Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
A prayer of David. 1 Lord, hear me and answer me. I am poor and needy. 2 Keep my life safe, because I am faithful to you. Save me, because I trust in you. You are my God. 3 Lord, have mercy on me. I call out to you all day long. 4 Bring joy to me. Lord, I put my trust in you. 5 Lord, you are forgiving and good. You are full of love for all who call out to you. 6 Lord, hear my prayer. Listen to my cry for mercy. 7 When I’m in trouble, I will call out to you. And you will answer me. 8 Lord, there’s no one like you among the gods. No one can do what you do. 9 Lord, all the nations you have made will come and worship you. They will bring glory to you. 10 You are great. You do wonderful things. You alone are God. 11 Lord, teach me how you want me to live. Do this so that I will depend on you, my faithful God. Give me a heart that doesn’t want anything more than to worship you. 12 Lord my God, I will praise you with all my heart. I will bring glory to you forever. 13 Great is your love for me. You have kept me from going down into the place of the dead. 14 God, proud people are attacking me. A gang of mean people is trying to kill me. They don’t care about you. 15 But Lord, you are a God who is tender and kind. You are gracious. You are slow to get angry. You are faithful and full of love. 16 Come to my aid and have mercy on me. Show your strength by helping me. Save me because I serve you just as my mother did. 17 Prove your goodness to me. Then my enemies will see it and be put to shame. Lord, you have helped me and given me comfort.
For the director of music. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. 1 Lord, you were good to your land. You blessed the people of Jacob with great success again. 2 You forgave the evil things your people did. You took away all their sins. 3 You stopped being angry with them. You turned your great anger away from them. 4 God our Savior, make us new again. Stop being unhappy with us. 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you be angry for all time to come? 6 Won’t you give us new life again? Then we’ll be joyful because of what you have done. 7 Lord, show us your faithful love. Save us. 8 I will listen to what God the Lord says. He promises peace to his faithful people. But they must not turn to foolish ways. 9 I know he’s ready to save those who have respect for him. Then his glory can be seen in our land. 10 God’s truth and faithful love join together. His peace and holiness kiss each other. 11 His truth springs up from the earth. His holiness looks down from heaven. 12 The Lord will certainly give what is good. Our land will produce its crops. 13 God’s holiness leads the way in front of him. It prepares the way for his coming.
I love the dependence of the Psalmist here. He starts in thanksgiving to God, remembering all God has done for them; then moves to petition asking God for restoration; then moves to anticipating salvation; then moves to hope.
How often do I find myself in this prayer filled flow where I need to recall all that God has done which reminds me of how far removed I have become from His will and purposes so I cry out for His restoration, His salvation and this again leads me to hope because I know the faithfulness of my Father in heaven.
I find this a natural flow in prayer and one that has enabled and empowered me often. If you’re ever stuck in prayer then give it a go!!!
Father I want to thank You for Your faithfulness and love. You are magnificent in all things and I come to You as the only hope of Salvation in every aspect of my life!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. 1 Lord who rules over all, how lovely is the place where you live! 2 I can’t wait to be in the courtyards of the Lord’s temple. I really want to be there. My whole being cries out for the living God. 3 Lord who rules over all, even the sparrow has found a home near your altar. My King and my God, the swallow also has a nest there, where she may have her young. 4 Blessed are those who live in your house. They are always praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength comes from you. They have firmly decided to travel to your temple. 6 As they pass through the dry Valley of Baka, they make it a place where water flows. The rain in the fall covers it with pools. 7 Those people get stronger as they go along, until each of them appears in Zion, where God lives. 8 Lord God who rules over all, hear my prayer. God of the people of Jacob, listen to me. 9 God, may you be pleased with your anointed king. You appointed him to be like a shield that keeps us safe. 10 A single day in your courtyards is better than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather guard the door of the house of my God than live in the tents of sinful people. 11 The Lord God is like the sun that gives us light. He is like a shield that keeps us safe. The Lord blesses us with favor and honor. He doesn’t hold back anything good from those whose lives are without blame. 12 Lord who rules over all, blessed is the person who trusts in you.
I have loved this psalm for many years & many verses have been my heart cry.
It speaks to me of finding a home, a place to belong, place of safety & security a place to be productive … I get this picture of this big huge place & yet intimate .. all within God.
We all long to belong somewhere to fit in to be loved … this Psalm shows me that God is that place. His dwelling place, His courts, His alter, His house, Him.
Whenever I feel like I don’t fit in or don’t belong I need to keep my eyes on Him as in Him I will always belong I will always find home and when I find that in Him I am strengthened & I can bring it to others .. Making those desolate places springs.
Father thank you for this beautiful psalm this encouragement of complete inclusive belonging in You.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
A song. A psalm of Asaph. 1 God, don’t remain silent. Don’t refuse to listen. Do something, God. 2 See how your enemies are growling like dogs. See how they are rising up against you. 3 They make clever plans against your people. They make evil plans against those you love. 4 “Come,” they say. “Let’s destroy that whole nation. Then the name of Israel won’t be remembered anymore.” 5 All of them agree on the evil plans they have made. They join forces against you. 6 Their forces include the people of Edom, Ishmael, Moab and Hagar. 7 They also include the people of Byblos, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia and Tyre. 8 Even Assyria has joined them to give strength to the people of Moab and Ammon. 9 Do to them what you did to the people of Midian. Do to them what you did to Sisera and Jabin at the Kishon River. 10 Sisera and Jabin died near the town of Endor. Their bodies were left on the ground like human waste. 11 Do to the nobles of your enemies what you did to Oreb and Zeeb. Do to all their princes what you did to Zebah and Zalmunna. 12 They said, “Let’s take over the grasslands that belong to God.” 13 My God, make them like straw that the wind blows away. Make them like tumbleweed. 14 Destroy them as fire burns up a forest. Destroy them as a flame sets mountains on fire. 15 Chase them with your mighty winds. Terrify them with your storm. 16 Lord, put them to shame so that they will seek you. 17 May they always be filled with terror and shame. May they die in dishonor. 18 May you, the Lord, let your enemies know who you are. You alone are the Most High God over the whole earth.
The psalmist is clearly frustrated by the ever encroaching enemies of God. He wants God to act. To sort it. The enemies are listed as Edomites and Ishmaelites; Moabites and Hagrites;
Gebalites, Ammonites, and Amalekites; and people from Philistia and Tyre, Assyria too, and the descendants of Lot. Asaph then goes on to suggest ways for God to deal with these enemies. Asaph gets more and more worked up and does not mince his words! Ultimately the Psalmist wants God’s enemies to acknowledge that the Lord alone is God and that he is supreme in all the earth.
