Saturday 19 January, 2019

Psalm 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. 5 I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

What a beautiful prayer by a person who has confidence and patience to trust the LORD to hear and forgive. The picture I get is of restoration (v4).

Waiting can be hard. Waiting for God to act to bring something to pass or to give us wisdom or an answer to prayer is also sometimes not easy. The image of “the watchmen waiting for morning” helps me understand why I have to wait for Him to speak or reveal his plans. The watchmen wait expectantly, and stay alert, anticipating danger or attack. When the sun begins to break through, dangers or threats are clearly visible. So it is when God responds to my cry for help. His plan for me, which I couldn’t see, becomes clear.

What stops me from waiting on God? This could be fear, impatience, trusting in my own wisdom, stopping praying. But instead confidence in my loving God (v3-4) casts out fear, patience in God’s perfect timing overcomes impatience, and remembering that my hope comes not from my wisdom or experience but from the unshakeable word of God (v5) helps me not to trust in my own solutions.

It comes down to humility, knowing God will respond and at the right time. I have seen this powerfully in my life this year. It sure wasn’t an easy road, but he strengthened me to continue the journey as I waited on Him.

Dear Heavenly Father, I know you are listening because you love me. You have shown me this in Jesus dying in my place. Thank you for growing my faith as I wait on you. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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Friday 18 January, 2019

Psalm 129

1 “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; 2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. 3 Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. 4 But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” 5 May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. 6 May they be like grass on the roof, which withers before it can grow; 7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it, nor one who gathers fill his arms. 8 May those who pass by not say to them, “The blessing of the Lord be on you; we bless you in the name of the Lord.”

“But” can be such a transformative word.

“My enemies have beaten me down” is transformed by “but” from a statement of despair into a declaration of hope: “they haven’t won”. The hopelessness of being “tied up with ropes” is turned around by “but the Lord sets me free”.

It’s really easy to understand the psalmist’s desire that their enemies should receive the harm they intended for Israel. But Jesus said “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:27-28) That’s not so easy. But if I can allow Jesus to turn my heart around it turns that cycle of hate and harm around into grace and love.

The phrase “but God” is used over and over again in the Bible. Sometimes it’s “But God was angry” (Number 22:22) but the vast majority of them speak of his grace towards us in spite of what we are: “But God heard” (Genesis 21:17); “But God did listen!” (Psalm 66:19); “But God remembered” (Genesis 8:1); “But God, who encourages those who are discouraged” (2 Corinthians 7:6); “But God had mercy on me“ (1 Timothy 1:16); “But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” (2 Samuel 14:14); “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us” (Romans 5:8); “But God released” (Acts 2:24); “But God raised him from the dead!” (Acts 13:30); “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much” (Ephesians 2:4).

Father, thank you for the many times you speak a “but God” into my life: thank you that you turned me around from being your enemy to being your precious child. Turn my heart around to bring your transforming love into the parts of my life that seem to have least room for it.

Written by David Cornell

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Thursday 17 January, 2019

Psalm 128

1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord. 5 May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. 6 May you live to see your children’s children— peace be on Israel.

The promise here is that those who fear God and walk in obedience to Him will be blessed. God’s part is to bless us, to give us good gifts (whether physical or spiritual) and our part is to deeply respect Him and walk in obedience to Him.

Walking is our everyday default mode of transport, it is a fairly standard movement that we action repeatedly, often without thinking! What is my everyday mode of operation in life? Am I repeatedly and habitually acting in obedience to God’s ways? Am I loving Him and others? Am I forgiving? Am I serving? Am I choosing prayer rather than worry? Am I choosing thankfulness rather than grumbling?

God, please help me to ‘walk’ out my faith, and to obey you in my everyday interactions. May choosing your way of thinking, believing, imagining, being, speaking and acting become my habit. Amen.

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh

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Wednesday 16 January, 2019

Psalm 127

1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to[a] those he loves. 3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

I love this psalm – it is like a thunder clap that resounds in my ears: “is God in this?”

Because if he is, I am labouring with purpose, meaning and confidence that God will take my efforts and make them stand for something beautiful, something God wants to support.

If he is not, then I am building sand castles. My efforts may keep me occupied, but they contribute nought to the truly meaningful, the truly beautiful, the truly eternal.

This psalm reminds me that I need people in my life who can check me, people who have permission to ask me the question – “Is God in this?” It is a question that can bring pain; but what could be more painful than a life spent on the futile, a life spent on things that are washed away with the next high tide?

Lord, help me accept the pain of a life giving word that gets me back on your track, to the house that you are building. I want to be working with you, not on my own. Amen

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Tuesday 15 January, 2019

Psalm 126

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

This psalm reflects on how the Israelite’s had come out of exile. They remember how God restored them to their home city – it was amazing, they couldn’t believe it. Their hearts were filled with joy and laughter. As I read this Psalm, I am reminded of how I feel when God acts on my behalf. My heart is filled with gladness and my mouth with joy because He has done amazing things for me too. I have come to know that “You can do anything!”

