This week's devotional is from Pastor Art.
Recently one of my good friends asked another of my good friends a mildly heated question: “Do you believe that the ‘Word of God’ is actually the ‘Word of God’?”
My mind was initially sent spinning down a hill of analytical confusion since the question was unknowingly structured in such a way that there could only be one logically acceptable answer, like asking if “4 equaled 4” or “strawberries were strawberries.”
But the question behind the question was the real issue. What was really being asked was, “Can what we read in the Bible really be trusted? Are its claims true – it’s promises reliable?”
That’s the issue I was trying to address through a journey into the “meaning” of Psalm 121 last Sunday – especially in verses 7-8. More specifically, I hoped to expose the sometimes well-intentioned practice of coming to premature and uninformed conclusions about what a scriptural text is saying, then becoming frustrated with or disappointed in God for not measuring up to it.
Case in point: Psalm 121:7-8 where Christ-followers appear to be promised a life that is completely insulated from the effects of evil – something that has NEVER been true for ANYONE I’ve ever known or heard of in my years of studying the Bible or serving in the church. So, what happened? Is the Bible, as my grandson sometimes says, “just messin’ with me?” Is God deceptive and unreliable? If I experience the outcomes of evil upon my life, is it because I’m fooling myself and not living a authentic life of faith I think I am?
One of the points I tried to make on Sunday was that the Psalms are presented as poetry – 100% true but artistic in nature and literary style. As such, they are best clarified when partnered with parallel scriptural teachings that aren’t trying to be artistic at all. My observation? that “the artistic is clarified by the didactic.”
Here are some didactic (relatively straight-forward teaching) texts that also address the issue of evil with regard to God’s care of and love for his followers. Read each of them and reflect on Psalm 121 in light of what they teach and imply.
- Matthew 24:1-28
- John 16:1-4; 23-33;
- Hebrews 11
- I Peter 5:6-11
Now ask yourself a very difficult question: “If I’ve come to a point of disappointment with God, has it been because he has failed to do for me something he never promised to do? Have I misunderstood scripture when it comes to the difficult things that might touch my life, then treated God as though he misrepresented himself in those scriptures in the first place?
And if Psalm 121 isn’t promising complete insulation from evil, what exactly IS it promising?
BE A BLESSING
God’s primary guarantee about suffering is that Christians will experience it – sometimes VERY painful and costly expressions of it. However, he also gives instructions about how we survive the dust and ashes evil sometimes tries to make of our lives.
Read II Corinthians 1:3-7 (focusing especially on vs 3-4).
What is referred to there as God’s primary source of blessing to those who have been scared by evil in our world?
Can you think of anyone in your “world” that might need to be cared for by you in the same way you’ve been cared for by God? How about someone who has gone through what you’re going through now that might help you survive what feels as though it's not completely survivable?
If anyone came to mind in response to the questions above, connect with them. Write to them; call them; invite them to coffee.
BE TOGETHER! FOR WHERE THERE IS SHARED PAIN, THERE IS ALSO THE POTENTIAL FOR SHARED COMFORT.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.
BUT, EVEN THOUGH THE CHRISTIAN’S SOUL IS PROTECTED FROM ALL EVIL (which is the real promise of Psalm 121, btw), HIS/HER DAILY CIRCUMSTANCES ARE APPARENTLY STILL SUBJECT TO IT’S TEMPORARY BUT VICIOUS REIGN.
AND THOSE WHO BEAR THE SCARS OF EVIL ARE GOD’S HELP FOR THOSE WHO ARE CURRENTLY REELING FORM THE PAIN OF IT’S FANGS.