Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life for I am devoted to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God;
be gracious to me, O Lord.
for to you I cry all day long.
A man claiming to be a prophet of God announced that Babylon was soon to be defeated. The Lord informed Jeremiah that not everyone who claims to be speaking the word of God is.
The exiles aren't where they want to be. They have lost their home. They are surrounded by strangers. And they are going to be there a lot longer than they had hoped.
The prophet Jeremiah sent them a message, "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce." In time of loss and despair, they are told to take care of themselves--to find shelter and food, what's needed for refuge and sustenance.
And, they need to recognize that this isn't going to be like a camping trip or even a long journey. He also tells them to get married, and that they will still be in this foreign land when it's time for the children born from these marriages to get married themselves.
Shelter, food, and family. Not hopeless yearning for what was but isn't. Not exactly acceptance but a way to continue under unwanted circumstances.
Then Jeremiah adds another directive, "Seek the welfare of that foreign city and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare will be your welfare."
We can apply this prophecy to our own lives in different ways depending on whether our current situation is more like that of the exiles or more like that of the Babylonians.
1 Timothy 1:1-20
As I read this passage this morning, I thought about the willingness to admit sins and the awareness and gratitude expressed for the ability to overcome them.
When we pray, how much effort do we put into admitting our sins as compared to, say, asking for something?
Which is more obvious to us anyway, the sins of other people or our own?
Then I looked back at Psalm 14, "The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after Go. They have all gone astray...."
As part of the all who have gone astray, we can rest our hope on the assurance from this letter to Timothy that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."
And for the then what, we can keep reading, "But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe...."
Paul is grateful for being forgiven, and he is grateful because as a forgiven person, he can be a servant to Christ Jesus.
Psalm 86 begins with a plea to the Lord for help, a plea not based on anything done to deserve help but rather on the nature of the Lord--good, forgiving, and abounding in steadfast love. The psalmist continues by recording the unique greatness of the Lord, and how everybody--all nations--recognize this greatness.
In verse 11, we have two more requests: Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name. The psalmist wants to know more about God so as to live the kind of life that God would want. Moreover, to live that kind of life, the psalmist is going to have to give up other distractions.
After the requests come expression of gratitude including a reassertion of God's love and care.
But, even with the knowledge that God is powerful and loving, the psalmist recognizes that life can be far from perfect, "O God, the insolent rise up against me; a band of ruffians seeks my life, and they don't care about you at all."
In this time of difficulty, the psalmist asks God, "Turn to me and be gracious to me; give me strength; save me."
When we are in our own times of difficulty, we can pray this psalm, we can ask for Lord's favor, because we also can remember the times that the Lord has helped us and comforted us.
Like vinegar on a wound
is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Like a moth in clothing or a worm in wood,
sorrow gnaws at the human heart.
If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink;
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.
Prayer for Today: Pray Psalm 86.