Written by Peggy Lundy - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo Credit: Craig Duer
“But I will sing of Your power…" (Psalm 59:16a NKJV).
Have you ever been lost and afraid in the dark? Did you whistle to keep up your courage? Did it work? Probably not very well. It was mostly a show, a bit of bravado to keep panic at bay for the moment.
Late one night, David was trapped in his house surrounded by King Saul’s troops. Just a few days before, he had been a favored and beloved member of the King’s household as Saul’s music therapist. David’s skillful harpistry was the only thing that brought peace and comfort to Saul’s troubled mind. In gratitude, the King had made David his son-in-law and a captain in Israel’s army. But Saul was jealous of David’s success and popularity with the people of Jerusalem. So jealous in fact, on more than one occasion, he tried to kill David by hurling a javelin at him. Finally, David had run from the palace and gone home. That’s when he wrote Psalm 59.
In spite of that life-threatening situation, David did not give in to fear or doubt or self-recrimination. He kept his trust in the God who had delivered him from the lion and the bear and from Goliath, the giant Philistine. He sang this threat into declaration, this captivity into freedom, and this defeat into victory. *
We may never find our homes surrounded by people trying to kill us. But we are often faced with needs and obligations, conflicts and regrets, responsibilities and expectations that keep us spinning. We are surrounded and overwhelmed. We feel afraid, alone, and lost in the dark. At such times, singing may be the last thing on our minds while whimpering, crying or screaming might seem more appropriate. But singing IS the weapon of choice to defeat the enemy.
Sing of God’s mighty power.
Shout His great mercy.
Rejoice because of His protection.
Exult in your deliverance.
Rest in His refuge.
That’s what David did, and he not only survived that night, but he went on to fulfill God’s calling and anointing for his life.
Singing during the darkness of trouble becomes a declaration of faith and hope while allowing the peace of God to permeate our situation. Then, regardless of what is growling around outside, peace, joy, and victory reign within.
Scripture Meditation: “But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble” (Psalm 59:16 - NKJV).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we declare Your mighty power through the night and sing of Your mercy in the morning!
* See 1 Samuel 18 for more of the story.
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 is Ash Wednesday in the Church Calendar and marks the beginning of the season of Lent, a 40 day period leading up to Easter. (Actually it is 46 days, the Sundays are not counted.) Lent itself is a season of penitence, a time when the church formally acknowledges the restoration of the penitent sinner to the church, a ceremony usually including the marking of a cross in ashes on the forehead of the penitent. Many Christians perceive this as being a purely Catholic tradition and eschew any reference to it. And it is true that Martin Luther, at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, discontinued the rite in the reformed church. Today, however, many Protestant denominations, including Lutherans, celebrate Lent and practice the rites of Ash Wednesday.
Martin Luther’s objection to Ash Wednesday and Lent were based on the fact there are no references to either in the Bible. Although, both the call to personal repentance and the practice of pouring dust and ashes over one's head as a sign of contrition are surely present. Consider Genesis 3:19 where God tells Adam, “(you shall) return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return.” This reminds us of our humble origins, being made from the dust of the earth, but also affirms the sentence of death as the result of the sin in our lives. Also, the use of ashes as a sign of repentance is ancient in origin as evident in the Old Testament Books of Job, Esther, Samuel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42: 5-6)
Even more importantly, the teaching of the necessity for repentance in the New Testament was primary in the work of John the Baptist (Mt. 3:2) and then picked up and amplified by Jesus. From the time He completed his 40 day fast in the wilderness and began his earthly ministry, this was His message. “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 4:17) In fact, the overriding goal of Jesus’ life and ministry is to teach that those who follow Him will enter into the Kingdom of God and spend eternity in His presence. And an integral requirement for our reaching that goal is turning from sin.
St. Paul gave testimony to this fact when facing the men of Athens, he acknowledged that these people were religious, even if misguided. He spoke of a monument they had to “an unknown God,” Paul claimed, “The one you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth,” (Acts 17:23) and in 2 Peter 3:9 it is further stated “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any shall perish but that he shall come to repentance.” These and many other such scriptures make it clear that repentance is a requirement for a healthy relationship with Jesus, -- being needed for kingdom living.
So, what is repentance? The dictionary might say something like “to feel sorry for something done; regret.” But repentance is so much more than just regretting or feeling sorry for the way something turned out. I can be sorry for breaking my wife’s favorite vase. But that isn’t a sin; unless I did it deliberately to spite her. That would be a sin.
Repentance involves a genuine change of heart. It is reflected by a change in our words and actions; really, in who we are. Biblical repentance comes when we turn from our worldly ways and strive to be like Jesus. It is when our desire and our actions reflect who He is. When we do this, we may not need a mark of ashes to let others know we have repentant hearts. But we may need to celebrate Ash Wednesday and to receive that mark to remind us that we still have work to do. For it is true, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) It is time, whether you can make an Ash Wednesday service or not, to resolve to change the issues in your lives which are pulling you downward, toward the dust, -- it is time for a change of heart.
Written By Kathryn Kirsher - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Photo credit: 지원 이 from Pixabay
“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you . . .” (Psalm 36:7-10a ESV).
I hate to admit it, but I tend to eat for comfort when I’m experiencing emotions such as grief, disappointment, frustration, exhaustion, and the like. Papa God and I have had multiple discussions about this for many years. I know I’m turning to “broken cisterns” (Jeremiah 2:13) when I look to food instead of the Lord. But when I’m all worn out, I can’t seem to find the strength to pursue Him.
Something quickened in me the other day, however, when I read these familiar words from Psalm 36. I realized there’s a path laid out in these verses—a roadmap I can easily follow even when I’m depleted, leading me away from my broken cisterns and into satisfaction with Papa God. I invite you to join me in exploring this path.
