Day Three: Do It Again!

Psalm 126:3-4 (Message)

God was wonderful to us;
  we are one happy people.=
And now, God, do it again…

“The other side of ‘we are one happy people’ — verses 4-6 — is in the future tense. Joy is nurtured by anticipation. If the joy-producing acts of God are characteristic of our past as God’s people, they will also be characteristic of our future as his people. There is no reason to suppose that God will arbitrarily change his way of working with us. What we have known of him, we will know of him. Just as joy builds on the past, it borrows from the future. It expects certain things to happen.” [E. Peterson]

Psalm 126 “announces the existence of a people who assemble to worship God and disperse to live to God’s glory, whose lives are bordered on one side by a memory of God’s acts and the other by hope in God’s promises, and who along with whatever else is happening are able to say, at the center, ‘We are one happy people.’” [E. Peterson]

How does joy become a powerful witness to the greatness of God?

In what ways can, “And now, God, do it again!” change the way we pray? How can Psalm 126 reframe our passion and hope in prayer? Describe.

This joyful and ‘wonder-filled’ life is our testimony to others. Let’s ask God to empower us this way so we will love and care for those who need God’s impossible miracles. Let’s ask Him to, “do it again,” now in their lives like he did in ours.

– TR

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Day Two: We Laughed, We Sang

Psalm 126:1-3 (Message)

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
  when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
  we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations –
  “God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
  we are one happy people.

“We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.” The word ‘fortune’ here is about God’s favor, his restoration and transformation. “That is the authentic Christian note, a sign of those who are on the way of salvation…Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience. We come to God (and to the revelation of God’s ways) because none of us have it within ourselves, except momentarily, to be joyous. Joy is a product of abundance; it is the overflow of vitality…It is exuberance.” [E. Peterson]

How do faith and obedience relate to joy in our daily lives?

Ephesians 1:3 (NIRV) – “Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Those blessings come from the heavenly world. They belong to us because we belong to Christ.”

What are the spiritual blessings we have received? How does this spiritual ‘exuberance’ change the way we live and interact with one another?

Let’s take some time to give thanks to the Lord for his blessings. Let’s pray for joyful obedience in our lives and deeper faith that is expressed in love.

– TR

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Day One: Too Good To Be True

Psalm 126:1-2 (Message)

“It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.

“It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when GOD returned Israel’s exiles.” Each act of God was an impossible miracle. There was no way it could have happened, and it did happen. “It seemed like a dream, too good to be true.” We nurture these memories of laughter, these shouts of joy. We fill our minds with the stories of God’s acts. Joy has a history. Joy is the verified, repeated experience of those involved in what God is doing. It is as real as a date in history, as solid as a stratum of rock in Palestine. Joy is nurtured by living in such a history, building on such a foundation.” [E. Peterson]

“It seemed like a dream, too good to be true…”In Jesus the ultimate ‘dream’ of life has come true and is continuing to come true. Christian life is joy-filled because the dreams and visions that God reveals to us do become reality. We live in the ‘impossible miracle’ of knowing God and experiencing His presence. Our stories are now wrapped up in God’s stories past, God’s story present, and God’s story unfolding.

What do you dream about? What do we sense will make our lives better?

What has God done in your life that felt like an impossible miracle? Can you trace his miracles and rescue?

Spend some time thanking the Lord for each impossible moment he made possible. Let’s ask the Lord to expand our vision of what he can do in and through us for his glory.

– TR

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Day Five: No Backsliding

Psalm 125:5 (MSG) – “God will round up the backsliders, corral them with the incorrigibles. Peace over Israel!”

The word backslider is synonymous with ‘defectors’ or ‘falling away’.  The question that today’s verse poses is “how can I be sure that I will not fall away, but remain faithful?” God’s word is clear that we wander like lost sheep (Is. 53), but God is a faithful shepherd who pursues us relentlessly.  We have our ups and downs, zealously believing one day and gloomily doubting the next, but God is faithful. How has the Lord shown his faithfulness in your life thus far?

As we conclude Psalm 125, it is clear that our security does not come because we are sure of ourselves, but because we trust that God is sure of us. Jude 24, 25 says To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Who is the one that keeps us from falling/stumbling? What is the secure promise of the Lord according to Jude?

Today, spend time worshipping the Lord who brings us into the unshakable security in Him.  Use the words in Jude 25, to declare that our security comes from our savior who deserves all glory, majesty, power and authority, now and forever more, AMEN!

– GK

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Day Four: Goodness Through and Through

Psalm 125:4 (NLT) – “O Lord, do good to those who are good, whose hearts are in tune with you.”

Psalm 119:68 says that all that God is and does is good. “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees”. This is the security with which the people of God approach the Lord in prayer. Why is the psalmist asking to be taught of God’s decrees in response of His goodness?

In what areas of your life do you need God’s goodness to overflow and bring security in?

Today’s passage says that God does good to those who are good. 2 Peter 1.5 says “make every effort to add to your faith goodness.” What are some practical ways in which you can add goodness to your faith?

The ending of today’s verse says “…whose hearts are in tune with you.” Other translations use the word ‘righteous’ instead of ‘in tune’. What does it mean to be in tune with God, and how does that bring out God’s righteousness?  How can you be more in tune with the Lord?

