Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. 26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.
I believe, one of the most challenging things that a Christian can explain to non-believer is that Jesus is living, alive and I have a relationship with Him. That I can pray to Him and that he speaks to my life and my heart. Some people may believe that Jesus was a person that was alive more than 2000 years ago and died and there is no way that He could be in contact with anyone.
Others may believe that the church is an ancient place, a place of ritual and routine, not a place that is contemporary, dynamic and truly alive. Whereas, I emphatically believe that Jesus lived, died and rose again and lives forever (Amen!) and that He has a permanent priesthood (v24). He is able to save completely those who come to the Father through Him, because He always intercedes for them (v25). When Jesus has interceded for me in the past I can hardly even speak about it. The ways that Jesus has addressed the concerns and needs of my heart in those exact moments has been so incredibly personal it has often made me speechless. How could He have known what I needed at that exact moment? How was it that He went before me to manage everything that I was to face so that I was not alone?
It is truly because He made me, He knows me. I am His.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your permanent and alive Priesthood. Thank you that you make a way for us to have a relationship with you and that you intercede for us. Help us to understand that you are a loving God that is always wanting us to be near you and to learn from you.
Written by Susannah Ware
11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. 13 He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 18 The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. 20 And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.
This passage of Scripture explains the shortfalls of the Levitical priesthood and the much awaited introduction of a new, perfect priest for all time – Jesus. It was also the beginning of people relating to God more intimately by a new agreement called the New Covenant.
A priest is essentially a bridge to God and Jesus was and is our perfect and permanent priest. How fortunate are we to be able to confidently draw near to God through Jesus! This was not always the case under the law or old covenant arrangements where relating to God was done indirectly by a priest at a distance. It was not a personal or intimate relationship with God like new testament believers or Christians today experience. God has also declared that Jesus is a forever priest so we can be sure that our relationship with our Heavenly Father is secure into the future and eternity. The perfect life of Jesus has made this possible as he is both priest and sacrifice. A truth we forever need to be grateful for.
Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus as our perfect and permanent priest for all time. Thank you that I can have a personal relationship with you because of this. Amen
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
7 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” 3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever. 4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! 5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. 6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. 9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, 10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
The writer of Hebrews is trying to paint a picture of how Jesus fits into things that would have made sense to the readers. He has just spoken about the unshakeable hope that we can have in Jesus and what He did for us. Just the same way that Abraham found hope in the blessing of Melchizedek.
Unshakeable hope. Such an interesting thought at this shaky time. Unshakeable. Is that where you are with your relationship with God? It is very tricky to be unshakeable. Even the ground, which seems so solid, is not unshakeable given the right circumstances (earthquake etc). But God says we can have unshakeable hope in Him and His promises. What an idea. That God is always trustworthy even when circumstances don’t support that view.
What are your circumstances at this moment? Listen to what God is saying to you regardless of those circumstances. He loves you beyond imagining, Jesus was sent to give you salvation, He is always with you – always. There are so many other promises. Grab a hold of them today.
Thank you, Lord, that you are the place of unshakeable hope, that you are trustworthy in all things and that your promises are available to me. Please help me get those ideas into my head. Build a strong foundation in me so that I am unshakeable even in the midst of something that shakes me like an earthquake. Give me a picture of HOPE that I can carry with me always. Amen.
Written by Therese Manning
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
God’s promise to us is absolutely trustworthy, and he wants us to know that. Then we will be encouraged and have confidence in Him.
The writer of Hebrews shows that 1. God cannot lie and 2. He swore an oath to confirm what he said. In the ancient Graeco-Roman world people swore oaths by a deity, king or emperor to prove that they would follow through on what they had promised. They were essentially asking the higher power to hold them accountable for what they were promising to do.
God doesn’t need to swear an oath. There is no higher authority for him to swear by. He cannot lie. What he promises, he will follow through on – just like he did for Abraham. But he swore an oath because he wanted to help us understand that we can have complete confidence in his promise. He wants us to take hold of the hope he has given us – as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”.
So, I ask myself – what difference does it make in my life if I absolutely trust in the hope God gives me? If I allow it to “anchor my soul”?
