“… wait for the promise of the Father,” (v. 4) RSV
Much of life consists of waiting, but waiting does not mean futile inactivity nor should it involve frustration. Waiting is an opportunity to prepare.
The disciples had to wait ten days after the ascension of Jesus before the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost. They did not know how long the waiting period was going to be. Jesus had simply told them “not to depart fromJerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father,” (v.4).
How did they use their time? Remember, this was an extended period away from their homes in the north of the country. It says that they remained in the house where they had been staying (St Mark’s mother’s house), and they met in its Upper Room. And there they “devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). They did not idle their time away playing cards or scrabble. They did not go shopping or chat casually.
The ‘in-between’ time is vital if the ‘coming-time’ is going to arrive. The greatest wait we have is for the return of our Lord at the end of time. We are told to “hasten” (2 Peter 3:12) its arrival. Yes, the future seems to be dependent on how we use the waiting time.
The disciples prayed, and there is no better occupation for us, especially if our church is going through a dry or difficult time, or if our own life appears to be stuck. A period of unemployment is a particular challenge, but it does give time to pray and read the Bible.
The Church generally in the western world is in decline and is in need of some Pentecostal fire. Let us unite in devoted prayer; it may well hasten the solution.
Grant me, O Lord, patience when I have to wait. May I use the time profitably, especially in prayer. Amen.
We have had a lovely letter of appreciation from Tim Hather of the Open Door. He tells us that they are currently seeing between 15 and 25 people a day, all of whom are sleeping rough. They provide hot drinks, meals, warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags to help make life a little easier for them. A new venture for them involves weekly early morning outreach to identify new rough sleepers, and new volunteer key workers to work more closely with their service-users. So, many thanks to all who donated. Your generosity has helped make a real difference to the lives of those on the edge of our society.
Not only does the righteous person find that what he does “prospers” (v.3), but he also finds that he himself does not wither. Elsewhere in the bible it says “They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green.”
(Psalm 92:14) What a lovely picture of eternal life residing in an ageing person. A good life lived positively, generously and in trusting faith will as a general rule produce a long and healthy life. Now I know there are so many exceptions to that but they only serve to prove the rule.
The promises of God are not meant to be brought to nothing by concentrating on all the exceptions. The basic rule holds good. If we “delight in the law of the Lord” (v.2) then we will, like a tree, “wither not” (v.3). Someone once said that they would rather burn out than rust out. The ageing process is not meant to make us go into a restful ante-chamber waiting to die and go to Heaven.
Life is for living. While it is day (i.e. while we are alive) we should be redeeming the time, for the days are evil.
Our one life on earth is a precious gift. We must not waste a bit of it in idleness. God wants to keep us “ever full of sap and green”. Let’s seek the refreshing Word of God and the filling of God’s life-giving Spirit. Let us be doing the works of God, rejoicing each day that he wakes us up.
Thank you Lord, for your gift of life. Forgive me when I waste my time in fruitless activity or idleness. Fill me with refreshing life that I may please you and not be ashamed. Amen.
1. Which two OT men were great examples of long and godly lives?
Deuteronomy 34:7 and Joshua 14:6-12
2. Which two old NT people in the Temple were still living for God?
The “wicked” are …? Who are they? It couldn’t mean you or me … could it? We might agree that Stalin and Hitler were wicked. Well, their actions were, but were they? What is meant by a wicked person?
The Bible seems to have got it right when it says: “Now the men ofSodomwere wicked, great sinners …” (Genesis 13:13). But did you realize that their sin was not primarily ‘abominable things’ but inhospitality? (Ezekiel 16:49-50) Yes, failing to be hospitable to strangers was a heinous crime. The heart of God is generous, open-armed and hospitable; He longs to invite us to His Banquet. But godless people are small-minded and inward looking.
I think we would be surprised at what makes Jesus angry. He could not stand the petty-mindedness of the Pharisees and their judgmental and censorious spirit.
Nor can Jesus stand unbelief and faithlessness. He became so exasperated with his disciples, who often showed such little faith and even less understanding.
Jesus tells a story of a wicked servant. The man had been forgiven a huge debt by his master, but he then goes out and fails to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a mere pittance (Matthew 18:23-35). Unforgiveness is unforgivable; it is wickedness. Such an attitude causes us to shrivel as people and to become “like chaff”. (v.4). Sadly such people will not want to loiter in church; and even more sadly, they will not have a leg to stand on at the Day of Judgement.
Dear Lord, take from me a small, mean and judgemental attitude. Give me your heart of love and generosity so that I may be hospitable. Amen.
1. What is the end of the righteous and the wicked?
While on a visit to Zambia with a group from St Mary’s, Richard (retired TV reporter) created a video which shows the struggle faced by the people of Chainda, a settlement of at least 25,000, on the outskirts of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
Last week we enjoyed our Harvest Festival including the Harvest Supper. The evening began with David Nacey enthralling us with his magic show. A supper followed prepared by Margaret and her hard working team. A music quiz kept brains ticking and then the evening finished with a short harp recital by Susan Sherratt and her daughter Katie. Thank you to everyone who made this evening a most enjoyable occasion.
“… the Lord knows the way of the righteous” (v.6) RSV
This Psalm has shown us the secret of blessing. It has differentiated between the righteous and the wicked. It has set us on the right path if we wish to read the rest of the Book of Psalms. Today we come to the end of our thoughts on this Psalm – “… the Lord knows …” There is nothing better than to be loved by one who knows us. God knows far more about ourselves then we will ever know. He knows our hopes, our fears and our sins.
He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5 and Matt. 28:20). Another Psalm says, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? … If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!” (Psalm 139:8) wherever we go, whatever we may be going through, God knows and God is there.
When Moses was at the Burning Bush and God was commissioning him to return to Egypt, to the place of his failure many years before, and when he was being sent to confront Pharaoh and to demand the release of the Hebrew slaves, he naturally quailed and prevaricated. After many excuses he finally said, “Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person.” (Exodus 4:13). But God’s response, and it made all the difference to Moses, was, “My presence will go with you.” (Exodus 33:13-15).
God knows us, he knows our ways, he will never let us down. All is well: “If God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
Thank you, Lord God, for the strength and assurance that the promise of your presence gives. Even when I don’t feel you, I know you are by my side. Amen.
1. What effect did the absence of God have on Samson?
2. What effect did the presence of God have on Moses?