Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 51’

Numbers 14:39-45: This Cannot Succeed

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Near the Biblical site of Hormah

God always gives us plenty of warning.  Yet somehow we blunder forward, believing ourselves more knowledgeable than the one who invented and then brought into being all of creation.  God sends us teachers, prophets and even the Messiah; still, we put down our head, shove our shoulders forward and stubbornly insist on moving a boulder that we are meant to climb over.  In this portion of Numbers we see the Israelites suffer great remorse yet still they persist in going up against great odds without God.  Why are we such a stiff-necked people?  It seems we are adamant about suffering defeat, unyielding in wanting to live life our own way; we are resolute in being beaten back as far as HormahWe must learn to discern God’s voice.   We must listen when the wise one cries out: This cannot succeed!  And when we are beaten back to the limit of our own endurance, we must pick ourselves up, ask forgiveness, and journey home from Hormah where we have sent ourselves.

Lent is a time for re-thinking and re-aligning.  It is a time of sorting and organizing.  It is a time of turning and returning.  God awaits each of us with open arms and full heart; we can always expect a welcome from God.  The first steps of the going home again are ours to take; but first we must heed God’s voice when it says to us: This cannot succeed. 

And so we pray Psalm 51: The Miserere.  It is believed that this psalm was written by David when his illicit relationship with Bathsheba was brought to light.  (2 Samuel 11 and 12)  We pray today, asking forgiveness for the most recent time that we have gone astray.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

It is not our intention to go against your suggestions – we just have a way of thinking that we know our lives better than you do.

Wash away my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

We do not set out to wander away from your guiding hand – the circumstances of our lives influence us more than you do. 

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

It is not our aim to put ourselves above you or to pretend that we have better judgment than you – rather it is that we find the influence of our friends to be greater than our awareness of you. 

Wash away my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

It is not that we disbelieve you so much as we succomb to our own fear.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

It is not that we do not love you enough – rather it is just that we have difficulty trusting your wisdom.

Wash away my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

When we are calm and away from anything that might threaten us we are able to have a clear understanding of how much you love us.

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

Help us to remain in you, guide us in hoping in you, bring us back from Hormah.  Bring us back to loving you. 

Wash away my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

A re-post from March 14, 2012.

For more photos taken near Hormah, click the image above or go to: http://www.openbible.info/geo/photos/hormah 

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Joshua 21:43-45Completion

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

In Genesis Chapter 15 God promises many descendants to Abram who is childless, a land of goodness and plenty to his descendants when he is a nomad, and renown that will reach to all corners of the earth when there is nothing to declare him as special other than his abiding love for this one true God.  God also warns that Abram’s descendants will live as slaves in alien lands before this promise is fulfilled.  Today we read about the completion of this promise.  We might want to pause to think about promises we have made, oaths we have sworn . . . pledges and vows we have fulfilled or left empty.

Psalm 51 reminds us that we are all prone to err, forget and omit.  It also asks God for mercy and forgiveness.  We know these qualities to be infinite – both our propensity to sin, and God’s willingness to forgive.

From MAGNIFICAT: The most difficult part of ongoing conversion is admitting that we really are sinners and allowing God to see and forgive us as we are, with all our faults unmended and all our flaws showing, especially the ones over which we seem to have no control. 

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: I John 1:8-10If we say, “We are without sin”, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.  If we say, “We have not sinned”, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 

We humans are always struggling to be complete, whole and perfect.  This is unreasonable since, by nature, we are meant to be wandering people in constant process and conversion, in search of that which heals and cures both self and companions.  We are built for conflict; yet not the kind of conflict in which we put ourselves.  We are meant for big promises, big struggles . . . not the petty quarrels in which we enmesh ourselves.  We are created for conversion, for promise, for love.

When we meditate on the oaths we have taken . . . kept and not kept . . . we might want to reflect on our capacity to forgive, to endure, to be vulnerable, to be honest . . . to love.  We might want to think about the promise God has created in us for the world.  What are we meant to accomplish in his name?  What are we meant to complete in his name?  What and whom are we meant to love in his name?

Only conversation with God will clarify for us our own oaths made . . . vows kept . . . pledges left undone . . . promises completed.

We all seek completion.  We all number promises.  We all ask the question, When, O Lord, will you answer my call . . .

Let us today begin with ourselves as we ponder . . . vows . . . oaths . . . omissions . . . commissions . . . promises . . . completion . . . fidelity to self and to others.

A re-post from February 13, 2012.

Image from http://phoenixrescuemission.org/2009/05/07/mays-free-book/

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Morning Prayer.” MAGNIFICAT. 13 February 20o8. Print.

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2 Samuel 16Making Mistakes

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Michelangelo: David

Written on January 30 and posted today as a Favorite . . . 