If I have complete confidence in God’s promise to me of eternal life, then I will not fear the future and I will not fear death. No matter what happens in life, I know that God is for me and holds my future securely. I am touched that God wants me to know this and to have confidence in him. He demonstrated his trustworthiness to the first Christians in the way their culture understood, and he wants me to know it now too.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you have gone before me to the Father. Thank you God, for the firm, secure hope you give us. Please help me to let it make a difference in how I live now.
Written by Megan Cornell
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The picture of the Christian life in verse 10 is powerful. A church devoted to hard work to put into practice the love which is at the centre of real Christian faith, serving one another and all God’s people in every way possible. There was solid evidence that their beginning was real, that they are God’s people; and, according to verses 9 and 10, that God has already seen what they’ve been doing. At the same time just because God will not forget what they’ve already done, they must continue to make every effort, avoid all temptations to be lazy, and continue with the life of faith and patience ‘until it be thoroughly finished’. This is the heart of Christian perseverance.
So, what does this mean for us? It means we are not to give up, we are to press forward, in faith to see God’s grace at work in us and in all who surround us! We should remind ourselves – God is watching, with pleasure, our pursuit of Him! This should be both a point of reflection and motivation to keep going.
Father, help each of us to reflect well on what you are doing in us and enabling us to do as well as stay motivated to keep on keeping on!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
6 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
God’s plan for us includes His work of transforming us into the likeness of Christ through the process of discipleship. We learn about things like repentance, baptism and resurrection (v1-3). We get to experience His goodness and power in our lives. We are shaped by these wonderful truths. But within it all, it is the state of our heart that matters most to God. He wants our heart to continue to grow in faith and trust in Him.
I am not responsible for my own salvation, but I am responsible for nurturing my heart. If I maintain a softness of heart and a teachable spirit, then I will be like the good soil that receives the rain and produces a harvest (v7). This softness will allow the Holy Spirit’s refreshing to go deep down into my very being.
So rather than fear getting a hard heart, turn your eyes to Jesus and keep your focus on Him. Do the things that keep your heart soft and your relationship with Him alive: spend time with Him, read His word, keep connected with your church family, find your small group within church, give thanks, offer Him your prayers and praise, enjoy time in nature, enjoy times of solitude or study. By doing so, you’ll keep growing stronger and receive His blessings (v7).
Father, I thank you that you want a real relationship with us, not one where we do things out of duty. May we keep our hearts soft before You so that like good soil we may receive from You in order to grow.
Written by Gab Martin
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
This is not a good place to be in – to be told “you should be teaching others, yet you need teaching yourselves”. Ouch! So, what are the symptoms of spiritual dullness and how do we get out of it? Firstly, am I able to discern right from wrong or am I unsure and “double-minded”? (v14) If we are Christians, we have been given Jesus’ mind (1 Corinthians 2:16) and the Holy Spirt who gives a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). If I’m constantly confused, I am spiritually dull and missing out on God’s peace (Philippians 4:7) and His leading in my life (Isaiah 30:21). So how do I fix that?
1. Admit I need help
2. Find someone to “sharpen” my dullness (see Proverbs 27:17)
3. Commit to the long haul. It’s going to take effort and “training” but it will be worth it. And it will never happen unless I start.
Thanks Lord, for giving us everything we need to grow in our faith, to be sharp and on fire for You. Help me have the courage to start the journey today. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
What I love must about today’s passage is that it just shows how much God likes to “blow apart” the order and categories that I like to put around things.
God is teaching me that He makes order out of chaos, but His version of order, is almost infinitely complex.
Melchizedek in this passage is just an example. He is this super mysterious character who shows up at the time of Abraham, who seems to be a prophet and a priest and a king, all at once. He is also a foreigner, but Abraham effectively honours and worships him by paying him a tithe. This seems very weird, until I realise that Melchizedek is actually a type of Christ, pointing Abraham forward in time to when Jesus would arrive and be the true and ultimate prophet/priest/king.
Lord, thank you that you are kind to me, but in your love, you want me to expand my horizon and understanding of you. Help me to cope with having my understanding of who you are bent and blown out of shape from time to time!
Written by Ps Justin Ware
5 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.” 6 And he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
In my post resurrection gentile protestant existence I feel somewhat removed from the concept of a God appointed high priest who then deals with God over the issue of my sin.
