Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Readings for Morning

Psalm 95

I can just hear the faith community gathered singing these words at the top of their lungs.  Oh to be caught up with your church family praising God unabashedly, with power, and meaning it!  Do we worship this way anymore?  Truly?  Would we as people be willing to just shout out these words without regard of what people around us think?  And if we did, would we mean the very words we say?  Surely, we are not performing for God and others...are we?  Are we, without reserve, truly worshipping?

Let us make a joyful NOISE to HIM with songs of praise! (2)
Let us come before Him ~ first ~ with THANKSGIVING on our lips!
Let us worship and bow low, kneel before the One Who Made Us! (6)

Why would we do this?

For the LORD is a GREAT GOD! (3)
For the LORD is a GREAT KING above all others!
He holds the lowest and highest places of the earth in His Hands! (4)
He owns the sea and dry land... after all, He created it! (5) 
He is our Creator! He is Our God!

Who are we?

We are His Creation.
We are the sheep of His pasture. (7)

O that today I will listen to His Voice! (7)

Psalm 31

When David wrote and sang this song, he was under alot of stress.  He wanted God to listen.  He wanted God to rescue him.  He wanted God to protect him and save him.  He wanted God to show His Grace. 

David is sad...exhausted...weak...rejected...broken...paranoid...fearful. 

Oh, how I can relate.

But after he pours out his heart and requests to God, he doesn't just lie down and expect God to make everything perfect right then and there.  What he does next is remarkable... (v. 14)

Calmly.  Powerfully.  Wholly.


I put my trust in you, O LORD.
I say, "you are my God".
My times are in your hand. (15)

O How ABUNDANT is your goodness.
O What You have accomplished for those who take refuge in you.
You hide us in the shelter of your just being here. You hold us safe.  (20)

BLESSED be the LORD, who wondrously shows his everlasting love to me.

Deliver me, God, from the ones who want to hurt me.
Let your face shine on me, your servant.
Save me in your steadfast love.
Don't let me be put to shame, O LORD. (16)

David doesn't just cry out with his fears and frustrations and then gives up.  David cries out knowing Who God is to Him... God is Good.  God is Safe.  God is Grace.  God is Love.  That is how David lived through the stressful times.  I must do that too.

Ezekiel 18: 1-4; 25-32

The Book of Ezekiel does not record the cheeriest of stuff.  In fact, it is the only book in the Bible that I haven't made it through (and there are many that have been read dozens of time).  It's that icky.  And frankly, even in reading this passage, I still don't get it. 

What is this meant to say to me in this Season of Lent? 

This passage, on the surface (which is how I am reading it for these writings... I am not researching the depths I am sure are contained in all these passages, but rather speaking of what I see in light of my life circumstances and season at this moment) talks about (gasp...sputter)

...the unfairness  of life.  Or more specifically, is God unfair in the way he treats people?  Treading lightly here, the complaint (v. 25-26) is that when the righteous turn away they are punished for their sings, but when the wicked turn turn away, they are saved from their sins. 

Seems, yes, on the surface to have an element of unfairness there.  But...

is it really that way?  Is God an unfair judge?  Or is he just saying plainly (v. 31) "Don't sin.  Stop committing the wrong things.  Get yourself a new heart, a new spirit and wow... won't have anything to worry about."

To know God means that unfairness doesn't exist for Him, in His will.  He doesn't like the punishing anymore than He likes having to be the judge.  If we could just face the fact that we need a new heart and new spirit to really know the God who wants to embrace us all, then we wouldn't have to worry about God being unfair at all, but rather bask in His love for always. 

John 17: 9-19

Jesus continues to pray in this passage, for his closest friends and disciples.  He loves them and begs God to protect them in the hard road ahead.  Jesus won't be there anymore to watch out for them, speak for them, correct and discipline them.  Jesus asks his Father to help them through, because the world doesn't accept their different way any longer.  He prays for their sanctification, for them to be set apart in a new way so they can fulfill the calling on their lives. 

These words of Jesus touch me to the core of who I am as a person called into ministry.  That Jesus in the middle of what he knew were his last days...last words...would cry out on behalf of the Beloved who have given up their lives in the world really makes me realize that Jesus knew...he knows... what we all go through as followers of Christ.  He knew it would be hard.  He expected nothing less than hardship.  But he also expected the walk to be filled with the presence of God at every turn.  Thanks be to God for His calling on my life, and for His presence as I try to walk in obedience to this call, and for Jesus' interceding prayers on my behalf.

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