Monday, March 7, 2016

Psalm 78

It was a sweet morning of prayer, reading and reflection for Mr. Cartwright and I . We were woken at 4 a.m., a little earlier than normal. I got our much needed java going and whipped up some oatmeal for an energizing breakfast. But what was more invigorating than the physical sustenance, was the spiritual manna that we ate. We opened the Scriptures to the Psalm we had left off at. Our Lord sure knew we needed it as we are heading down some potentially anxious roads.

As we read, we both acknowledged the original intent of this Psalm. Asaph, the writer of this particular psalm, is reminding himself and the people he is leading in Israel, about their Good Shepherd. Reminding them of where they have been and what they experienced in the past because of their unfaithfulness. But we used this as a secondary application in our lives and it certainly brought a peace as we saw God's great hand in times past!

O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying,
 for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
stories we have heard and known,
stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
    he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
    to teach them to their children,
 so the next generation might know them—
    even the children not yet born—
    and they in turn will teach their own children.
 So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
    not forgetting his glorious miracles
    and obeying his commands.

At this point we surrendered again our own desires for our children, confessed where we haven't taught as needed and praised God for his faithfulness.

 Then they will not be like their ancestors—
    stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
    refusing to give their hearts to God.

We reminded God that He placed these beautiful children in our lives and we begged Him to continue to work and ultimately redeem them from the life they would have lived apart from knowing the Gospel.

 The warriors of Ephraim, though armed with bows,
    turned their backs and fled on the day of battle.
 They did not keep God’s covenant
    and refused to live by his instructions.
 They forgot what he had done—
    the great wonders he had shown them,
 the miracles he did for their ancestors
    on the plain of Zoan in the land of Egypt.
 For he divided the sea and led them through,
    making the water stand up like walls!
 In the daytime he led them by a cloud,
    and all night by a pillar of fire.
He split open the rocks in the wilderness
    to give them water, as from a gushing spring.
 He made streams pour from the rock,
    making the waters flow down like a river!
 Yet they kept on sinning against him,
    rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
 They stubbornly tested God in their hearts,
    demanding the foods they craved.
 They even spoke against God himself, saying,
    “God can’t give us food in the wilderness.
Yes, he can strike a rock so water gushes out,
    but he can’t give his people bread and meat.”
 When the Lord heard them, he was furious.
    The fire of his wrath burned against Jacob.
    Yes, his anger rose against Israel,
 for they did not believe God
    or trust him to care for them.

We prayed for our children to remember what they have been taught. We prayed that God would not let them forget forever! We prayed for open eyes! And then we read the graciousness of God and how He rained provisions down on His people. How He gave them bread to eat to remind them He is their BREAD of LIFE! He gave them LIVING WATER; yet, rejection was right around the corner.

But he commanded the skies to open;
    he opened the doors of heaven.
He rained down manna for them to eat;
    he gave them bread from heaven.
 They ate the food of angels!
    God gave them all they could hold.
 He released the east wind in the heavens
    and guided the south wind by his mighty power.
 He rained down meat as thick as dust—
    birds as plentiful as the sand on the seashore!
 He caused the birds to fall within their camp
    and all around their tents.
 The people ate their fill.
    He gave them what they craved.
But before they satisfied their craving,
    while the meat was yet in their mouths,
 the anger of God rose against them,
    and he killed their strongest men.
    He struck down the finest of Israel’s young men.

BUT THEY FORGOT!!!! Oh, how the world calls to our children. Our prayer this morning was for our God to arise and break down the hard hearts of those we love.

 But in spite of this, the people kept sinning.
    Despite his wonders, they refused to trust him.
 So he ended their lives in failure,
    their years in terror.
 When God began killing them,
    they finally sought him.
    They repented and took God seriously.
Then they remembered that God was their rock,
    that God Most High was their redeemer.
But all they gave him was lip service;
    they lied to him with their tongues.
 Their hearts were not loyal to him.
    They did not keep his covenant.

Yet, God withheld His judgment for a time. He showed great mercy. He forgave their sins. We prayed our wayward lambs would do this. That they would cry out for mercy.

 Yet he was merciful and forgave their sins
    and did not destroy them all.
Many times he held back his anger
    and did not unleash his fury!
 For he remembered that they were merely mortal,
    gone like a breath of wind that never returns.
 Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
    and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.
 Again and again they tested God’s patience
    and provoked the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power
    and how he rescued them from their enemies.
 They did not remember his miraculous signs in Egypt,
    his wonders on the plain of Zoan.
For he turned their rivers into blood,
    so no one could drink from the streams.
 He sent vast swarms of flies to consume them
    and hordes of frogs to ruin them.
 He gave their crops to caterpillars;
    their harvest was consumed by locusts.
 He destroyed their grapevines with hail
    and shattered their sycamore-figs with sleet.
 He abandoned their cattle to the hail,
    their livestock to bolts of lightning.
 He loosed on them his fierce anger—
    all his fury, rage, and hostility.
He dispatched against them
    a band of destroying angels.
 He turned his anger against them;
    he did not spare the Egyptians’ lives
    but ravaged them with the plague.
 He killed the oldest son in each Egyptian family,
    the flower of youth throughout the land of Egypt.
 But he led his own people like a flock of sheep,
    guiding them safely through the wilderness.
 He kept them safe so they were not afraid;
    but the sea covered their enemies.
 He brought them to the border of his holy land,
    to this land of hills he had won for them.
 He drove out the nations before them;
    he gave them their inheritance by lot.
    He settled the tribes of Israel into their homes.
 But they kept testing and rebelling against God Most High.
    They did not obey his laws.
 They turned back and were as faithless as their parents.
    They were as undependable as a crooked bow.
 They angered God by building shrines to other gods;
    they made him jealous with their idols.
 When God heard them, he was very angry,
    and he completely rejected Israel.

The ending for Israel wasn't all the grand. We begged our Lord for a different ending with our treasures! Our hearts are heavy, sad and full of potential fears. But we were able to end our worship time with dwelling on Matthew 6; seeking first His kingdom and trusting him for all else.

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