Advent Week Two: What Joy in the Lord? I will Recall the Works of Our Lord, all the Power of God’s Miracles. Psalm 77

Psalm 77English Standard Version

In the Day of Trouble I Seek the Lord

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of Asaph.

77 I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.
I said,[a] “Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

10 Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”[b]

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

16 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.[c]
20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

A Psalm of Asaph ….

Reckoning with God what was weighing so heavily on his heart, upon his soul.

The passage of time stretched out like an unending journey.

Light had vanished and left me afraid.

Prayers went unanswered, and I cried out for the Lord to do something, but every day I faced the same struggles.

My heart felt frozen, my mind numb, I went through the motions of my daily tasks. I doubted God’s presence in my life and accused him of ignoring me.”

At times it can feel like we have been sidelined.

We pray for healing in our bodies or relationships, and things get worse and worse, we wonder to ourselves when it will finally be our turn for a miracle.

We cry and plead, but God seems silent.

The agony of silence gives way to an outburst of anger or disappointment.

Psalm 77 helps us to reckon our negative thoughts with God’s Truth, helps us to express our utter frustration, but also points our hearts toward God’s goodness.

Everyone faces days of trouble because trouble is part of our world.

It serves several purposes.

It’s an opportunity for our spiritual roots to go deeper as we choose to trust God with the unknowns that lie before us.

The thing with troubles is that we do not have any kind of guaranteed outcome, and we like positive outcomes we can all count on, in the end, the victory is all ours, but when the beginning seems long ago, the middle can seem unending.

What do we do when the middle seems long and victory far off?

Losing seems ever more imminent and retreat the only real way forward.

We remember that our miracle unfolds day by day and we turn to the past to propel us forward.

Sometimes we can’t see God clearly in our own lives, but that’s when we can turn to the Bible for ancient words of encouragement, hope, undeniable joy.

We find encouragement as we trace God’s faithful heart and his miraculous deeds throughout the Old and New Testaments.

When we remember how he parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, we can look for how he made a way in our lives too.

Our parting of seas might look like the strength to walk into any doctor’s office, unsure and uncertain and wholly afraid of the “news” we are about to receive.

It’s this maxed reliance on the ancient Words of God for the very next step that reveals so much more of the unfolding miracle he does in our day-to-day lives.

Luke 2:25-35New Living Translation

The Prophecy of Simeon

25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
    as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
    and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Our hearts grow stronger when we remember aged and devout Simeon who was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.

The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

How long had he been waiting and wondering for the miracle to take place in his life – that God would actually remember his name, remember His promise?

How consumed was Simeon with the thoughts that he would live long enough to see the Messiah but not be living long enough to see actual Messiah crowned?

How had he lived his life differently or the same trusting God would bless him above all others with hope, a miracle of blessed assurance, spiritual comfort?

Who was Simeon before the Holy Spirit came upon him – a despondent but too devout man like Asaph who had long desired for the Lord to make a difference?

His journey to this spiritual healing lasted years and cost him a place in society,

No one could help him wait.

His way was probably darkened with great discouragement.

Yet the infant Jesus was brought to the temple for ritual purification by his mom and dad, Simeon, convinced that a single touch of Jesus’ young body would heal him of his despondency and his impatience, perhaps failing faith.

His staunch persistence led to his miracle healing.

Simeon’s example of his steadfast trust in his God’s promise gives us courage to persist, helps us see where we stayed the course, even though we felt defeated.

Our persistence is part of the anticipated joy of our miracle of waiting for Jesus.

We may find ourselves in situations that seem as impassable as a wide sea.

There’s no way around it, and our despondency, defeat, grow ever closer.

We can surrender, or we can keep searching for a way through, trusting the ancient prophesies of God will miraculously come true, be with us, thru it all.

That’s just as much of a miracle as the seas parting and our despondency and defeat disappearing from taking center stage at the forefront of our thoughts.

The miracle of Immanuel, God with us!

The miracle of Immanuel, God within us!

The miracle of Immanuel, God goes with us.

He is our strength and companion for the troubled waters ahead.

For more years than I care to confess to (thirty) God carried me through that time when I felt discouraged and abandoned by him all those 20+ years ago.

There was very little hope of anything significant happening in my life. My joy was my pride in my ability to remain off the grid, all alone in my despondency.

Like Simeon, I somehow persisted in seeking him. And the miracle was a slow unfolding of grace as he met me, drew me closer to him, and renewed my heart.

Maybe, like the Psalmist Asaph, like I did, you are feeling this spiritual trough.

Intersecting Faith and Life:

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re in deep trouble and God seems far off, continue to call on him and remember what he has done.

When you couple that spiritual trough with an intentional time of remembering what he has done with you crying out to him, you might learn God strengthened your faith so that you too can see your miracle unfold as he carries you through.

Big splashy miracles are exciting testimonies of God’s power. Quiet miracles that unfold slowly are enduring testimonies of God’s glory revealed in you.

Right now, in this exact and God exacting moment, we are the sum total of all the practically unnoticed mini – miracles which God has performed in our lives.

Mini-Miracles!

Mini -Miracles …. which I agree wholeheartedly strikes me as oxymoronic. 

Miracles, after all, are defined as acts of God, amazing and marvelous events, and “seals of a divine mission” (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary).

Generally speaking, there’s nothing small about them.

