God Is Real!

 

‘The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?’ Psalm 27:1 NIV

What hope or help does the atheist or agnostic have? Well, let’s look at the testimony of one. Writer and editor WO Saunders said in American Magazine: ‘I’d like to introduce you to one of the loneliest and unhappiest individuals on earth… the man who doesn’t believe in God. I can introduce you to such a man because I myself am one, and in introducing myself you shall have an introduction to the agnostic or sceptic in your own neighbourhood, for he is everywhere in the land. You’ll be surprised to know that the agnostic envies your faith in God, your settled belief in a Heaven after life, and your blessed assurance that you’ll meet with your loved ones in an afterlife where there’ll be neither sadness nor pain. He’d give anything to be able to embrace that faith and be comforted by it, but for him there is only the grave and the persistence of matter. After the grave all he can see is the disintegration of the body and personality. But in this materialist view, I find neither ecstasy nor happiness… He may put on a brave front but he isn’t happy… He sometimes yearns for a staff on which to lean. He, too, carries a cross. For him, this earth is but a tricky raft adrift in the unfathomable waters of eternity with no horizon in sight. His heart aches for every precious life upon the raft—drifting, drifting, drifting…’

Perhaps Saunders does not have a typical view; or perhaps he was more in touch with his own motives than others. One thing is sure, however. When you decide God exists and you put your trust in Christ, you can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?’

SoulFood: Jer 14–17, Mt 28:11–15, Ps 69:1–18, Prov 8:27–29

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2018

Today’s Readings

Jeremiah 14–17 ()

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14:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah concerning the drought:

  “Judah mourns,
    and her gates languish;
  her people lament on the ground,
    and the cry of Jerusalem goes up.
  Her nobles send their servants for water;
    they come to the cisterns;
  they find no water;
    they return with their vessels empty;
  they are ashamed and confounded
    and cover their heads.
  Because of the ground that is dismayed,
    since there is no rain on the land,
  the farmers are ashamed;
    they cover their heads.
  Even the doe in the field forsakes her newborn fawn
    because there is no grass.
  The wild donkeys stand on the bare heights;
    they pant for air like jackals;
  their eyes fail
    because there is no vegetation.
  “Though our iniquities testify against us,
    act, O LORD, for your name's sake;
  for our backslidings are many;
    we have sinned against you.
  O you hope of Israel,
    its savior in time of trouble,
  why should you be like a stranger in the land,
    like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?
  Why should you be like a man confused,
    like a mighty warrior who cannot save?
  Yet you, O LORD, are in the midst of us,
    and we are called by your name;
    do not leave us.”
10   Thus says the LORD concerning this people:
  “They have loved to wander thus;
    they have not restrained their feet;
  therefore the LORD does not accept them;
    now he will remember their iniquity
    and punish their sins.”

11 The LORD said to me: “Do not pray for the welfare of this people. 12 Though they fast, I will not hear their cry, and though they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”

13 Then I said: “Ah, Lord GOD, behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. 15 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who prophesy in my name although I did not send them, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not come upon this land’: By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed. 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword, with none to bury them—them, their wives, their sons, and their daughters. For I will pour out their evil upon them.

17   “You shall say to them this word:
  ‘Let my eyes run down with tears night and day,
    and let them not cease,
  for the virgin daughter of my people is shattered with a great wound,
    with a very grievous blow.
18   If I go out into the field,
    behold, those pierced by the sword!
  And if I enter the city,
    behold, the diseases of famine!
  For both prophet and priest ply their trade through the land
    and have no knowledge.’”
19   Have you utterly rejected Judah?
    Does your soul loathe Zion?
  Why have you struck us down
    so that there is no healing for us?
  We looked for peace, but no good came;
    for a time of healing, but behold, terror.
20   We acknowledge our wickedness, O LORD,
    and the iniquity of our fathers,
    for we have sinned against you.
21   Do not spurn us, for your name's sake;
    do not dishonor your glorious throne;
    remember and do not break your covenant with us.
22   Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain?
    Or can the heavens give showers?
  Are you not he, O LORD our God?
    We set our hope on you,
    for you do all these things.

15:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD:

  “‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence,
    and those who are for the sword, to the sword;
  those who are for famine, to famine,
    and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’

I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the LORD: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.

  “Who will have pity on you, O Jerusalem,
    or who will grieve for you?
  Who will turn aside
    to ask about your welfare?
  You have rejected me, declares the LORD;
    you keep going backward,
  so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you—
    I am weary of relenting.
  I have winnowed them with a winnowing fork
    in the gates of the land;
  I have bereaved them; I have destroyed my people;
    they did not turn from their ways.
  I have made their widows more in number
    than the sand of the seas;
  I have brought against the mothers of young men
    a destroyer at noonday;
  I have made anguish and terror
    fall upon them suddenly.
  She who bore seven has grown feeble;
    she has fainted away;
  her sun went down while it was yet day;
    she has been shamed and disgraced.
  And the rest of them I will give to the sword
    before their enemies,
      declares the LORD.”

10 Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me. 11 The LORD said, “Have I not set you free for their good? Have I not pleaded for you before the enemy in the time of trouble and in the time of distress? 12 Can one break iron, iron from the north, and bronze?