Most of us at some point would have said to the Lord something to the effect, “Lord can’t you hear what they are saying can’t you see what they are doing and how it is affecting a certain person, family, organisation, church etc. it can’t go on… do something!” This is the same sentiment Asaph is expressing and most of us “get it!” A very passionate call for God’s intervention so that those that oppose the Lord will come to acknowledge him as the one true God, supreme over all. Being a New Testament believer I’m not sure about wanting God’s enemies being utterly disgraced, blown away, terrified forever etc. It may be a therapeutic read at times but we are called to love our enemies. Not sure that God needs my suggestions on how to deal with his enemies either. What this psalm does encourage me to do is to pray, to cry out on behalf of those that vehemently oppose the Christian faith. To pray for revelation and that people would experience the goodness of God.
Dear Lord, we pray that those who do not yet know you will learn that you alone are called the Lord, that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
A psalm of Asaph. 1 God takes his place at the head of a large gathering of leaders. He announces his decisions among them. 2 He says, “How long will you stand up for those who aren’t fair to others? How long will you show mercy to sinful people? 3 Stand up for the weak and for children whose fathers have died. Protect the rights of people who are poor or treated badly. 4 Save those who are weak and needy. Save them from the power of sinful people. 5 “You leaders don’t know anything. You don’t understand anything. You are in the dark about what is right. Law and order have been destroyed all over the world. 6 “I said, ‘You leaders are like gods. You are all children of the Most High God.’ 7 But you will die, like mere human beings. You will die like every other leader.” 8 God, rise up. Judge the earth. All the nations belong to you.
God’s idea of justice is amazing. He doesn’t protect the favoured or the powerful or those easy to look after, He wants to protect the unfavoured and those who have no power. He wants us to do the same. It’s important to remember that God notices when we help in perpetuating injustice.
Lord helps us to help You in Your plan for the world – to create a place where justice reigns. Remind us when we are not noticing what we should see.
Written by Therese Manning
For the director of music. According to gittith. A psalm of Asaph. 1 Sing joyfully to God! He gives us strength. Give a loud shout to the God of Jacob! 2 Let the music begin. Play the tambourines. Play sweet music on harps and lyres. 3 Blow the ram’s horn on the day of the New Moon feast. Blow it again when the moon is full and the Feast of Booths begins. 4 This is an order given to Israel. It is a law of the God of Jacob. 5 He gave it as a covenant law for the people of Joseph. It was given when God went out to punish Egypt. There I heard a voice I didn’t recognize. 6 The voice said, “I removed the load from your shoulders. I set your hands free from carrying heavy baskets. 7 You called out when you were in trouble, and I saved you. I answered you out of a thundercloud. I tested you at the waters of Meribah. 8 “My people, listen and I will warn you. Israel, I wish you would listen to me! 9 Don’t have anything to do with the gods of other nations. Don’t bow down and worship any god other than me. 10 I am the Lord your God. I brought you up out of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things. 11 “But my people wouldn’t listen to me. Israel wouldn’t obey me. 12 So I let them go their own stubborn way. I let them follow their own sinful plans. 13 “I wish my people would listen to me! I wish Israel would live as I want them to live! 14 Then I would quickly bring their enemies under control. I would use my power against their attackers. 15 Those who hate me would bow down to me in fear. They would be punished forever. 16 But you would be fed with the finest wheat. I would satisfy you with the sweetest honey.”
What strikes me about this psalm are the things that God is calling his people to do in the first half of the psalm: These things are not difficult or onerous and seem like they would be joyful to participate in. Yet the people do not listen or obey and God mourns their disobedience.
Upon reflection, it becomes clear that these things are all worship- The thing that God really wants us to obey him in the most is to have all of our lives as worship! When I think about it, this sums up so many of the promises and commandments in the bible for me. When I truly worship Him, obedience in all other areas becomes so much easier.
Lord help me to keep learning new ways of opening all areas of my life up in worship of You and help me also to be fully obedient in all areas of my life
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
For the director of music. A psalm of Asaph to the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” 1 Shepherd of Israel, hear us. You lead the people of Joseph like a flock. You sit on your throne between the cherubim. Show your glory 2 to the people of Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Call your strength into action. Come and save us. 3 God, make us new again. May you be pleased with us. Then we will be saved. 4 Lord God, you rule over all. How long will you be angry? Will you be angry with your people even when they pray to you? 5 You have given us tears as our food. You have made us drink tears by the bowlful. 6 You have let our neighbors mock us. Our enemies laugh at us. 7 God who rules over all, make us new again. May you be pleased with us. Then we will be saved. 8 You brought Israel out of Egypt. Israel was like a vine. After you drove the nations out of Canaan, you planted the vine in their land. 9 You prepared the ground for it. It took root and spread out over the whole land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade. The shade of its branches covered the mighty cedar trees. 11 Your vine sent its branches out all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. They reached as far as the Euphrates River. 12 Why have you broken down the walls around your vine? Now all who pass by it can pick its grapes. 13 Wild pigs from the forest destroy it. Insects from the fields feed on it. 14 God who rules over all, return to us! Look down from heaven and see us! Watch over your vine. 15 Guard the root you have planted with your powerful right hand. Take care of the branch you have raised up for yourself. 16 Your vine has been cut down and burned in the fire. You have been angry with us, and we are dying. 17 May you honor the people at your right hand. May you honor the nation you have raised up for yourself. 18 Then we won’t turn away from you. Give us new life. We will worship you. 19 Lord God who rules over all, make us new again. May you be pleased with us. Then we will be saved.
This seems to be a psalm that would be sung at the point of repentance when the people recognise that they are separated from God and that when they are separated from Him all sorts of bad things happen – some caused by their enemies, some they attribute to God – and they can’t make things right on their own.
There’s a refrain that is repeated three times which the NIV translates as “Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved”. Even though I repent I need God to restore me to a right place. And that depends on what Jesus did on the cross. I can’t do that myself.
But the NLT translates the first bit of that refrain as “Turn us again to yourself”. (The Hebrew word “shoo” here means both “return” (as in NIV) or “turn again” (as in NLT).) I found this phrase surprising at first. Surely it’s my responsibility to turn to God. But as I thought about it, I remembered that
When I’m back in that right place, God’s face shines down upon me. Only then will I be saved. How good is that!
Father, renew my mind. Transform me from going my way to your way; from being separate to being with you; to face you as your face shines on me.
Written by David Cornell
A psalm of Asaph. 1 God, an army from the nations has attacked your land. They have polluted your holy temple. They have completely destroyed Jerusalem. 2 They have left the dead bodies of your people. They have left them as food for the birds in the sky. They have left the bodies of your faithful people. They have left them for the wild animals. 3 They have poured out the blood of your people like water. It is all around Jerusalem. No one is left to bury the dead. 4 We are something our neighbors joke about. The nations around us laugh at us and make fun of us. 5 Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Will it be forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Bring your great anger against the nations that don’t pay any attention to you. Bring it against the kingdoms that don’t worship you. 7 They have swallowed up the people of Jacob. They have destroyed Israel’s homeland. 8 Don’t hold against us the sins of our people who lived before us. May you be quick to show us your tender love. We are in great need. 9 God our Savior, help us. Then glory will come to you. Save us and forgive our sins. Then people will honor your name. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Show the nations that you punish those who kill your people. We want to see it happen. 11 Listen to the groans of the prisoners. Use your strong arm to save people sentenced to death. 12 Lord, our neighbors have laughed at you. Pay them back seven times for what they have done. 13 We are your people, your very own sheep. We will praise you forever. For all time to come we will keep on praising you.
