Thursday, December 12

Abundantly Satisfied

 
Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
✙ Ps. 116:7 ✙

Heaven is an inheritance we must take as our home, our rest, and our everlasting good. We should look upon this world to be no more ours than the country we pass through on our way home to our Father's house. Those that have God as their portion have a goodly heritage. So return to your rest, O my soul, and seek no further. Gracious persons, though they still covet more of God, will never covet more than God; but, being satisfied with his loving-kindness, are abundantly satisfied with it: they envy no one their carnal mirth and

Wednesday, December 11

Static Ways

The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 
Then I called on the Name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

Ps. 116:3-4 

I am bothered by the Old Testament concept of death. All end up in Sheol, whether they're evil or good. And Sheol is a place of darkness and separation from God and all the living. Sheol might also be interpreted as nothingness, but is still negative. The only way I can reconcile it with anything but complete hopelessness is the notion that it is a place of sleep and rest.

I must, therefore, read this psalm from a Christian perspective, and interpret this as a prayer of Messiah, which was answered by God. Moreover, the First Letter of Peter has this to say about (what I believe to be)

Tuesday, December 10

Something's Gotta Give

The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.
Ps. 115:16 

What a profound statement, stating no less explicitly than the creation story itself that human beings have dominion over the earth. Though Psalm 24:1 states that the earth and everything on it belong to God, stewardship of it has nonetheless been given to us. And the more we know about earth science, and the more aware we are of what's going on in other countries, on other continents, and even in the oceans and seas, the more responsible we are for what we do.

There are many who maintain that human activity cannot actually change the climate, but even they can see the devastation that mining, industry, and uncontrolled development has wrought on the environment. And yet

Monday, December 9

Where Is Their God?

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. 
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. 
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; they make no sound in their throats. 
Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them. 
O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
Ps. 115:2-9 

Because Israel was different, worshiping but One God—and That One invisible and without solid representation—I'm sure it was quite common for their neighbors to deride them as being godless. The Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, and Babylonians could all show off their gods. And some of

Sunday, December 8

Strangers

When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
Ps. 114 

When Israel sojourned in Egypt, the Egyptians didn't know it, but God was among them. Because God dwelt in the midst of Israel, where they were was God's sanctuary on earth. When Israel was no longer a welcome guest, but forced labor, the divine presence did not go searching for a wealthier, more influential nation, but stuck by Israel until the day would come for their deliverance. And when Israel fled Egypt, God's presence led them, and God's dominion fled with them.

The earliest stories of God's people are about strangers living in strange lands:
A wandering Aramean was my ancestor. —Deut. 26:5
Christian theology doesn't allow for a single ethnicity to be God's dwelling place on earth. But we do know

Saturday, December 7

From the Ash Heap

I can't imagine it north of the Rio Grande or in Europe, but there are many places in the world where garbage dumps are inhabited by very poor people—including one such dump just a few miles south of the place that refers to itself as America's Finest City. Unable to find work elsewhere, and living in a country that offers no safety net, these are people who relentlessly scavenge a life out of others' refuse. It sounds like hell, but it's their life. There are even missionaries who set up schools for the kids who live in such places.

And so these children living in dumps are what I picture when I read the verses I'm meditating on today:

He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 
 Ps. 113:7-8 

When I take these words literally, my view of God cannot but be transformed. A God whose love for the poor

Friday, December 6

From the Rising of the Sun


From the rising of the sun to its setting the Name of the Lord is to be praised.
Ps. 113:3 

Psalm 113:3 is a beautiful verse, but a tall order to fill. There are morning devotions. There are evening prayers. But what comes in between? Here's a possible answer from another psalm:

Preachers often pray the words of last verse of the 19th Psalm before they preach: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. What would life be like if I silently prayed that little prayer before I spoke throughout the day? Or before I posted anything on social media? Devotion and prayer shouldn't be limited to just after I get up and just before I go to sleep, but should suffuse the day, from the rising of the sun to its setting—and that's just one example of how