Psalm 34, selections

I prayed to the LORD,
and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him
for help
will be radiant
with JOY;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

In my desperation
I prayed,
and the LORD listened;
he saved me from
all my troubles.

Taste and see
that
the
LORD
is good.
Oh, the JOYS of those who take refuge
IN HIM!

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God’s heart for the poor

The God of the poor.  God has a special place in his heart for those who are poor, not only that but the poor are part of WHO God actually is, and names he is called by:

  • Defender of the fatherless and widows (Deut. 10:18; Psalm 10:16-18; 40:17, 68:5; Jeremiah 22:16)
  • Protector of the poor (Psalm 12:5)
  • Rescuer of the poor (I Sam 2:8, Psalm 35:10, 72:4, 12-14, Isaiah 19:20, Jeremiah 20:13)
  • Provider of the poor (Psalm 68:10, 146:7, Isaiah 41:17)
  • Savior of the poor (Psalm 34:6, 109:31)
  • Refuge of the poor (Psalm 14:6, Isaiah 25:4).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this.  God honors humility and those who see their need for God.  Hunger- both physical and spiritual is the starting point for change.  Necessity.

Matthew 5:3 (ESV) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:3 (MSG) “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more room for God and his rule.”

Kingdom of Heaven/Kingdom of God = for those who are poor.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Thirst and hunger makes me think of desperation.  If someone is so empty, they become desperate for anything that will satisfy.  If we are searching for righteousness, we will be satisfied.

I’ve thought about this on and off for the past 4 years or so, ever since my trip to India.  The poverty was astounding.  People dying on the sides of the road, and children begging on every corner you turn around.  It’s almost more than you can even imagine, if you’ve never experienced it.  I’ve been reading “The Hole in Our Gospel” by World Vision President Richard Stearns, and it’s given me some more perspective.  Check out this link to more scripture concerning poverty, and what the Bible says about it.  Why is it that we seem to skim over these sections of scripture, instead of actually thinking about it?  Have we made poverty something that only exists third world countries?  Have we distanced ourselves from this, simply because we don’t see ourselves as “that rich” here in America?  Those of us who are “middle class” don’t see ourselves as wealthy?

More to come in future posts.  It becomes so easy for us as Americans to sit back, cross our arms and talk all day about poverty.  It’s sure easier to do that than sell all our belongings and give to the poor.  Talk is talk, and talk is cheap.  It’s faith in action that requires more.  A lot more.  Maybe everything we have.

 

solitude, silence, and God’s word

“In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us.  The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.”

“The Word of God is not a word to apply in our daily lives at some later date; it is a word to heal us through, and in our listening here and now.”

“The Word of God is always sacramental.  In the book of Genesis we are told that God created the world, but in Hebrew the words for ‘speaking’ and ‘creating’ are the same word.  Literally translated it says, ‘God spoke light and light was’.  For God, speaking is creating.  when we say that God’s word is sacred, we mean that God’s word is full of God’s presence.  On the road to Emmaus, Jesus became present through his word, and it was that presence that transformed sadness to joy and mourning to dancing… The word that is read and spoken wants to lead us into God’s presence and transform our hearts and minds…”

Henri Nouwen, from “With Burning Hearts”, and “Making All Things New”