This psalmist talks of a physical enemy and the pain of the defeat and death and dishonour of real people – God’s people. As I live on this side of amazing grace (post Jesus dying for my sins and rising in resurrection power) – I’m trying to find a relevant connection for me as I read it.
I’m called to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me – but here the psalmist cries out for vengeance – payback!
2 things strike me
With these things in mind as I re-read the psalm I see a cry to God for justice and I am stirred to echo the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “May Your kingdom come may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.”
Lord you have called me to love You and to love people. When I look around at the state of the world – there is much that requires Your justice. But I cry out to You not for vengeance or payback – I cry out to You for Your Kingdom to come here on earth – as it is in heaven – across the earth – across every nation. May Your kingdom come here in my life and in the lives of everyone one of us who call you Lord and may You establish Your peace and righteousness across the earth.
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
A maskil of Asaph. 1 My people, listen to my teaching. Pay attention to what I say. 2 I will open my mouth and tell a story. I will speak about things that were hidden. They happened a long time ago. 3 We have heard about them and we know them. Our people who lived before us have told us about them. 4 We won’t hide them from our children. We will tell them to those who live after us. We will tell them what the Lord has done that is worthy of praise. We will talk about his power and the wonderful things he has done. 5 He gave laws to the people of Jacob. He gave Israel their law. He commanded our people who lived before us to teach his laws to their children. 6 Then those born later would know his laws. Even their children yet to come would know them. And they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God. They would not forget what he had done. They would obey his commands. 8 They would not be like their people who lived long ago. Those people were stubborn. They refused to obey God. They turned away from him. Their spirits were not faithful to him. 9 The soldiers of Ephraim were armed with bows. But they ran away on the day of battle. 10 They didn’t keep the covenant God had made with them. They refused to live by his law. 11 They forgot what he had done. They didn’t remember the wonders he had shown them. 12 He did miracles right in front of their people who lived long ago. At that time they were living in Egypt, in the area of Zoan. 13 God parted the Red Sea and led them through it. He made the water stand up like a wall. 14 He guided them with the cloud during the day. He led them with the light of a fire all night long. 15 He broke the rocks open in the desert. He gave them as much water as there is in the oceans. 16 He brought streams out of a rocky cliff. He made water flow down like rivers. 17 But they continued to sin against him. In the desert they refused to obey the Most High God. 18 They were stubborn and tested God. They ordered him to give them the food they wanted. 19 They spoke against God. They said, “Can God really put food on a table in the desert? 20 It is true that he struck the rock, and streams of water poured out. Huge amounts of water flowed down. But can he also give us bread? Can he supply meat for his people?” 21 When the Lord heard what they said, he was very angry. His anger broke out like fire against the people of Jacob. He became very angry with Israel. 22 That was because they didn’t believe in God. They didn’t trust in his power to save them. 23 But he gave a command to the skies above. He opened the doors of the heavens. 24 He rained down manna for the people to eat. He gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Mere human beings ate the bread of angels. He sent them all the food they could eat. 26 He made the east wind blow from the heavens. By his power he caused the south wind to blow. 27 He rained down meat on them like dust. He sent them birds like sand on the seashore. 28 He made the birds come down inside their camp. The birds fell all around their tents. 29 People ate until they couldn’t eat any more. He gave them what they had wanted. 30 But even before they had finished eating, God acted. He did it while the food was still in their mouths. 31 His anger rose up against them. He put to death the strongest among them. He struck down Israel’s young men. 32 But even after all that, they kept on sinning. Even after the wonderful things he had done, they still didn’t believe. 33 So he brought their days to an end like a puff of smoke. He ended their years with terror. 34 Every time God killed some of them, the others would seek him. They gladly turned back to him again. 35 They remembered that God was their Rock. They remembered that God Most High had set them free. 36 But they didn’t mean it when they praised him. They lied to him when they spoke. 37 They turned away from him. They weren’t faithful to the covenant he had made with them. 38 But he was full of tender love. He forgave their sins and didn’t destroy his people. Time after time he held back his anger. He didn’t let all his burning anger blaze out. 39 He remembered that they were only human. He remembered they were only a breath of air that drifts by and doesn’t return. 40 How often they refused to obey him in the desert! How often they caused him sorrow in that dry and empty land! 41 Again and again they tested God. They made the Holy One of Israel sad and angry. 42 They didn’t remember his power. They forgot the day he set them free from those who had treated them so badly. 43 They forgot how he had shown them his signs in Egypt. They forgot his miracles in the area of Zoan. 44 He turned the river of Egypt into blood. The people of Egypt couldn’t drink water from their streams. 45 He sent large numbers of flies that bit them. He sent frogs that destroyed their land. 46 He gave their crops to the grasshoppers. He gave their food to the locusts. 47 He destroyed their vines with hail. He destroyed their fig trees with sleet. 48 He killed their cattle with hail. Their livestock were struck by lightning. 49 Because he was so angry with Egypt, he caused them to have great trouble. In his great anger he sent destroying angels against them. 50 God prepared a path for his anger. He didn’t spare their lives. He gave them over to the plague. 51 He killed the oldest son of each family in Egypt. He struck down the oldest son in every house in the land of Ham. 52 But he brought his people out like a flock. He led them like sheep through the desert. 53 He guided them safely, and they weren’t afraid. But the Red Sea swallowed up their enemies. 54 And so he brought his people to the border of his holy land. He led them to the central hill country he had taken by his power. 55 He drove out the nations to make room for his people. He gave to each family a piece of land to pass on to their children. He gave the tribes of Israel a place to make their homes. 56 But they tested God. They refused to obey the Most High God. They didn’t keep his laws. 57 They were like their people who lived long ago. They turned away from him and were not faithful. They were like a bow that doesn’t shoot straight. They couldn’t be trusted. 58 They made God angry by going to their high places. They made him jealous by worshiping the statues of their gods. 59 When God saw what the people were doing, he was very angry. He turned away from them completely. 60 He deserted the holy tent at Shiloh. He left the tent he had set up among his people. 61 He allowed the ark to be captured. Into the hands of his enemies he sent the ark where his glory rested. 62 He let his people be killed by swords. He was very angry with them. 63 Fire destroyed their young men. Their young women had no one to marry. 64 Their priests were killed by swords. Their widows weren’t able to weep. 65 Then the Lord woke up as if he had been sleeping. He was like a warrior waking up from the deep sleep caused by wine. 66 He drove back his enemies. He put them to shame that will last forever. 67 He turned his back on the tents of the people of Joseph. He didn’t choose to live in the tribe of Ephraim. 68 Instead, he chose to live in the tribe of Judah. He chose Mount Zion, which he loved. 69 There he built his holy place as secure as the heavens. He built it to last forever, like the earth. 70 He chose his servant David. He took him from the sheep pens. 71 He brought him from tending sheep to be the shepherd of his people Jacob. He made him the shepherd of Israel, his special people. 72 David cared for them with a faithful and honest heart. With skilled hands he led them.
