Ever have a bad day? Maybe there were relationship troubles. Maybe a conflict or difficult day at work. Maybe all the little things just added up to having a no fun day. I know I’ve had days like that. But, when I read Psalm 22, I realized maybe my days aren’t that bad.
I’ve never been poured out like water with all my bones out of joint. There have never been lions and bulls all around me. ALL the people that saw me didn’t mock me and hurl insults at me. I have never been encircled by a pack of villains that pieced my hands and feet. Now, granted, the lions and dogs and bulls are metaphors for the enemies, but I wouldn’t describe the boy in kindergarten who told me I couldn’t cut well, or the girl who pushed me on the playground, as bulls or lions.
According to the notes in my study Bible, this psalm is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament. And, it fits Jesus’ circumstances, hence Jesus quoting the first part of it while on the cross. He was tortured and tormented for things he didn’t deserve, and I’m sure it hurt more than rude kids on the playground.
This psalm goes on, with David mentioning many hardships, but he doesn’t just ask God to magically fix his circumstances instantly. Instead, the end of the psalm talks about praising the LORD. That’s pretty impressive, and I think it should be a goal of mine, to take hard situations and continue to praise God and tell others about Him.
I’m going to use this psalm as a reminder of the no pain, no hardships time of the Kingdom. And to go about my days, whether difficult or seemingly easy, praising God and knowing that it’ll just get better in the Kingdom, because of what Jesus did for us and the plan God has for us.
Looking at Psalm 22 what descriptions do you find of the pain and agony Jesus endured while carrying your sins to the cross? Why do you think God chose this way to draw you close to Him?
Why do you think Jesus quoted this Psalm on the cross?
How can you focus on praising God even on the hard days?
You know that feeling when things are going so well that you question if you’re dreaming? Maybe you ask someone nearby to pinch you or maybe you pinch yourself. Either way, this is the feeling I imagine Peter had the night before Herod was going to bring Peter to trial. I’d encourage you to listen to Acts 12. As you listen, visualize what this could have looked like. Go ahead and use a little bit of imagination, as we’re not given pictures to accompany the stories in the Bible. If I’m being honest, I sometimes forget that the Bible is a literary text, but this chapter allows me to pick out some details and things that make me consider the (historical) story, and smile.
I’ll mention a couple parts that I really like about this chapter, but other parts might jump out at you.
v. 7 – Peter must’ve been a heavy sleeper! First the angel appeared, with a light. That didn’t wake Peter, so the angel struck (or smote) him. A gentle, “Hey Peter, time to wake up” with a rub on the shoulder didn’t cut it…
v. 9 – Peter didn’t know what was happening. He thought it was a vision. I like how he follows the angel’s instructions though. I think this is a good example for us to follow. Even when we may be a little confused about what God wants us to do, we should still obey and follow through with whatever it is.
v. 11 – “Now I know without a doubt”. I like how confident Peter is at this point. Before he thought it could be a vision. Now he knows that this is real life, and this is all part of God’s plan.
v.14-16 – I understand Rhoda was excited, but it makes me giggle how she didn’t even open the door for Peter. She was so excited that Peter had to keep knocking! 🙂
I like this chapter a lot. I will be working at being confident while following God’s plan for me and I will work at being as excited as Rhoda about what God is doing in my (and others’) lives!
Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Samuel 5-6 and Acts 12
In 1 Kings 3, we’re told that the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream when he was in Gibeon. During this dream, Solomon says “But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties” (1 Kings 3:7b). Have you ever felt like this before? I know I have. I often think of myself as not a ‘child’ anymore, but some things just seem too big to do by myself, no matter how old I get. There’s some dispute on how old Solomon was during this time, but I think that this statement Solomon made shows that he realized he couldn’t do this alone. Solomon realized that he needed wisdom from God, so that’s what he asked for. God was pleased and gave Solomon wisdom. And, he was also given things he hadn’t asked for – wealth and honor (bonus!).
Verse 15 of 1 Kings 3 says, “Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream”. I think about how if this quote was in a movie, most of us would think that what had happened in the dream didn’t actually occur, that it was just a dream. Maybe the movie had something really bad happen and you think to yourself, ‘maybe it was all just a dream’ or something wonderful happened, almost seeming too good to be true, and you think, ‘I hope that wasn’t all just a dream!’. Here though, God used a dream to speak with Solomon, and by reading on (1 Kings 3:16-27), we learn that Solomon settles the dispute between the two women and one baby. And we could think to ourselves, ‘Yes! It wasn’t “just” a dream! It carried into life even after waking up!’ God used a dream to have a conversation with Solomon and then Solomon awoke and had the wisdom God had given him. 1 Kings 4:29-34 also conveys to us how great this wisdom Solomon has, his fame, and how many came to listen to his wisdom.
