REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 27, 2013. He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“When Our Belly Clings to the Earth, Our Souls Cling to the Cross”
Psalms 44:25-26 (NIV)
25 We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. 26 Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.
The writer of Psalm 44 had counted on God to bring his people victory, but instead they experienced terrible defeat. The psalmist protests: “[We] had not been false to your covenant,” (v17) yet, “for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (44:22). Now, their bodies “cling to the ground,” a posture of despair and desperate prayer.
Why doesn’t the psalmist just give up on God? Why does he continue to pray? We find the answer in the last verse: “Redeem us because of your unfailing love.” “Unfailing love” is the translation from the Hebrew word hesed, which one writer translates as “the consistent, ever-faithful, relentless, constantly-pursuing, lavish, extravagant, unrestrained, furious love of God.”
There are times we might question why God has let us down; perhaps even doubt whether God is there. Yet we must continue to pray because God has demonstrated his love for us, especially on the cross. When we prostrate ourselves on the ground in desperate prayer, we remember the one whose body was bruised and battered for us. As the writer Mark Roberts puts it, “When our belly clings to the earth, our souls cling to the cross.”
In desperate and discouraging times, let us keep on praying. Our God is loving and He is faithful!
Prayer: Father, help me to remain faithful. Lord, I have seen Your faithfulness. I have seen Your provision and incredible display of Your love. But sometimes, it seems as though You are so far away. I don’t know why You don’t answer my prayers or if You even hear them. In those times, help me to persist in prayer, cling to the wondrous cross. I also pray for those who I know are in desperate situations. I ask that you would hear their prayers and reveal your unfailing love to them. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 49
Lunch Break Study
Hebrews 10:19-25 (NIV): Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Questions to Consider
- Why can we enter the Most Holy Place (i.e. God’s presence) with confidence? (v19-21)
- Along with a sense of confidence, how should we draw near to God? (v22)
- What are three ways that we can cling to the hope we have? (vv23-25)
- We can enter God’s presence with confidence for three main reasons:
- The blood of Jesus (which covers our sins and reveals God’s sacrificial love for us)
- By the “new and living way opened for us.” The author of Hebrews equates the body of Jesus with the curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. When Jesus’ body was sacrificed for us, the curtain which separated us from God was also torn down. There are no more barriers!
- Jesus is the “great priest over the House of God” as well as our great intercessor and advocate. We are accepted in him, helped by him, and belong to him.
- Unlike the priests of old, who had to be ritually cleansed on the outside through washing, etc., before they could enter the Holy of Holies, we are to make sure we are cleansed on the inside. We are to have “sincere hearts,” which is made possible only as we trust in the sacrifice of Jesus inside of our hearts.
- The author of Hebrews suggests three ways we can hold fast to the hope that we have:
- By personally professing our faith to ourselves and also to others (v23)
- By considering ways to spur others toward love and good deeds (v24)
- By making Christian community a priority (v25)
According to the author of Hebrews, we discover that that our confidence in God and our faithfulness to God come primarily from external sources: First, from the work of Jesus as the one who loves us, opens the way for us and helps us; and second, from the encouragement of others! We are not meant to struggle alone. When we pray, we can pray with confidence that Jesus is already interceding for us. And even as we pray, we are to be lifted up in prayers by our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our primary role is to place ourselves where we can encourage others and also be in turn encouraged by Christ and his church.
Think of the ways that you are trying to walk this Christian journey alone: How involved are your brothers and sisters in your walk with Christ? How involved are you in encouraging others toward love and good deeds? Journal about the ways that you can make your faith less about you, and more about Jesus’ faithfulness and encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.