08 October 2012

Lord's Supper Devotion: Hope in God

The men at church take turns giving a little devotional before the Lord's Supper/prayer time each week. Here is one I recently presented that I thought I'd share.

I would like to read and examine a few words of wisdom from Psalm 78:

(1-4) Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

So, he starts off saying he is telling of these great works of the Lord, and wants these things to be shared with the children, and follows with the reasoning as to why:

(5-8) He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

One of the main tasks of every parent is to teach their children to remember the Lord and the great works he has done both in history long past, as well as his works we see around us all the time. The more we learn of the workings of God throughout history, the more easily we can see his workings as they happen around us, allowing us to always keep our hope in God.

(9-11) The Ephraimites…did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.

For the next few versus he goes on looking at a few of the works they had seen Yahweh perform, then continues in verse 17:

(17) Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

He continues again for a few verses looking at their questioning God, to which He tells of the response in verse 21:

(21-22) Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power.

God was greatly angered at their actions, but even so, He still provided mightily for them, as is mentioned in the verses that followed. Then, after looking at all of the provision God provided, we pick up in verse 32 that:

(32-35) In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe. So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer.

Ah good news, they finally woke up – or did they? The next verse states:

(36-37) But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant.

You would think at this point, God would just wipe them all out, but what is his response?

(38-39) Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.

How often to we do similar actions to our Lord? How often do we question his actions, or ignore his word to do things the way we desire and not the way he commands? Yes, the Lord is merciful and slow to anger and ready to forgive us (Neh 9:17, Psa. 86:15, Joel 2:13), but let us not be like those in this Psalm, who even in the very face of God, continue in sin against him.

(Psalm 103:1-18) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

We come now to the table of the Lord – the table that God has provided for us - that we may come and be joined as one family, eating and drinking with our Lord, who laid down his life for us, that we may be reconciled with God the Father. May we always set our hope in God alone, and always remember the mighty deeds that were done to bring us to this place today - and may we never take them for granted. Amen.