How does your body respond when you recite today’s psalm aloud with sincerity and gusto? You’ve not read it yet? Try it now before you continue reading the rest of this meditation.
My heart beats differently when I verbally thank others, especially God! When I loudly proclaim, “Praise the LORD!” from my heart and the top of my lungs, I cannot help but smile and draw in extra oxygen as I remember the Maker’s love and grace. Sometimes as I thank God, tears well up as I recall the times when I have really messed up and do not deserve anyone’s forgiveness and care—especially God’s. Yet I still receive grace.
Often, I experience peace beyond all understanding and sleep more deeply when I take time to confess or tell Yahweh about how I have messed up or distanced myself from God and others. Somehow, my heart and mind gain strength to face and resist the world’s temptations when I praise God and confess my sins. The psalmist confesses both the sin of his current community and that of the ancestors. He alludes to the events in this week’s Exodus text, and he states the reason for the Israelites’ disobedience in verse 7: “Our ancestors, . . . did not remember the abundance of [God’s] steadfast love.”
In order to praise God, we must remember God’s loving provision. And as Paul notes, we continue to practice whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, and commendable. “Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.” At all times—that’s a big request.
For what would you like to thank God today? What will you confess as an act of emptying yourself to make room for God’s presence and participation in your life?
Lord, who is peace, help us stay close to you and follow your will and way by confession, prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving. Amen.
In Exodus 33 Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.
• Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you most longed for a glimpse of God’s glory? How did God give you the assurance you needed?
• Read Psalm 99. Where in your life is forgiveness needed to restore a loving relationship? How have you experienced “a forgiving God”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. As your Christian faith has developed, how have you seen it move “from head to heart to hands”?
• Read Matthew 22:15-22. How do you give to God “the things that are God’s”? What are some of those things Jesus wants you to give?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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