This Psalm traces the back and forth drama of the nation of Israel with it’s God. Israel is sometimes hot, sometimes cold. Sometimes the nation of Israel obeys the Lord, other times not. From the time of Israel’s exit from Eygpt to the time of King David, this chapter encapsulates the roller-coaster of Israel’s fortunes. I sense that the Psalmist is elevating the ideal of David’s kingly reign at the end of the chapter. David’s quality Kingship is summarised in verse 72 “And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skilful hands he led them.” (NIV)
What set David apart was his ability to match his ministry to the people with his effective leadership as the king. These are the two points found in the final verse: ‘Integrity of heart’ and ‘skilful hands’. My reflection today is the question: ‘Am I balancing this integrity and skills paradigm in my life?’ Perhaps I find it easy to reflect on and develop my inner life – to ponder my character and practise devotion to the Lord. But am I at the same time motivated to express the practical competencies that get the job done? Do I adopt a robust approach to life that sees me accept, tackle and complete those things which God has called me to? On the one hand to live without compromise (heart). On the other hand to effectively serve my calling (skills).
The ideals David’s life exemplified serve as a example to be copied. He was a shepherd, he was a leader.
Lord, Thank you for the motivation to cultivate inner purity and personal holiness. Thank you for the drive to put the gifts you have given me into practise for your Kingdom. Amen.
Written by Sam Stewart
For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of Asaph. 1 I cried out to God for help. I cried out to God to hear me. 2 When I was in trouble, I looked to the Lord for help. During the night I lifted up my hands in prayer. But I refused to be comforted. 3 God, I remembered you, and I groaned. I thought about you, and I became weak. 4 You kept me from going to sleep. I was so troubled I couldn’t speak. 5 I thought about days gone by. I thought about the years of long ago. 6 I remembered how I used to sing praise to you in the night. I thought about it, and here is what I asked myself. 7 “Will the Lord turn away from us forever? Won’t he ever show us his kindness again? 8 Has his faithful love disappeared forever? Has his promise failed for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to help us? Has he held back his tender love because he was angry?” 10 Then I thought, “Here is what gives me hope. For many years the Most High God showed how powerful he is. 11 Lord, I will remember what you did. Yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. 12 I will spend time thinking about everything you have done. I will consider all your mighty acts.” 13 God, everything you do is holy. What god is as great as our God? 14 You are the God who does miracles. You show your power among the nations. 15 With your mighty arm you set your people free. You set the children of Jacob and Joseph free. 16 God, the water of the Red Sea saw you. It saw you and boiled up. The deepest waters were stirred up. 17 The clouds poured down rain. The skies rumbled with thunder. Lightning flashed back and forth like arrows. 18 Your thunder was heard in the windstorm. Your lightning lit up the world. The earth trembled and shook. 19 Your path led through the Red Sea. You walked through the mighty waters. But your footprints were not seen. 20 You led your people like a flock. You led them by the hands of Moses and Aaron.
David starts this Psalm by being totally transparent in his frustration and ache at the silence from heaven. He was deep in trouble and not comforted, he was overwhelmed with longing for help.
This frustration turns to accusing God of turning his back on David, saying that God doesn’t care anymore. And then to go further and say that God is actually against him.
Have you ever been in that place? I have.
If you have been a believer for any amount of time, then you probably will understand how David feels.
But take direction from David as he then chooses to recall what God has done.
David chooses to reflect on the truth and not his feelings.
V13 God you are Holy, no one is as mighty as you. You are the God of great wonders.
The Message puts it this way “you are the God who makes things happen”.
Feelings can hide the truth that God is the one who makes things happen.
Like David, choose to remember what God has done, because God keeps his promises, he will do what he has said he will do.
Father, forgive me when I have believed my feelings instead of standing on the truth. You are God and you make things happen for me.
Written by Andrew Martin
For the director of music. A psalm of Asaph. A song to be played on stringed instruments. 1 In the land of Judah, God is well known. In Israel, his name is great. 2 His tent is in Jerusalem. The place where he lives is on Mount Zion. 3 There he broke the deadly arrows of his enemies. He broke their shields and swords. He broke their weapons of war. 4 God, you shine like a very bright light. You are more majestic than mountains full of wild animals. 5 Brave soldiers have been robbed of everything they had. Now they lie there, sleeping in death. Not one of them can even lift his hands. 6 God of Jacob, at your command both horse and chariot lie still. 7 People should have respect for you alone. Who can stand in front of you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you handed down your sentence. The land was afraid and became quiet. 9 God, that happened when you rose up to judge. It happened when you came to save all your suffering people in the land. 10 Your anger against sinners brings you praise. Those who live through your anger gather to worship you. 11 Make promises to the Lord your God and keep them. Let all the neighboring nations bring gifts to the God who should be respected. 12 He breaks the proud spirit of rulers. The kings of the earth have respect for him.
There is so much on the news to cause people to fear; war, political instability, disease and natural disasters…. Yet we serve a God who is far more powerful than the strongest human-built weapon, a God who causes the earth to fear, a God whose strategy to unleash hope and life is truly unstoppable, a God who is greater than any leader and who halts opposition with a rebuke.
Lord, help me make your name and your greatness known in the places that I go. May people see that you are the one who enables and empowers us to act in the face of difficulty, to bring hope and practical solutions. Help me to focus on what I can do and to take steps of faith, trusting in you to do immeasurably more than all I can ask or imagine. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
1 God, we praise you. We praise you because you are near to us. People talk about the wonderful things you have done. 2 You say, “I choose the appointed time to judge people. And I judge them fairly. 3 When the earth and all its people tremble, I keep everything from falling to pieces. 4 To the proud I say, ‘Don’t brag anymore.’ To sinners I say, ‘Don’t show off your power. 5 Don’t show it off against me. Don’t talk back to me.’ ” 6 No one from east or west or north or south can judge themselves. 7 God is the one who judges. He says to one person, “You are guilty.” To another he says, “You are not guilty.” 8 In the hand of the Lord is a cup. It is full of wine mixed with spices. It is the wine of his anger. He pours it out. All the evil people on earth drink it down to the very last drop. 9 I will speak about this forever. I will sing praise to the God of Jacob. 10 God says, “I will destroy the power of all sinful people. But I will make godly people more powerful.”
This Psalm, clearly from God’s mind and perspective on the affairs that take place throughout the Earth, affirms God is in charge. I love verses 2 and 3, where God declares Himself to be in charge of the appointed times, and the one who holds the pillars of the Earth firm when everything shakes.
How relevant, and comforting, for our times. God is truly the one who oversees the rise and fall of leaders, nations, and people’s, across the Earth. It is interesting to note that the Psalmist response is – “I will declare this forever.”
