June 23, Psalm 88:1-9

1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day.
    I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
    take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
    I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
    one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
    one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
    I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
    sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
    relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
    made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
    blinded by tears of pain and frustration.”

Psalm 88:1-9 MSG – A verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

So, you think you’re feeling bad?  Well, join the club.  You are not alone in your misery, and can perhaps find some comfort and solace in the knowledge that many before you have traversed that way.  And have lived to tell it!  Here’s David telling the Almighty just how wretched he feels and for God to do something about it.  “Take notes on the trouble I’m in” he says, as if God needs this information.  “I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out” he says, as if God isn’t aware of his condition.  But here’s the beauty of David’s lament:  he cries out to God with an underlying confidence that God is indeed aware of it all, and will, in fact, take care of things.  But in the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to pour one’s heart out to a God whom you know, cares for you.  Do you do like David does, gentle reader?

June 22, Proverbs 21:21

“Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself— glorious life!”

Proverbs 21:21 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

Now, there’s something to cheer about!  If you have to go looking for something, why not go looking for what is right and kind?  Seems like the obvious thing to do, but surprisingly, we seem to need instruction and guidance and reminders on it.  Well, here’s the reminder from Solomon, the Wise, for you and me today.  The incentive to do so is that one may find “life itself — glorious life!”

June 21, Psalm 68:19

“Blessed be the Lord— day after day he carries us along. He’s our Savior, our God, oh yes! He’s God-for-us, he’s God-who-saves-us. Lord God knows all death’s ins and outs. What’s more, he made heads roll, split the skulls of the enemy As he marched out of heaven, saying, “I tied up the Dragon in knots, put a muzzle on the Deep Blue Sea.” You can wade through your enemies’ blood, and your dogs taste of your enemies from your boots.”

Psalm 68:19 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

So, this is David not holding back in wishing the worst upon his enemies, and the question is: is that alright then for us to do the same?  I don’t know, but it certainly establishes our humanity in that we are a composite of all human passions that includes the love of vengeance.  There might be a time and a place for entertaining every passion indeed, but it would do us well to focus more on turning over to God (even as David is doing here) what is not possible for us.  Better yet, in the knowledge of living in the new covenant of redemption and forgiveness, thanks to the inconceivable sacrifice of Jesus, God incarnate himself, we have an everlasting peace that passes all understanding — even in the most difficult of circumstances.  The massacre of those inside the church in South Carolina the other day, and the reaction of their family to the assassin is an excellent example of how this peace of God can allow one to forgive one’s oppressor even in the face of death.

June 20, 1 Chronicles 16:34

“Give thanks to God —he is good and his love never quits. Say, “Save us, Savior God, round us up and get us out of these godless places, So we can give thanks to your holy Name, and bask in your life of praise.” Blessed be God , the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God !”

1 Chronicles 16:34 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

This type of corporate encouragement and worship is a good thing.  It is good to lift up our voices in praise to God, but also to encourage others to do the same.  Here’s hoping you are an inspiration to somebody to do just that!

June 19, Psalm 119:114

“I hate the two-faced, but I love your clear-cut revelation. You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. Get out of my life, evildoers, so I can keep my God’s commands. Take my side as you promised; I’ll live then for sure. Don’t disappoint all my grand hopes. Stick with me and I’ll be all right; I’ll give total allegiance to your definitions of life. Expose all who drift away from your sayings; their casual idolatry is lethal. You reject earth’s wicked as so much rubbish; therefore I lovingly embrace everything you say. I shiver in awe before you; your decisions leave me speechless with reverence.”

Psalm 119:114 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

The intimacy displayed by David, the psalmist, toward God is almost shocking to me.  It is almost as intimate as one might speak to a spouse or a lover.  There’s daring, there’s pleading, there’s baring, there’s honesty, there’s promises, there’s incredulous pleasure, there’s respect, and there’s friendship. Is your relationship with God as personal as that, gentle reader, or do you maintain only a cool civility?

 

June 18, 2 Chronicles 7:14

“God appeared to Solomon that very night and said, “I accept your prayer; yes, I have chosen this place as a temple for sacrifice, a house of worship. If I ever shut off the supply of rain from the skies or order the locusts to eat the crops or send a plague on my people, and my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health. From now on I’m alert day and night to the prayers offered at this place. Believe me, I’ve chosen and sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I’ve set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I’ll back your kingly rule over Israel—make it a sure thing on a sure foundation. The same covenant guarantee I gave to David your father I’m giving to you, namely, ‘You can count on always having a descendant on Israel’s throne.’”

2 Chronicles 7:14 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

So, here’s the thing that strikes me about this passage: inasmuch as God is sovereign in his will to do as he wishes, here is clear acknowledgement of the choice afforded to man to make some personal decisions.  Decisions to live a certain way, to obey or not to obey, and to love or not to love.  And despite the omnipotence that defines the person of God, here he is telling Solomon – a mortal man – that there is some cause-and-effect that will come into play based on Solomon’s choices.  Well, gentle reader, put yourself into Solomon’s shoes, if you will, and don’t be afraid — be courageous to make some good choices during the course of your lifetime.

June 17, Romans 8:31

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”

Romans 8:31 MSGA verse of the day from the Bible presented in Eugene Peterson’s contemporary version called The Message. Accompanied by a personal reflection below.

“…absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love…”  This is something to think about, don’t you think?  I find it interesting that Paul’s list, although not exhaustive is nonetheless quite comprehensive in listing a number of both external and internal causes that might pose a threat in our relationship and close connection to God’s love for us — external things such as hunger, homelessness, and hard times, but also internal factors such as  hatred and backstabbing — things of the mind that might cause damage and injury to our emotional state of being from our fellowmen that may pose a negative setback in our personal relationship with God.  But none of these things can and should truly drive a wedge in our love, devotion, and complete trust in God’s will for us.  I hope that we are continuously reminded of this fact in our everyday lives.