In this day and age, I think we sometimes go about our days and we don’t always ask God for wisdom. Or, we’re like the other kings during those times and want wealth, fame, or honor. Maybe you don’t fit into that category, in which case you’re more like Solomon than I. But, I know that I should be asking God for wisdom, listening for His response (maybe even in a dream ;)), and using the resources (mainly the Bible, but also godly mentors) to seek out wisdom myself.
Acts 21 focuses on Paul’s travel to Jerusalem and then getting arrested. I don’t have a lot to say about this chapter, as I don’t have personal experiences, or extra knowledge on Paul’s experiences in this chapter. I’ll share a couple points I found interesting though.
We see multiple examples that show us how some people wanted to learn from Paul and his companions. We read that they were received warmly (v. 17). Also, verse 1 says that they had to tear themselves away from the people to continue traveling. I pray that God will work through me when I teach about Him and that people will see Him in me and want to learn more.
Some people were not as fond of Paul and even tried to kill him. The mad mob dragged Paul out of the temple and cause such an uproar the authorities are called in and Paul is arrested by the commander of the Roman troops. At the end of the chapter, as Paul is being carried away he asks to speak to the crowd. Paul is granted permission and the last sentence of the chapter is, “When they were all silent, he said to them in Aramaic:”. I know that the chapter numbers and breaks were added later, but what a cliffhanger! Thankfully, we’re able to read on and see what he says. We don’t even have to wait a week, like we do for a TV show or longer for a movie sequel!
(Speaking of movies – there have been several movies made of Paul’s life. I encourage you to try one out. See how closely it follows with Scripture – the real story. )
We, like Paul, do not get to choose people’s reaction to hearing the good news. Some will gladly and thankfully accept the message and appreciate the messenger. Others, sadly will not. But, we, like Paul, have very good news to share. And even when it is not accepted as good news….and even when people mock us or persecute us….we have God’s Word to share.
Every chapter in life has its own busy, stressful times. I’m currently a freshman in college. This week we are preparing to register for next semester’s classes. With this comes looking at every course I need to take for the next three years and what my life could look like after I graduate. I like to plan things. I like to have big goals and dreams and then work toward accomplishing them. Some of my dreams (short term and long term) include building new and strengthening old friendships, graduating and then going on to be a teacher in an elementary school classroom, finding the man I want to marry, and raising lots of children – all while serving and praising God with all my heart.
Just the other day, I was driving and listening to a Christian radio station when a song started that I’ve never heard before. I was listening when two words stuck out to me – “Dream small”. I was confused. It didn’t make sense to me. I tried to think of times it would be better to dream small. I wasn’t getting very far. I looked up the lyrics later (Dream Small by Josh Wilson) and I understand a little more where the artist was going. The beginning of the chorus says,
Don’t bother like you’ve gotta do it all
Just let Jesus use you where you are
One day at a time”
The song explains how you should be living your life for God and those little things you do can make a difference. You don’t need to wait for your dreams to become a reality. Living your life for God will make the best dreams fall into place, and the other ones will be replaced with even better ones we could never have imagined. Be used where you are now. I don’t need to dream big because God has got my life planned out. He knows how he’s going to use me, and that’s something I find special.
This finally brings me to the chapter for today, Acts 20. Please read verses 22 through 24 below, because it’s written better than I could ever summarize.
22 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
How wonderful is that! Paul knew of the dangers and hardships and he still said his life was worth nothing to him. Sounds to me like Paul wasn’t trying to follow his own big dreams and was instead following the path that was planned for him, doing things every day for God and Jesus. I want to be able to say that my only goal is to finish the race and task that the Lord has given me. That’s so much better than my plans and big dreams.
I absolutely love to see God’s creation. I love the snow falling on the bare, winter trees, covering them perfectly. I love to see the sun beams shining through a forest. I love the ocean and beaches with the seemingly never-ending water and countless (for me, not God) grains of sand. I also love rocks and mountains and caves. It’s amazing how different each nature scene can be, yet, each created by God.
Not only did God make these beautiful landscapes for us to see, but He also made YOU! Psalm 24 is one of my favorite chapters because of the first verse.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”
I love how this verse is a great reminder of how God made the earth and breath-taking landscapes along with all the people in it. In fact, we’re created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Each of us are created in the image of God, which shows how we should treat others with kindness and love, because they too are made in the image of God, just like yourself.
Going back to the 24th Psalm, verse one, helps me realize that sometimes, I just need to step back and remind myself that this beautiful earth is God’s and the people that live on it, are made by God, too. Next time you get to experience new parts of the world you’ve never seen before or even the next time you look outside your window or step outside your house – see the nature you pass by every day and remember who made it. Remember who the earth belongs to. Remember that you belong to God, too, and that’s pretty special!