Jesus is my ‘High Priest’ who dealt with that once and for all. He was called by God to mediate and sacrifice himself for us so that we could be acceptable to God. I love that He is able to be gentle ‘with ignorant and wayward people’ (NLT), because as fully man he understands my weaknesses. As fully God he knows what is required to erase my sin. I am always surprised when people express the view that God is mean and exclusive towards mankind. So many do not know or understand that God has gone to every length, literally to hell and back, so that relationship with Him is possible for every man and woman. That call of God on the life of Jesus was present in all that that He did.
So, I am left with 3 questions. What call has God placed on my life? How far am I willing to go to be obedient to that call? Are my plans for my life more important than God’s plan for me? It seems to me that a spiritual call should have a practical ‘real world’ outworking. My everyday life needs to mesh with my faith journey, not be separate from it.
Heavenly Father thank you for the call you have placed on me. Help me to be faithful to your call and to live it out with integrity. Help me to be like Jesus and put you first in my life. Thank you for the great sacrifices that were made by your Son so that I would no longer be separate from you. I pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.
Written by Christine Knight
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
One of the main points of the book of Hebrews is to explain the significance of Jesus’ high priesthood. As modern day Protestant Christians we may not see the value in priesthood since we do not believe that a priest is necessary to mediate our approach to God.
However, scripture teaches us that we all require a priest to approach God. No one is good enough to reach a holy God on their own merits. The book of Hebrews shows us that Jesus Christ Himself is our priest – our ‘Great High Priest’ who replaces the need to rely on any lesser priests to approach God.
What a beautiful picture we have of Jesus as our great High Priest – ministering from heaven on our behalf, fully understanding our faults and weaknesses and yet beckoning us to come boldly to the throne of God because He has paid the price for our sins.
And what an amazing comfort it is to know that when we do approach the throne of the almighty, perfect, holy God through Jesus, that only mercy and grace awaits us there.
Today I encourage you to picture yourself as a child approaching your Father God for help and forgiveness – His arms stretched wide to embrace you in your weakness and offer you His love and grace.
Written by Shelley Witt
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Scripture is alive in so many ways: I can read the same passage later and be made aware of new insights, I can make more connections as I become increasingly familiar with the Bible, I can be changed to my core by a passage that had little effect on me before.
And should I be surprised? What did I expect from the words of the author of the universe, sustainer of all things? How rich is the Word of God; filled with wisdom, history, poetry, teachings, and the story of salvation!
This passage clearly expresses how God’s word pierces to the heart of a person. There is no hiding from God. When naked in the garden, Adam and Eve had no chance of hiding. God sees everything as plainly as one looking through a window. I am reminded to keep His word active and alive in me! To be sustained by his word instead of the words of the world. Knowing that all must give an account before God allows me to trust in His justice and mercy.
Father, you are the Holy One to whom all must give their accounts. We thank you for the gift of your Word that is alive and active to this very day. Jesus, as the author and perfector of our faith, we thank you for the amazing grace given to us. When we give our account to God, who sees the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts, we thank you for your redeeming work over us. In your precious name, Jesus. Amen
Written by Sven Bessesen
4 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” 6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
The Hebrew word Shabbat (sabbath) literally means “rest”. Being physically refreshed is a benefit of God’s rest, but it’s primarily about relationship. Resting in God’s presence. Resting on his love and generosity towards his people: trusting him, enjoying him, leaning into him.
It’s the culmination and purpose of creation, as described in Genesis. The seventh day that uniquely has no end is the open-ended sabbath time of God living in and with his creation, and his creation resting in him.
There are many illustrations of God’s rest. Each week, God’s people would not work to provide what is needed but completely trust God and his generosity. Every seventh year the land would be rested, and freedom would be given to anyone forced into slavery by debt. Israel entering into the promised land was described as entering God’s rest – the place of his presence and promise.
When we put our trust in Jesus, we enter into that sabbath rest relationship with God. But astonishingly, some refused to walk with God into his place of promise. Psalm 95 (quoted here) makes it clear: the problem lies with hard hearts. Disobedience in the things we do is a symptom of hearts that are hard towards God.
