Category Archives for Daily Meditation

Sin, Chastisement, Repentance

Handwritten letter from the book of Psalms chapter 78 verse 69 through chapter 80 verse 8.
Psalms 78:69-80:8

Synopsis Psalms 78:69-80:8 1/10/2022 

As the psalmist wrote, Jerusalem had been invaded and many of the people killed. In fact, so many died that they wasn’t anyone left to bury the dead. 

As so, the psalmist and the people wondered aloud. “God, will you always be angry?” they asked. And they begged God to have compassion on the people. They said to God, “Free those doomed to death. Then your people will give you thanks and praise you.” 

Sin Chastisement and Repentance 

I read the Psalms and the Israelite historical accounts in scripture. As I do, faithlessness, chastisement and repentance become mind-numbingly common patterns of behavior repeated over and over again. So much so, I wonder how those people could be so dull and lack solidarity. 

Of course, anytime I say “those people”, I’m usually headed in the wrong direction. And so, I find myself doing the very same things that seemed so obviously faithless when I read their accounts just moments before.  

“Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.” Rom 12:16 

January 10, 2022

Word that Stands

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 78 verses 40 through 68.
Psalms 78:40-68

Synopsis Psalms 78:40-68 1/7/2022 

The psalmist recounted the exodus. Specifically, he remembered how God plagued Egypt for Israel’s sake. Like a shepherd with his flock, the psalmist reflected on the faithful manner that God securely led the nation.  

However, he also remembered how the people fell away. He especially focused on how the Israelites had embraced idol worship. Of course, God rejected this apostasy. And so, the ark of the covenant fell into the hands of Israel’s enemies.  

But after a while, God reengaged with Israel. Only this time, he chose David, from the tribe of Judah, as the leading tribe of Jacob. This took Israelite leadership away from the descendants of Joseph.  

Work that Stands 

If I have been made for a purpose, and I have the freedom to choose, then it stands to reason that I could choose against fulfilling my purpose.  

When I think about that, I come face to face with what it means to fear the Lord. 

“If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1Cor 3:14-15 

January 7, 2022

Abounding Grace

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 78 verses 12 through 39.
Psalms 78:12-39

Synopsis Psalms 78:12-39 1/6/2022 

The psalm writer reflected on God’s faithfulness. During the exodus, he remembered how God had been faithful to provide for the needs of the people. However, no matter how much they received, they always wanted more. And they persistently doubted that God could adequately provide for them.  

Their unfaithfulness provoked God’s wrath. As a result, many of their strongest people died suddenly. With this observation, the psalmist reflected on the irony that the Israelites sought God only after experiencing God’s wrath.  

Still, God was merciful because He knew that men were short-lived and shortsighted.   

Abounding Grace 

I am a sinner. Part of the experience of living as a sinner is God’s overwhelming grace and mercy. The revealed reality of Jesus Christ is that no person is ever beyond forgiveness. God loves in such a way that He is always willing to forgive.  

And His forgiveness is what causes most people to desire the possibility of relationship with Him.  

So much so that sometimes it seems the experience of sinning, and then receiving forgiveness for my sins, is the most palpable encounter I may ever have with God. So, the natural temptation is to think that my sin somehow produces the experience of God’s mercy and grace.  

But be assured, there is a better way to blessing. 

“What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not! How can we who died to sin yet live in it?” Rom 6:1-2 

January 6, 2022

Authentic & Synthetic Community

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 77 verse 5 through chapter 78 verse 11.
Psalms 77:5-78:11

Synopsis     Psalms 77:5-78:11     1/5/2022 

The psalmist reflected on bygone days when God’s blessing on Israel was obvious. Since he wrote after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, he longed for a return of God’s favor. But in the end, he concluded that God had left the Chosen People. 

In the next portion, the psalmist anticipated a new beginning for Zion. And so, he encouraged the people to follow after the Law of Moses. Especially, he encouraged teaching the law of God to their children . In this way, generation after generation might know and serve Him. 

