Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lent Readings for the morning: Thursday, February 18, 2010

Psalm 37: 1-18
Verses 4-5 of this passage has been a favorite of mine from long ago... trust in the Lord and do good; take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.  It was a life-altering thought some nearly 20 years ago when I discovered that this does mean "pray hard and God will give you what you want, but rather, make your desires parallel to what God wants for you and it will all be right". 

But even further, this reading forces me to look at my choices, that of the righteous person versus the wicked.  I may not see the wicked way in me, but God does and He speaks to that by admonishing me to "trust in Him"..."do not fret"..."be still before the LORD"..."refrain from anger"..."wait upon the LORD"..."be meek"..."be content with little"... 

ALL this says is that my focus must not be on making things right by forcing those who might not have my best interests at heart (or maybe have evil intentions) ~ justice for the sake of my own redemption ~ but on trusting that the LORD will "uphold the righteous"..."cause wrongdoers to wither like the grass"..."make vindication shine like a light"..."cut off the wicked".

See, the LORD makes my job easy.  He makes trusting Him easy compared to His job of justice and vindication for what is evil and wrong with the world. 

Am I truly delighting myself in the LORD?

Habakkuk 3:1-18
This is one of the most marked up chapters in my Bible.  The Prophet Habakkuk prays earnestly to God, declaring His glory and power, honoring God's desire for discipline among His people, and the need of God to display His anger when He sees people doing what they do and not following Him.  His anger comes NOT because he's plain mad, but because He's sad that we do these things to ourselves.  His anger is what saves us.  And even further, the words of verse 17 and following, words of trust in the middle of trouble, words of joy in the middle of poverty:

Though the fig tree does not blossom, and not fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive tree fails and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls,

YET I will REJOICE in the LORD!!!!

I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God the LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.

To the God who is able to bring rejoicing in loss goes glory!

John 17:1-8
Much of the chapters preceding this prayer are Jesus' words about Himself, teaching those who will listen ~ let him that have ears, hear! ~ who He is.  And at this point "he turns to heaven" and talks directly to His Father.  And amazingly enough to me anyway, God prays to God for Himself.  He knows the time has come for their plan to come to a climax, and I wonder, in His humanness, if He wonders if He could do it, all the while as God, knowing He could do nothing less than save His people.  So He prays, for no other reason, to show us how to pray, how to ask God for God to be glorified in the very act of living out our purposes on earth. 

Jesus also prays for the ones who follow Him, whom He has chosen and I suppose, who have limited capacity to understand what is about to happen.  He honors His followers as "gifts from God".  He acknowledges that they believe.  And he prays this in front of them in what seems like affirmation of their calling as His Disciples. 

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