Trials, Mercy, Joy

 

In Your Bible: Psalm 13
“For the director of music or the chief musician”

This directive appears in only 55 psalms. It charges the director of music to bring powerful, exuberant and vigorous songs of praise to the Lord in the worship gathering.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me (Psalm 13 NIV).

In this brief Psalm, David shows the depth of his despondency and the height of his confidence. * It’s God’s plan that we should delight ourselves in him alone and know that his mercy is available to all who come to him. As we pass through difficult times, we must remember to trust in his unfailing mercy.

When Trials Come

First, David pours his heart out to the Lord. He declares he’s been forgotten by God, suffered defeat by his enemies, and struggled mentally over this situation. To him it must have seemed to have been a very long time. We too should pour our heart out to God when we’re down. That’s what he wants.

Trust in Him

In the last two verses, David shouts [my impression] he will trust in the unfailing love of God. Then he sings and rejoices for God’s goodness to him [perhaps he dances too]. Yes, we too can sing and praise God as we trust in his unfailing mercy.

Prayer: Father, I need your mercy and love daily. I praise you for bringing joy to me in my high and low times. Selah.

* Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary of the Bible, Psalm 13, christianity.com

The Ship Logos Hope

I had the opportunity to visit the OM Ministries Ship, Logos Hope, yesterday. Their ministry uses a ship to get the Word of God and many other books to the nations. They also help people in villages and towns they visit with construction and service projects. I’ve wanted to board this ship for years but seldom been at a location where they docked.

What a joy and blessing to be onboard, see what they do and speak with their dedicated crew. A bit of time spent with Luke from North Carolina and Stephanie from Asia blessed me with the joy of Jesus.

Just as I volunteered my time in Mercy Ships, the crew is composed with volunteers dedicated to the Lord and serve Him with their talents. Truly we saw an international crew alive with the love of Jesus Christ. Onboard we wandered through their immense bookstore (mainly Christian help books, many children’s books, and of course lots of Bibles).

I encountered staff with the joy of Jesus exuding from their countenance. We recognized much of what they gave up to live onboard and at times perform mundane tasks to keep the ship and on board community thriving. . . but they did it with joy and excitement as they met people and helped them.

See this website http://www.omships.org for more information on this amazing ministry.

After the Resurrection

Eyewitness pp. 261, 262
Luke 24:47-53 NLT
Acts 1:11 NLT
In Your Bible Luke 24:47-53; Acts 1:11

After his death and resurrection, Jesus undeniably appeared to many people. Again, he taught the disciples about the Kingdom of God and was seen by more than five hundred followers. Jesus directed the disciples not to leave Jerusalem before he sent them the promise from the Father.

Luke’s Version of the Great Commission

As Jesus spent this time with his disciples he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures written about him. Jesus command, “With my authority, take this message of repentance to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me” (Luke 24:47 NLT). This does not contradict the Matthew or Mark account, but is additive and enlightening.

He also told them to stay in Jerusalem until the Father sent the Holy Spirit to empower them. Then in Bethany as he lifted his hands to heaven, and blessed them. They saw him taken to heaven!

The disciples watched in wonderment. Then, two men dressed in white suddenly stood among the and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. And someday, just as you saw him go, he will return!” (Acts 1:11 NLT) Selah.

Joy

Filled with joy at his ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem as Jesus commanded. They spent their time in the Temple praising God. They knew they were not to leave Jerusalem before he sent them the promise from the Father.

Prayer: Father, thank you for Your Holy Spirit who guides me daily. I need and appreciate this ever-present help.

Questions: How is Luke’s mention of repentance and forgiveness add to your Christian experience? When or on what occasion, have you been filled with joy at what God has done for you?

NOTE:

  • I will continue next with the book of Acts. As you see from Luke’s version of the ascension, the lead into Acts is clear. God’s power – the Holy Spirit—working through mankind/the Apostles is the story of the early church.
  • The blog title will change to Insights into Scripture by a Layman.

Jesus Teaches Beatitudes – Part 1

When Jesus saw a crowd gathering, he went up on the hillside and his disciples came to him. He taught them saying . . . (Eyewitness Matthew 5:1-2a).

Eyewitness: p. 62.
In your Bible: Matthew 5:1-12.

Most believers know about the Beatitudes and some have memorized them. Yet often we do not understand how they apply to our life today. A few Bible commentators * say these verses reveal the righteousness of God. Some add the word “blessed” is better translated as godlike joy ** from the Greek word markarios.

Joy belongs to believers. They enter this capability as soon as they believe Christ is Lord and Lord their life. Embrace this joy now.

Blessings

To help understand the meaning of each of the first four “beatitudes,” I’ve taken the liberty to add a word “why.” Lets look at them.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who recognize their need for God, [why?] for the Kingdom of God belongs them.

Blessed are the mourners, those who are grieving [why?] for God will bring comfort, joy, and laughter to their aching hearts.

Blessed are the humble, those who are content with their identity [why?] they will inherit the land.,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to please God and live a righteous life (my wording) [why?] they’ll receive true satisfaction. (Eyewitness Matthew 5:2-6).

Personal Perspective

Now, use this exercise to amplify the meaning and understanding. Read the second half of the verse, then read the first part of the verse. An example using Matthew 5:3 try this out:

The kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit, to those who recognize their need for God (my wording).

Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who recognize their need for God [why?] for the Kingdom of God belongs them(Eyewitness Matthew 5:3).

Now, if this exercise intrigues you, try this for the first four beatitudes.

Prayer: Father, thank you that Your Word is alive, at work, and useful to me. Let me ever be mindful of it.

Questions: If you tried this exercise, how did it open your eyes to each attitude God wants for a believer? Why is it important to meditate or ponder scripture for its deeper meaning?

* Comments from the Ryrie Study Bible, Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Moody Press, Chicago, 1978, p. 1451

* The Daily Study Bible Series, The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, pp. 88,89.

Philippians

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An Overview of the Epistle by Paul to the Philippians.

Today begins our devotional of Philippians. This book written by Paul to the first church he founded in Europe. It is the sweetest and most personal of all his letters. With no scolding of the churches or believers, it could be called more of a love letter. *

The word “joy” or “rejoice” occurs sixteen times. Paul mentions the Savior’s name forty times in this short book. Some of the most wonderful things concerning Christ and the Christian life are here. Christ must be your joy, trust and aim in life.

It’s hard to believe Paul writes this in prison, while chained to a Roman soldier. But he knows his chains are helping him to spread the gospel.

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God’s Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears (Philippians 1:3-6 The Message).

Jump in and find the joy resounding in this epistle.

Prayer: Father, thank you for this love letter we have in Paul’s epistle to the Philippians – let your joy resound. Selah.

* What The Bible Is All About, Henrietta Mears, Regal Books a division of G/L Publications, Glendale, California, 1974, p. 507,508.