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).