Vacation – June 11

Text: Psalm 91 (Read it here.)20160611

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

(Psalm 91.3-4, NIV)

Rest in the Shadow of the Almighty
Author: Jim Brewer

Do you have a summer memory of finding a nice shade, where you could sit down, cool off and maybe slip into a midday nap? And then that rest is suddenly jolted by the sun in your eyes?

This psalm begins by saying that if you’re living with God you are in his shadow, and there you find real rest. He goes on to describe that rest using two metaphors: a strong fortress and a mother hen.

Think of the contrast, a fort full of shields and a bird full of feathers! A secure strength and a fragile softness.  And what do these two have in common? How do these two provide secure rest? By bearing the brunt of the attack themselves. And that is seen ultimately in the Christ where God’s righteous power and sacrificial love combine equally, and bids us to come find rest by living with him.

Question:

Think of a time when you had an absolutely terrible night of rest, in fact, you got no rest. What caused this restless night? In what ways did circumstances need to change in order to create an atmosphere where you could rest completely?

How does resting in the Almighty create that atmosphere where rest can truly happen? When you think about a fortress, what images come to mind? In what ways do God being like a fortress bring you peace?

In what ways does our acknowledgement of God and his name play into his rescue of us? Why do you think it is difficult for people to call on God, even when they know that doing so can bring peace and rescue? In what ways has your acknowledgement of God bring you a greater sense of rest and peace?

Vacation – June 5

Text: Psalm 8 (Read it here.)20160605

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8.1, NIV)

Lord, How Majestic is Your Name
Author: Jim Brewer

Perhaps there is no better time than on a summer vacation to get out into nature somewhere. It may be in the mountains, in the desert, or simply in your back yard, but stop and spend a little time gazing at the night sky.

Anytime we consider the universe it reveals God’s glory! And when we stop to think with such a perspective it also reveals just how much of a speck of dust we are. Yet scripture says that we fill the mind of the majestic Creator. What begins with awe moves to astonishment.

Why should God care about us so? And the answer is because he has made us in his image and given us this special planet he created to be his stewards. And caring for all that it is and for all that he has filled it with, including doing justice for the human beings stamped with his image brings God glory.  The majestic God who has the name above all names poured himself out for us. How can we not but respond by exhibiting the same behavior as the one whose image we have?

Questions:

As you think about vacations you have taken, what location or locations have you visited that would you describe as “majestic?” What sort of qualifications would you say needs to exist for something to be counted as “majestic?” (Like, have you ever been to a scenic overlook only to think: “Wow, that’s all there is?” What was it that made these things NOT majestic?)

When you think about God being majestic and the one who “set [his] glory in the heavens,” what sort of qualities do assume God to have? How does this majesty compare to not only to your vacation sites, but also individuals you know whom you might think highly of?

The writer of Psalm 8 says that the praise of children establishes a stronghold against the enemies, that is, the recognition of God and praise of him overcomes the power of the enemy. How has praising God allowed you to see the power of the enemies for what it is: lacking in comparison to the power of God?

Proverbs 29 – August 29

0829 - GavelProverbs 29
Author: Jim Brewer

If I’m not on jury duty or in local government, what does justice have to do with me? I want justice, but do I want to do justice. Proverbs 29 lays out clearly that there is divine justice (1, 6, 13, 23-26), political justice (2, 4, 7, 14) domestic justice (3, 15, 17, 19, 21) and even personal justice (5, 9-11, 20, 22, 24). And although I am involved in all of them in some way, the ones about personal justice focus on how we treat each other, especially on some of the unjust ways we tend to treat each other.

  • Flattery A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.
  • Controversy If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
  • Hatred 10 Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.
  • Anger 11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. 22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.
  • Thoughtless Talk 20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
  • Lying 24 The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.

Although we may tend to “justify” these things in our lives, unjust ways are a misrepresentation of a just God! And after all, we are justified by faith in the One who suffered through such injustices, in order to free us from them.

Proverbs 22 – July 22

CC image courtesy of Airwolfhound on Flickr.

CC image courtesy of Airwolfhound on Flickr.

Proverbs 22
Author: Jim Brewer

The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
I shall be killed in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)

This is a rather amusing sketch of a couch potato. It’s an obvious caricature in order to make a point. Although it sounds ridiculous, this lazy boy says “I can’t go to work today, there’s a lion out there.  I can’t go to school there’s a lion in the streets and I will be killed.”  It sounds outlandish, and it is, but when you reduce it to its essence you see it appears he is giving a rationalization.

This person may not do much but apparently he can think, he can rationalize. He’s giving a rationalization of why he functions or doesn’t function the way he does. His argument is that the conditions are too dangerous or the conditions aren’t right yet to do what he ought to do.

So underneath this sarcastic proverb is this salient point: the sluggard always has a rationale or justification of why he should not do what he ought to do. There is always some barrier, some objection as to why he can’t do what he ought to do. Now does that fit us or what?