This is a challenge to me. I’m one to analyse the problem, talk of various solutions, and sometimes just outright complain and just throw my hands up in the air! But am I one to continually declare – God’s in charge. God’s on His throne. He appoints the rulers, He decides the times, and He appoints the times. He keeps things steady when everything shakes. How often are these declarations on my lips? They need to be. It seems that my own declarations can steady my own ship, especially in turbulent times and troubling circumstances.
Lord, help me control my tongue, and use my tongue wisely. To declare what is true, and keep truth always on my lips! Irrespective of my theories, you’re in charge, on your throne, working in our times for your good purposes and towards your good ends! Hallelujah!
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
1 God, why have you turned your back on us for so long? Why are you so angry with us? We are your very own sheep. 2 Remember the nation that you chose as your own so long ago. Remember that you set us free from slavery to be your very own people. Remember Mount Zion, where you lived. 3 Walk through this place that has been torn down beyond repair. See how completely your enemies have destroyed the temple! 4 In the place where you used to meet with us, your enemies have shouted, “We’ve won the battle!” They have set up their flags to show they have beaten us. 5 They acted like people cutting down a forest with axes. 6 They smashed all the beautiful wooden walls with their axes and hatchets. 7 They burned your temple to the ground. They polluted the place where your Name is. 8 They had said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where you were worshiped in the land. 9 We don’t get signs from God anymore. There aren’t any prophets left. None of us knows how long that will last. 10 God, how long will your enemies make fun of you? Will they attack you with their words forever? 11 Why don’t you help us? Why do you hold back your power? Use your strong power to destroy your enemies! 12 God, you have been my king for a long time. You are the only God who can save anyone on earth. 13 You parted the waters of the Red Sea by your power. You broke the heads of that sea monster in Egypt. 14 You crushed the heads of the sea monster Leviathan. You fed it to the creatures of the desert. 15 You opened up streams and springs. You dried up rivers that flow all year long. 16 You rule over the day and the night. You created the sun and the moon. 17 You decided where the borders of the earth would be. You made both summer and winter. 18 Lord, remember how your enemies have made fun of you. Remember how foolish people have attacked you with their words. 19 Don’t hand over Israel, your dove, to those wild animals. Don’t forget your suffering people forever. 20 Honor the covenant you made with us. Horrible things are happening in every dark corner of the land. 21 Don’t let your suffering people be put to shame. May those who are poor and needy praise you. 22 God, rise up. Stand up for your cause. Remember how foolish people make fun of you all day long. 23 Pay close attention to the shouts of your enemies. The trouble they cause never stops.
The writer of this Psalm is in deep despair and complains that God has allowed the enemy to come and wreak destruction on all that was precious to His people. He is essentially saying, NOT FAIR God, how could you do that to us?
As a younger person I had the mistaken belief that I would be exempt from catastrophes because of my faith in God’s protection. I now know that this is not the whole picture!
In John 16:33 Jesus said this to His disciples, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting Me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world”
Right. So I don’t have to like it, but I shouldn’t be too surprised when difficulties come. But I love Jesus’ words, …”so that trusting Me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace”.
Jesus, I thank you for the peace even in the middle of the most difficult times that comes from knowing that You have overcome the world. One day I will wake from this life to find all that is broken has been made new.
Written by Shelley Witt
A psalm of Asaph. 1 God is truly good to Israel. He is good to those who have pure hearts. 2 But my feet had almost slipped. I had almost tripped and fallen. 3 I saw that proud and sinful people were doing well. And I began to long for what they had. 4 They don’t have any troubles. Their bodies are healthy and strong. 5 They don’t have the problems most people have. They don’t suffer as other people do. 6 Their pride is like a necklace. They put on meanness as if it were their clothes. 7 Many sins come out of their hard and stubborn hearts. There is no limit to the evil things they can think up. 8 They laugh at others and speak words of hatred. They are proud. They warn others about the harm they can do to them. 9 They brag as if they owned heaven itself. They talk as if they controlled the earth. 10 So people listen to them. They lap up their words like water. 11 They say, “How would God know what we’re doing? Does the Most High God know anything?” 12 Here is what sinful people are like. They don’t have a care in the world. They keep getting richer and richer. 13 It seems as if I have kept my heart pure for no reason. It didn’t do me any good to wash my hands to show that I wasn’t guilty of doing anything wrong. 14 Day after day I’ve been in pain. God has punished me in a new way every morning. 15 What if I had talked like that? Then I wouldn’t have been faithful to God’s children. 16 I tried to understand it all. But it was more than I could handle. 17 It troubled me until I entered God’s temple. Then I understood what will finally happen to bad people. 18 God, I’m sure you will make them slip and fall. You will throw them down and destroy them. 19 It will happen very suddenly. A terrible death will take them away completely. 20 A dream goes away when a person wakes up. Lord, it will be like that when you rise up. It will be as if those people were only a dream. 21 At one time my heart was sad and my spirit was bitter. 22 I didn’t have any sense. I didn’t know anything. I acted like a wild animal toward you. 23 But I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand. 24 You give me wise advice to guide me. And when I die, you will take me away into the glory of heaven. 25 I don’t have anyone in heaven but you. I don’t want anything on earth besides you. 26 My body and my heart may grow weak. God, you give strength to my heart. You are everything I will ever need. 27 Those who don’t want anything to do with you will die. You destroy all those who aren’t faithful to you. 28 But I am close to you. And that’s good. Lord and King, I have made you my place of safety. I will talk about everything you have done.
I could talk about the perceived injustice of the prosperity of the wicked, or the importance of getting your priorities right ( which it is!). But what struck me most in this Psalm are verses 23-28. Regardless of my social status, my financial position, my health, my age, my job, it is all worth nothing without relationship with God. God is the source of my strength not what I have or who I am thought to be. Any thing I have on earth can be lost in a moment but my security and assurance in God lasts forever.
If I use the world and those around me as a measure of my own success I will likely feel disillusioned and disappointed. If I stand with God then I am always successful.
Heavenly Father I thank you for your endless love and care of me. I thank you that your plans for my life are constant and trustworthy. Help me to love those around me and not compare myself to others. Help me to share your love and Greatness. In Jesus name. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
14 Later Jesus appeared to the 11 disciples as they were eating. He spoke firmly to them because they had no faith. They would not believe those who had seen him after he rose from the dead. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world. Preach the good news to everyone. 16 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who does not believe will be punished. 17 Here are the miraculous signs that those who believe will do. In my name they will drive out demons. They will speak in languages they had not known before. 18 They will pick up snakes with their hands. And when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all. They will place their hands on sick people. And the people will get well.” 19 When the Lord Jesus finished speaking to them, he was taken up into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere. The Lord worked with them. And he backed up his word by the signs that went with it.
These final verses in Mark confirm for us the missionary component of following Jesus. If I follow Jesus he is asking me to tell others about him and his Kingdom. And his promise is for the presence and power of God to accompany me and to reveal the living realities of God’s Kingdom.
I see also that much is on the line, whoever believes in Jesus, getting baptised in his Name, will be saved from the power of sin and the wrath of God. Those who refuse will be condemned because of their sin.
