God Remains Steadfast

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S (Scripture): 2 Samuel 22:1 David spoke the words of this song to the Lord after the Lord delivered him from the power of all his enemies and from Saul.


He said:

The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer.


My God is my rock—I take refuge in him!—

he’s my shield and my salvation’s strength,

my place of safety and my shelter.

My savior! Save me from violence!


Because he is praiseworthy,

I cried out to the Lord,

and I was saved from my enemies.


Death’s waves were all around me;

rivers of wickedness terrified me.


The cords of the grave surrounded me;

death’s traps held me tight.


In my distress I cried out to the Lord;

I cried out to my God.

God heard my voice from his temple;

my cry for help reached his ears.

O (Observation): David has had quite the wild ride: anointed as king in private while Saul was still king, rose to power, battled those loyal to Saul, ran from Saul and his supporters, returned to power, then ran from his throne when one of Saul’s sons wanted to kill David, and finally back home again on the throne God prepared for him.

And now, in the wake of these disasters and for God’s loyal love and faithfulness to David through it all, David sings God’s praises. For David recognizes that God carries forth no matter what is going on in our lives. God continually watches over us and provides grace for when we go astray or when we are under attack.

David knows that – despite all of the ups and downs – God is constant and unmoved and full of grace.

A (Application): I don’t know how the Jewish community would take a text like this one I selected, and agree with David, in light of the terrorist attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue near Pittsburgh, PA.

Perhaps they would see that God, in all of our ups and downs, is with us. That when we are feeling high and mighty, God is with us. That when we are feeling loneliness and despair and sorrow, God is with us there, too.

My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of those who died last Saturday at this temple.

I am also encouraged by the responses thus far. Responses that include Muslim neighbors stating that they are prepared to donate at least $70,000 for the families who lost loved ones or were injured, and that they are willing to provide protection to anyone who feels unsafe.

I am encouraged by Jewish leaders across the nation who have shared that LOVE will win this day, and not darkness.

I am encouraged that – despite the dividing rhetoric being spewed these days – we can see people coming together.

May we celebrate God’s ongoing righteousness and steadfast love, especially in the midst of such challenging circumstances.

P (Prayer): Lord, guide us always into peace, into shalom. Amen.

Disagreeing, with Love

S (Scripture): Acts 25:6 After Festus had stayed not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he sat on the judgment seat and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges that they were not able to prove. 8 Paul said in his defense, “I have committed no offense against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” 9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and be tried before me there on these charges?” 10 Paul replied, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I should be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 11 If then I am in the wrong and have done anything that deserves death, I am not trying to escape dying, but if not one of their charges against me is true, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

O (Observation):  Paul demands (once again) that he has broken no Roman laws, nor any of the Laws of Moses.   So…why is he on trial?

The Roman rulers don’t know what to do with Paul, because he hasn’t broken any Roman laws…but they are tired of this behavior that is causing the Jews to be so upset.   So, the Roman leaders (like Festus) are willing to let the Jews enforce their own punishment on Paul by looking the other way.  If Paul is hurt or killed…so be it.   (The Jewish leaders were going to kill Paul on his way to Jerusalem.)

Yet Paul insists he is innocent.  And if he really hasn’t broken any bit of the Law of Moses, either, then what’s the big deal?

Well, Paul has begun to challenge the traditions of the Church.  He doesn’t fit into the mold they have set up for the Church.   He doesn’t play by their rules of elitism and tradition.  So…they try to quiet him down and send him off to death!  Such is the life of a disciple.  

A (Application):  Some people are called upon to stand out and stand up for a cause.  Some are called to befriend those who stand in opposition to the cause, to bring them along…to be a bridge, as it were.  

Can there be a place for each? I think so.  Some disagree with me, but that’s fine.   I’ve worked hard at trying to clearly define who I am and who God is calling me to be.  

I live in different worlds simultaneously.   We all live in multiple worlds.  Sometimes I have to put both feet into the cause, sometimes one in and one out.  Sometimes I’m not part of the movement at all.  I can’t be all things all of the time.  Is that part of my sin?  Perhaps.  

I respond as I feel called by God.   I discern this with my loved ones and others that I trust to help me out.  

But either way, I get the feeling – as Paul did – that someone will be ready to accuse or berate me or others when our callings clash with one another – even between fellow believers.  

So what do we do?   Perhaps we approach others with humility.   Perhaps we allow for the fact that others might be right, AND we might be right.  Do we have to agree with others?  Not necessarily.  In fact, we may be called upon to disagree with a brother or sister in Christ… but we can do so with humility… with love… without dragging each other down… without making a personal attack.  

Stand up for what you believe in.  But you don’t have to drag others down…passively or aggressively.  

P (Prayer):  Lord, help us to see the good in the other.   Help us to know that standing up for you doesn’t mean we have to put others down.  Amen.