"O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD says so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.,
Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.
Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the LORD, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders...
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.
Psalm 107:1-32, 43
When I read this Psalm in my devotion earlier this week I was struck by the powerful images of distress captured in this song written by David. Scattered people, homeless people, hungry, thirsty and tired people. People suffering physically from ignoring God’s wisdom and their own poor choices. Those shackled by sin and grief and guilt. People reeling from nature’s destructive ways. Then I noticed that the LORD did not desert those in need of his help even though they had turned their back to him. He answered their cries for help. Relieved, healed, rescued, forgiven they went on to tell others of the LORD’S work in their lives. They told of his STEADFAST LOVE.
I’ve been there…I’ve cried out to the LORD…He heard my cries and answered me–not because I deserved to be saved, but because HE is LOVE. It is his nature to heal, restore, forgive, renew. Thanks be to God for his steadfast love. Turn to him in times of trouble. He is there to help!
Somedays my head spins from all of the incoming info from all sorts of sources.
Granted, I choose to open myself up to reading, listening, focusing on all these bringers of information. I can choose to skip the newspaper read, the Facebook scan, the FM radio broadcast, the book at my bedside table, my phone conversations and texting forays. But is that what I really need to do? Cut myself off from hearing, reading, engaging with others? Perhaps…if I am totally depending on these outside sources to give me truth and wisdom and direction and comfort. Isaiah, God’s prophet, brings God’s Word to bear on my world, on my reality. Thankfully, God speaks to me and says, I AM the LORD your God. I teach you what is best! I direct your ways. Ah…what comfort stills my anxious heart. What peace replaces troubled thoughts. God’s ways are not my ways. May I be still long enough to hear His voice, just as I did this afternoon when I opened up my Bible and read these words from Isaiah. They ring true in my heart. I know I can trust my LORD and God!
God, thank you for your teaching and your guidance in my life. Through Jesus Christ Your Son, I pray. Amen.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5: 9-10
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Revelation 5:12
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” Revelation 5:13
“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:5-8
Prodigal love is lavish love. It is love freely and seemingly recklessly given. Today’s gospel lesson told of the reckless, seeming wastefully spent love of a father on a son who who had squandered the inheritance he received from his father and had returned broke and broken. The father’s prodigal love cared not what looked appropriate as he ran to wrap his son in his embrace and welcome him home. Robing him in fine clothes, feeding him a feast, and serenading him with celebratory song–all fit for a prince, not a wayward son. Such was the father’s prodigal love.
Such is the love of God for me…and for you. It is the same prodigal love. God the Father did not spare His beloved Son. That is why Jesus came to earth–to give his life, freely, recklessly, without reserve. His life for ours. On the Cross He wore our sins so that we might be robed in His righteousness. He comes running to find us wherever we are and to fold us into His embrace. He tells us He has prepared a home in Heaven for all who believe in Him, who return to Him and accept His prodigal love.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
“If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…I will give you rest.”
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
We may be prodigals, but we have an even greater Prodigal Father!
You[will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-2 ESV
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to theLord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32: 1-5 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[ the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV
As beautiful as these orchids are, they pale in comparison to the beauty of our status before our Almighty God, the Creator of the world–we are forgiven through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. Isaiah spoke of this forgiveness. The Psalm writer wrote about this forgiveness. St. Paul wrote about our status as a “new creation.” No sin is dark enough. No circumstance is hopeless enough that God’s mercy cannot reach you. During this season of Lent our Lord calls us back to Himself. He calls us to turn away from our idols and to look at Him alone–even as He looked upon us as He hung from the Cross with love to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father. May the beauty of God’s Word strengthen you and give you hope this day.