Monday, February 22, 2010

Lenten Readings for Morning

Psalm 41

David talks alot about his enemies.  He does to the point that I times I wonder if he was paranoid about those who might be out to get him.  He seems to trust God to to be gracious to him but still, he worries.  Or at least that is how it seems to this worry wart. 

I'm good at begging for God's grace but not so good at trusting that God will take care of me.  And in the end, I don't think David was paranoid, mostly because there are times where things happen (like this morning...I won't even go into it) where I want to cry out "God, I know that THIS isn't a big deal, but to me, it feels like so much piling on.  Couldn't you be more gracious to me?"  Some days are like that.  Some days are a battle and recognizing that our enemies ~ most often not human but rather situational or even ourselves ~ are God's to take care of as well. We can imagine the worst, and still live knowing that if we live with integrity (12), we enjoy God's eternal presence and blessed grace.

Psalm 52

I don't know about you, but I've always considered the Psalms to be, for the most part, a soothing place.  There aren't the outright fierce battles or onvious betrayal of the historical books.  There isn't the droning on and on of the law.  There isn't the confusion of the prophetics.  But then I read this Psalm and am reminded of how much of praying can be, will be, should be 'lament'. 

Lament is when we cry out to God in our anger, or fear, or frustration.  For me, lament isn't a call for an answer.  It's a vent.  And wow, is the Psalmist venting here.  He is speaking to someone who has betrayed him, deceived him.  And he is mad. 

It's okay to be mad sometimes especially when someone has done wrong against us.  It is not okay to blame God or to seek vengeance.  And it is not okay to carry the burden of the anger around with us, holding grudges, bringing up old things, the proverbial buried hatchet with the handle still exposed.  When we use lament, we also have to take the responsibility upon ourselves of actually leaving it with God and letting him carry out his justice if need be.  It may not seem like God is doing what we think he should, but it isn't our problem anymore. 

Instead,  our job becomes "trusting the steadfast love of God forever" (8), being thankful for what he has done and will do for us and proclaiming his good name to others.  (9) The rest must be left up to God.

Genesis 37:1-11

Joseph dreams.  Poor soul.  It's hard being different from your siblings.  It's hard being misunderstood.  It's hard having a different dream.   I guess what Joseph should have done was kept his mouth shut in order to preserve his place among his brothers.  That would have been the mature thing to do, not to boast about his dreams.  And he learned his lesson the hard way.

Sometimes we say the wrong thing and it messes with our relationships.  I do believe I might be like Joseph in this way.  I am still learning about when to speak up and when to be quiet.  And I just pray that lessons learned along the way will eventually result in God being able to use me is as great a way as he was able to use Joseph, whose leadership abilities, and willingness to speak up even when it could have hurt him, saved the nation of Israel.

Mark 1:1-13

Mark gets right to the point in the beginning of this Gospel.  He doesn't mess around with births and wise men and all that stuff.  His point is about Jesus' calling into ministry, and the miracles he does that shows WHO He is.

And in this passage, the authenticity of Jesus is proclaimed as He was foretold through the work of the messenger that came ahead (2) John the Baptist.  The authenticity of Jesus was witness in Jesus' baptism through the words of God from the skies: "This is MY Son".  The authenticity of Jesus was then tested and Jesus passed with flying colors.  There is no reason to doubt who Jesus is from the very beginning.

Of course, that is easy for me to say. I sit here with Bible in hand, seeing it with full vision of all that happened.  But Mark's opening words were designed to help the hearers see that Jesus was Who He said He was.

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