So, Hebrews asks me, “How’s your heart? Are you trusting God completely? Is your heart soft enough to hear God’s voice?”
Jesus, I want to walk with you today and every day for the rest of eternity. I want to walk through the hard times into your rest in the place where you are. Soften my heart to hear you. And give me your heart, pleading with all whose hard hearts refuse to step into you and your rest.
Written by David Cornell
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. 10 That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ 11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” 12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Today! It’s said three times in this passage. Not tomorrow, next week, next year, when we’re out of lockdown but today, this is urgent! Don’t let your heart get hardened today! The Holy Spirit is telling us when you hear His voice respond. Unbelief is equated as sin.
I know there have been many times when I have debated with the ‘still small voice’ of the Holy Spirit and with what I’m reading in the Bible, or worse ignored altogether what God is asking of me. I have hardened my heart, which this passage tells us turns us away from God, v12.
But, don’t you love the ‘but’s’, v13. We can encourage each other; this is where the community of believers is so valuable. Stay connected, encourage each other, keep your heart soft. I know I’m writing to myself. We have a saviour, a High Priest v1, Jesus who intercedes on our behalf, who forgives our sin, when we turn to Him. Can I encourage you today, keep your heart soft, talk to Jesus, rest in Him.
Lord Jesus, forgive my unbelieving heart. When I have not listened to the Holy Spirt, when I have made decisions to do things my way and not yours, when I haven’t believed that it was your voice speaking to me. Lord, thank you for your mercy, forgiveness and rest. Amen
Written by Suzie Hodgson
3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things that get my attention. In this passage, there is a small word that stands out for me, and it’s the word “if”.
V6 “And we are God’s house, if…” This passage could have finished by saying that Christ is in charge of God’s entire house, and we are God’s house. And it would still be true. God’s house is not a building made of stone or bricks. God’s house is made of people.
So, what kind of people is God’s house made of? It is made of people who are courageous, and remain confident in our hope in Christ. But honestly, I don’t always feel confident, I don’t always feel courageous, sometimes disappointed, and it’s usually when I’m looking back or focusing on my present situation. But when I look to Christ, I’m reminded of his love for me. I am reminded of all that he did for me on the cross. I remember in Romans 5 that our hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know God freely loves us, and he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Our confidence is that God never disappoints, he always comes through, always has, always will.
Father, I thank you for all you have done, Lord Jesus, I thank you for your love, for your sacrifice for me and you did not fail. Our hope in you will not disappoint.
Written by Andrew Martin
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Catholic priest Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to be starved in the place of Franciszek Gajowniczek (died 1995), a Polish army sergeant, in Auschwitz concentration camp. Kolbe at the age of 12, had a vision from God. He was given 2 crowns, one white and one red and was asked does he accept these crowns, he replied YES. The white = I should live a life of purity. The red = I would be martyred for my faith.
Kolbe went on to study, become a priest, serve on the mission field in Japan, China and India and returned to Poland in 1938. He set up a radio station and monastery when WWII broke out. His monastery became a WW2 hospital and where he hid more than 2,000 Jews. As a result, was sent to Auschwitz.
He was sent to die in the starvation cell as punishment, here he taught his cellmates to pray. He was the only one who survived and eventually was given a lethal injection. Today, in Auschwitz, this cell holds a memorial.
This scripture reminds us that Jesus chose to become like us – “he had to be made like them (you and me), fully human in every way”, in order to fulfil His purpose – to become the sacrifice for you and me.
Each of us are called to live a life of sacrifice to God, by giving our lives in service for Him.
At times when I want to complain or say “why me”, I remember Jesus who gave His all for ME (and for you). Matthew 16 v 25: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
In sharing the story of Maximilian Kolbe, I ask myself a question: What does sacrifice look like for me?
Lord Jesus, you gave everything for us, because you love us. Lord, help me, help us to live a life of sacrifice. May we hold nothing back from you. Help us Lord to live the way you want us to live. We want others to see Jesus in us. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
How does Jesus identify with me to call me sister? How can I be in his family?
This is one of the most incredible mysteries of the gospel of Jesus – that we are included in the same family as “the one who makes people holy.” As Colossians 1:21-22 says “Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to youthrough the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence.” Why do I find this hard to fathom? Jesus, perfect and without sin, the Son of God, welcomes me into his family. I belong to him as his child. I – who have brought nothing to this relationship, only my faith in his sacrifice for me. Thank you God.
