Reading: Psalm 116
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living (NIV).
Recently, on a family level I experienced the power and truth of these words: For you, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
About six weeks ago on a Saturday evening, I got a call from my brother. My alert and active, ninety-three-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. Fortunately, this happened while in hospital, as she was in recovery from having a heart pacemaker implanted. Clot dissolving drugs could be administered. But…
But my mother is a hemophiliac—a bleeder. In her case, the clot dissolvers could easily result in a brain hemorrhage leading to death. The doctors needed us to decide on a course of action. The choice was between taking no action, and having my mother permanently disabled by the stroke, or administering a remedy that could kill her. This is the dilemma we faced.
We decided to have the doctors proceed with the clot dissolving drugs. We resolved to pray and trust God for the best outcome. And God answered by bringing my mother through with no symptoms of a stroke whatsoever. Zero. Two weeks later she was standing in front of her church, proudly displaying a quilt she had made to mark the 70th anniversary of the congregation. Yes, and just to remind us that this recovery was God’s doing, she had a significant bleeding incident earlier that week from her pacemaker incision. You, LORD, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
Response: Father God, I love you LORD, for you heard my voice. Over and over you have answered my prayers. You are a very merciful God. Amen.
Your Turn: Has God helped you? Has He answered your prayers? Take a moment to testify.
Reading: Psalm 69
Lord, the LORD Almighty,
may those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.
I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.
When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;
when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.
Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards. (NIV).
The start of a new year is a time when many of us set goals and consider our progress over the past year. Our personal goals spring from those things we value and hold dear. So what did David, the author of this psalm, value and hold dear? According to his own words, David was motivated by his zeal for the house of God. He longed to be in God’s presence and to seek His face. He placed his love for God ahead of his love for even his family.
I am a foreigner to my own family, a stranger to my own mother’s children; for zeal for your house consumes me…
Many of us would call that misplaced zeal, even fanaticism. But Jesus called for precisely this kind zeal from his disciples.
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
After Jesus cleansed the temple, his disciples recalled the words from this psalm. His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17).
Response: LORD God, give me a zeal for your house and your presence. As the year unfolds, I want my values to be reflected in my actions and my passion for you. Replace my lukewarm heart with a burning desire to know and love you. Amen.
Your Turn: Where does the house of God rate on your zeal meter?