Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 78

 


Psalm 78:1-77

Key Verse: 1-2

“Listen, my people, to my teaching; tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a proverb.” CEB

We have before us today Psalm which recounts the history of God with the people of Israel up until the reign of David. It begins with an invitation to listen. In Romans Paul reminds us that someone is unable to have faith unless they have heard. Faith cannot to those who have not experienced Jesus for themselves, unless we share what God has done. Those of us who have seen, who have heard, who have experienced the love and grace of God ourselves must be willing to join the Psalmist in recounting what we know for all those who will hear. We too must proclaim the goodness, the greatness, the grace, the mercy and the forgiveness of God and live out its truth in our lives. Let us be a voice like John the Baptist proclaiming the goodness of gospel. And when we hear the truth proclaimed by others, such as the Psalmist let us rejoice together in knowing we serve a good God who works with people and draws people into true relationship. God desires to know us as we learn to know God.

 

A Prayer for Today

God of grace and power, of mercy and love, help me to see you today. Help me to know you in my life. Help me to see you at work I my life. Help me to hear the truth of who you are as it is proclaimed by those who love you and have experienced you at work. Let me join with them in their proclamation. Let me share the truth of your character with my actions as well as my words. Amen

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 77

 



Psalm 77:1-20

Key Verse: 1-2

“I cry out loud to God—out loud to God so that he can hear me! During the day when I’m in trouble I look for my Lord. At night my hands are still outstretched and don’t grow numb; my whole being refuses to be comforted.” CEB

When I am hurting, when I am struggling, when the injustice, the pain, the chaos of the world around me is more than I can bear, I turn to God. I cry, I weep, I wail, I rage, I scream. And yet the injustice continues, the pain, still hurts, the struggle remains real and in the midst of the storm I cannot find peace. There is no comfort.

It all goes on, and on and on. We cry out with the Psalmist, “Will my Lord reject me forever? Will he never be pleased again? Has his faithful love come to a complete end? Is his promise over for future generations? Has God forgotten how to be gracious? Has he angrily stopped up his compassion?” (vs 7-9). We want to cry out with Jesus (quoting another Psalm), “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Where is God? Where is God’s graciousness, and compassion? Why is there no relief for me, and for all those who suffer?

It is hard to remember the goodness of God, when we are surrounded by the pain and suffering which so often fills our lives. It is hard to see the hand of God at work when the world seems to be flooded with injustice. Yet God is at work. God is always at work, bringing redemption to the darkest places and bringing order to the chaos created by sin and evil in this world.

Even in amidst the flood we can trust that God is at work. Even when we feel unheard, we can know God hears. Do not give up, do not ever believe God has abandoned the work of salvation at work in this world.

 

Things to Think on

Do you feel as if God hears you when you cry out?

Have you ever grown weary calling out to God?

Is it hard to trust God when you see the death, the pain, the suffering, the injustice, the chaos in the world around you?

Can you recount the times when God’s faithfulness, goodness, and compassion have been see in your life or in the lives of those around you?

Even in your pain, can you give praise to God for the things God has done, and trust that, even now, God is at work to bring redemption to the pain and suffering that is currently going on?

A Prayer for Today

Lord, you are God, forever and for always. I see the suffering. I see evil at work. I hurt. I am frightened. I know the chaos sin brings into this world. Every day, I call out to you. I lay all the burdens me at your feet. I give you the pain, the suffering, the hurt, the injustice. But it all goes on and on. Help me to trust you even when I do not see you at work. I have seen you at work in the past. Help me to look to your great deeds, so I can give you praise even now when I feel unheard and I do not see my prayers being answered. Amen

Monday, March 29, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 75

 

Psalm 75:1-10

Key Verse: 1

“We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds.” NLT

This is the week in which we take time to truly think and ponder on all that the Lord has done. We are truly thankful for all the ways Jesus was obedient to God in all things. In Jesus the life, death and resurrection of of Christ, God draws near to all humanity.  As we ponder the last week of Christ’s life we are not only remembering but proclaiming the wonderful deeds of Christ in our world.

Remembering all that Christ did through the course of his final week here on earth, is a way of taking the event of Jesus’ life seriously. Jesus moved toward the cross obediently, trusting God in all things. When we remember the great and mighty things the Lord God has done, allows us to better recognize the ways God moves in and through our lives, so that we too can respond, as Christ did, in trusting obedience. Let us as we move with Christ toward his cross, seek out ways we too can speak of the wonderful deed of God, not only in the life of Christ but in our lives. Let us use Christ’s example and be ready to follow God to all the places God might lead. Let us trust, let us obey and let us see the great and mighty ways God’s redemption is always at work even when the events of our lives seem to be the bleakest or most terrible. God is able to bring redemption to all things, just as God brought redemption through the life and death of Christ.  

