Wednesday, April 27, 2011

God is Watching

But the Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord still rules from heaven.  He watches everything closely, examining everyone on earth. The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates everyone who loves violence. He rains down blazing coals on the wicked, punishing them with burning sulfur and scorching winds. Psalm 11: 4-6 NLT

God is still around; God is still ruling. God is watching everything closely, examining every person on earth. God sees who is doing badly and who is following God's commands.

Does God literally pour sulfur and burning coals on those who are wicked? No. But the idea is that God is watching. God knows what is going on and those who do evil will not just get away with it.

What I find most comforting about these verses is that fact that God is watching and God is ruling. On a day like today when tornadoes are ripping through the state and many folks are suffering loss, it is good to know that God has not abandoned us. God is right there with us, very aware of what is happening.

This means that I have a responsibility to follow the right path. God does not do for me but God is completely aware of me. God is watching both the righteous and the unrighteous. What do you need to do today to stay on the right path?

God, thank you that you are in your holy temple and you continue to rule from heaven. Thanks for watching us closely. May our thoughts and actions be in line with yours. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, April 22, 2011

In God We Trust

I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, "Fly to the mountains for safety!" The wicked are stringing their bows and setting their arrows in the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those who do right. The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do? Psalm 11:1-3 NLT

How much do you really trust in God?

Are you the type who says you trust in God, then you go and do something that shows you really only trust in yourself? Are you willing to say you trust in the Lord BUT...?

And how are you at allowing others to trust in God? Would you rather give them advice about what they should be doing to save their own skin rather than wait around for God? Perhaps you can tell yourself you trust in the Lord and do a pretty good job of acting like it but when it comes to your loved ones you aren't so trusting.

When the foundations of law and order in our own worlds have collapsed, how long will we be able to continue to trust in the Lord for ourselves or for others?

God, we really want to trust you. We don't act like it very often, do we God? We are much better at trusting "9-1-1" or even ourselves. Forgive us for our lack of trust. Jesus trusted you all the way to the cross. We should too. In his name we pray. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, April 21, 2011

God Hears

Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will listen to their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them. Psalm 10: 17-18 NLT

Do you remember ever feeling completely helpless?

What happened to cause such feelings?

What did you do?

If you talked to God at that time, what did you say?

Do you feel that God heard your cries?

How did you get out of your situation or are you still there?

Psalm 10 ends on a message of hope. God does hear our cries for help. God listens to us. God comforts us. God brings justice to those who are helpless. God knows who the orphans and the oppressed are. God will provide for us, for the helpless so that others will not longer terrify their lives.

May you remember this when you feel oppressed, helpless or even hopeless. May God hear your cries, comfort you and bring you justice.


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Lord is king forever and ever!

But you do see the trouble and grief they cause. You take note of it and punish them. The helpless put their trust in you. You are the defender of orphans. Break the arms of these wicked, evil people! Go after them until the last one is destroyed! The Lord is king forever and ever! Let those who worship other gods be swept from the land. Psalm 10: 14-16 NLT

At last we see the problem: those who are not worshipping God are the ones who are wicked, evil and do such awful deeds.

This reminds me of how different the Hebrews were compared to others who lived in and around the land of Canaan. The non-believers had no such codes like the commandments of not murdering or honoring one's parents. Child sacrifice, killing orphans, taking advantage of those who were already downtrodden was a way of life. God's commandments created a people who were very different from those living in the Promised Land. It is no wonder that God forbade intermarriage with the native people; God did not want God's followers to become so evil.

What makes you, a believer in Christ, different from non-believers around you? Would visitors to your workplace know without a doubt that you were a Christian? When you go to the store or the doctor's office, would people see you as a follower of Christ? Do you find yourself taking on more and more of the culture around you rather than the characteristics of a follower of Jesus?

God, help us to be your people. Set us apart, help us to be more holy as we follow you. May we not be lured by the supposed benefits of this world but focus on your kingdom instead. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

God on Vacation?

The helpless are overwhelmed and collapse; they fall beneath the strength of the wicked. They wicked say to themselves, "God isn't watching! he will never notice!" Arise O Lord! Punish the wicked, O God! Do not forget the helpless! Why do the wicked get away with cursing God? How can they think, "God will never call us to account?" Psalm 10: 10-13 NLT

We have thoroughly seen the wicked and their victims described. Now the question is: God where have you been while all this is going on? The wicked are taking advantage of your supposed absence!

