4/15/2018 – Psalm 39; Romans 5:1-11

by admin on April 15, 2018

4/15/2018 Audio Message

Psalm 39 (NIV)

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”

 So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.

 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.

 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.

 I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this.

 10 Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand.

 11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin, you consume their wealth like a moth — surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord, listen to my cry for help; do not be deaf to my weeping. I dwell with you as a foreigner, a stranger, as all my ancestors were.

13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again before I depart and am no more.”

Romans 5:1-11 (NIV)

Peace and Hope

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.


Holding onto Hope

A few years ago, a very close friend of mine went through a very dark, difficult time. During that time I did what good friends do: I supported her as much and in any way possible. For a while, she was paralyzed with grief and feelings of unworthiness. She could barely focus on tomorrow let alone weeks, months or even years down the road. She thought all hope was lost, but I knew better. I told her there is always hope. Sometimes it seems you have to look hard for it, but it’s always there. The hope I was referring to then is the hope of a brighter tomorrow; the hope that the pain will lessen; the hope that, someday, it won’t feel impossible to get out of bed in the morning. But I understand that when you’re in such a dark place, it seems almost easier to lose hope.

Have you ever been there? Whether it as a tragic event, an illness, a bout of deep depression or any number of other of life’s struggles, it can feel like exerting the energy it takes to hope feels like trying to push away a suffocating weight.

But today’s readings tell us a different story about hope. As children of God, we have a hope that cannot be lost or hidden or taken away. We have hope in God’s never-failing love. We have hope in the peace that passes all human understanding. We have hope in life eternal. When the Psalmist David wrote Psalm 39, he was crying out to God. And because of his faith, he could say, “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” Talk about a sigh of relief!

When Jesus died and rose again, all the hope of David and others was fulfilled. We no longer wait. Hope is alive and well! Jesus is our hope, and we all know he’s on the loose! God’s gift of His son inspired Paul’s words in Romans today translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message:

1-2 By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand — out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

3 There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4 and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.

Now let me go back to my friend for a minute. Try, if you can, to empathize with her. If you’ve ever experienced a time of despair so dark and deep that hope was eluding you, go back in your mind to that time. Are you there? Now, think of how that time would be different if you could see the light of hope brightening the darkness. You see, that light was there for my friend and it was there for all of us in the dark times of the past and always will be there in the dark times that will inevitably come in the future. I promise you.

But that hope can be difficult to see. When my friend was in that place, I did the only thing I could think of to do: I saw the hope and held onto it for her. My friend was too deep in the muck to open her eyes to search for hope; too exhausted to push aside the hurt to reach for hope. So, I offered to hold the hope for her. I acknowledged her inability in that moment and held out my hands and actually said the words: “I see hope, and I know you can’t right now. But I love you, and I will hold that hope for you until your strong enough to see it and hold it for yourself.”

As a community of faith, I believe with my whole heart that God calls each of us to see and hold hope for those in dark places. In those times when all of one’s resources have to go to simply taking the next breath, those of us who can, should hold the hope for our hurting brothers and sisters.

One way to do this is to recognize and name the moments in our lives when we see God’s hand, because by doing so, we are training ourselves to be on the lookout for reminders of hope.

Just this week, I spoke with a co-worker who, although struggling with some difficult issues, was feeling energized and inspired and uplifted from a weekend retreat. She told me about how her fellow participants shared “God moments” with the group, and how the act of sharing those moments resulted in her being able to see moments in her life in a different light – a light of God rather than chance or coincidence. I too am energized and excited and inspired by moments like this. And I have found that the more I look for God’s hand in my life, the more I actually expect it and then actually see it – the more I am reminded of the hope we have in Christ. I think that’s what Paul was getting at in today’s reading:

In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

So, I’d like to invite all of you who are willing to take a few minutes and share one of the God moments in your week with the rest of us.

Thank you all for sharing. Remember these stories this week and let them help you be more aware of God working in your own life – giving you hope. And I challenge you to share the moments you experience with others – tell your family or coworkers, post them on Facebook, whatever. You never know, your story may help someone find the hope they thought was lost.

Finally, I have a gift for all of you. To help you to remember to see hope and God’s work in your life, I have some envelopes here with some hope-related Bible verses and other secular quotes in them. And maybe this gift will be a God moment for some or all of you. I prayed while I searched for them and while I printed them out, cut them and put them in the envelopes. I asked God to help me find the right quotes and for the right people to get the right messages. So enjoy!

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