The psalm continues. The Israelite’s are out of exile but they are facing hardship again. They are asking – praying – for the Lord to restore them again. Some of my prayers are the same: Lord, help. But sometimes these answers are slow in coming – and the waiting can be hard. As I read this psalm, I find that the Israelite’s are not waiting in dismay. They know there are tears now, but they also know they will reap a harvest. It reminds me of Habakkuk 2:3 which says “though it tarry, wait for it”. They don’t focus on the hardship but they actively remind themselves of what God has done previously: “The Lord has done great things for us (past tense), and we are filled with joy (present tense)” (v3 NIV). May I actively remind myself of the same.

Lord, You are Mighty and Sovereign, the maker of heaven and earth, and You are mindful of us. I thank you that You hear our prayers and act on our behalf. You are the stream in the desert, You bring me hope. May Your name be blessed!

Written by Gab Martin

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Monday 14 January, 2019

Psalm 125

1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. 3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. 4 Lord, do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. 5 But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers. Peace be on Israel.

As I understand it, the Hebrew people would sing the psalms of ascent (which this is one) as they climbed the mountain of Zion towards the temple.

I am not sure if there are direct similarities, but I must say that I love listening to worship music when I am on a journey. There is something about the combination of going somewhere and worshipping at the same time that really puts my heart and soul in a positive place.

Thank you Lord for music of Heaven and your words in the form of a song.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

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Sunday 13 January, 2019

Psalm 124

1 If the Lord had not been on our side— let Israel say— 2 if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, 3 they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; 4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away. 6 Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. 8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

David opens this Psalm, with the question, “WHAT if God had not been on our side”?

That’s not something that we think about. We always encourage each other saying that God is for us not against us. That he is our provider, he is our healer, he is our saviour, he is! It’s always he is this or he is that. He is exactly what and who we need God to be for us, whatever situation we happen to be going through.

So, in faith we hang on.

But think about it, if God was not on our side then our story would be very short. Actually we would have no story to tell. Our first trouble would also be our last. It would be all over.

Why? For God is and always has been our only hope. There is no one else that we can turn to, to move mountains, to change situations, change people.

Only God. And he IS on our side. We are still here, still going all because of God.

We can trust him because he is for us. Our faith in him will not disappoint.

Father, thank you. Thank you for being on my side, and being for me.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Saturday 12 January, 2019

Psalm 123

1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. 2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3 Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt. 4 We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud.

I’m learning a lot about faith at the moment. I came to God through faith for my salvation. Now, though, I’m learning to live all the other parts of my life through faith. Paul had to say something similar to the Christians in the Galatian Church. (See Galatians 3:11)

Faith looks up.

Faith says “this situation will turn around – God will get me through!” Faith looks away from the problem at hand long enough to see a Heavenly Father, who loves me, on the throne in control.  Faith says His promises are stronger than the current crisis I’m facing. Faith says “wait a second – He got me through before. He will get me through again!”

I need only look up.

Heavenly Father, when have you ever let me down? Help me to live by faith and remember to look up.

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Friday 11 January, 2019

Psalm 122

1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 2 Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. 4 That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord— to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. 5 There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” 8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.

I couldn’t go past the first verse of this Psalm –  “I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord”.

I grew up going to church pretty much every Sunday of my life. I can’t say that I always rejoiced at the thought, but for the most part it was a very positive, extremely important part of my childhood experience. I suppose you could say that I took it for granted and didn’t really see how special it was at the time to be a part of a church.

Fast forward to now, and I really do rejoice at the thought of going to church (the house of the Lord).

I love how it’s called God’s house – the place where God dwells. For me, that has a warm and inviting sound to it, and I am so grateful to be a part of a church that allows me to belong and to be surrounded and supported by God’s people, as well as enjoy God’s presence in the gathered worship experience.

May I never take for granted the privilege of going to and belonging to the house of the Lord.  It has made all the difference in my life.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 10 January, 2019

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Reading this passage I am struck by the contrast between the world and this walk in Christ. The world says be independent, self-reliant, face your fears and stare them down. But in Ps 121, I find that actually I face my battles with God, my protector, looking after me. There is not one moment of my day or night am I left to fend for myself. It isn’t that God doesn’t think I can manage on my own, but the reality is I don’t need to. So often I face my problems as much as I can in my own strength, then when my resources are depleted I go to God for help. I want to remember He is there ready to fight with me and for me right from the outset. I know that I can do nothing in my own strength, but the strength of God has already won victory over all that I face.

Heavenly Father thank you for all that you have done for me. Help me Lord to rest in your presence and to walk in your strength. In Jesus Name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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