Jesus identifies with me because he showed what it is to trust in God, when he went to his death knowing it was God’s will. Like Isaiah (v13) who had to keep trusting God throughout his mission, Jesus trusted God through his ordeal. Jesus knows how I need to be encouraged every day to keep trusting our heavenly Father because, well, it’s so easy to lapse into relying on myself.
Lastly, Jesus identifies with me because he is here with me always. As The Message version so clearly states – v 13, ‘I’m here with the children God has given me.” Jesus hasn’t left me to fend for myself or showed me an example of a life of faith and then said, “Ok over to you!” He is ready to walk alongside by his Spirit, he loves to be with me, growing me into holiness.
Dear Jesus, I am humbled before you. You have drawn me to you, into your family, for keeps. I’m not just reconnected, I belong here, I belong to you. This gives me strength and identity to live for you knowing I am loved and yours. Make a difference in me this week.
Written by Claire Moore
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? 7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor 8 and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Jesus was made a little lower than the angels so as He could fulfill the plan and purpose of God in dying a substitutionary death for us. As an angel Hs could not have entered the human existence fully, He, Jesus, had to come as a human, what we know as the incarnation, so that He could pay the price for our individual sins and for humanity’s sin. These verses remind us that we live in the kingdom of God, which is here and yet still coming. That is, we experience elements of the kingdom breaking through in our lives but we are not yet fully living under Jesus rule and reign on the earth.
Death has been defeated, the King is here and is coming and when He is fully here, we will experience the full benefits of the kingdom – so we pray – Maranatha – come Lord Jesus.
Father, may we all accept the substitutionary death of Jesus that we will live in Your Kingdom for eternity.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
2 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Christianity is far from a made-up faith system or religion. It is not blind faith at all. As the writer of Hebrews stresses, Jesus himself announced our salvation – available only through Himself. Then eyewitnesses (the disciples) reported Jesus’ death and resurrection. Then God Himself confirmed it all to be true by miracles that only the Holy Spirit could do.
But that leaves us with a problem. If Christianity is the real deal, how am I living? Am I loving others and speaking with complete certainty and boldness of the reality of Jesus? Am I living out the salvation that He purchased for us, and the sure hope that can be found only in Him?
Jesus, please help me not ignore your sure salvation and live as if it is secondary, or worse still, not real at all. My life and the lives on those around me depend on it.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” 8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” 10 He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 11 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. 12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” 13 To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
In our current culture, you don’t hear too much talk about angels, even in church. But the Bible actually talks quite a bit about angels.
According to Google, angels are referenced 273 times in the Bible. Angels are represented in scripture as more glorious and powerful than humans. Even so, great care is taken in this passage to show the supremacy of Jesus over all of creation, including angels. Only God Himself is higher than the angels, and this passage makes it clear to us that Jesus is vastly superior to angels in every way, and that Jesus is, in fact, God.
As a beautiful final side note, we are told that angels are sent forth by God to minister to His people. What a privilege and honour that God cares for us so much to send the protection and care of His angels to watch over us.
Take comfort today in this promise from Psalm 91 – “He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go”.
Written by Shelley Witt
Of Solomon. 1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 2 May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. 3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 4 May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor. 5 May he endure[a] as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. 6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. 7 In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. 8 May he rule from sea to sea and from the River[b] to the ends of the earth. 9 May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust. 10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts. 11 May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him. 12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. 15 Long may he live! May gold from Sheba be given him. May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long. 16 May grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway. May the crops flourish like Lebanon and thrive[c] like the grass of the field. 17 May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him,[d] and they will call him blessed. 18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. 20 This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.
This psalm begins as a prayer for the leader, the king – that he would lead his people with justice, mercy and righteousness. While some of the references here work better in the cultural context that this psalm is written, it is a great prompt for us to be praying for our leaders as well. In this current season, just mentioning leaders of nations, states and provinces can bring up a whole array of opinions, thoughts, judgements, derisions or praises. Yet as Christians, it is our call to be praying for our governing leaders that they too would make wise decisions that are based on compassion, mercy and justice – whether we agree with their policies or not. By lifting them up to God – who hears and is moved by our prayers – we are partnering with Him to make real and everlasting change.