Where has God been? Verse 12 acts like God has been asleep or just laying around on a cloud somewhere being serenaded by angels. God, wake up! Can't you see what is happening all around us? Don't the helpless need you to save them? Don't the wicked deserve punishment for all their awful deeds?

Have you ever felt as though God had gone on vacation in your life? What was happening to make it appear that God was not acting on your behalf? Did you feel forgotten? Did you appeal for some action on God's behalf?

Did you ever consider that perhaps it was you who went on vacation from God? Whether or not we are among the wicked, we will be called to account. God doesn't sleep or ignore us. God is there with us, sometimes answering us right away, and other times not responding to our petitions in the way we want. God's timing is perfect, however, and we must not give up hope.

God, forgive us when we take vacations from you. Help us to know your presence, even when our prayers and petitions go unanswered. Thank you for the gift of hope. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bragging about Evil

Proud and wicked people viciously oppress the poor. Let them be caught in the evil they plan for others. For they brag about their evil desires; they praise the greedy and curse the Lord. Psalm 10: 2-3 NLT

What does a proud and wicked person look like? I imagine some self-absorbed and greedy wall street financier with a three piece designer suit.

How does one viciously oppress the poor? Run over a homeless person in your Lamborghini? Break into a food pantry and steel everything, taking all the food to the dump?

And who brags about the evil things they want to do? Someone in the mob? A playground bully?

I believe that many wealthy and famous people can be greedy. They are often praised because others admire or envy their status. Sometimes I also think that accumulating wealth can make a person greedy.  Do evil people praise others who are like them?

It is tempting to see atheists as cursing the Lord. However, since atheists don't believe in God, I don't think a true atheist would be cursing something they don't believe exists. Someone who believed yet was deeply hurt by life circumstance or loss and blames God would be one who curses the Lord. Or, that person simply relies on themselves rather than God and sees only their own efforts as the catalyst for getting what they want out of life. "Forget God, I'll do it myself!" they say.

Do you know any proud and wicked people? What is your own response in light of their actions and misdeeds? Do you think anyone considers you to be proud or wicked?

God, we are often surrounded by the wicked, the greedy and the oppressor. May we not be among those proud and evil people! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Early Horror Movie

Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats. Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues. They lurk in dark alleys, murdering the innocent who pass by.  They are always searching for some helpless victim. Like lions they crouch silently, waiting to pounce on the helpless. Like hunters they capture their victims and drag them away in nets.  Psalm 10: 7-9 NLT

Okay, these verse of Psalm 10 sound more like lines from a horror movie about vampires. Cursing, lies, threats, and crouching in wait to pounce on their next victim in a dark alley sound more like an evil demon than a human being. Has the psalmist gone too far? Are these Hebrews we see doing all this cursing and murdering? Do we take these verse literally or figuratively?

To the psalmist it seems as though wicked people are always cursing, telling lies and giving threats although that could very well be the case.  Are they always searching for a helpless victim? Do we see a picture of an early ambulance chaser? Do they simply take advantage of those in helpless situations without a care for the person? But to lurk in dark alleyways, murdering innocent passersby is a bit much.

As these verse really get my imagination going, I am going to say we need to understand the meaning behind what is being said rather than taking these verses as literally what is going on. Certainly when verse 9 begins with "like" we can understand that the wicked can be compared to a lion ready to pounce. We can infer that the evil people have the same characteristics as hunters who capture their victims, dragging them away to a secret lair. And the ones who curse and plan evil are like those in wait in dark alleys to commit crimes.

Horror movie imagery aside, we are to understand that there is nothing redeeming about those who are wicked and do evil deeds. Thank goodness we are not the ones who have to do the redeeming!

God, you are never far away and you know what is going on in our lives. You are the one who redeems us and any sinner who calls on your name. Thank you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life Isn't Fair

These wicked people are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead. Yet they succeed in everything they do. They do not see your punishment awaiting them. They pour scorn on all their enemies. They say to themselves, "Nothing bad will ever happen to us! We will be free of trouble forever!" Psalm 10: 4-6 NLT

Have you ever known someone who could get away with anything? They could do something immoral or illegal yet land on their feet every time. Perhaps they might be bad behind the scenes but well-loved by the public or maybe just their grandma. No one could imagine them doing anything bad!