“How precious is your steadfast love . . .”
My first step on this Psalm 36 path is to turn toward God’s חֵסֵד (chêsêd)—His “steadfast love.” That love is the source of the satisfaction I’m longing for. So I back away from the things that are disquieting me and focus on His lovingkindness. I look into His welcoming face and ask Him about the things that disturb me. I bask in His love and mercy.
“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
As I continue down the Psalm 36 path, I step into the shadow of His wings and take shelter there. I’m not ignoring the realities of my life; I’m simply pulling back for a moment of respite. I use my holy imagination to ponder what it’s like in the shadow of His wings. I let Him protect me and comfort me in the face of disturbances, grief, or unsettledness.
“They feast on the abundance of your house . . .”
After I’ve taken shelter under His wings, the Psalm 36 path leads me to a feast. I can stir up my holy imagination once again to ponder questions like, “What’s on the menu? What kind of nourishing food will He serve to strengthen me today? Will there be some of the fruits of the Spirit? Will I partake of the body and blood of Christ? Is this Wisdom’s feast (Proverbs 9)? Will He “prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies?” (Psalm 23).
“[C]ontinue your steadfast love to those who know you . . .”
So once our feast is over, the Psalm 36 path brings me full circle back to steadfast love. Chêsêd bookends this whole process. And it will continue to sustain me as I once again face grief, frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion.
Questions to Ponder: What are your “broken cisterns”? Where do you turn when you’re frustrated, sad, or lonely? How can you utilize this Psalm 36 path?
Prayer: When my heart is hungry, Lord, satisfy me with Your steadfast love (Psalm 90:14).
Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministries
No one would deny that we live in perilous times. Our nation is in a time of major change, a change in leaders, in direction, and perhaps in purpose. In this, some see hope, others despair. Yet, most of us are not likely to see a great change in our circumstance, because change, real change, often comes slowly.
Arguably, there has been no change in the course of world history than that which came by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet it took over three hundred years for Christianity to take hold and begin to be recognized as a force in human society. But, even within these long periods of struggle, within the process of these world-changing events are moments when individuals, groups, communities; even nations were changed in a flash:
When the Day of Pentecost had come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came the sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven, and when the sound occurred, the multitude came together….. Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized and that day about three thousand were added to their number.” (Acts 2:1-6a, 38, 41)
Many of you have had your life changed by just such a sudden a revelation, in just such miraculous manifestation of the truth. It may have come while in a group, perhaps even a revival service; or it may have come while you were alone, reading the Word of God, or while in prayer, or even as you were crying out knowing that you needed a positive change in your life. But this change did not come by the power or decision of man, it came by the grace of God through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Some have heard this word as in the rushing of a mighty wind, others through His still small voice. Some have been introduced to Him through a friend, a preacher, His written word. Others have had a personal and powerful encounter with Him. However it occurred, it came because God has called you to be His own child, it came because He loves you, and He wants you whole.
There is another verse of scripture from Acts I want to share. (Acts 17:6) At a time when Paul and Silas had visited the city of Thessalonica in Macedonia and was leading many of its citizens to Christ, some who stood in opposition to him went to the house where they had been staying and, when they did not find them, dragged their host, a man named Jason, to the authorities making the charge. “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” This would have been about 50 AD, a long time before the Church had become a world changing force. Yet, to the people of Thessalonica and the world as they knew it, the message Paul and his associates were bringing amounted to a world-changing event.
Again, Paul might have been the messenger, but it was the Holy Spirit who was guiding and leading him onward, and it was the Holy Spirit who was taking up residence in the hearts of the people and making a change to their world, no matter where they were or where they would go.
The great truth in all of this, the world in all its facets is changing constantly, but there can be no change which is not allowed by God, and there is no change more important than the change in your heart once the Spirit of God has taken up residence there.
Written by Beth Bankert - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Read: Psalm 107
The writer of this psalm is indeed writing lyrics to a song. It's a song of remembrance telling of the goodly provision wrought by the hand of a loving God. It tells a story that may have been set to music with the repeating verses as a chorus, which we could sing today in these times of trouble and uncertainty. “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (vs 8,15,21,31 KJV).
These choruses tell us to cry out to God in our troubles, and He will deliver us from our distresses. They also remind us to thank God for His lovingkindness and His wonderful works to His children. (Just for fun, here is a definition of lovingkindness. A tiny tot was asked the definition of lovingkindness. She replied, “If I ask my mom for a piece of bread with butter, and she gives it to me, that is kindness. But if she adds a spoonful of jam, that's lovingkindness.) This psalm recounts the story of God's deliverance to those wandering and wondering, lost in the wilderness. It recites the story of God breaking the chains and setting the prisoners free from the shadows of death and darkness. It narrates the story of God calming the waves and bringing the storm-tossed ones to safe shores.
The song begins with an exhortation to give thanks to God for His mercy endures forever. This is spoken emphatically and powerfully! The next verse reads,"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy." We need more "say so" Christians! As we rehearse and tell our redemptive stories, we set the stage for God to do it again. And this time, maybe for the listener. The repeating verses, the chorus, remind us to use our voices out loud. We are to cry out and thank God. Let's use our voices to tell our story to someone. Let's rehearse our story as we fall asleep, and then the next day, tell it. Then tell another the next day...and the next.
"The most important part of our task will be to tell everyone who will listen that Jesus is the only answer to the problems that are disturbing the hearts of humans and nations. We shall have the right to speak because we can tell from our experience that His light is more powerful than the deepest darkness.... How wonderful that the reality of His presence is greater than the reality of the hell about us.” ~ Betsie ten Boom, to her sister, Corrie