Tag Archives: hope

A Verse for Meditation

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.  Luke 21:33

  • Jesus spoke these words to his disciples in the context of foretelling destruction yet to come. Why was it important for the disciples to know that Jesus’ words were timeless? Why is it important that the gospel writer recorded those words for you to read? 
  • When Isaiah foretold the coming of the Messiah, embedded in his prophecy were these words: The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8) These words were part of a speech by God to his people. When you compare Isaiah’s record with the record of Jesus’ words, what conclusion do you draw about who Jesus is? 
  • In the midst of God’s words of judgment on evil through Isaiah, God spoke words for his faithful people. In rich imagery that resonated with human understanding, Isaiah wrote that God promised:  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 How does the imagery of this promise help you to understand what Isaiah is saying? How does it help you understand what Jesus is saying? What is happening in your life that makes this promise hopeful and helpful for you? 
  • Secular thinkers insist that spiritual concepts are like fairy tales, because spiritual concepts cannot be tested, measured or proved by the scientific method? If a secular thinker asked you to explain why you believe what Jesus said, how would you respond? 
  • Peter once wrote that we should always be ready to explain why we hope in Christ. (Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. 1 Peter 3:15)  Do you make any efforts to motivate secular thinkers to ask you for such an explanation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hymn for Meditation

Immortal, Invisible

Immortal, invisible,
God only wise,
In light inaccessible
hid from our eyes.
Most blessed, most glorious,
The Ancient of Days
Almighty, victorious,
Thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting,
And silent as light
Nor wanting, nor wasting,
Thou rulest in might.
Thy justice like mountains
High soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains
Of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest,
To both great and small.
In all life thou livest,
The true life of all.
We blossom and flourish
Like leaves on the tree
And wither and perish,
But naught changeth thee.

Walter Chalmers Smith

  • Read the first verse of the hymn. Then read Exodus 24:9-10, Daniel 7:9-10, Revelation 4:1-11. Can you find the source of the hymnwriter’s image?
  • How could you restate the second verse in prose that a child might understand?
  • How would you explain this hymn to secular thinkers?
  • The hymnwriter considers life to be a great gift from God. He says, In all life thou livest, the true life of all.” How would you explain this line? If someone asks you what you think about abortion, would this line help you answer?

A Verse for Meditation

Battle in the streets of Lyon in front of Sain...
Battle in the streets of Lyon in front of Saint-Nizier church – Canut revolt of October 1831 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end.  Lamentations 3:22

Questions for thought and prayer:

  • I first chanced upon this verse on a day when it seemed that everything was going wrong. I took a deep breath and thought about the meaning of the phrase “steadfast love of the Lord.” Why did I begin to relax and look at my problems with less panic? 
  • The author of this verse had seen his country collapse economically, politically and internationally. People in the USA contemplate that same disaster as a real possibility for the near future. Does the biblical writer’s confidence inspire any hope in your heart? Why, or why not?
  • Some people think that God is petulant and demanding. His laws are strict. What is different about the way this writer sees God? 
  • Do you believe the verse is telling the truth about God’s mercies never ending? Why, or why not?

© 2012 Katherine Harms

Pray Psalm 130

When Christ walked on the earth in the flesh, people possessed by demons, or people afflicted with mental illness if that is your preferred diagnosis, suffered humiliation, ostracism and even physical violence. People with crippling diseases, or blindness or deafness, were considered to have been doomed to that fate through sin. Seeing a blind man on the road one day, Jesus’ disciples inquired of Jesus as to whose sin was responsible for his condition.

Psalm 130 is the kind of prayer those afflicted ones must have prayed often. When they heard that the kingdom of God had come near, it would have inspired hope that God had heard their prayers.

Everybody experiences that kind of hopelessness and despair at some time or other. Life is full of challenges, and everybody goes through days and sometimes weeks when this cry from the pit expresses their concerns.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that we need to remember that Jesus prayed all the Psalms, too. Is it possible that in Gethsemane he prayed the words of this Psalm as he faced the cross? The few recorded words of those hours of prayer let us see a man in anguish, and we know that he pleaded with God to find some other way. The concerns in this psalm prayer mesh tightly with the words we know that Jesus spoke that night. In this prayer, both the anguish of the cross and the triumph of redemption are richly expressed.

This prayer resonates with the universal human experience of feeling overwhelmed and defeated by evil. The lonely, shunned leper of Jesus’ day, the miserable child who can never pass a spelling test, the only mother on the block who has no idea how to get her child to take a nap in the afternoon, the first manager laid off as the company offshores all technical projects, the man who reached for but failed to snag the child who ran into traffic and was struck down while chasing a ball – all these people can pray this prayer psalm and be comforted by the promise that God loves and forgives and redeems and heals his children.

For me, the most poignant phrases in the psalm are the words, “more than those who watch for the morning.” My husband and I cruise aboard a sailboat, and we often make passages longer than 24 hours, which require us to stand lonely watches during the night. When my husband is asleep and I am alone in the cockpit, despite the fact that the night sky is beautiful, I feel much more alone than I feel in broad daylight. If a storm builds up during the daylight hours, I always feel more competent to deal with it than if the storm develops after dark. If I am on watch at 5AM, my eyes constantly stray to the east for the first hint of light at the horizon, and I breathe a sigh of relief when the sky only barely suggests the coming sunrise.

Whether misery results from the supplicant’s terribly bad choice or from human error or from someone else’s bad choice or even from causes that nobody can discover, Psalm 130 mirrors the experience of feeling cast down, thrown down, knocked down by life. It speaks of our fear that even if it wasn’t our fault that we got in this fix, God might not help us because we are sinful. The writer of the psalm talks through the misery and fear, and then looks up. There is hope. There is hope not because he deserves it, but rather because of who God is.

Because God is who he is, Christ died for us.
Because God is who he is, our sins are forgiven.
Because God is who he is, we can always hope in him.

 Psalm 130 can be your prayer when things look hopeless.

  • Read the psalm exactly as printed in your Bible. Read slowly enough to speak each word distinctly. Listen to what you are reading.
  • Read the psalm again and replace every reference to the supplicant with your own name.

I would read it this way:

Out of the depths Katherine cries to you …
If you, O Lord, should mark Katherine’s iniquities …
O Katherine, hope in the Lord! …
It is he who will redeem Katherine from all her iniquities.

 Pray this psalm as many times as you need to. Borrow its rich imagery and immerse yourself in its profound hope. Think of Christ praying this prayer, maybe as he faced human suffering and need, maybe as he faced his own suffering on the cross.

 Can you make this prayer your prayer? Tell me why, or why not.

A Verse for Meditation

Heavenly Hosts
Heavenly Hosts (Photo credit: ZORIN DENU)

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.    

                    Isaiah 6:3

To begin thinking: 

  • How does this verse help me change my worldview?
  • How does this verse nourish my hope in God when the world in time and space looks dismal?
  • Where can I see God’s glory manifest in the world around me?
  • Why should I praise God’s glory when I feel desolated by the daily news?