Authentic Community and Synthetic Community 

Authentic Community is a community of faith in God through Jesus Christ. Conversely, Synthetic Community is any community based on any other premise. Synthetic Communities are the inventions of men and codified in one form of social contract or another.  

The language of Authentic Community has this advantage. It is unimaginable that God would forsake the “Authentic Community”. So, rather than connect God’s Chosen People with a certain generation or a certain ethnicity, see the Authentic Community as God’s Chosen People.  

And then, join the Authentic Community by virtue of your love for the God of all Creation.  

“And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” Matt 3:9 

January 5, 2022

Awesome God

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 74 verse 22 through chapter 77 verse 4.
Psalms 74:22-77:4

Synopsis     Psalms 74:22-77:4     1/4/2022 

God will punish evil doers by forcing them to drink the wine of judgement. 

The psalmist reflected how awesome is God’s power. In his imagination, the author expects that God will one day, fully reveal Himself and defends Zion. This revelation of God’s awesome power will overwhelm all warriors and nations. So much so, that even Israel’s worst enemies will praise God.   

Awesome God 

If I could see God as He is, no matter who I might be, I would worship Him. Exposed to my sight, God’s beauty, and power and goodness would overwhelm my sensibilities. And because I am essentially made to worship, my soul would do nothing else.  

For the LORD, your God, is the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who has no favorites, accepts no bribes” Deut 10:17

January 4, 2022

Feeling Abandoned, Being Abandoned

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 73 verse 24 through chapter 74 verse 21
Psalms 73:24-74:21

Synopsis     Psalm 73:24-74:21     1/3/2022 

When Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, the psalmist poured out his despair. He wondered if God was finished with Israel. And he lamented the triumph of the Babylonians.  

Yet, he committed to remaining faithful to God. And he prayed for God to remember His holy covenant with Israel. 

Feeling Abandoned and Being Abandoned 

Abandonment is an irreversibly broken relationship imposed one on another. When I am left by another, I am powerless to reverse the breach. So, the pain I feel comes from both the loss of relationship and the resonance of my powerlessness.  

Curiously, I can feel abandoned without actually being abandoned. This happens when I confuse my expectations from a relationship with the relationship itself.  

I suppose it’s an irony that my own impositions create the appearance of breach. Thus, my own particular insistence creates the experience of my painfully real suffering.  

So, here’s our confidence: God has not abandoned you, or me, or anybody.  

“It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” Deut 31:8 

January 3, 2022

Asaph’s Dilemma

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 72 verse 15 through chapter 73 verse 23
Psalms 72:15-73:23

Synopsis     Psalms 72:15-73:23     12/1/2021 

Asaph was a psalm writer. In this psalm, he famously wondered if he kept his heart clean in vain.  

Asaph’s Dilemma 

Asaph’s dilemma was common. The problem he faced was understanding why evil men seem to do well in this life. At the same time, it seemed to him that honest and devoted followers of the law do less well. 

So, when he compared his own situation to that of people he considered to be sinners, he felt embittered. And this effected his judgement. And his bitterness made him wonder if he should continue to follow God’s law. 

Comparing Myself 

There is no avoiding comparisons. God designed my brain for this very purpose. He designed my brain to compare between “what is” and “what should be”. So, in this sense, my brain function is almost mechanical.

In fact, it really can’t be stopped. In the same way I can’t direct my stomach to stop processing food, I can’t stop my brain from making comparisons.  

Still, I am the one who chooses which food to put in my stomach. And in a similar way, I am the one who chooses to focus my attention in a specific way. This is within my human power.  

And so, the trick isn’t to try to stop all comparisons. Rather, the work is to focus on what really matters. And this starts with learning to properly focus my attention. Is what I’m doing what I should be doing? 

Am I spending time loving God? Could I do something right now that expresses and communicates my love for God? 