Today we see a part of the story of David that might be difficult to understand if we view life as a series of good decisions.  When we view life as it really is, however – as series of decisions we make both bad and good – we have less anxiety and fear, we experience more hope and serenity.  I heard a radio preacher recently say: When you live your life in the Spirit, you can’t make a mistake.  “This is incorrect”, we might say to ourselves.  “How can a good life have bad decisions in it?  How can a life of flawed decisions be good?”  If this is our thinking, we have forgotten something and it is this : If we are living in the Spirit, we will have arrived at understanding how God operates; we will fully comprehend that God turns all harm to good.  So whether we err accidentally or whether we mean to inflict harm in any way, God will use these flawed acts to work in his favor for – God turns all harm to good.  And this is part of the story we see today.

David has been a good leader and faithful to God, but he has also sinned and erred.  What sets David apart is the way in which he reacts when others urge him to take revenge.  When he was younger, his soldiers encouraged him to murder the sleeping Saul when he had the opportunity.  David instead makes it obvious that he has breached the enemy’s lines and yet has not taken a life where he could.  David lives in the Spirit.  David later becomes infatuated with Bathsheba and plots her husband’s death; he confesses this sin when confronted by Nathan and sings a beautiful lament of repentance that we still sing today during the Lenten season (Psalm 51).  Even though he has erred, David lives in the Spirit.

David does not use his good standing with God to ignore what he has done; instead he confesses and atones.  He lives his life in the Spirit and does not try to avoid culpability for his actions or gain immunity so that he might do whatever he likes.  Rather, David praises and obeys God.  Living in the Spirit has become part of who he is and what he does.

Today we read of some of the intrigue that mounted as David aged and the time came for one of his sons to rule Israel.  The sibling rivalry, the palace intrigue, and the political plotting are fascinating to see but what is most interesting is the way we see David living in the Spirit.  In verse 10 he speaks the wisdom we can all use today: What business is it of mine or of yours, sons of Zeruiah, that he curses?  Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?” 

We can read commentary to sort through who is aligned with whom, who is against whom, but today we have the opportunity to see another way to step away from revenge, anger and violence and move toward hope and serenity.  We see another opportunity to step away from fear and anxiety and move toward peace and unity.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must study, we must seek, we must be patient, and we must be persistent in living lives directed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  Do we believe this?  If not, we must witness, we must watch, we must wait, and we must insist on living lives governed fully for, in, and to God.

When we live our lives in the Spirit, we cannot make a mistake.  When we believe this, the fretfulness and panic drop away . . . for we have focused our lives on God, we have learned to trust in God, we have begun to love like God . . . and we know that God will turn all harm to good.  We will not worry or fret for we, like David, will reply to a challenge . . . Suppose the Lord has told him to curse David; who then will dare to say, “Why are you doing this?”  We will be truly living in and of the Spirit.

A re-post from August 26, 2011.

Images from: http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/ and http://ambassadorsforthekingdom.net/2011/07/23/gratitude-verses/

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Luke 17:20-37: Making Ready

Friday, February 5, 2016Kingdom_of_God

The coming of the kingdom cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or “There it is”.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you . . . But first [the Son of Man] must suffer greatly and be rejected by his generation.

The days of Noah – the days of Lot – the days of Christ – today.   Floods – brimstone – the crucifixion – the perils of today’s world.

We are told that the kingdom is not announced to us in the way we might expect.  We are told of coming consequences.  It is explained that we must use senses other than those we use for eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.  It is explained that the kingdom is already among us.  We are told that the one who saves us will first suffer and be rejected.

The message is clear: One who wishes to gain the soul must forfeit life.  When we hear the call, we must not think of gathering anything up to take with us.  God will provide all that we will need on the journey; therefore, our only preparation need be to keep vigilant watch.

We must be alert . . . but how?  If we are not to hear announcement or see a warning, how do we know when to respond?  If we are not to pack any bags or prepare any food, then what are we to organize? What and how are we to make ready?

Suffering and rejection will be a part of our lives just as it is in the Messiah’s.  We live through these experiences of hurt, and we learn from them about God’s presence in our lives.  These experiences and what we have learned from them are what we pack for our journey.  This wisdom that is born of pain and that is used to refine our way of being in the world; this is something we will want to take with us to present to the Lord at his coming.

In Psalm 40 we are told that God does not really want our burnt offerings and sacrifices; rather, we are to use the suffering and rejection we experience to convert our human hearts to hearts that are open to God’s love.  Psalm 51 reminds us that God heals the offering of our broken spirit, and God delights in our offering of all that is out of order about us.  This is what we take to the Lord.

We cannot change the events of the past or the future . . . we can only effect the present moment in which we live.  We cannot go back to change something that happened, but we can make amends where possible and correct our own behavior.  We cannot foretell the coming circumstances of our lives, but we can prepare ourselves to be open to the amazing possibilities God presents to us in even the darkest of moments.

For behold, the kingdom of God is among us . . . what and how do we make ready today? 

A Favorite from January 26, 2010.

When we spend time with these verses from Luke and these two psalms, we begin to understand what it means to make ourselves ready for the Lord. We begin to understand how we might use God’s Yardstick of love.

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