Lord, accompany me and reveal your Kingdom as I talk about you to friends, family and strangers.
Written by Andrew Mellor
9 Jesus rose from the dead early on the first day of the week. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene. He had driven seven demons out of her. 10 She went and told those who had been with him. She found them crying. They were very sad. 11 They heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him. But they did not believe it. 12 After that, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them. This happened while they were walking out in the country. 13 The two returned and told the others about it. But the others did not believe them either.
I feel for the disciples in this short narrative of the risen Jesus making himself known. It is easier with hindsight to be puzzled by the disbelief of the disciples when they learnt Jesus was alive again. How did they forget his message to them recorded in Matt 17 verse 23 that he would be raised to life again on the 3rd day? He resurrection was apparently totally unexpected. Two reasons can help explain their reaction: their belief in Jesus as the liberator from Roman rule had been shattered, and of course their grief at losing their friend and teacher, with whom they had spent the last 3 years.
Jesus appears to 3 individuals first, knowing they will take the message back to the larger group, firstly to Mary and then the 2 people on the road to Emmaus. What a special encounter each of these had with the risen Jesus, the chance to talk with him and hear his voice, to encounter the power of the resurrection. They were left in no doubt Jesus was alive again. I imagine the excitement and happiness they must have felt to know their Lord was back! Only to be disbelieved by the disciples when they excitedly reported the amazing news!
Whilst I’m not sure why Jesus chose to appear to people in this order, these events have reminded me that faith follows a personal encounter with the risen Jesus. It’s not until I met Jesus as my Lord that the knowledge and information I knew about him made sense in my heart, and changed me. This is what I pray for people I know who need Jesus – that they will meet him and their hearts will be changed.
Dear Jesus. You have beaten death and won me salvation. This is such great news and thank you for revealing yourself to me. I pray for my friends and family that you will meet them like you did your friends and disciples, and change their disbelief. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
16 The Sabbath day ended. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices. They were going to use them for Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they were on their way to the tomb. It was just after sunrise. 3 They asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 Then they looked up and saw that the stone had been rolled away. The stone was very large. 5 They entered the tomb. As they did, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe. He was sitting on the right side. They were alarmed. 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. But he has risen! He is not here! See the place where they had put him. 7 Go! Tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. It will be just as he told you.’ ” 8 The women were shaking and confused. They went out and ran away from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
“…including Peter.” v7
Two small words – what a massive back-story!
The angel told the women to go and tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead but adds these two words “including Peter”. The last interaction that Peter had with Jesus was his greatest failure – his denial of Jesus (see Mark 14:72). Yet here in this passage he gets special mention. What gets me is that this clearly was discussed in heaven. This was a special instruction from God to this angel – “listen – you have GOT to let Peter know that Jesus is risen. Make sure he gets told. He is broken right now.” Such amazing love for a man who has just let Him down.
It’s so good to know that my failures and mistakes are not the end of the story. That a loving Heavenly Father is discussing and planning our restoration with such a massive loving heart.
Lord, help me see and never forgot the depth of your love – that pursues and seeks to restore me to yourself. I praise you and I’m in awe of You. Amen
Written by Boudy VanNoppen
42 It was the day before the Sabbath. That day was called Preparation Day. As evening approached, 43 Joseph went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph was from the town of Arimathea. He was a leading member of the Jewish Council. He was waiting for God’s kingdom. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead. So he called for the Roman commander. He asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 The commander said it was true. So Pilate gave the body to Joseph. 46 Then Joseph bought some linen cloth. He took down the body and wrapped it in the linen. He put it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance to the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body had been placed.
Joseph was a complex man. He was a “good and righteous” man who was faithfully looking for the Kingdom of God. John tells us he was a disciple of Jesus.
He was also one of the leading members of the Sanhedrin and Matthew tells us he was wealthy. He had a lot to lose. He was a “secret disciple” because he was afraid of the consequences.
Luke tells us he did not agree with the decision or actions of the Sanhedrin in condemning Jesus. Yet, like Peter, he did not speak up for him.
But now he takes a big risk to go “boldly” to Pilate and ask for Jesus’ body; to see that the requirements of the law are followed; and that Jesus is treated with honour. He gives up his own tomb for Jesus.
He is not criticised for his lack of boldness at Jesus’ trial. (Stopping Jesus dying was definitely not part of God’s plan.) He is honoured for his boldness now. Because of what he did in protecting Jesus’ body, we can be certain that Jesus really died and was really raised to life. That has huge significance.
Like Joseph, God doesn’t ask me to be bold in what I do. He asks to boldly take my part in what he’s doing. That means I need to constantly look for what he’s doing (“looking for the Kingdom of God”, like Joseph).
Father, I want to take my part in what you’re doing today, even if it means taking a risk. I want to honour you. Open my eyes to see what it is, and give me courage to take my part.
Written by David Cornell
33 At noon, darkness covered the whole land. It lasted three hours. 34 At three o’clock in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” This means “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” (Psalm 22:1) 35 Some of those standing nearby heard Jesus cry out. They said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” 36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with wine vinegar. He put it on a stick. He offered it to Jesus to drink. “Leave him alone,” he said. “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” 37 With a loud cry, Jesus took his last breath. 38 The temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 A Roman commander was standing there in front of Jesus. He saw how Jesus died. Then he said, “This man was surely the Son of God!” 40 Not very far away, some women were watching. Mary Magdalene was among them. Mary, the mother of the younger James and of Joseph, was also there. So was Salome. 41 In Galilee these women had followed Jesus. They had taken care of his needs. Many other women were also there. They had come up with him to Jerusalem.
Being abandoned – is such a powerful image here. Jesus Christ – the beloved Son of the Father – as He nears death – cries out… “God, God…why have you abandoned me?” It resonates within me – I know this feeling – of being alone…of facing circumstances that overwhelm and overpower me, of feeling l have been abandoned. In this moment when Jesus identified himself with the sin of the world – The Father was absent. Jesus did this, experienced this, suffered this – for me, for us.
As I ponder this passage today I am moved by the fresh reminder that Jesus has faced everything and anything I have or will ever face … I am overwhelmed by the reality of God’s love for me.
The words of Chris Tomlin’s Song At the Cross are a prayer declaring truth for me today…
Thank you so much Jesus for loving me this much…
There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide.
Where all the love I’ve ever found, Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down.
At the cross At the cross
I surrender my life. I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You Where Your love ran red and my sin washed white.
I owe all to You, I owe all to You Jesus.
There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless.
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness.
Where all the love I’ve ever found. Comes like a flood, Comes flowing down.
Here my hope is found Here on holy ground
Here I bow down Here arms open wide
Here You save my life Here I bow down Here I bow down
Written by Ps. Linda Quinn
21 A man named Simon was passing by. He was from Cyrene. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus. Simon was on his way in from the country. The soldiers forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha. The word Golgotha means the Place of the Skull. 23 Then they gave him wine mixed with spices. But he did not take it. 24 They nailed him to the cross. Then they divided up his clothes. They cast lots to see what each of them would get. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 They wrote out the charge against him. It read, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 27-28 They crucified with him two rebels against Rome. One was on his right and one was on his left. 29 Those who passed by shouted at Jesus and made fun of him. They shook their heads and said, “So you are going to destroy the temple and build it again in three days? 30 Then come down from the cross! Save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law made fun of him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said. “But he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross! When we see that, we will believe.” Those who were being crucified with Jesus also made fun of him.
