.
Any good thing you find in me has come from you. (Psalm 16.2, Passion Translation)

I love this verse from the Passion Translation. It draws out three things that God is for us when we say that God is Lord:

  1. My Maker – God created us and fashioned and formed us in the womb. As our creator he knows best how we can flourish and have abundant life and get this, He tells us how that is possible! All of the things he tells us to do are for our own good and so that we might have abundant life.
  2. My Mediator – God the Son mediates between we who are not perfect and God who is perfect and cannot dwell with sin.
  3. My Master – This is what the word "Lord" implies. God is the one to whom we bow and to whom we defer and to whom we listen and obey. We ought to do this willingly and with delight because he has our best interests in mind. As Ed Welch writes, "The King is also our father!"

The last line sums up the truth quite well. Whatever good is found in us, comes from God himself. We ought to praise him for this, just as David did.