Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Daily Bible Reading: Psalms 37-39 and James 4

Psalm 37 – “Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like spring flowers, they soon wither” (37:1-2).

Seek your happiness in the Lord; give yourself to Him and trust in Him. Be patient and wait for Him to act. Don’t give in to anger or worry.

“Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper—it only leads to harm” (37:7-8).

It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich. For the strength of the wicked will be shattered” (37:16-17).

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand” (37:23-24).

The psalmist says he is old now and he’s never seen good people abandoned by the Lord. The Lord “loves what is right and does not abandon his faithful people” (37:28).

Psalm 38 – “Oh Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage! Your arrows have struck deep, and your blows are crushing me . . . My guilt overwhelms me—it is a burden too heavy to hear” (38:1-4).

This seems a very personal cry to the Lord from David. “I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh . . . My loved ones and friends stay away, fearing my disease. Even my own family stands at a distance. Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me” (38:8-11). David’s enemies gloat over his distress and his pain. People hate him for what he sees as “no reason,” because he tries hard to do what is right. But he will continue to trust in God. He knows God will answer his prayers at some point.

“I am waiting for you, O Lord. You must answer for me, O Lord my God” (38:15).

“I am on the verge of collapse, facing constant pain. But I confess my sins; I am deeply sorry for what I have done” (38:18).

“Do not abandon me, O Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God” (38:21).

Psalm 39 – He talks about how careful he has been to not sin in what he says when the ungodly are around him. But this restraint has now brought him to feel he must speak out, and this impulse to speak out has something to do with his transience on this earth.

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you at best, each of us is but a breath” (39:4-5).

“What, then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in you” (39:7).

He begs the Lord not to punish him any more. He is “only [the Lord's] guest for a little while” (39:12). So he asks God to “leave [him] alone so that [he] may have some happiness” (39:13). I don’t think I have ever felt this. All the happiness I have comes from the Lord NOT leaving me alone.

James 4 – Where do the conflicts among Christians come from? They come from “evil desires” (4:1) that lie under the surface. You should not seek to make the world your friend. This love of the world and its pleasures is a kind of adultery.

He addresses an array of social problems in the community: wavering faith, being nearer to “man” than to God, slandering, condemning the law, being intent on worldly plans and not putting things up to God first.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (4:8).

Do not judge others or speak evil of one another (4:11).  And do not succumb to blind self-confidence.

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