The sad part is not that there is a punishment that awaits them. The sad part is our own jealousy. We see them getting away with all these awful things and not suffering for it. They prosper and are well-liked. Their popularity even increases when anything bad they have done comes to light.

Meanwhile, we follow the rules, obey the commandments, go to church, and try to do all the good we can. What is our reward? Suffering, economic hardship, loss, difficulties -- you name it. How can these evil people always prosper while we decline? Why does everyone like them and ignore us? God, how fair is that?

Our reward is our relationship with God. We are not too proud to seek God. We know that God lives. That is worthy more than fame, fortune or popularity.

God, life just does not seem fair at times. Why do all the wicked and immoral people prosper? Why do we struggle from day to day while trying to follow you? Help us to realize our worth in your eyes and strengthen our ties to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why do you hide when I need you most?

O Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I need you most? Psalm 10:1 NLT

I was reading a commentary recently concerning Jesus' quote of Psalm 22 from the cross (My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?). The article stated that in Jesus' day if you quoted the first verse or line of a scripture, you were actually quoting the entire chapter. I suppose if you had studied scripture closely enough, you, the listener, would be able to remember the rest of the chapter and could say it to yourself.

The psalms were not only studied but sung or chanted in worship, so it would be very familiar to most Jews.  I was thinking of some familiar hymns we would know today. What if I said: "Amazing grace how sweet the sound." Would you be able to continue that verse? How about the whole hymn?

The remainder of this psalm is a lament against the wicked and how they seem to get away with doing evil all the time. For me this verse is the most powerful of the whole psalm, perhaps because it is the only verse that is personal. And I have had times in my life when God seemed far away or it felt like God was hiding from me.

Here the psalmist feels the absence of God because the wicked are not only getting away with doing bad things but they are also succeeding in life. The wicked have prospered so much that they even deny the existence of God. The psalmist is ready for God to step in and do something about these awful people.

Are you ready for God to step in and take action in your life?

God, why do you sometimes seem to stand so far away? Why does it seem like you hide when I need you most? Help me, God, help me! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Merely Human

Arise, O Lord! Do not let mere mortals defy you! Let the nations be judged in your presence! Make them tremble in fear, O Lord. Let them know they are merely human. Psalm 9: 19-20 NLT

It is amazing that people tend to think more of themselves than they ought to think. Take radio talk show hosts as an example. It must really be something to sit in a small room wearing headphones and speaking into a microphone. Who is there to disagree with you spouting all of your own opinions? Sure, you can receive phone calls but there is someone else screening those calls before you even get them. This isn't a dialogue but a diatribe. I don't think it would take long for me to become pretty sure that I am an important person, powerful even.

It is amazing that people tend to think more of themselves than they ought to think. Take preachers for an example. Most of us enjoy getting up in front of groups and speaking. But I have to admit that most of the time we are not going to be disagreed with until after we are done talking. Are preachers also in danger of thinking of ourselves more than we ought?

It is amazing that people tend to think more of themselves than they ought to think. Take bloggers for an example. Sure, people can leave comments but it is sure nice to be able to write on any topic with any opinion you may have each and every day. And if you get a large following, aren't you going to think of yourself more than you should?

But we are all merely human. That should keep us humble, to remember that it is God is who is Lord. Before God all the nations and people should tremble.

God, do not let mere mortals defy you! Whatever we do, help us to know that we are merely human. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

God's Kind of Justice

The nations have fallen into the pit they dug for others. They have been caught in their own trap. The Lord is known for his justice. The wicked have trapped themselves in their own snares. The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God. For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed. Psalm 9: 15-18 NLT

For all our political opinions and theories, God is much more interested in the poor and the needy. Ideologies, military might, economic power and ecological standards pale in comparison to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and providing shelter for the homeless. When justice is mentioned, the bible does not speak of gender or racial equality.  The bible is about the real needy and those who have nothing no matter their race or sexual orientation.

But we Americans still don't get this. We are so focused on rights and equal pay, government by the people and what organizations are getting federal subsidies. Just last month in my own community, the local food pantry served 61 people in a couple of hours on one day. Food for 61. In just a few hours.

How many people are going hungry in your community?

Are there homeless living a few blocks from you (you would be surprised if you don't think they are)?

What can you do to clothe those who need it?