What I’m talking about then, are instances of heavenly intervention in the lives of believers impacting what we would consider “minor” areas of our existence,

the things that cause us to make statements like: “It showed me that God cares about even the minutest things in our lives,” always as if that’s a profoundly shocking proclamation.

Those passing moments None of us ever responds to by saying, “Well, duh…”

I believe it’s because it never stops being a mind-blowing concept – the Creator of the universe, who hears every single one of the prayers, praises of billions simultaneously and loves each one the same, provided, perhaps, just the right amount of money for a struggling single mom to buy her child a pair of shoes.

It’s not the ancient grand parting of the Red Sea to preserve for Himself a people, or the resurrection of His son to purchase the redemption of humanity.

It’s, for lack of a better term, nearly imperceptible moment – a mini-miracle!

Which almost certainly finds its ancient roots in scripture written thousands of years ago – ancient truths, revealed to ancient writers, affecting ancient lives!

Mark 6:30-44New Living Translation

Jesus Feeds Five Thousand

30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. 31 Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

32 So they left by boat for a quiet place, where they could be alone. 33 But many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. 34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. 36 Send the crowds away so they can go to the nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.”

37 But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

“With what?” they asked. “We’d have to work for months to earn enough money[a] to buy food for all these people!”

38 “How much bread do you have?” he asked. “Go and find out.”

They came back and reported, “We have five loaves of bread and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred.

41 Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. 42 They all ate as much as they wanted, 43 and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. 44 A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.[b]

I remember one time in our Adult Bible Fellowship class I stepped in to teach our continuing series in Mark’s gospel.

We were in Chapter Six, focusing primarily on the Feeding of the 5,000.

As I began my carefully crafted, well thought out, well researched lesson, I had admit that I had never quite been able to visualize this scene, or to understand exactly what the miracle was meant to reveal to me 2 thousands of years after.

I mean, there is the lesson of provision, but the human body can go without food for quite some time. 

Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-4).

So it’s not like life and death were hanging in the balance if all of those people who had followed Him to this “desolate place” went without dinner that night.

It could be, as I suggested, Jesus just didn’t want the people to go away – He had just suffered the death of His cousin John the Baptist, and recently endured the “prophesized unbelief” (Mark 6:6) of those from His hometown of Nazareth.

It could be, I mentioned, Jesus took great, immense delight in this multitude foregoing their bodily needs to attend to His every wisdom and every Word.

It very well could be our Lord simply wanted to do something “just for them.”

Maybe, I said, that’s why I said I always tended to overlook significance this miracle hidden in these short few verses of Mark’s Gospel a little bit too much.

“You know how sometimes when God does something that you know was ‘just exclusively for you,’ and you tell someone else about it, and they’re like, ‘That’s cool and all,’ but it just does not carry the same weight or meaning for them?”

I knew exactly what that was like, and the class liked where I was going. I could sense an even greater personalization in mini-miracles, in God drawing delight from blessing our socks off in ways that speak to our individual hearts.

The idea also gave me greater permission to attribute to the Lord all sorts of mini-transpiring’s I had always chalked up to my own efforts, happenstance, or even worse, brushed them off, “gone, completely “so what”” without noticing.

Today, I write this devotion and I wonder how many mini-miracles I’ve missed out praising and thanking the Lord for by being impatient, or plain inattentive.

Count on your own fingers and count on your toes, count on all your neighbors fingers and toes at exactly how many of those “mini-miracles” “imperceptible works of the Lord our God” have passed by you – how many miracles missed?

Romans 1:19-22 New Living Translation

19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.

Moses told those worshipping the golden calf: “Your problem is not that God is not fulfilling, your problem is that you are spoiled”

Romans 1:19-22 would seem to indicate that the Lord’s hand is always evident everywhere – “all people can clearly see all His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So, ergo, they have no excuse for not knowing God”

I like these verses very much, because, when it comes right down to it I like to see of myself as being constantly on the lookout for the smallest works of God.

But that brings me to the other ways to miss miracles – by not accepting them, anticipating or expecting them, by resenting them, or wanting to earn them.

I love to give to charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace.”

Can we get past the affront of accepting a free gift?

If we can, we might see the Lord trying to say through the Feeding of the 5,000 and even today, “Here I Am, stay here, spend more time, no need to go away, please accept this, put yourself in My hands, keep your eyes open, I will feed and love you.”

After all, says Matthew 7:11,

“If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him?”

Mini-miracles are the “good gifts” “baskets of bread crumb” treats God brings home to His beloved Children, those who will and do seek him with a childlike faith, those who consider themselves “the little ‘mini miracle’ things in life.”

Well, duh…

Today, try bringing some ‘mini-miracle’ something or other home to a loved one, remind yourself, them, how much indescribable joy God gets from giving.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,  

Let us Pray,

O Lord my God, Mighty in Power, Mighty in Word and in Deed. You say that I should have unshakeable faith in You so that I will be upheld. I believe I do, Mighty Lord. I place all my faith in You. You strengthen me. Your holy force keeps my spirit alive and burning fiercely for You. I know that with You I can overcome anything. Thank You for remaining faithful to Your chosen people. Thank You for guiding me in my life and helping me to become a vessel for Your will. I pray that I continue to put my faith and trust in You because You know all things. You know what the hearts of Your people need, and I know You will help me through whatever this life brings. Amen.

 https://translate.google.com/

 

 

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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