The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Lent Devotional: Psalm 81:7-16

Psalm 81:7-16 (click here)
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you! O Israel, if you would but listen to me! There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god. I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! (Psalm 81:8-13)

Reflection
As a kid, I remember watching my grandparents VHS of “The Ten Commandments,” starring Charlton Heston as Moses. Even now, I can remember shaking my head at the Israelites building the golden calf at the base of Mount Sinai as I thought, “How can they forget all that God has done for them so quickly!”

I mean, they had seen him work incredible miracles and plagues that displayed his power over all the false gods of Egypt. They’d experienced the “impossible” as he led them out of slavery and literally parted the waters of the Red Sea to save them from Pharaoh. How could anyone forget such things so quickly?

But if I’m honest… I forget this quickly.

There have been times when the Lord has worked wonders in my life… parted seas… and within weeks, sometimes days, sometimes in the same day… I find myself living as if he’d never worked at all. I’ve forgotten… and I go after my own “golden calves.”

In Psalm 81, the Lord calls out for his people to remember! Why? Because they have forgotten him and gone after other gods. But, if they’ll remember who he is and what he has done it will put all these other “gods” in proper perspective. They will be seen for what they are… powerless… worthless… false.

So the Lord calls his people to remember that he brought them out of Egypt… that he saved them… that he alone is God and there is no other.

He calls them to remember past redemption for the sake of their present relationship!

But, the people will not listen. They harden their hearts by stopping up their ears to the word of the Lord.

Do we?

Do we harden our hearts by stopping up our ears to God’s Word? It is through the Word, through Scripture, that the Spirit most explicitly works to remind us of who God is and what he has done… how he has brought us out of the “Egypt” of slavery to sin and saved us through the red “sea” of his Son’s blood! And, it is only in remembering this Gospel that all other so-called “gods” are put into proper perspective.

Have you remembered the Gospel today? Have you recalled who God is and what he has done? You can remember! He can remind you! Open your Bible now… read… hear his voice! Hear the Gospel again so that you don’t forget who he is and who he has made you to be!

God desires to remind you! “Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” (Psalm 81:13)

We can be a people so prone to forget… and this is why we are a people called to remember.

Take time right now to remember past redemption for the sake of your present relationship!


*All previous devotionals may be found at 
www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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Lent Devotional: Psalm 39

Psalm 39 (click here)
I said, “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:1-5 and 7)

Reflection
A wise friend recently advised me not to stuff negative feelings down deep and hide them, only for them to later erupt uncontrollably. Yet, he also told me not to unhealthily dump out everything going on in my heart in a manner that sinfully puts others through a shredder.

“Don’t stuff it or dump it… pour it out to the Lord,” he said.

Is that not the very thing happening in Psalm 39. The psalmist has thoughts stirring within him that he knows will only come out in a sinful manner. So he resolves to guard his lips, muzzle his mouth, and keep his peace in silence.

After all, if you can’t say something nice… don’t say anything at all. Isn’t that how the proverbial saying goes?

But this did not work for the Psalmist and it won’t work for us. He tells us, “I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.” His heart “became hot” within him! I know I have felt this before. My thoughts burning like a fire within and the longer I hold them in the hotter and brighter they burn!

So finally he speaks! He just has to pour out his feelings that are acting like poison within his heart… he’s got to get the poison out, and where does he pour it? To whom does he speak?

“O LORD…”

He speaks to the Lord. All throughout the Psalms, we see the people of God pour out their raw emotions to the Lord. They don’t bottle up what is going on inside in order to try and prove themselves externally virtuous while rotting internally. Nor do they commend pouring out contempt upon others… no… they pour out their hearts to the Lord.

They are honest… they get all the poison out. The speak until the final flame of their hot heart is extinguished.

And what puts out that fire? Perspective…

“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

The Psalmist prays for perspective. To see himself rightly in light of seeing God rightly. To put what he is feeling into perspective so that he will feel right about it and about others. When we pour our hearts to the Lord, we not only pour out the poison that so often feels us but his presence pours into us a right perspective!

The end of pouring out our frustrations is faith in the one who can handle them and who holds us! “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

Don’t stuff or dump poisonous things going on in your heart… pour them out to the Lord today. Let him put everything into perspective… who he is… who you are… and what you are going through.

Pour out the flames of your frustrations until they reach their end in faith.

After all (the proverbial saying should be), if you can’t say something nice, say it all to the Lord who can handle it and hold on to you.


*All previous devotionals may be found at 
www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

Lent Devotional: Job 13:20-28

Job 13:20-28 (click here)
Why do you hide your face and count me as your enemy?

You put my feet in the stocks and watch all my paths; you set a limit for the soles of my feet. (Job 13:24 and 27)

Reflection
Have you ever felt the paralyzing confusion of suffering?… the kind of pain that makes you run from everything and everyone in hopes of finding some kind comfort in solitude?

The confusion of suffering itself is evident in our mixing of metaphors.

Paralyzing pain… and yet we run.

The Bible is honest about this paradoxical experience. It is the exact kind of pain Job feels as he suffers for seemingly no reason at all. He cries out and asks the Lord why he hides his face from him… while simultaneously saying that the Lord watches all his paths… ruling over his pain.

God is absent… and yet present.

Job cries out that his feet are in stocks. He is imprisoned in his suffering. But, simultaneously he says talks about the paths on which he walks and the limits God has set over the steps he takes.

Job is in stocks… and yet walks the path of suffering.

Is God absent or present in Job’s pain? Is he in stocks or walking about? Is our pain paralyzing or are we running?

The Bible… God does not shrink back from the paradoxical answer all sufferers have experienced… YES. The answer is Yes.

Yes… God really feels absent to Job, and often to us. But, yes he is present… felt or not. Yes, Job is not in control of his suffering and neither are we… but yes God is in control and has promised Job and us that suffering will not be the final steps we take. Yes our pain is often paralyzing, and yes we often run from it and from God… but the greatest YES… the YES of the Gospel is that God has run to us!

Jesus Christ came to us… took on the heart of all our suffering upon the cross… defeated it… and now reigns over it!

So take heart dear Christian. No matter where you find yourself today… no matter if you feel paralyzed amidst pain or like the face of God is hidden from view… look upon the cross of Christ and know this is true… He came for you!

The suffering you feel right now is not final… he has already defeated it and guaranteed that suffering will not be the final steps you take. God will not always feel hidden… the clouds of suffering will part and we will feel the full force of his shining face upon us!

How can we be so sure? Because the cross is empty… and so is the tomb.

Pain couldn’t paralyze him… and through him, it won’t permanently paralyze you.

We are free and shall be free to run.


*All previous devotionals may be found at 
www.thejoyofglory.com
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.

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