God, we are so self-absorbed. We forget whose cries you hear on an hourly basis. We are ashamed that we have forgotten the poor and the needy. May we be instruments of your kind of justice. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Jaws of Death

Lord, have mercy on me. See how I suffer at the hands of those who hate me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death. Save me, so I can praise you publicly at Jerusalem's gate, so I can rejoice that you have rescued me. Psalm 9: 13-14 NLT

Okay, in the midst of praising God for defeating and judging enemy nations, we have this very personal plea to be saved. Where did this come from? The enemy is being defeated, the battle seems to be going well, God is on this person's side. Yet, they are so close to death! Was this a way to charm God into saving a person? First list all the good things God is doing then slip in a "please save my life" request? I think I would have started with the plea if I was that close to death.

Perhaps the circumstances are not a matter of life and death as they are about saving face. Maybe the battle is going well but one's peers and advisers are taking advantage of the chaos without to cause conflict and chaos within.  National problems are now professional difficulties. It was business but now it is personal.

Has that ever happened to you? Did downsizing where you worked become a personal vendetta against you or someone you know? Did I change in administration mean that you were overlooked for a promotion? Did you begin a revolution at work that became an opportunity to let you go? Were you ever in a group in which a big overhaul meant that people who had a personal vendetta against you could use this to get rid of you?

I think we have all asked to be snatched from the "jaws of death" in order to praise God for saving us. May we realize that God has done just that for us through the cross and the empty tomb.

God, have mercy on me. Thank you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, April 11, 2011

Never Ignored

Sing praises to the Lord who reigns in Jerusalem. Tell the world about his unforgettable deeds. For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore those who cry to him for help. Psalm 9: 11-12 NLT

What shall I do with these verses?

Certainly we can all sing praises to God. But God doesn't just rule in Jerusalem. God really should be reigning in our hearts.

Just a few days ago, I encouraged us all to witness to God's marvelous deeds. However, I was not thinking one of them would be avenging murder!

What an odd thought to think about the God who allowed his own son to be murdered, yet did not avenge his death. Instead, God offered forgiveness and a chance of eternal life by raising his son from the dead. 
God has done plenty of wonderful deeds besides avenging murder. Perhaps instead of avenging murder this should be "forgiving our sins" or forgiving the murder of Christ.

Then we have the verse that tells us God does not ignore those who cry to God for help. Perhaps God does not always give us the help we think we need. But God never ignores us.

God reigns. We need to tell the world about all God has done. God cares for and does not ignore the helpless. That is what we can glean from these verses.

God, we sing your praises and tell of your unforgettable deeds! Thank you for hearing our cries for help and caring for us so much that you did not avenge your son's death but offered us forgiveness and eternal life. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Trust in God

The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, have never abandoned anyone who searches for you. Psalm 9-10 NLT

Have you ever been oppressed?

Although I have felt targeted or dismissed I have never been oppressed. When I think of oppression I think of those from the former Soviet Union or the people of Cuba or China or even the Palestinians in the West Bank. These are always someone other than me or "my people."

There have been times when I have been in trouble. I have had times in my life in which I was searching for God (often when I didn't know it at the time) and looking for refuge.

How about you? Ever been in trouble? Have you ever searched for something and come to find out it was God?

We are reminded today to trust in God because God will not forget us or leave us behind.

God, you are a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. We know your name and trust in you, for you have never abandoned anyone who searches for you. Today we lift up these people who are oppressed and/or are searching for you: _____________________________________. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, April 9, 2011

God at Work

But the Lord reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. Psalm 9: 7-8 NLT

I have this mental picture of King David on his throne in a special throne room. This is where the people come to be judged and to ask for help in making legal decisions. David sits on the throne and individuals come to him, bow, and present their case. Perhaps money or gifts are also presented. But they don't sway David's judgment. He judges fairly in each case, hearing everyone equally and wisely.

So, when David thinks of God in judgment, he can relate. God sits on God's throne. God reigns forever. God judges the world with justice. God makes fair decisions. Just like me.

If you personified God in ways similar to your own job, what would God be doing? Would God be judging from an office high rise? Is God at a computer screen in a home or in a huge room with television monitors?  I would have to picture God preaching at my church!

Is God judging, searching, guiding, giving mercy or something else? What are you doing when you are working?

