DAY 1 – Psalm 46 – There is a river
This psalm has 3 movements. First, an affirmation of trust in God. He is our refuge and our strength. He is the place we run to for safety and for help. He is present with us. Even if the world is in chaos or it feels like our life is falling apart, God is with us.
Second, there is a river that makes us glad. Jerusalem was the “city of God” but it did not have a river, so what is the psalmist referring to? He is forcing us to think metaphorically using the imagery of the garden of Eden, which did have a river flowing out of it. Jesus also used this imagery when He said that out of our innermost being would flow streams of living water. This is the secret of life. In Jesus we have a source of life that transcends our circumstances.
Third, the Lord is the One who overturns the chaos of the world and brings peace. Therefore we can be at peace and rest within while trusting Him to bring forth His blessing in our lives. The reference to Jacob is significant here – Jacob was the wrestler trying to take hold of God’s blessing by his own schemes – the very blessings God already wanted to give him. Until God wrestled with Jacob, wounding him in the process. It is after being wounded that Jacob is finally able to receive God's blessing as a gift.
REFLECT / PRAY
- Experiencing fear or anxiety? Run to God as your refuge.
- Thank God for His river of joy. Let Him give you life within today.
- Is there anything in life that you are chasing after that God has already promised to give you? What would it look like for you to stop striving and receive His blessings as a gift? Psalm 46:10
DAY 2 – Psalm 63 – Holy Longing
"You have made us for Yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." – St. Augustine
Many philosophers, sociologists, theologians and others who study and comment on human experience all recognize, with a variety of words, that the human experience is deeply rooted in desires. We have intense desires and longings that are unfulfilled. And even when we satisfy a particular desire, it is only temporary and the desire returns. Ronald Rolheiser describes it as "an unquenchable fire, a restlessness, a longing, a disquiet, a hunger, a loneliness, a gnawing nostalgia, a wilderness that cannot be tamed, a congenital all-embracing ache that lies at the center of human experience and is the ultimate force that drives everything else." In his book "Holy Longing" he says that at this stage in the human story we are beset with limitations and shortcomings, yet we are constantly longing to transcend the boundaries of our existence. In his view, spirituality is what we do with these longings and desires. We should take the deprivations of our desires as signposts that there is something available that transcends my limitations and experiences and is only available as a gift.
Jesus offers us this gift. "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life" (John 4:14).
REFLECT / PRAY
- Be honest. Do you recognize the unquenchable fires within you? Are they driving you? Are you frustrated? Can you turn them from negatives to positives by seeing them as pointers to Jesus?
- What might it look like to receive the gift of water from Jesus to quench your thirst?
DAY 3 – Numbers 13 – Two Stories of Doubt
Today's reading is the famous story of the 2 spies vs the 10 spies. After spending almost 2 years in the desert, Moses sent 12 leaders into the promised land, at God's command, to check things out prior to God leading the Israelites to take possession of it. Two of the leaders, Joshua and Caleb, came back excited and ready to trust God. The other 10 came back scared and full of doubts. Joshua and Caleb encouraged the people to have faith and trust God to take possession of the land. The other 10 discouraged the people with their bad report about how hard and impossible it would be. The Lord responded to their lack of trust by saying He will wait for the next generation to have faith. The people feel bad and decide to go into the land without the Lord's help and they are badly defeated.
These two stories of failure are part of the larger story of the Israelites wilderness journey. This larger story is a contrast between God's faithfulness and the people's unfaithfulness. Why did the 2 spies have a different outlook than the 10? Because they saw the strength of God's character as greater than the strength of the giants in the land. This is the very essence of faith that all biblical authors explore. Faith is trusting in God's faithfulness. And this is what these two stories of doubt show us.
In the first story the people fail to trust God and go in when God said to go. Their lack of trust prevented them from receiving God's promise as a gift. Then in the second story, they try to take God's promise on their own instead of receiving it as a gift through faith. Again, they fail to receive God's promise. God's promises can only be received as a gift. And we receive His promises by trusting Him and being faithful to Him.
REFLECT / PRAY
- What specific fears or doubts have held you back from trusting and obeying God?
- Take a few minutes to think about God's faithfulness in your own life
- What step could you take today to trust and follow Jesus?
DAY 4 – Proverbs 3 – Blessings of Eden
The language of Proverbs 3 is the language of Genesis 3. Eat from the Tree of Life and you become a tree of life and the blessings of Eden flow in your life. It will bring healing to your body and refreshment to your bones! Otherwise, if you are wise in your own eyes, repeat the folly of Genesis 3 and the sad results that follow. The key verse here is Proverbs 3:5–6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..."
REFLECT / PRAY
- As you meditate on Proverbs 3, can you pick up the Eden language?
- This is an encouragement to surrender it all to the Lord, which looks like trust in the heart and also by living according to the ways He has given us to live. Is there an area in your heart where you lack trust? Is there a way in which you live that does not acknowledge God's ways?
- What step might you take today to move towards trust in your heart and acknowledgment in your ways?
DAY 5 – Ecclesiastes 4 – One Handful of Rest
Go to TheBibleProject for today's devotional. One Handful of Rest
DAY 6 – Malachi 3:16-4:6 – Treasured Possession
Malachi, which means "My Messenger" is the last prophetic writer in the Old Testament. His message is for those wondering how to sustain hope when feeling powerless in this broken, messed up world. The answer is to immerse yourself in the goodness of God and His faithfulness. Malachi tells us that God always finds a faithful remnant who will surrender themselves and trust Him, and He will bring them through the difficulties and out the other side into His promises. He calls these faithful ones His "treasured possession."
These are the ones who treasure their identity in God and therefore live as treasured ones. They are simply called to join the incredible lineage of the faithful remnant within each generation that lives a life of trust and faithfulness, patiently waiting for the day the Lord sets all things right. That day will be a day of fire. For some the justice of God will cause their life to fall apart. But for those who trust the Lord, that day will purify them and be like a sunrise that brings forth a new day of life and healing.
Many New Testament writers pick up the same theme. Here are a few examples if you want further meditation. Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Peter 1:3–9, 1 Peter 2:4-10, James 5:7–11.
REFLECT / PRAY
- What does it mean to treasure your identity in Christ?
- What might it mean to be treasured by God?
- Malachi says that one of the most important characteristics of the faithful remnant is that they work to see fractured relationships restored. What might this look like in your life?