THE CALL | Mark 4:30–32 [ESV]
“With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
PRAYER | Valley of Vision Journeying On
Lord of the cloud and fire,
I am a stranger, with a stranger’s indifference; My hands hold a pilgrim’s staff, My march is Zionward, My eyes are toward the coming of the Lord, My heart is in thy hands without reserve.
Thou hast created it, redeemed it, renewed it, captured it, conquered it.
Keep from it every opposing foe, crush in it every rebel lust, mortify every treacherous passion, annihilate every earthborn desire.
All faculties of my being vibrate to thy touch; I love thee with soul, mind, body, strength, might, spirit, affection, will, desire, intellect, understanding.
Thou art the very perfection of all perfections; All intellect is derived from thee; My scanty rivulets flow from thy unfathomable fountain.
Compared with thee the sun is darkness, all beauty deformity, all wisdom folly, the best goodness faulty.
Thou art worthy of an adoration greater than my dull heart can yield; Invigorate my love that it may rise worthily to thee, tightly entwine itself round thee, be allured by thee.
Then shall my walk be endless praise.
MEDITATION | Jeremiah 29:4–7 [ESV]
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
SING: Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father
And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be world without end
Read Psalm 58
2nd Reading: Psalm 60
“O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions. O LORD!” (Ps. 58:6)
These two psalms really pack an emotional punch. Both are Psalms of David, and both express raw emotions in the midst of prayers for God’s vengeance on his enemies. This can be a little disconcerting to read and often Christians are not sure how to pray these things, especially in light of Jesus’ admonition that we love our enemies.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
(i.) There is a huge difference between asking God to bring vengeance and trying to get revenge on our own. God’s vengeance will be perfect and just. Ours is distorted by selfishness. In the NT, Paul urges the church to forego vengeance and trust in God’s promises of perfect vengeance (Rom 12:19.) Not only is it consistent to pray for God’s vengeance, while we take steps to love our enemies, but the whole basis in non-retaliatory love is confidence in God’s ability to enact perfect vengeance on his own.
(ii.) Many of the pleas are actually a request that God remove the instruments of oppression from the wicked. For example, the prayer listed above asks for God to break the teeth of the wicked and tear out the fangs of those who behave like ferocious lions. To “defang” the lion is to remove his ability to harm us. In a similar way, (v. 58:7) asks for the enemies' arrows to be “blunted.” There are several ways that the attacks of an enemy can be blunted. First, they can be rendered unable to harm us through death or destruction. Second, they can repent and cease to be our enemy. God can do both, and in the NT, the pouring out of the Spirit on the church empowers a world-wide evangelism in which many of God’s enemies are converted to saving faith. We can read the closing celebration (v.58:10) in this way, “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bath his feet in the blood of wicked.” The sins of our enemies will be repaid. Either in the perfect justice of God, or through the shed blood of the savior as they are united to him in faith. Viewed from the perspective of eternity, there will be cause for celebration.
(iii.) The psalms are poetry and express raw emotions in vivid ways. God gives us the gift of divinely inspired words that can express some pretty painful stuff. Rather than asking us to “stuff” our emotions, God gives us channels to express them. At the same time, while we can appreciate the rawness of these emotions, we want to keep in mind that that these are poetic expressions and that they are not things that can be literally applied. For example, (v.58:7-8) ask that the wicked be made like “water that seeps away, a slug that melts in the sun, and reach a tragic end like a stillborn child.” These are not meant to be read as commands to waste water or melt slugs. Nor is this intended as a callous description of the painful tragedy of still birth. David knows God’s vengeance is serious business and uses evocative language to drive that point home.
The Sacred Harp singing tradition is a form of Christian worship that uses a particular kind of music theory. It emerged as the New World blended poor immigrant and slave cultures together. Originally created to teach illiterate people to read music in New England, it quickly spread across the country and took deep roots in the South. Musically, it breaks a lot of "rules" in traditional Western theory, but it follows the "rule" of the ear. Instead of typical music notation, Sacred Hard uses shape-notes that are easily recognizable and reflect the melodic intuitions of folk music. Over time, worshipers would gather in a square and sing toward one another with the goal to sing as loudly as possible. As one worshiper explained in this documentary, "If you can hear your neighbor singing, you're not singing loud enough!" Sacred Harp is a rich tradition of worship and has greatly influenced modern hymnody with writers like Isaac Watts and Joseph Hart. Our first setting of Psalm 126 uses the tune of Wayfaring Stranger, which captures the sojourning spirit of not just Psalm 126, but all the Psalms of Ascents as well. Here is a performance of the traditional setting of Wayfaring Stranger. At a traditional singing event, singers use a version of solfege to frame the song before singing the lyrics.
READ | Psalm 126
Spend time understanding and memorizing the outline of the Psalm, taking special note of the flow or transition points. If you are in a group, discuss the main themes and emphasis together.
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,
Matthew 9:37–38 [ESV]
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
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.