atheists, blood lust, Christian, Christian faith, city, David, demonic, demonic forces, devil, enemy, enemy troops, faith, hope, Ottawa, pop culture, Rideau Canal, salvation, seige, the LORD, under siege
Reading: Psalm 31
Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
The LORD preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD (NIV).
David ends Psalm 31 with a testimony to God’s great love and mercy. Hear his declaration: Praise be to the LORD, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
Are you living in a city under siege? My quick and simple answer is no. My city is not surrounded by enemy troops who are lobbing artillery shells down on my neighbourhood.
While in the physical sense that may be true, in the spiritual realm my city is caught up in active warfare. Demonic forces are firing their missiles into my city. The airwaves and social media feeds are filled with smut and pornography. In the public square Christian faith is routinely mocked and under attack. Atheists trumpet their cause with bestselling books and spew venom on any who dare to embrace the faith.
Meanwhile, pop culture plunges headlong into the deep end of gothic horror, vampire blood lust and zombie self-identification. Then we stand back in amazement when those same young people lash out in murderous deranged madness as happened when five young people were stabbed to death in Calgary or in my hometown when an eighteen-year-old killed his mother.
When you shun God and bed down with the devil, many are going end up hurt. My city is under siege, but with the help and grace of God, I will not succumb to the enemies attack. I will emerge triumphant. David did. And here is his advice for you and me: Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
David’s advice is counterintuitive. Take your eyes off the enemy. Don’t be mesmerized by the devil’s devices and machinations. Your salvation comes from the LORD. Set your heart and your affections on Him. The LORD preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Response: LORD God, have mercy on me. I love you, LORD. Preserve me through the unfailing love of your Son, Jesus. I will be strong and take heart because I set my hope on you. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you feel that your faith is under attack? How do you respond? Do you cower or advance?
Reading: Psalm 25
In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good (NIV).
Shame is often viewed as a very negative feeling, and it is. Some pop psychologists are of the opinion that this emotional response should be completely removed from our lives. They argue that it has no useful function, since it often holds us back from exploring and experimenting with new behaviors and activities in the world around us.
However, a life lived without any sense of shame is life without an active conscience. Those who lack a shame gland soon find themselves trapped in self-destructive behavior that spirals out of control. A sense of shame when we have done wrong can act as the messenger of God calling us to repentance and a change of heart.
Here in this psalm David pleads with the LORD that he will not be put to shame. That should be our prayer as well. And how can we avoid being put to shame? David gives us the answer. No one who hopes in you [the LORD] will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
If your hope is in the LORD, He will protect you from shame and disgrace. Trusting in God, rather than in ourselves is the point where freedom from shame begins. A humble teachable spirit is what God desires. Because of His great mercy and love, He forgives the sins of our youth and our rebellious ways. Praise the LORD!
Response: LORD, this is my prayer: Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Amen.
Your Turn: How does trusting in God protect you from experiencing shame?
Reading: Psalm 134
A song of ascents.
Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD
who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the LORD.
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth (NIV).
This is the fifteenth and final psalm in the Songs of Ascent series. In reality, this psalm is the pilgrims’ farewell offering of worship to the LORD. After a week or more in Jerusalem, the time has arrived for the pilgrims to return to their homes. But on the evening before they set out on the return journey, they make one last visit to Mount Zion and the great Temple of the LORD. There they lift their hands in praise to the God of Israel. Early next morning, they will begin the arduous journey back home. But for now, it’s time to bless the LORD and offer thanks.
It is likely that the twelve-year-old Jesus sang this psalm with his parents on the final evening of their Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On the following day the family departed for Nazareth where Joseph would resume his trade as a carpenter. When they left the next morning, they assumed Jesus was traveling with them in the large company of other pilgrims from their hometown. See Luke 2:41-52.
Typically, we read this account of the lost twelve-year-old Jesus from the viewpoint of a parent. We identify with the stress of losing a child in a big city. We would title this story, “Mary and Joseph find lost Jesus.” But the story reads quite differently, when we view it from the perspective of a child trying to discover who he really is. Viewed from Jesus’ perspective the title of the story might well be, “Lost Boy finds Himself” or “Lost Boy Discovers His Divinity.”
How did Jesus discover he was the son of God? Some believers might well reason that the answer is obvious. Jesus is God; therefore, he is omniscient. The all-knowing Jesus would surely know that he was God’s son. But many theologians would beg to differ. They view the humanity of Christ as all pervasive. Jesus was 100% human and as such he needed to learn and discover his identity even as any child does.
If through the incarnation Jesus fully took on humanity, then the boy Jesus needed to discover his divine identity. It may have been written into every fibre of his being, but he still needed to discover it, just as any young musical prodigy needs to explore and discover his or her gift. All divine gifts must be discovered and developed to reach their maximum potential.
How do we discover our true identity? From the account in Luke, it would appear that the boy Jesus discovered his true identity in the House of God. Perhaps it began as he lifted his hands in worship. We cannot fully discover who we are until we discover who God is. We must know our Creator to know ourselves. Self-understanding begins with knowing whose we are. You and I belong to the Father.
Response: Father God, I thank you for loving me and inviting me into your family. Lord Jesus, thank you for purchasing my redemption. Holy Spirit, I thank you for the confirmation that I am your child. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you know who you are? How is God the Father shaping your identity?