13 “Your wealth and your treasures I will give as spoil, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. 14 I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

15   O LORD, you know;
    remember me and visit me,
    and take vengeance for me on my persecutors.
  In your forbearance take me not away;
    know that for your sake I bear reproach.
16   Your words were found, and I ate them,
    and your words became to me a joy
    and the delight of my heart,
  for I am called by your name,
    O LORD, God of hosts.
17   I did not sit in the company of revelers,
    nor did I rejoice;
  I sat alone, because your hand was upon me,
    for you had filled me with indignation.
18   Why is my pain unceasing,
    my wound incurable,
    refusing to be healed?
  Will you be to me like a deceitful brook,
    like waters that fail?
19   Therefore thus says the LORD:
  “If you return, I will restore you,
    and you shall stand before me.
  If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,
    you shall be as my mouth.
  They shall turn to you,
    but you shall not turn to them.
20   And I will make you to this people
    a fortified wall of bronze;
  they will fight against you,
    but they shall not prevail over you,
  for I am with you
    to save you and deliver you,
      declares the LORD.
21   I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”

16:1 The word of the LORD came to me: “You shall not take a wife, nor shall you have sons or daughters in this place. For thus says the LORD concerning the sons and daughters who are born in this place, and concerning the mothers who bore them and the fathers who fathered them in this land: They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.

“For thus says the LORD: Do not enter the house of mourning, or go to lament or grieve for them, for I have taken away my peace from this people, my steadfast love and mercy, declares the LORD. Both great and small shall die in this land. They shall not be buried, and no one shall lament for them or cut himself or make himself bald for them. No one shall break bread for the mourner, to comfort him for the dead, nor shall anyone give him the cup of consolation to drink for his father or his mother. You shall not go into the house of feasting to sit with them, to eat and drink. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will silence in this place, before your eyes and in your days, the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.

10 “And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the LORD pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the LORD our God?’ 11 then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the LORD, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, 12 and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me. 13 Therefore I will hurl you out of this land into a land that neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods day and night, for I will show you no favor.’

14 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks. 17 For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes. 18 But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”

19   O LORD, my strength and my stronghold,
    my refuge in the day of trouble,
  to you shall the nations come
    from the ends of the earth and say:
  “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies,
    worthless things in which there is no profit.
20   Can man make for himself gods?
    Such are not gods!”

21 “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the LORD.”

17:1 “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars, while their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills, on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory. You shall loosen your hand from your heritage that I gave to you, and I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.”

  Thus says the LORD:
  “Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the LORD.
  He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
  He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.
  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
    whose trust is the LORD.
  He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
  and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
  and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
  The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?
10   “I the LORD search the heart
    and test the mind,
  to give every man according to his ways,
    according to the fruit of his deeds.”
11   Like the partridge that gathers a brood that she did not hatch,
    so is he who gets riches but not by justice;
  in the midst of his days they will leave him,
    and at his end he will be a fool.
12   A glorious throne set on high from the beginning
    is the place of our sanctuary.
13   O LORD, the hope of Israel,
    all who forsake you shall be put to shame;
  those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth,
    for they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living water.

14   Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed;
    save me, and I shall be saved,
    for you are my praise.
15   Behold, they say to me,
    “Where is the word of the LORD?
    Let it come!”
16   I have not run away from being your shepherd,
    nor have I desired the day of sickness.
  You know what came out of my lips;
    it was before your face.
17   Be not a terror to me;
    you are my refuge in the day of disaster.
18   Let those be put to shame who persecute me,
    but let me not be put to shame;
  let them be dismayed,
    but let me not be dismayed;
  bring upon them the day of disaster;
    destroy them with double destruction!

19 Thus said the LORD to me: “Go and stand in the People's Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, 20 and say: ‘Hear the word of the LORD, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. 21 Thus says the LORD: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22 And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers. 23 Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction.

24 “‘But if you listen to me, declares the LORD, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, 25 then there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And this city shall be inhabited forever. 26 And people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the LORD. 27 But if you do not listen to me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched.’”

Matthew 28:11–15 ()

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11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Psalm 69:1–18 ()

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To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.

69:1   Save me, O God!
    For the waters have come up to my neck.
  I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
  I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
  I am weary with my crying out;
    my throat is parched.
  My eyes grow dim
    with waiting for my God.
  More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
  mighty are those who would destroy me,
    those who attack me with lies.
  What I did not steal
    must I now restore?
  O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
  Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
    O Lord GOD of hosts;
  let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
    O God of Israel.
  For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
    that dishonor has covered my face.
  I have become a stranger to my brothers,
    an alien to my mother's sons.
  For zeal for your house has consumed me,
    and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
10   When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting,
    it became my reproach.
11   When I made sackcloth my clothing,
    I became a byword to them.
12   I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
    and the drunkards make songs about me.
13   But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
    At an acceptable time, O God,
    in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
14   Deliver me
    from sinking in the mire;
  let me be delivered from my enemies
    and from the deep waters.
15   Let not the flood sweep over me,
    or the deep swallow me up,
    or the pit close its mouth over me.
16   Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
    according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17   Hide not your face from your servant,
    for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18   Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
    ransom me because of my enemies!

Proverbs 8:27–29 ()

()

27   When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28   when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
29   when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
  when he marked out the foundations of the earth,

Mon 02 April, 2018


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