– GK

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Day Three: Evil Cannot Stay

Psalm 125:3 (NIV) – “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.”

The word “scepter” is to be understood as oppressive power that is bent on destruction.  In today’s verse, because the Lord is our security, the evil and oppressive intention of the wicked cannot stand or remain—whether sickness, death, despair, and persecution.  In light of this truth, how are we to no longer respond in fear and despair to the difficult circumstances of our lives?

In today’s verse, the psalmist suggests that the main reason why the wicked cannot remain is because the land does not belong to them! Rather it belongs to the ones whom it has been allotted to.  What this means is that the life of security, blessing, hope, and salvation has been allotted to us by the Lord, and no power or the evil intention of the wicked will prevail. What are the clear blessings that that Lord has allotted to you?

When we are threatened by fears and insecurities, we can be tempted to respond by doing evil or having unloving thoughts and responses towards others. However, because the scepter of the wicked will not remain, our hands are also to not be used to do what is evil. In what ways have you been tempted or given into doing what is wrong in God’s sight due to fears and insecurities? What are some practical ways to respond where evil and wickedness are not allowed to remain your life?

– GK

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Day Two: Surrounded Always (NLT)

Psalm 125:2 – “Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.”

There were several mountains, even higher than Zion surrounding the Jerusalem area. The Mount of Olives stands sixty-six meters higher than Zion, and Mount Scopus towers more than seventy-six meters above Zion, with other peaks standing higher than Zion as well. These surrounding mountains function as a wall around Jerusalem—a wall that keeps invading forces at bay. This is imagery that is used in this verse to capture the manner in which Yahweh surrounds as a protective ‘wall’ around his people.

Having mountains as a protective shield/wall means that it will never shake or crumble. How does this imagery of God as these vast mountains surrounding and protecting us affect your view of God as our protector?

The wording “…the Lord surrounds” is to give the assurance that there is no area in our lives that is exposed, defenseless, or has become a blind spot.  What are the areas/times/circumstances where you have felt exposed, defenseless, or that you were in God’s blind spot?  Today pray and surrender and welcome the Lord’s very care and presence in those very areas.

Today’s verse ends with “…both now and forever.” This is the assurance that God’s care and protection over His people is to occur in the now (today), and also forever (eternity).  This means that there is never a time when we are outside of God’s protective care. How are we to now view any and all area, past and present and future?

– GK

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Day One: Trusting in the Trustworthy One

Psalm 125:1 (NLT) – “Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated (shaken) but will endure forever.”

The experience of insecurity, uncertainty, and fears are the common human experiences in this sin-dominated world. In today’s passage however, the psalmist invites those who trust in the Lord to a completely different existence, where certainty, security and steadiness is now to be our experienced reality.

Today’s passage begins with “Those who trust in the Lord…” The designation “those” refers to the community’s (not only an individual’s) response to the Lord. How does trusting the Lord together as a community differ/enhance the aspect of trusting in the Lord?

The word “trust” is to be understood as an act of placing full faith and confidence in the one whose trustworthiness has been shown throughout.  For the people of Israel, they were to place their trust in the Lord, who has shown His trustworthiness by delivering them from Egypt, from famine, from the threats of invading armies, and from their sins. Today, as we place our trust in the Lord, let’s count the ways the Lord has shown us His trustworthiness in our lives. In what particular ways has the Lord shown His trustworthiness to you?

Psalm 46:5-6 claims that God’s people can live securely as Mount Zion, because “God is within her, and she will not fall”. We (Christians) are no better than the world in need of protection and security. What is different is that we don’t have to build our own place of security, rather it is the Lord who builds our strong place of refuge, for God is with and within us.

– GK

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Day Five: He didn’t go off and leave us!

Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalm 124:

If God hadn’t been for us – all together now, Israel, sing out!
If God hadn’t been for us when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives in the wild, raging water.
Oh, blessed be God!
He didn’t go off and leave us.
He didn’t abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs. 
We’ve flow free from their fangs,
Free from their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight.
God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.

1 – Find 2 differences between Eugene Peterson’s MSG translation and the NIV.

2 – For each one, consider and share:  What do you think the significance of this difference is? (What do you think Peterson wanted the readers of the MSG translation to understand about the rescue of God?)

3 – Pray according to this “message” you are seeing in the translation differences.  Pray for yourself, your group, and your church.

– BR

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Day Four: Who God Is

Psalm 124 (NIV)

If the LORD had not been on our side –
   let Israel say –
if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us.
The raging waters
   Would have swept us away.
Praise be to the LORD,
   who has not let us be torn by their teeth
We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare;
The snare has been broken,
   and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

1 – Read through the psalm aloud, declaring the rescue of God freshly in your life (our lives).

2 – Find at least 2 explicit or implicit descriptions of God in Psalm 124.  For each one, consider:

a – How does Psalm 124 depict this characteristic of God?

b – How have you / we experienced God in this way?

c – How does understanding God in this way affect your response to Him in times of trouble, times of pilgrimage, and/or times of worship?

3 – Choose one description (characteristic) of God you have chosen.  In prayer, turn from any other way of seeing Him and declare Who He is and what He is like according to the word of God.  Pray for others to see and experience God in this way.

– BR

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