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 80
2nd Reading: Psalm 79
(Ps 89:3,7,19) "Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!"
Psalms 79 and 80 are both prayers that relate to the period of exile. We see references to the holy temple being defiled and Jerusalem in ruins (v.79:1), then also walls being broken down (v.80:12.) Furthermore, both psalms refer to God being angry with his people, and that they had to endure the taunts of their neighbors. All of these factors fit naturally with the period of time in the history of Israel when God used Babylon to conquer Jerusalem and bring judgment on his people. Psalm 79 shows the particular awareness that their military defeat was the result of their faithlessness to God. It references their "former iniquities (v.8.)"
Psalm 80 is appeal to God to bring restoration and turn aside his anger. It is a prayer for restoration to right relationship with God and all of the blessings that flow from that. Three times, the refrain of "Restore us, O God" is repeated. In each repetition the appeal to God's name is amplified. The first reference is to God. The second expands this to read, "God of hosts." This reminds us that God is the head of vast angel armies. It affirms that he has the power to direct the course of events on earth. Finally, the third appeal includes the covenant name for God, which our English Bibles translate as "LORD." Using this name highlights the covenant promises that God has made to Israel and asks him to reestablish his protection around his wayward people.
I think that these psalms should encourage some self-examination in all of us. The Bible tells us in both the NT and the OT, that the LORD disciplines his people when they stray into sin (Prov 3:12, Ps 94:12, Deut 8:5, 1 Cor 11:32, Heb 12:2-11, Rev 3:19.) Now, of course, not all of our suffering is a result of sin - Jesus suffered for the sake of righteousness and promised that his followers would experience the same thing. But we are told that sometimes we experience negative consequences from God for the purpose of correction, cleansing, and recommitment. What do we do when we experience God's discipline? Do we turn away from God, or cry out to him for restoration?
That is the essential question. Does the discipline of the LORD lead us to greater commitment to him, or does it drive us deeper into rebellion?
Finally, Psalm 80 ends with an interesting turn. It places the future hope of God's people on the shoulders of a future individual that it labels as the "son of man." It is worth reading the verses because of how often Jesus referred to himself as the "son of man."
(v.17-18) But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
I don't know if ancient Israel would have seen this as a reference to the Messiah, but I do know that Jesus was the one who is seated at the "right hand of God", and the one who gives "life" to his people, helping them to "not turn back", but instead "call on the name" of God. Holding onto Jesus in faith will make the difference between whether we experience God's discipline in a redemptive way or in a way that leads us to turn further away. (Matt Koerber)
WEDNESDAY-CONTEXTUALIZE | Psalm 128
Consider ways that you can let the Psalm form your imagination, that you might share it with others. Perhaps you can journal about it, write poetry or prose, learn a song, create visual art, or reexpress it in ways that speak to your context. If you are planning to fellowship with other people this weekend, consider how you might share these imaginations with your community.
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.