 

Things to Think on

Take time today to pay attention to the things God has done and is doing in your life.

How does remembering the ways God has worked move you toward obedience?

What are the events of the last week of Jesus’ life?  In what ways was Jesus faithful to God in his final days?

In what ways do the final actions of Jesus help move you to obedience?

In what ways can you tell of God’s wonderful deeds through Christ today and throughout the rest of this week.

A Prayer for Today

Lord, as I remember who Christ is and what he has done for me, let me sense your nearness in my life this week. Draw close to me, as I draw close to you. Help me to not only remember, but throughout this week, proclaim the goodness and redemption of Christ in all I do, and in all I say. Help me to move in obedience and trust as Christ did. Amen

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 74

 

Psalm 74:1-23

Key Verses: 21-22a

"Don't disappoint those in need or make them turn from you, but help the poor and homeless to shout your praises. Do something, God! Defend yourself." CEV

It is easy to blame God with others turn away from God. Why does God not do anything? Why did God allow them to become disheartened? Why did God allow them to lose faith!

But what are we doing to be the hands and the feet of God when this happens? What fault are the people God when those among us do not experience the love of God in and among the people of God. We are God’s witnesses. We are the way most of those around us experience the love, the goodness, and the kindness of God. When we do not live out the character in our lives, others will not experience the character of God in us. Even worse, we prove to be false witnesses, and when they see us as the people of God and experience that which is not of God in us and at our hands, they are experiencing God falsely in us.

When the Church as the Body of Christ acts in ways which are contradictory to the nature of Christ, we are not only failing to be the body, but we are sharing lies about who Christ is to all those who only know him and experience him in us and through us.

Why are people disappointed in what God is doing?  Why is God not defending God’s self? Because those who are called to live out the character of God in this world are failing to live in such a way, which speaks the truth, of who God is.

Things to Think on

In what ways are you disappointed with God? Are you disappointed with God or are you really disappointed with the people of God?

In what ways could you better “defend” God in the things you do and say today?

How would the Church need to be different, for the poor and the homeless to praise God because of what the Church is doing?

How can you help that happen in your life? In what you do and what you say?

 

A Prayer for Today

Lord, there are so many people disenchanted with you. And I know that they are really disappointed in with your Church, and the things people who are speaking and acting in your name are doing and saying. It is also easy to push the burden of this false witness off on others; on those people over there. But reveal to me in what ways I am a part of this problem. Show me how I can be better a truer witness of who you are. Purify me, my words, my actions so that I can be a true witness of who you are to those around me who are disenchanted with you and your Church. Help me to live in such a way that all I do speaks truth about who you are. Let do better and be better today. – Amen

 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 73


 

Psalm 73:1-28

Key Verses: 21-23

“Once I was bitter and brokenhearted. I was stupid and ignorant, and I treated you as a wild animal would. But I never really left you, and you hold my right hand.” CEV

It is so hard to look around at the world and see that evil people prosper. So many people who do cruel unjust things, not only get away with doing them, but they prosper while doing so. It seems their lives are better, and easier than mine. It is easy to see the injustice and hatred all around and become broken hearted. And in our anger, in our bitterness, in our frustration, take it out on God. When we see the evil and corruption all around it would be easy to say, “God does not see.” “God does not care.” “God does not move.” But in our anger, in our frustration, in our pain, let us not turn away from God. Even as we yell at God, even as we hurl our insults at God for God’s inability to do the things God should be doing, let us continue to hold on to God’s hand, because God will not let go of ours. Even as we come to God with our anger, our frustration, our hurt and our pain, and hurl all that at God, accusing God of being blind, incapable of moving, or asleep at the wheel, God will not let go of our hand. When we are frustrated with the evil all around hold on to God’s hand, as God continue to hold ours; giving us the strength, peace, and assurance which can only come from God.

 

Things to Think on

The Psalmist speaks of almost stumbling and almost falling, in what ways have you almost stumble and fallen recently?

When you look around, how are your frustrated, angered, or dismayed by the things you see?

What does it mean to you to know God is holding your hand through it all?

