THE CALL | John 15:4-5 [ESV]
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Lord Jesus, you have called us to abide in you, but we confess that we are prone to wander astray. We could be fruitful branches, but instead we walk proudly in our own ways and wither. Forgive us for our wandering hearts and take and seal them for your courts above. Thank you that you are the true blessed man who walked in the way of righteousness (Psalm 128:1), even the way that led to the Cross. May we the Church, your beloved Bride, not wither, but be like fruitful branches of your vine, and may her spiritual children be many, like olive shoots around the table you have prepared for us (Psalm 128:3).
ASSURANCE | Isaiah 53:10-11 [ESV]
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
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
Psalms 76 and 77
(Ps 76:7) "But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused?"
(Ps 77:16) "When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled."
Both of these fairly short psalms reference the "fear of the Lord" (see vs. 76:7 and 77:16.) However, the context of this fear is very different. In Psalm 76, God is described as dwelling in Israel. Here the fear of the Lord as seen as a source of confidence because God will judge the nations and defend his people. The psalm ends with reference to the surrounding nations, "[God] cuts off the spirit of princes, [he] is to be feared by the kings of the earth (v.12.)"
Psalm 77 has a different context. In this psalm, the immediate context is the personal aguish of the psalmist. The opening words of this psalm are ones that we sing often at City Reformed in various shorter songs. "When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate my spirit faints (v.3.)" The psalmist writes that he is "so troubled he cannot speak (v.4)", and wonders aloud if God has forgotten him. The turning point in this psalm is to remember the past work of God in his awesome power. Verses 11-20 recount the way God saved his people from the tyranny of Egypt and references the way that he made "through the sea (v.19.)"
The Bible tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That is the beginning of "right thinking." For Christians, the fear of God is paired with confidence that he is working for us, and that we can come into his presence with thanksgiving, because he has given us perfect righteousness in Christ. But that does not mean that we stop having a healthy fear of God. Hebrews 12, reminds us that our worship is with reverence and awe because God is a "consuming fire."
As we consider these two psalms, think about how a healthy fear of God addresses so many of the problems that we face. We are surrounded by international instability. I am writing this blog post on the morning after Russia declared war on the Ukraine and invaded them. The headline "War in Europe: Russia Invades" strikes fear into my heart. My grandfather lived through WWII, and I grew up in the cold war. This sort of conflict could easily spread, and it is frightening. But for many of us, the problems that weigh us down are far more personally. I have had recent days when the sum total of all the problems that I faced felt like an unbearable burden. Many of you know what it is like to feel so troubled that we "cannot speak."
In both of these situations, a healthy fear of God is part of the antidote. God will judge the rulers of the nations. He will bring justice in the end. He can topple oppressive regimes when he sees fit to do so. And seeing God in his power and grandeur puts our own problems in perspective. We still need to know of God's love, compassion and mercy, but all of those things are bound up together with his awesome power. The God that we worship is worthy of our complete attention. He is worthy of our lives. When we see the majestic glory of God, we also see ourselves in our proper place. Our proper place is not oblivion and God's glory does not wipe us out - thanks be to Christ. But our proper place is not at the steering wheel of the universe, or even at the steering wheel of our own lives. Our proper place is humble confidence in submission to our great God. He is worthy to be feared and worshiped in awe. And in an acceptable time, he will answer our prayers for deliverance. (See Psalm 69.)
LECTIO DIVINA | Psalm 128
We memorize things we value. The brain has an incredible ability to remove information that we don’t need. As we make an effort to memorize the Psalms, the beginning of each week seeks to establish the value of God's Word in our hearts before we view it as information to be remembered. Read more about the Lectio Divina HERE.
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,
Revelation 7:9-10 [ESV]
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
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.