Day 178: June 27, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

Psalm 105
1 Give thanks to Yahweh, call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. 2 Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! 3 Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice. 4 Search for the Lord and for His strength; seek His face always. 5 Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced, 6 you offspring of Abraham His servant, Jacob’s descendants—His chosen ones. 7 He is the Lord our God; His judgments govern the whole earth. 8 He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He ordained for a thousand generations— 9 the covenant He made with Abraham, swore to Isaac, 10 and confirmed to Jacob as a decree and to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 11 “I will give the land of Canaan to you as your inherited portion.” 12 When they were few in number, very few indeed, and temporary residents in Canaan, 13 wandering from nation to nation and from one kingdom to another, 14 He allowed no one to oppress them; He rebuked kings on their behalf: 15 “Do not touch My anointed ones, or harm My prophets.” 16 He called down famine against the land and destroyed the entire food supply. 17 He had sent a man ahead of them—Joseph, who was sold as a slave. 18 They hurt his feet with shackles; his neck was put in an iron collar. 19 Until the time his prediction came true, the word of the Lord tested him. 20 The king sent for him and released him; the ruler of peoples set him free. 21 He made him master of his household, ruler over all his possessions— 22 binding his officials at will and instructing his elders. 23 Then Israel went to Egypt; Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham. 24 The Lord made His people very fruitful; He made them more numerous than their foes, 25 whose hearts He turned to hate His people and to deal deceptively with His servants. 26 He sent Moses His servant, and Aaron, whom He had chosen. 27 They performed His miraculous signs among them, and wonders in the land of Ham. 28 He sent darkness, and it became dark—for did they not defy His commands? 29 He turned their water into blood and caused their fish to die. 30 Their land was overrun with frogs, even in their royal chambers. 31 He spoke, and insects came—gnats throughout their country. 32 He gave them hail for rain, and lightning throughout their land. 33 He struck their vines and fig trees and shattered the trees of their territory. 34 He spoke, and locusts came—young locusts without number. 35 They devoured all the vegetation in their land and consumed the produce of their land. 36 He struck all the firstborn in their land, all their first progeny. 37 Then He brought Israel out with silver and gold, and no one among His tribes stumbled. 38 Egypt was glad when they left, for the dread of Israel had fallen on them. 39 He spread a cloud as a covering and gave a fire to light up the night. 40 They asked, and He brought quail and satisfied them with bread from heaven. 41 He opened a rock, and water gushed out; it flowed like a stream in the desert. 42 For He remembered His holy promise to Abraham His servant. 43 He brought His people out with rejoicing, His chosen ones with shouts of joy. 44 He gave them the lands of the nations, and they inherited what other peoples had worked for. 45 All this happened so that they might keep His statutes and obey His instructions. Hallelujah!

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Redemptive History
by Lee Swartz, Member of Brentwood Baptist, Brentwood Campus

In our hyper-modern world with its post-modern voices, we are often told that the prescription for happiness is to "live in the moment." I’m not sure this is necessarily bad advice—that is, until it’s taken to its logical conclusion.

But that’s the thing. Most, if not all, of the modern remedies seem to defy logic and seek to avoid any real conclusion. It does paint an appealing picture, though, by putting the focus right where we like it—squarely on ourselves. The problem is, as so many have sadly discovered, focusing on yourself never results in authentic happiness.

Our existence is not, and was never designed to be, an adventure in momentary self-fulfillment. Our lives are in direct relation to those who have come before us, and they have consequences for those who come after us. Without a past we have no present, and without a future the present is pretty meaningless. We were made to have memories and desires. But our sin nature, our innate self-interest, infects us with a kind of amnesia.

For Christians, this amnesia can lead us to read Scripture, and live lives, tragically out of context. We can subscribe to the belief that “God has a plan for our lives,” but place way too much emphasis on the “object” of the sentence and forget the supremer “Subject.” When oriented inward, it is not a stretch to imagine that God and His Word exist to help US write OUR story.

The truth is God’s Word is His story. It can’t be reduced or interpreted apart from the whole of its narrative, any more than the brain, and its purpose, can be understood apart from the whole body. God’s story is a splash of sobering water in the face of our pride. It is, as one thinker put it, as if “I have entered a movie that has already started, and to my surprise, it's not all about me.”

It is our tutor in the form of history. It is an Epic drama with a perfect opening, a roller coaster middle, a miraculous climax and a definite conclusion. The faith we hold so desperately to is rooted in thousands of years of mankind’s history. His weakness and God’s grace in a vivid Technicolor display. Through its pages we are told to REMEMBER. We are exhorted not to forget what He has done, what He is doing and what He has promised He will do, that His is a story of reclamation and ultimate reconciliation.

This is what we were hardwired for. To know God’s story is to regain our memories! To understand His story is to see the rich mosaic of redemptive history. It is the story of His triumph. He is the hero.

Yet, our fickle nature remains no different than what the nation of Israel demonstrated. The weight of our circumstances hasn’t changed. Our valleys are just as deep and dark. The quest to make sense of suffering still occupies our hearts. Our pride is always lurking.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun, and that includes our prayers. Throughout the Psalms, God is questioned and He is praised. His people express their trust and they seek guidance. And occasionally, they fall on their face acknowledging that He is God and they are not. The Psalms are filled with prayers that give words to our current groaning, just as they did for their authors long ago. And praying those Psalms connects us to the bigger, greater story. It provides the context.

Praxis

If possible, contact the person who introduced you to Jesus Christ and this bigger story. Ask them about their journey and who it was that introduced them to Jesus. If possible, contact that person and ask the same questions. Go back as far as you can and construct a “Spiritual Family Tree.” Search the stories that directly or indirectly influenced your future, both of which combine to inform and transform your present.


About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.