 

A Prayer for Today

God, it is not fair. It is not right. So much of what goes on in the world around me is not as it should be. People are sick, people are dying. People are hurting, are angry. Unjust people, just keep on being unjust. Evil people seem to be prevailing. Their hatred infects the world around me. I don’t know what to do. I cry out to you until my voice is hoarse but it all keeps on going on. There is so much darkness, I am unsure if I will ever see the light again. Yet I hold on to your hand. I cling on to your hand. Thank you for not letting me go. Even when I rail at you, even when I am frustrated with you, help me to trust you through it all. Never let me go – Amen

 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 72


 

Psalm 72:1-20

Key Verses: 1-4

“Please help the king to be honest and fair just like you, our God. Let him be honest and fair with all your people, especially the poor. Let peace and justice rule every mountain and hill. Let the king defend the poor, rescue the homeless, and crush everyone who hurts them.” CEV

Here in the US, as of yesterday at noon, we have a new President. No matter what we think of our new president, we can join with the Psalmist praying our president would be the kind of ruler described here in this passage. The psalmist asked god to let the new king be God, honest and fair, especially to the poor. Let there be peace and justice, let him be a ruler who looks to the needs of the poor, the homeless and let all those who hurt them be crushed. The psalmist does not ask for a king who looks out for personal needs and desires, who adheres to the psalmist’s politics, but instead asks for peace and justice, honesty and fairness, someone who looks out for the homeless and the poor. And this the psalmist sees as a ruler who is like God. I am not sure when we think of having a “Godly” ruler we usually think of honesty, fairness, justice, peace, especially in regards to the poor, the needy and the homeless. Yet this is how a Godly ruler is described here. The psalmist asks God that their new king be like God in these ways. Later on in the Psalm it says, “Only you can work miracles.” A ruler who leads and governs as God is a miracle indeed, but yet this is what we pray for, this is what we ask God for, knowing that only God can work such miracles. And this is a miracle we all need, every person, every country, to have a leader who governs with God’s honesty, fairness, who seek God’s justice and peace, and who defends the poor, and rescues the homeless. This is who our God and this is the miracle we desire for God to work in our nation.

Things to Think on

What would it mean to truly have a leader who governs as God would govern?

Read the Psalm again, what attribute of a godly ruler surprise you?

Pray for our president (or the leader of your nation) this morning. Pray as the Psalmist would pray

 

A Prayer for Today

Oh, God, I know you are not a part of partisan politics. Everyone around me, including myself have our own ideas of what a good leader for our nation would look like. I have ideas of what policies that person would enact. I have opinions as to whether our leader is good or fair or is the right person for the job. Let me turn away from my ideologies, the policies of the political party I support. Let me instead turn to you. Let me look to your character and instead of desiring the person I want to rule the way I would wish for them to rule. Let me desire a leader who is like you, in all ways. Better yet, instead of attempting to put my trust in a leader, a political party or a political system, let me put my trust in you. Let me look to you to perform miracles in me, in my life, and let me trust you to perform miracles in the political system and in the hearts and lives of those who govern. Let me not put my trust in them, but in you, knowing you can work in and through them.   – Amen

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Manna for Today: Psalm 71

 


Psalm 71:1-24

Key Verses: 14-15

“I will never give up hope or stop praising you. All day long I will tell the wonderful things you do to save your people. But you have done much more than I could possibly know.” CEV

Even when the darkness is great, I will never give up hope! Even when the chaos seems to rule, I will not give up hope!  Even when I am lost in the confusion, I will not give up hope! Even when it seems, the people of God have also turned away, put their hope, and trust in the powers of this world, even still, I will not give up hope!

You are still the creator of all life. The earth is yours and all that is it. You made the sun to rise. You put all the billions of stars in their places and set all the solar systems to spinning. It is all yours. You created it and created the laws by which they all move. You spoke and creation came into being. You breathed your breath and humanity came to be. We are yours. You are God in and through it all. My hope is in you! And I give you the praise for all you have done. For it is more than I can possibly know. God is at work, in creation, in the world, working to accomplish the hard work of redemption. Even when it we cannot see it, we can know God is at work and say, “I will never give up hope or stop praising.”

 

Things to Think on

What does it mean for you to find hope in God right now?

Have you ever been tempted to give up hope? Why?

What does it mean to praise God, even when hope is hard to find?

In what ways is it difficult praise God when things are hard?

 

A Prayer for Today

I find hope in you. You are my hope and my salvation. I will hope in you today, tomorrow, and in all the days to come. Even when all else fails, I will still hope in you. Lord I continue to give you praise for all you are doing, all you have done and all you will do. Help me to continue to find hope in you at all times and to find ways to give you praise, each and every day.  – Amen