THE CALL | Daniel 3:17b–18 [ESV]
"Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Father, we long to have the courage to worship you in the face of danger, neglect, or public shame, but we confess that we often fall short. Our small daily compromises corrode the foundation of our faith and when trials come, we crumble. Teach us to trust you even when we do not face the fire furnace, and in doing so, lead us to greater trust and confidence in you. Teach us to recognize your presence with us in any circumstance.
ASSURANCE | Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
SING | Doxology [sheet music]
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Read Psalm 44
2nd Reading 2 Tim 3:10-17
“Our soul is bowed down to the dust… Rise up; come to our help!” (v.22)
Sometimes we face opposition for doing the right thing. On other occasions the circumstances can be different. In these occasions, we face difficulties in our life because we have sinned against God or needlessly offended others. But, sometimes we face opposition because we are doing the very thing God wants us to do. In the New Testament, Paul wrote to Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12.)” So, what do you do when you are suffering this way? Well, Psalm 44 shows us how to cry out to God for deliverance when we suffer for doing the right thing. And the psalmist teaches us to pray in a provocative way.
In the Psalm, the Sons of Korah look back on God’s faithfulness to their forefathers (v.1-3), then they proclaim their trust in God (v.4-8), and contrast that with their present situation (v.9-16.) The psalmist makes it clear that they have not committed a national rejection of God (v.17-22.) This contrasts with many other psalms in which the author confesses sin and owns the consequences that come from it.
Let’s consider how important it is to have these two different categories. First, it is wise and humble and healthy to acknowledge that we often contribute to our own problems. Looking to always blame negative consequences on others often leads to dishonesty and spiritual immaturity. But, there are occasions when the primary source of our problems comes from someone else who is sinning against us. Consider the case of a child who is being mistreated by their parents. We don’t have to go so far as the say that the child is “sinless”, that is certainly not the case. But it is not their fault. It can be tempting for that child to think, “this must be my fault that they are treating me this way.” Unless we have the category of suffering that the psalmist offers us in Psalm 44, we can end up internalizing things that are not actually our fault. In summary, we are all people who sin, and people who are sinned against. In any given circumstance, it can be one or the other… or both.
Furthermore, Psalm 44 teaches us (as many psalms do) how to pray in this situation (v.23-26.) It shows us that it is good and proper for us to cry out to God for justice. We are even taught to cry out to God asking him to “wake up.” It may seem rude to say to God, “Awake!” (v.23), but that is how the prayer goes. God invites us to interact with him in ways that are heartfelt and emotionally engaged. Now, you may be wondering… why would God want us to pray this way? If he wanted to help us, why would he want us to ask. If he never sleeps, why would he teach us to pray for him to wake up?
This touches on the central question of prayer. If God is completely in control, then why would we need to ever ask for anything? The short answer is that God wants to have a real relationship with us. He wants us to be engaged with him and engaged with his work in the world. Therefore, he ties his actions to our prayers. In his 16th century classic, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin observed that God does so many good things inside of his people when they pray that he chooses to link his action with our asking. He went on to say, “On account of these things, our most merciful Father, although he never sleeps or idles, still very often gives the impression of one sleeping or idling in order that he may thus train us, otherwise idle and lazy, to seek, ask, and entreat him to our great good.”
 Calvin summarized 6 things that happen in Christians when they pray. Their zeal is increased, their desire is more properly ordered in relation to God, they grow in gratitude, they are prepared to see God’s answers, they grow in their delight of God himself, and his providential activity in the world is increased. One way to summarize this, is that prayer allows us to see otherwise random events as the actions of a loving God. When we pray and get answers, we see that God is working in particular ways.
Optional Meditation: Psalm 124 | Responsorial Chant [demo recording] [chant setting pdf]
If we could tour history and listen to how God's people have sung the Psalms throughout the centuries, it would probably sound like chant to our ears. Common meter and western melodic structures did not exist for most of human history. While our hearts engage more naturally with western sounds, chanting the Psalms can still be an excellent way to let God's Word minister to you. There are many modern forms of chant, but here is an example of Responsorial Chant, where the cantor (chanter) uses a tone to sing through the bulk of the text. The refrain is sung by the congregation as a way of reflecting and responding to the Psalm text. The red dots signify to the cantor where to go to the next tone phrase. There are many chant resources if you want to investigate more, or you can create your own chant tone as well!
FRIDAY-MEMORIZE | Psalm 124
- Spend time memorizing the words of the Psalm as best you can -
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever,
Isaiah 40:31 [ESV]
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint
City Reformed Presbyterian Church
The 90 Days project is a collaborative effort of many church leaders. Matt Koerber and Daniel Snoke have taken lead roles, with others helping to write daily devotionals.