Saturday, December 8, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 22-25 and 2 Thessalonians 2

Psalm 22 – Christ’s prayer in extremis: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? I have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. During the day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer; I call at night, but get no rest” (22:1-2).

Yes, there are times when it feels like this. Laura Story’s song, “Blessings” comes to my mind. It's a contemporary psalm:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe.


Back to the psalm: “Our ancestors trusted in you and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced. But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all” (22:4-6).

“Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, ‘Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him!’ “ (22:8).

Our descendants put their trust in God and called to you when they were in need; they trusted God and were not disappointed. Sometimes we must just have faith and be faithful to the testimony of all who have gone before us. It’s not always easy – sometimes we have our Job moments.

This psalm so reflects the pain of Christ’s passion, it is hard to imagine King David being treated like a worm or being mocked. But he was surrounded by enemies before he consolidated his power. “My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; . . . like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey. My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me” (22:12-14).

“They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing” (22:16-18).

Still, as desperate as this psalm is, it ends with a reaffirmation of God’s saving message: “For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them . . .The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy” (22:26).

Even when in private moments he [David] will doubt and wail, publicly he will continue to praise God; for he knows God does not neglect those who hurt. And our testimony of faith will eventually turn the world to Him.

Psalm 23 – Reading this psalm in a new translation made me cry, it was so simple and direct:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in fields of green grass and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me . . . I now that your goodness and love will be with me all my life; and your house will be my home as long as I live” (23:1-6).

Having been through the deepest darkness several times, I am so moved and comforted.

Psalm 24 – “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths” (24:1-2).

Who has the right to ascend His holy mountain or enter His Temple? “Those who are pure in act and thought, who do not worship idols or make false promises” (24:4).

“Open up, ancient gates. Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter” (24:7). Friends see this as referring to our hearts. Open your heart, God’s Holy Temple, and let the King of Glory enter.

Psalm 25 – “O Lord, I give my life to you. I trust in you, my God. Do not let me be disgraced, or let my enemies rejoice in my defeat” (25:1-2).

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me” (25:4-5).

Remember, O Lord, your constant love, and forgive the terrible errors of my early life before I knew you or yearned to do your will.

“Turn to me, Lord, and be merciful to me, because I am lonely and weak. Relieve me of my worries and save me from all my troubles. Consider my distress and suffering and forgive all my sins” (25:17-18).

2 Thessalonians 2 – Do not get excited or alarmed by predictions of the end.This is especially relevant this December. There are a lot of people out there sucked into the fear that the world will end this month on the 21st. It a Mayan-calendar based prediction, but a few years ago Harold Camping, a radio broadcaster and scripture guru predicted it would end on May 21st 2011.

“For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction” (2:3). This is the antichrist who “will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them” (2:10).

He urges them to keep to the tradition they were taught and be patient.

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