Psalm 51, Day 6

Devotional for Saturday, May 23

Psalm 51:16-19
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

The end of this psalm reminds us it was written in a place and time. Burnt offerings were the order of the day for relating to God, and would continue to be so for a long time.

But we also get a glimpse of what was to come, what was to make possible the healing of broken and repentant hearts even today. Sacrifices were a means to an end. To demonstrate this, God came in flesh to provide the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for every sin committed.

Fully divine, Jesus could not be repentant, but he could demonstrate how terribly broken God’s heart is when we sin. Through Jesus, God experienced a painful and humiliating death, bearing the weight of all the world’s sins while nailed to some timbers. All this to help us break free from sin’s grip.

To take advantage of this great gift, all we have to do is be contrite and repentant enough to believe. We have to humble ourselves, finding our place in the great design of the universe. We are the created, God is the Creator.

As always, there is good news in this story. The Creator loves his creation dearly. The joy and freedom God offers far exceeds what we could find on our own.

With all his power and all his wealth, King David believed it, and we should, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the process of repentance and salvation, a gift freely given and undeserved. Amen.

Psalm 51, Day 4

Devotional for Thursday, May 21

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.

The Creator didn’t stop creating—the work goes on. Jesus demonstrated this when he used dirt and his own spit to create vision for the man born blind. Our inner life and being, symbolized by the heart, are new creations of the Holy Spirit, who remains at work in the world today.

Loyalty implies alignment with the will of God. The goal of opening ourselves to sanctification is pretty straightforward; we hope to be so aligned with God that sin becomes as unnatural for us as it is for our creator. At that point, we are again fully made in God’s image, a small-but-perfect reflection.

The psalmist was rightly anxious, though. Few experience holy transformation all at once, even as we profess our faith in Christ more and more. We remain mindful of our past sins and our tendency to return to sin. Proverbs 26:11: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

We sense the fool still living within, and we seek protection from that part of ourselves as we trust this transformation to continue. Oh, for the day when obedience to God is as natural as breathing!

Lord, we submit ourselves to be guarded and contained, knowing you ultimately will give us boundless freedom and eternal life. Amen.

Pause and See

1024px-Caring_God's_creations


Devotional for Friday, April 24

Genesis 1:31 (NLT): Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

We cannot gain a full understanding of God by gazing upon creation, but we certainly can get a good start. As I sit here right now, the wind is blowing hard, laying a heavy hand on the blooms of the dogwood tree outside my window.

I’m reminded that both the Old and New Testaments, in their respective Hebrew and Greek, have a single word that can mean either “wind” or “spirit.” I also think of our Western tradition that the dogwood blooms represent Christ on the cross. It’s the kind of meditative connection we might make while watching nature.

During this time of relative confinement, I pray all of you have some way to stay in touch with God’s creation. Today’s devotional is pretty simple: I’m going to embed some links to cameras showing us live views of what’s going on in God’s creation. There’s a nice song at the bottom, too.

Tennessee Elk Cam (Hatfield Knob, Tenn. The elk come and go.)

Pennsylvania Bald Eagles Nest

Gaia Cam (several global sites, including underwater reef cams)

Africam (wildlife from all over Africa)

Penguin Habitat

As you find more links to webcams or photos, feel free to share them in the comments section!

Lord, as we consider your mighty works, may we develop a greater sense of gratitude for being a part of it all. Amen.