This psalm then ends by praising God for His glorious and marvellous deeds. How grateful we can be that God is a perfect leader who does not lead us with judgement or disdain, but with wisdom and kindness as He continuously calls us to Him and loves us unconditionally.
God, we thank you that you care about our world on a big scale, and yet also know each of us individually and want to lead us in step with you. We lift up our leaders to you Lord and ask that you would help to guide their decisions, that they would lead our nations with your wisdom, mercy and justice. Amen.
Written by Ps Madelaine Tarasenko
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. 2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. 3 Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. 4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel. 5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6 From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb. I will ever praise you. 7 I have become a sign to many; you are my strong refuge. 8 My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long. 9 Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. 10 For my enemies speak against me; those who wait to kill me conspire together. 11 They say, “God has forsaken him; pursue him and seize him, for no one will rescue him.” 12 Do not be far from me, my God; come quickly, God, to help me. 13 May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace. 14 As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long— though I know not how to relate them all. 16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone. 17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. 18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come. 19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens, you who have done great things. Who is like you, God? 20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. 21 You will increase my honor and comfort me once more. 22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you— I whom you have delivered. 24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.
I love the constant sense of how much the writer of this Psalm is hoping in God. He appeals to God in God’s own righteousness to rescue and deliver him. God since youth had been the Psalmists hope and confidence. His reliance was on God. And this seems to climax in the declaration in verse 14: “As for me, I will always have hope.” What a powerful statement of assurance. How can he be so assured? Because of a long history of hoping in God, even in the trials of life, that has proven true.
Lord, it’s not about me and my righteousness that will get me through this life. It is left for me to choose to settle my hope in you, and keep it always there. For you, in your righteousness, shall be faithful, generous, and good to me. Hallelujah!
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
For the director of music. Of David. A petition. 1 Hasten, O God, to save me; come quickly, Lord, to help me. 2 May those who want to take my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. 3 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!” turn back because of their shame. 4 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!” 5 But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; Lord, do not delay.
So, what do we do? Verse 4 gives an answer .. we are to rejoice and be glad in God. I am reminded that regardless of what goes on around me, the one thing I can control is my relationship toward God. To remain focused toward Him, to be thankful, to remain focused on the big picture – the end game – my relationship with Jesus and eternity with our Heavenly Father.
Lord, help me always to keep my perspective toward you, regardless of my circumstance that I may keep my heart soft, listening to your Spirit and celebrate your presence in my life.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David. 1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. 2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. 3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. 4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. 5 You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you. 6 Lord, the Lord Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel, may those who seek you not be put to shame because of me. 7 For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. 8 I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; 9 for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. 10 When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; 11 when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. 12 Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards. 13 But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. 14 Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. 15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me. 16 Answer me, Lord, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. 17 Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. 18 Come near and rescue me; deliver me because of my foes. 19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed; all my enemies are before you. 20 Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none. 21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. 22 May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap. 23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. 24 Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. 25 May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. 27 Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. 28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. 29 But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me. 30 I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. 31 This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves. 32 The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live! 33 The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. 34 Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, 35 for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; 36 the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.
As I read this Psalm, I can’t help but notice how David writes down all his emotions. He pours his heart out. Every last drop.
It’s actually a good practice. Too often we either ignore, bury or minimise our emotions. But here we see David take the time to slow down and let it all out before God in prayer.
I’m imagining that he is in a quiet space somewhere, where he has the freedom to express what he is truly feeling. He is totally overwhelmed. He’s sinking and he’s calling out for help. He wants revenge, he wants God to punish his enemies. Blot them out Lord! There. He said it. He said what was really on his heart.
Do you know what’s interesting?
This psalm is written down but it’s written to a tune. David is singing this. It seems strange to consider his heart ache as an offering to the Lord.
Have you ever considered the same could be said for you? That as you express your true emotions before the Lord, He doesn’t despise them or reject them but receives them. He receives your emotions. He receives your heart.
And look what happens after the Lord receives David’s heart: there’s a noticeable change. We can see in the last part of this Psalm, from verses 30-36, David is now praising God. He knows that God has heard him and his heart is filled with hope again.