What humiliation Jesus faced. Every action happening around Him was shouting that Jesus was absolutely nothing, a complete and utter joke. A waste. The soldiers were gambling for His clothes beneath Him, and the onlookers were busy mocking Him… Here Jesus was making the greatest sacrifice the world will ever see, demonstrating God’s unconditional love, and we treated it like garbage. In our eyes it was humorous entertainment.
In that moment (if not many times before) I would have given up on humanity and said stuff it, you’re not worth it, I’m walking away and you can live in the hell of your own making. You’re on your own. I cannot conceive of God’s incredible love, His patience (long-suffering) and His willingness to give up His beloved Son (blameless, worthy) for a people (sin-stained, unworthy) who did not value Him and to this day make fun of Him. How could God be so generous to a people so undeserving? How foreign a love so selfless and freely given… no resentment from God… just open arms…
God, my mind cannot make sense of your extravagant love. That you consider us worthy is mind-boggling. Thank you for loving me and for not giving up on humanity. Help me to receive your extravagant love for myself and to give it away. Amen.
Written by Bethany Waugh
16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace. It was called the Praetorium. They called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 The soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus. Then they twisted thorns together to make a crown. They placed it on his head. 18 They began to call out to him, “We honor you, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they hit him on the head with a stick. They spit on him. They fell on their knees and pretended to honor him. 20 After they had made fun of him, they took off the purple robe. They put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him out to nail him to a cross.
There are two main points to this passage for today that are highlighted to me.
The first is that Pilate is often regarded as a villain in the judgement of Jesus. But he was facing a torrid mob mentality, a crowd who wanted to see a brutal punishment of a man of whom I think, most did not care whether he was innocent or guilty. Pilate was under a lot of pressure to please the crowd, and it is easy for me to judge Pilate for being weak. But I ask the question, would any of us have responded differently?
I like to think I would have, but I am also challenged that maybe I would have reacted in exactly the same way, “wanting to satisfy the crowd”. This is a good wake up call in reminding me that I must always look only to the approval of God, and not man.
The second half of today’s passage is distressing. Jesus is flogged severely, and while in a state of intense pain and complete exhaustion, he is then ridiculed and mocked, even spat upon, an act of horrid disrespect. What is Jesus’ response to this? He says nothing. He offers no defence. He knew what the final outcome would be. He knew his purpose.
What a contrast we see. Pilate felt he had to respond to the crowd to defend his role and acceptance of the crowd. Jesus did not need to respond to defend himself for he knew his purpose. How humbling to think that Jesus lived and died for each of those mockers. We are no different really, we all fall short as sinners, and so desperately needed Jesus at that time to remain true to his purpose.
Thank you Father for your faithfulness to me, and may I continue to grow, not to be a crowd pleaser, but to be steadfast in the purpose that you have for me, regardless of the opposition. Amen.
Written by Steve Fell
15 It was very early in the morning. The chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law, and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they tied Jesus up and led him away. Then they handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests brought many charges against him. 4 So Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they charge you with.” 5 But Jesus still did not reply. Pilate was amazed. 6 It was the usual practice at the Passover Feast to let one prisoner go free. The people could choose the one they wanted. 7 A man named Barabbas was in prison. He was there with some other people who had fought against the country’s rulers. They had committed murder while they were fighting against the rulers. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to let the king of the Jews go free?” asked Pilate. 10 He knew that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him because they wanted to get their own way. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd. So the crowd asked Pilate to let Barabbas go free instead. 12 “Then what should I do with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” the crowd shouted. 14 “Why? What wrong has he done?” asked Pilate. But they shouted even louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd. So he let Barabbas go free. He ordered that Jesus be whipped. Then he handed him over to be nailed to a cross.
This passage is about betrayal. Ultimate betrayal!
Jesus was betrayed by the people who should have been His biggest supporters, the religious leaders of the day. He was also betrayed by the very people He was trying the help, the Jewish people of the region. It was the ultimate betrayal because it leads directly to His death.
As the Son of God, the depths of this betrayal cannot be measured in human terms, it can only be understood in the eternal divine realm as the ultimate gift of forgiveness.
For us in the ‘here and now’ we are left with a remarkable example of humility. Throughout the ordeal Jesus never lashed out, He never condemned or even defended His innocence but His only response and to His dying breath was to ‘forgive’. Regarding Jesus’ response to this injustice it says Pilate was ‘amazed’.
As I write this Daily Digest entry on this very day a person very dear to me has been wrongly treated by their place of work. However, I am happy to report that even though this will lead to the end of this person’s position they have chosen to work willingly with the organisation to ensure a smooth transition. You can only do these types of things willingly when there is forgiveness in your heart.
How do you respond when people mistreat you?
Lord, allow us to appreciate the sacrifice you made for each of us individually and help us to forgive others as you have forgiven us. Amen.
Written by David Newton
66 Peter was below in the courtyard. One of the high priest’s female servants came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with Jesus, that Nazarene,” she said. 68 But Peter said he had not been with him. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said. He went out to the entrance to the courtyard. 69 The servant saw him there. She said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he said he was not. After a little while, those standing nearby said to Peter, “You must be one of them. You are from Galilee.” 71 Then Peter began to curse. He said to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” 72 Right away the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had spoken to him. “The rooster will crow twice,” he had said. “Before it does, you will say three times that you don’t know me.” Peter broke down and cried.
In this very familiar passage we have the account of when Peter denies Jesus 3 times, just as Jesus said he would.
When Peter realises that he has done exactly what he said he wouldn’t do he breaks down and weeps.
As I reflect on this I wonder what brought Peter to tears?
Was it the disappointment in doing the very thing he said he would not do?
Possibly or even probably.
But as I reflect on this, I can’t escape the thought that Peter wept, recognising that even though Jesus knew what Peter would do, Jesus still called Peter to be his disciple anyway.
The tears were a response to the true love that Jesus had for Peter.
It may not bring us to tears, but the same love Jesus showed Peter is the same love Jesus shows us.
Jesus knows all the mistakes we will make, how many times we will fail, but he still chooses us anyway.
So, the next time you make a mistake, remember that Jesus knew and he still called you anyway, so he will not reject you because of it.
Father, thank you for choosing us, even though you know the times we will fail you. Your love for us does not change because we make mistakes, but is proven true when we do, over and over again.