Am I spending time loving my neighbor? Could I be doing something right now that expresses and communicates my love for the people all around me? 

These are right comparisons. Asking these right questions and making these right comparisons changes everything.  

“I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written,* so that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over against another. Who confers distinction upon you? What do you possess that you have not received? But if you have received it, why are you boasting as if you did not receive it?” 1Cor 4:6-7 

December 1, 2021

Solomon Prayed for the Practical

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 71 verse 13 through 72 verse 14
Psalms 71:12-72:14

Synopsis     Psalms 71:12-72:14    11/30/2021 

King Solomon prayed a psalm prayer for wisdom. Appointed as king, he wanted to rule well. So, he prayed for wisdom so that justice would reign throughout Israel. And he prayed that his reign should last as long as it was worthy and caused the nation to flourish.  

Praying for the Practical 

God is the creator and ruler over all things. Everything that exists remains in existence because God causes it so. Thus, nothing is too big or too small to escape His attention.  

So, pray for you daily needs, big and small. Ask God with the expectation of an answer and with a grateful heart for whatever answer may come.  

“Give us today our daily bread” Matt 6:11 

December 1, 2021

David’s Expectation of God’s Goodness

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 69 verse 26 through 71 verse 12.
Psalms 69:26-71:12

Synopsis     Psalms 69:26-71:12     11/29/2021 

King David wrote, “I am in pain.” And in his pain, he begged God to protect him. He hoped to be saved so that he could sing the Lord’s praise once more.  

In this way, he encouraged others. Specifically, he instructed the people to be glad, even if the world considered them insignificant. He said this because he fully anticipated God rescuing His people and restoring them to the land.  

Similarly, during a time of great distress, he prayed. Once again, he asked God to protect him from all those who hated his life. And he asked for a blessing on all those who sought to know God.  

Faithfulness: The Expectation of God’s Goodness 

My brain is set up to continuously compare between “what is” and “what ought to be”. And my experience of value is connected to the result of this comparison.  

If I carry and entitlement attitude, then my expectations for pleasure and lack of difficulty will always be greater than my experience of my present circumstances. This is the way of discontentment. It is the way of the world.  

However, if I carry an attitude of gratefulness to God, then my expectations align differently. My mind compares what is and at once recognizes that I do not inherently deserve anything. In this way, I deliberately acknowledge that all goodness is a generous gift from God.  This is the way of joy.

The unconditioned expectation of God’s goodness is the way of joy.

“This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him” 2Tim 2:11 

November 30, 2021

King David and Shame

Handwritten page from the book of Psalms chapter 69 verses 1 through 25.
Psalms 69:1-25

Synopsis     Psalms 69:1-25     11/24/2021 

King David expressed anguish. In that moment, he felt stuck in a deep mire. He was overwhelmed because his enemies had ganged up on him.  

At this moment, he acknowledged his own failings and sins. However, even his laments, fastings and self-abasement were used by his adversaries to shame him. As a result, he felt cut off even from his own family. 

Even so, David prayed to God. He did not give up petitioning God until God gave an answer. Despite the evil and mockery that others did to him, he waited for God’s help. 

David and Shame 

David recognized the power of shame. He understood that shameful feelings can break a relationship. But he determined not to let this happen. No matter how ashamed and unworthy others made him feel, he looked to God for his sense of identity and acceptance.  

Shame, Identity and Acceptance 

Shame is a powerful phenomenon. So powerful in fact, I hesitate to describe it as a mere emotion. In the way that checkmate is related to the game of chess, shame is closely related to the power of original sin. 

I feel ashamed that I am not as powerful as God. And I feel ashamed for even thinking such a thought. And though these two different kinds of shame work differently in my psyche, they both force my soul away from right relationship with God.  

Together, they block my ability to believe that God accepts me as I am. As a result, they shade my ability to see myself as a child of God.  

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3 

November 25, 2021