God, we are imagining where you may be right this very moment looking at us and the whole earth. We pray for mercy and forgiveness for all the stupid things you are observing that we are doing. Give us guidance, Lord, so that we may do your will in all things. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, April 8, 2011

Give God the Glory

My enemies turn away in retreat; they are overthrown and destroyed before you. For you have judged in my favor; from your throne, you have judged with fairness. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have wiped out their names forever. My enemies have met their doom; their cities are perpetual ruins. Even the memory of their uprooted cities is lost. Psalm 9: 3-6 NLT

Psalm 9 reminds us why these are called King David's psalms. Here the wording is not so much personal as national. Although the psalm repeats the phrase "my enemies" very few individuals can consider whole nations as their enemies. But leaders of nations certainly could.

It is interesting, however, that the psalm does not brag about what the nation or leader has done to destroy their enemies. This is more about what God has done. The enemies have been destroyed before God. God has judged. God has rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked, wiping out their names forever.

While praising God for a victory, this psalm gives all the glory and thanks to God.

When in your life have you accomplished something great and never once thought to give God credit?

Have you ever considered that your "personal" victories were actually God's doing?

Let's take some time today to give God credit for our own achievements.

God, you have guided me, nurtured me and loved me through all my accomplishments. In fact it has not been my own doing but you who have done so much for me. Help me to recognize your work in my life and my world. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Four Things to Remember

I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2 NLT

Four things for us to remember this day:

1) Thank God with all your heart. This means not just a few words spoken over the dinner table. This means really thanking God with all you are and with all you have. Let your thanks pour out as you verbally list everything you are thankful for. Begin with what comes to mind and continue to thank God until you can't think of something else for which to be thankful.

2) Tell of all the marvelous things God has done in your life and in the lives of those around you. There is never a more powerful testimony than your own story. What has God done in your life lately? A few years ago? Growing up? What have you seen God doing in the lives of your loved ones? What a powerful witness this will be!

3) Be filled with joy. Not just happiness, but joy. If you begin with thankfulness and then move to testifying, all God has blessed you with will be in your heart and your mind. Joy will naturally follow. You won't have to pretend or fake that kind of joy.

4) Sing praises to God's name. Thankfulness, witnessing, being joyful.. what is left but just to praise God?

God, I thank you with all my heart. I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High! In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Walking the Dog at Night

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers -- the moon and the stars you have set in place -- what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us? For you made us only a little lower than God and you crowned us with glory and honor. You put us in charge of everything you made, giving us authority over all things -- the sheep and the cattle and all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that swims the ocean currents. O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Psalm 8: 3-9 NLT

Walking my dog at night always reminds me of this passage of scripture. I look up and see the stars through the branches of the trees. I hear the night sounds -- natural and manmade. I am in wonder of all of creation.

Then my attention comes back to my dog. She hears a sound in the empty lot next door. Is that a raccoon or other creature? Suddenly I am reminded of my own role of caring for God's creation -- from my own pets to animals in the wild. God wants me to be responsible for all of this?

Just these few minutes remind me of God's glory, God's remarkable trust of us over God's creation, and God's inexplicable love and care for us.

My only response is a praiseful heart.

O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Praising God

Oh Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise. They silence your enemies who were seeking revenge. Psalm 8: 1-2 NLT

God is bigger. God's majesty fills the earth. God's glory is higher and deeper than the sky and space.

God is smaller and lives in the least significant. God has taught children and babies to give praise to God. Their voices silence those bent on revenge against God.

Praising God belongs in our community and should be taught regularly to the least of these. Everyone, regardless of age, is capable of giving God praise. The most powerful voices for praising God are those of children.

But how often are we praising God?

When do you praise God? Just in worship during particular songs? When you think about it? When something special happens in your life? When a praise song is played on your ipod? Everyday during your prayer time?

Let's spend our prayer time now in praise to God!

Oh Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens. You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise. They silence your enemies who were seeking revenge. O Lord, our Lord, the majesty of your name fills the earth! Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, April 4, 2011

Thank the Lord

I will thank the Lord because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. Psalm 7:17 NLT

I will thank God because God is just. Yet, this is the same God who gives up his only son into our hands, that allows Jesus to be tortured and killed although he was completely innocent. Is that just? We know that his death and resurrection allowed us to be given salvation. But justice?

Or mercy?