Lord, I thank you that we can come to You. May we be honest with ourselves and You about our emotions, even the ones that are uncomfortable. As You take my emotions, fill my heart with Your hope and peace again.
Written by Gab Martin
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. A song. 1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. 2 May you blow them away like smoke— as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. 3 But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. 4 Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. 7 When you, God, went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, 8 the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. 9 You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance. 10 Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, God, you provided for the poor. 11 The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng: 12 “Kings and armies flee in haste; the women at home divide the plunder. 13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its feathers with shining gold.” 14 When the Almighty scattered the kings in the land, it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon. 15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain, Mount Bashan, rugged mountain, 16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself will dwell forever? 17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. 18 When you ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people, even from the rebellious— that you, Lord God, might dwell there. 19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. 20 Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. 21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies, the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins. 22 The Lord says, “I will bring them from Bashan; I will bring them from the depths of the sea, 23 that your feet may wade in the blood of your foes, while the tongues of your dogs have their share.” 24 Your procession, God, has come into view, the procession of my God and King into the sanctuary. 25 In front are the singers, after them the musicians; with them are the young women playing the timbrels. 26 Praise God in the great congregation; praise the Lord in the assembly of Israel. 27 There is the little tribe of Benjamin, leading them, there the great throng of Judah’s princes, and there the princes of Zebulun and of Naphtali. 28 Summon your power, God; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before. 29 Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings will bring you gifts. 30 Rebuke the beast among the reeds, the herd of bulls among the calves of the nations. Humbled, may the beast bring bars of silver. Scatter the nations who delight in war. 31 Envoys will come from Egypt; Cush[k] will submit herself to God. 32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth, sing praise to the Lord, 33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens, who thunders with mighty voice. 34 Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the heavens. 35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!
Have you ever poured your heart out to God like David did in Ps 68? Not in complaining or petition but in praise. Raw, earnest, completely undivided in your focus to give Him praise. Have you ever shouted His praise at the top of your lungs or worshipped Him with ever ounce of strength? v4. Have you ever written your own Psalm of praise to God? Describing His magnificence, His love, His incredible power and His answers to your prayers in the most descriptive, vivid detail? v13. Have you ever declared, with razor-sharp faith, the promises of God so that others are inspired to worship? v19. Have you ever been so hungry to praise Him that you can barely extract yourself away from His presence and you sprint with desperate abandon to the next moment you can fall at His feet?
O Lord, to be a worshipper like Your servant David!
Written by Boudy van Noppen
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm. A song. 1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us— 2 so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. 5 May the peoples praise you, God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us. 7 May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
As I read this Psalm, I think to myself – how timely! In the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of global disasters, as wars rage on and it seems almost logical to despair – the question arises, what’s the answer to it all? What purpose or goodness could there be in the midst of such vast calamity?
Here the Psalmist gives us the answer – God Himself! God is the One who saves, God is the one who is just, God is the One who blesses and guides. Sometimes we might know this in our heads, but it is when we open up our hearts to Him in praise and thanksgiving that we actually experience these truths.
And so, what a timely reminder it is – that as we face lockdown and all sorts of personal and communal challenges – that God Himself is the answer to our woes. It is as we praise Him and open our hearts to Him that we find His blessing and favour pouring into our lives.
God, thank You that You are good. Thank You that You are in control. Thank You for caring about the smallest details of each of our lives, even in the midst of much bigger problems. We praise You for who You are, we trust You with all our hearts, and we ask that You would continue to have your way in our hearts and in this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Written by Ps. Matt Samperi
For the director of music. A song. A psalm. 1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth! 2 Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. 3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4 All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.” 5 Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind! 6 He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in him. 7 He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations— let not the rebellious rise up against him. 8 Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; 9 he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12 You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance. 13 I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you— 14 vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. 15 I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats. 16 Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Genesis tells us that God SPOKE the world into existence. God’s spoken word is a creative force. As God’s people, made in His image – our words (both spoken and written) are a creative force in the earth.
We need the fear of God to come upon our mouths – how we speak/write. Proverbs 18 v 21 says that we can sow life or death by the power of the tongue. James 3 encourages us to seriously consider how we speak/write.
