Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Six

imageThe Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. (v20)

In a moment of blinding clarity, meditating on this verse from Psalm 18 jolts your heart and mind to the reality. We are blessed beyond our ability to express it that God has not dealt with us according to the cleanness of our hands. Walking toward the still distant cross of Easter, the reality of the resurrection casts a searing white glow on the dirt still in our lives, despite our professions of Christ and the fact that we follow hard behind Christ. Continued repentance scrubs the hands cleaner but there are still stubborn spots.

Only the grace of the Lord will finally succeed in scrubbing these last final imperfections from our hands. Loyal discipleship will mature us in cooperation with the Spirit to rid ourselves of the barriers that separate us from our Father. We recognize that we will not be perfected in this life, that our enemy as well as our own brokenness will forever conspire to ensnare us to our final days. This is why we stay close to our Shepherd, despite our propensity to wander.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Grace and peace to you.

image NKGUX

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Five

imageWe’ll begin this week of meditations by thinking not of ourselves but of the people we pass by each day without remembering that God loves them intensely. Our repentance is necessary to the degree that we have allowed ourselves to become hardened to them.  Psalm 10 can serve as the foundation of our prayer today

Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.

Do not forget the helpless. (v12)

We often take for granted that everyone is able to follow the Lord and repent should they choose to do so, but this isn’t true. Many of the people that become invisible to us are suffering from incapacities that cannot be readily identified. Those brought down by drink and drugs are easy to categorize. Mental suffering is much more difficult to pinpoint since the sufferer is often unable to voice the problem. The good news can become just so many words until we have helped a person deal with the underlying issues.

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. (vv 17-18)

Grace and peace to you.

image ronn ashore

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day Four

image“’For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.” (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

It’s easy to misread the skies and come to a faulty conclusion. Here in Colorado, the mountains can point you in the wrong direction as they hide the truth. Just yesterday a clear sky in the morning would have let you leave the house in a light jacket that would have offered little protection as you scraped the snow and ice from your car in the evening. We can fall into the same error in our spiritual lives, looking at the clouding skies and believe that God has let us go beyond his loving grasp.

The faith built of our ever more intimate relationship with our Father tells us something quite different. Look at the final verse of Psalm 11,

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice;

upright men will see his face. (v7)

Though it might seem as though we have been lost by him and surrounded by trouble and challenge, His people will see His face. He will seek you out, there is no place you can go from which God will not bring you back. As we walk toward Calvary, faith lights the way. As we near the Cross, the light will lead us on.

The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.

He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. (v4)

Grace and peace to you.

image m angel herrero

Lent Spent with the Psalms Day One

imageWe’ve all spent time in the psalms. They are a source of challenge, comfort, and promise for us today in the same way that they were for the people of Israel. At times pleading and others praising, God and His incredible works remain front and center in this poetry. The Church enters the season of Lent today, a period of pointed reflection on the Lord that moves day by day toward the celebration of Easter. We meditate on the bloody and horrible cost of salvation, how the perfect Seder lamb had to be sacrificed so that you and I might be saved. It is at the same time a sober and celebratory time.

Psalm 85 expresses our need and desire perfectly. The psalmist pleads,

Restore us again, O God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.

Will you be angry with us forever?

Will you prolong your anger through all generations?

Will you not revive us again that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. (vv 4-7)

Begin our walk through the desert toward Calvary by asking yourself, what am I contributing to prolonging God’s anger?  What must I shed on this trip through the wilderness? Our goal is to reach the cross rid of the dead weight  and dross that interfere with our relationship with the Savior.

Grace and peace to you.

 

image wolfgang staudt