Wouldn't justice mean that anyone who had something to do with Jesus' trial and death be eternally punished, no matter how repentant they became? That would include Peter, James, John, Joseph of Arimathea, the soldiers ... me and you.

Should we be praising God because of God's justice?

I want to think I sing praises to God because of God's mercy and love. Perhaps I find myself singing to a just God when I have been wronged and God has made things right. But our praises really shouldn't depend upon what God could do for us. We should praise God because of who God is and what God has done beyond justice.

God, we thank you because you are merciful. We sing praises to your glorious name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pray for the wicked?

The wicked conceive evil; they are pregnant with trouble and give birth to lies. They dig a pit to trap others and then fall into it themselves. They make trouble, but it backfires on them. They plan violence for others, but it falls on their own heads. Psalm 7: 14-16 NLT

I don't really see wicked people falling into their own traps. I see them becoming powerful, popular and downright admired. Once in a while someone does have their plans to backfire on them. But I mostly see their violence causing more violence. I do see them conceiving, carrying and giving birth to lies. After some time of this, I suppose lies begin to seem like the truth.

Maybe this is more like wishful thinking on the part of the psalmist. If I pray this out loud, perhaps it will come true! If good people repeat this often enough, God will make sure it happens.

I suppose there is something to that. And certainly, this would be a timely verse to pray when we are faced with wickedness and evil, although this is not what Jesus told us to pray. I think for most of us, we will simply be wounded (emotionally) by others in our lifetime. These won't necessarily be bad people but people who have done something bad or hurtful. In either case, this prayer asks that whatever the hurtful person has done will backfire on them. Not that we ourselves will get revenge but that their own actions will come back to haunt them. I guess this isn't exactly what Jesus told us to do but it maybe the best compromise -- we will at least be praying for our enemies!

God, there are wicked people in this world. Sometimes we don't know how to respond to what they have done to us or to others. You tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We want to do so but we are human, God, and want revenge! Perhaps the best prayer when we are in such an agony is this: that their deeds of trouble and violence fall on their own heads. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Importance of Repentance

If a person does not repent, God will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He will prepare his deadly weapons and ignite his flaming arrows. Psalm 7: 12-13 NLT

So, if you don't repent, God is gonna get you! God will kill you with a sharp sword. God will strike you dead with an arrow. God will come for you with all the arsenal that he has in order to kill you. Without repentance, God wants you dead.

Well, I suppose that is something to contemplate during Lent!

If you don't get on your knees and say you are sorry, God is going to strike you dead!

We Christians focus so much on the afterlife -- whether someone will go to heaven or hell -- that we forget just how precious this life right now is for most people. In fact, I would think that telling people if they don't repent God is going to kill them would bring more people to the altar than just telling them they will be going to hell. People are so much more concerned about the here and now. They either don't believe that God is going to judge them or that God will have ultimate mercy upon them.

But the imagery in this psalm is the imagery of the battlefield. God sharpens his sword. God bending and stringing his bow. God preparing deadly weapons. God igniting his flaming arrows. God is not just going to kill you if you don't repent, God is going to come at you with everything God has!

I think this goes beyond worrying about heaven, hell or imminent death. This is the understanding that God really does want our repentance. Being sorry for what we have done is so important to God that God will battle us for it. God seriously wants us to repent.

God, I am sorry for all I have done or not done, said or thought. I am sorry that I have strayed far from your side. Forgive me for thinking more of myself than I ought to be thinking. In the name of Jesus I pray and ask forgiveness. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

Friday, April 1, 2011

God is like....

God is my shield, saving those whose hearts are true and right. God is a judge who is perfectly fair. He is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7: 10-11 NLT

Jesus spoke many times in parables, telling his listeners that God was like this or the kingdom of heaven was like that. Here in this psalm, the psalmist explains what God is like for him. God is his shield. God is a perfectly fair judge. God is one who is angry at the wicked all the time. God is the one who saves those who have true and right hearts.

Is God like a shield for you? Or is God a judge? Who is God for you and your life? How have you experienced God? If you had to explain to someone in three sentences what God was like for you, what would you say?

God is my loving parent, who wants me close to God's heart. God is a friend who walks with me wherever I go. God loves, God forgives, God guides. Those are my sentences. I invite you to try this as well.

God, you are like _________________________ to me. You _________________________________. I have experienced you as a ____________________________________________________________.

Thank you that you are like someone or something different for each of us, God! Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims