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
Read: Psalm Psalm 78:1-42
2nd Reading: Psalm 78:21-43-72
We sing a song at City Reformed that is based on Psalm 78. It is entitled, "Hold Our Children." The lyrics are as follows:
We regret the things we've lost
And name the failures from our past
We confess the common sin
Of our fathers and our mothers
We won’t hide them from our children
Our hope, it is not in our own strength
Made or lost in the darkness of the past
Oh our hope, it is in your saving pow'r
In ev'ry age your love will last
And you will hold our children fast
We refuse to follow God
Or trust his power to provide
We complain and test his grace
But he shows us loving kindness
We won’t hide it from our children
The beauty of this song is that it emphasizes the central theme of Psalm 78. We are called to share our faith with the next generation. This involves sharing the "wondrous deeds of the Lord (v.4)", but it also means that we would help them to avoid our mistakes. Verses 5-8 tell the fathers to teach their children "so that should not forget God... [and] should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation."
Then, the rest of the psalm recounts the failures of Israel in the past. They are grouped around two main events. The first is rebellion in the wilderness, shortly after God brought deliverance (v.19-40.) In summary, "they tested God again and again (vs.41.) The second set of failures seem to relate to the time of judges. "The moved [God] to jealousy with their idols (v.58.)" The refence to the tent at Shiloh and it deliverance into captivity (v.60-21) would seem to be a reference to 1 Samuel 5 and the captivity of the ark of the covenant. The psalm does end with a more positive image and King David emerges to shepherd his people and guide them (v.70-72.)
It is a remarkable feature of the Bible that the sins of God's people and even of some of the greatest leaders (think: Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc.) are not hidden. In fact, the greatest part of the Bible concerns the failings of God's people (think: Numbers, Judges, the OT prophets, Rev 2-3, Galatians, Corinthians, etc.) There are heroes of faith (Hebrews 11), but even our heroes have significant failures.
Our own stories are ones which are full of sin and deliverance. It is our natural tendency to magnify our accomplishments and minimize our failures. Now, we don't want to talk about our past sins and failings in ways that minimize the problems or glorify the sin. But there is an essential role in recounting our spiritual failures, especially to our children and those in our close Christian community. Furthermore, the sins of past generations of Christians do not define us, but they also are an essential part of healthy discipleship going forward. There is a healthy place for owning our sins and the sins of our spiritual fathers (v.8.) Because the church is saved by grace, we can be free to confess our sins and know that the legitimacy of our faith is not challenged. God has always worked with "jars of clay" and insists on use broken vessels for his purposes (2 Cor. 4:7.) In doing this, he shows that the "surpassing glory" belongs to him and not to us.
READ | Psalm 128
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,
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.