I believe that we need great wisdom to not get “sucked into” the world’s way of commenting, opinions, or banter; but to truly Fear God in what we say or write. What and How we say things can create LIFE or DEATH into situations.
As a “talker”, I have been asking God to help me to listen first, to shut my mouth more, and to speak God’s words; not my voice but HIS; into situations. I found that last year I needed to retreat off social media. I couldn’t bear the way people spoke/wrote to each other or “voiced” their opinions about world situations.
This Psalm says: Shout, Sing, Tell, Say,….
V 16: “Come and listen, all YOU who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me.”
I want to encourage us to speak of God’s wonderful work, to praise Him and sow life rather than death.
When we choose to speak/write let us always filter it as though Jesus was standing beside us?
When we choose to praise God and speak like Jesus – V 19: “God did listen. He paid attention to my prayer.”
I want HIM to HEAR my PRAYER……and answer it.
Lord, make my words be like yours – salted with kindness, goodness, love and grace. Give me wisdom when I speak or write. I want your Kingdom to be displayed through me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song. 1 Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. 2 You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. 3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. 4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple. 5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, 6 who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, 7 who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. 8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. 9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. 10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. 11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. 12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. 13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
I love how this psalm describes the power and majesty of God. We are shown how God is the promise keeper and sustainer of all things.
I read in the first part of the psalm how God is the one who answers prayer, allows vows to be fulfilled, and forgives our transgressions. It is such encouragement to know the spiritual might of God reflected here. I need to remind myself that the unseen things like vows, prayers and sin have an impact on my life which can outwardly manifest in the physical world. I should not ignore them but instead bring them before God, knowing He is the one who blesses, answers, fulfills, and forgives.
The remainder of the psalm shows how God is the almighty Creator. It demonstrates His wisdom and works in keeping the earth alive and sustained. Everything on the earth serves the purpose of glorifying and making God known. It’s filled with His wonders and deliberate purpose. He is the potter, maker, creator, author, designer, originator, producer, initiator, composer, ordainer and much, much more.
How should I respond to all this? By glorifying God; making him known to all around me through praise and love. As the old saying goes ‘it is not the gift of the lover we only consider, but the love of the giver.’
Thank you, God, that you are the promise-keeper and sustainer of all things. We give you praise and long to draw near you. Thank you for all creation that you have set in place. Forgive us when we forget to reflect your just love to others. Help cleanse our hearts of everything not for You. As we see the world around us and know how much you care for it, may our hearts turn towards you. In your precious name, Jesus. Amen.
Written by Sven Bessesen
For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. 3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear. 5 They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it[b]?” 6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning. 7 But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. 8 He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. 9 All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. 10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
This begins like a lot of psalms. David tells God that things are wrong. David’s under attack (again). He firmly expects that God will make things right. Complaining to God sounds odd, but it seems God loves his honest faith and complete dependence.
But in this psalm, the weapons used against David are words. His enemies’ swords are their tongues, intent on cutting him down. They use cruel words to wound, like arrows. It’s deliberate – no momentary flash of anger – prepared, planned and deliberately targeted. David is looking for exquisite justice – their own cutting tongues turned back against them – brought down by God’s arrows.
I’m struck by the similarities to how Paul tells us to fight in the spiritual battle in Ephesians 6 – and by a significant difference.
The evil one (also called “the devil” – “the accuser”) also fires his fiery arrows at us. But God gives us the “shield of faith” – not faith in truths (that’s a belt around our waist), but faith in a person – Jesus, who is the truth. He stands between us, and the accusations rightly aimed at us, and he takes them on himself all the way to the cross.
The sword is a word here, too – the sword of the spirit – God’s spoken word. It doesn’t bring death; it brings life. It doesn’t cut down; it builds up. It’s not a tool of hate but of God’s healing love.
Our human enemies may deserve to have their hateful, harmful words turned back on them, but our battle isn’t against them. Jesus wants to save them as much as he wants to save us. So, what will be on my lips? The hurtful words I hear, or Jesus – the Word who stepped into our world, full of grace (John 1)?
Jesus, thanks that you take onto yourself the accusations that are rightly aimed at me. Your grace is far more exquisite than any form of justice I could imagine.
Written by David Cornell
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