Written by Andrew Martin
53 The crowd took Jesus to the high priest. All the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Not too far away, Peter followed Jesus. He went right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards. He warmed himself at the fire. 55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for something to use against Jesus. They wanted to put him to death. But they did not find any proof. 56 Many witnesses lied about him. But their stories did not agree. 57 Then some of them stood up. Here is what those false witnesses said about him. 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made by human hands. In three days I will build another temple, not made by human hands.’ ” 59 But what they said did not agree. 60 Then the high priest stood up in front of them. He asked Jesus, “Aren’t you going to answer? What are these charges these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent. He gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah? Are you the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One. You will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard him say a very evil thing against God. What do you think?” They all found him guilty and said he must die. 65 Then some began to spit at him. They blindfolded him. They hit him with their fists. They said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
The darkest and cruellest event in history since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden. Here we have a man, who has come to bring restoration to the world, who lived a perfect life, demonstrating for all how to live life. This passage recounts the way he was put on trial and condemned to death.
On my reading of this passage this morning, I am struck by verse 62. Jesus may have generally been silent like a lamb led to the slaughter, but here he plainly and undeniably spells out who he claims to be, and it is this claim that they grab on to – for someone to claim to be equal to God was completely unacceptable to the people presiding over this trial.
We might see Jesus’ death as a tragic death of a good man, but here he spells out why he was so good – because he was and is the messiah – the one who brought the kingdom of God to Earth and enable access to heaven for all people. This was more than a tragedy, but a complete abomination of all justice.
But the good news is that it was always God’s plan to allow him to die, because after this dark night, on the 3rd day he rose again, conquering sin and death, proving that he was who he claimed, appearing to hundreds of eyewitnesses, many of whom laid down their own life while holding to their testimony of his resurrection!!
Lord Jesus, you are the one we worship, your death was horrid, but we will praise you eternally, because it was not in vain.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
6 A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us. He will rule over us. And he will be called Wonderful Adviser and Mighty God. He will also be called Father Who Lives Forever and Prince Who Brings Peace. 7 There will be no limit to how great his authority is. The peace he brings will never end. He will rule on David’s throne and over his kingdom. He will make the kingdom strong and secure. His rule will be based on what is fair and right. It will last forever. The Lord’s great love will make sure that happens. He rules over all.
The description of the Messiah is unambiguous – powerful and inspiring.
The names given suggest a number of things. Divine wisdom and power, ongoing and unceasing fatherly care, the bringing of peace with all of its blessings.
When I think of a Saviour these descriptions cover all my needs. I need a Saviour – one who doesn’t just deal with part of who I am but all that I am and hope to be.
Jesus – the child born is this Saviour.
But even more than this I take confidence from the fact that the kingdom God establishes through the Saviour, Jesus, is one of ever increasing peace and ever increasing dimension. Jesus rule and reign – His kingdom – is not geographical but in our hearts and God’s promise is that it will always increase.
That means His transforming work in me and through me is always at work by His Word and Spirit – wow what a life of joy, of peace, of fruitfulness!!
Father, this Christmas I come to you afresh, committing my life to your Lordship. May I follow you more dearly and nearly day-by-day!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
15 The angels left and went into heaven. Then the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby. The baby was lying in the manger. 17 After the shepherds had seen him, they told everyone. They reported what the angel had said about this child. 18 All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. 20 The shepherds returned. They gave glory and praise to God. Everything they had seen and heard was just as they had been told.
I don’t know much about these shepherds aside from the fact that they were up at night looking after their sheep. To a great extent for me, this helps me relate to them. Even though I am not that familiar with looking after animals, I can imagine myself in their position – up late with some work mates, sharing stories, probably with a campfire burning.
I imagine that these shepherds are Hebrews with some background understanding of God, but their shock and awe when the angel appears gives me the impression that they would not have expected God to show up in this way, at least not for them.
What I love about this story and I am really challenged by, is the way that they respond- the scale of their visit by the angels leads them to drop everything they were doing to travel into the “nearby” town of Bethlehem (probably still a long way by foot) to see the baby.
Once they saw Jesus, the shepherds continue their response: they tell everyone about what they had seen and heard and they praise God.
Thanks Lord that you show up in unexpected places. Help me to be better at expecting your unexpected intervention.
Thank you that I have met Jesus as the shepherds did. May I have a lasting response that mirrors theirs – telling others and worshipping you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Justin Ware
8 There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 Here is how you will know I am telling you the truth. You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a large group of angels from heaven also appeared. They were praising God. They said, 14 “May glory be given to God in the highest heaven! And may peace be given to those he is pleased with on earth!”
This is the first account of the celebration of the birth of Christ. And I love how God orchestrates it by first having the angel appear to some shepherds. When the sun went down that day, and they started to settle in for the evening watching their masters sheep, they had no idea what was about to unfold, and how their lives would be changed forever.
It was dark, a clear sky, probably a little cool and the grass, damp from the dew. And then enters the glory of God. No wonder they were frightened at first. I would have been too. Such a magnificent and blazing spectacle of the praise of angels then graces the sky. This I would have loved to witness.
What do I take from this personally? God is teaching me humility in how He brings his Son into the earth. We see this by the fact the Jesus was born in a smelly stable and laid in a cow’s food trough, and from this passage, that the angel announced to shepherds, not dignitaries or officials, or church leaders, but lowly shepherds, who were on the night shift, a low graded profession.
I wonder if this were to happen today, who would God send his angels to proclaim this message to?
If this is God’s way, which it is because there are so many similar accounts in the Word, then my attitude needs to be the same.
Father, forgive me when for when I am proud. Change me, create in me a clean heart, and may my view of others be one of humility and mercy, for this is the attitude that you desire of me. Amen
Written by Stephen Fell
2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. 2 They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose. Now we have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard about it, he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was troubled too. 4 So Herod called together all the chief priests of the people. He also called the teachers of the law. He asked them where the Messiah was going to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied. “This is what the prophet has written. He said, 6 “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are certainly not the least important among the towns of Judah. A ruler will come out of you. He will rule my people Israel like a shepherd.’ ” (Micah 5:2) 7 Then Herod secretly called for the Wise Men. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report it to me. Then I can go and worship him too.” 9 After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.
It is commonly believed that the Magi visited the baby Jesus at the same time as the shepherds. When we lived in France, steeped in catholic tradition, we learnt that the “kings” or Magi arrived 12 days after Jesus’ birth, celebrated as the Epiphany in the traditional church.
Who were the Magi? It is a word that designates wise men. They were not Jews, and came from the east looking for the “king of the Jews.” It is clear to me that God had spoken to them and they responded by looking for this new king. Their purpose – to worship him. And when they find him they are …overjoyed!
This part of the Christmas account reminds me that Jesus came to save all who believe in his name. And that at his name every knee will one day bow. Jesus’ death on the cross was for all who believe, the only way to be saved. My response is to believe and give Jesus the honour he deserves. My honour is not expressed in expensive treasures like the Magi, but in making Jesus king in my life – by trusting him, by setting my priorities to a kingdom focus, by sharing the generosity of God’s love with my unsaved friends.
Heavenly father, thank you for sending Jesus to die for all who believe in him, Jew or not. Help me to reflect your generosity this Christmas.
Written by Claire Moore
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Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118