Out of Despair

‘He lifted me out of the pit of despair.’ Psalm 40:2 NLT

When an earthquake struck Haiti, a small impoverished island in the Caribbean, an aid worker was trapped under a collapsed hotel. He prayed, ‘Lord, I haven’t been in touch with You lately. Now I need You more than ever.’

He wrote about the experience: ‘I heard a sound. “Who’s there?” I shouted. “Jim,” a man replied. He and five others were trapped too. “Would you like to pray with me?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered. So I said, “Lord, we’re asking You for a miracle. Please rescue us.” I was drifting off to sleep when rhythmic thumping woke me. Helicopters! We waited, but nobody came. I felt drained. No food and water for twenty-four hours and I needed a doctor… I closed my eyes, sure I’d never open them again… A voice shouted and I jolted awake… a survivor had contacted a rescue team through a small hole… An hour passed, then two… I banged on the wall. No response. “I’m going to die here, and there’s nothing I can do.” Then this thought came to my mind: Worship Me. I began singing: “Great is Thy faithfulness; morning by morning new mercies I see.” I sang: “Be still my soul.” Praise songs… to the One who knew exactly where I was. I felt God’s presence…and heard Him whisper, “Trust Me with everything”…and I let it all go. “Your will be done, Lord”… Hours later a team of rescuers came down the elevator shaft, hoisted me to safety and took me to the hospital. My wife was waiting. “I thought you were dead,” she said. “Me too,” I whispered. And I would have been if it hadn’t been for what I had with me in that dark place—like my faith that’s more alive than ever.’

SoulFood: 2 Thes 1–3, Luke 20:9–19, Ps 18:30–50, Pro 8:32–33

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

2 Thessalonians 1–3 ()

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1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Luke 20:9–19 ()

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And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. 10 When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. 13 Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ 15 And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” 17 But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

  “‘The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone’?

18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

19 The scribes and the chief priests sought to lay hands on him at that very hour, for they perceived that he had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.

Psalm 18:30–50 ()

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30   This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the LORD proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
31   For who is God, but the LORD?
    And who is a rock, except our God?—
32   the God who equipped me with strength
    and made my way blameless.
33   He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.
34   He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35   You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your right hand supported me,
    and your gentleness made me great.
36   You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet did not slip.
37   I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
    and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38   I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
    they fell under my feet.
39   For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
    you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40   You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
    and those who hated me I destroyed.
41   They cried for help, but there was none to save;
    they cried to the LORD, but he did not answer them.
42   I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
    I cast them out like the mire of the streets.
43   You delivered me from strife with the people;
    you made me the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.
44   As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
    foreigners came cringing to me.
45   Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling out of their fortresses.
46   The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47   the God who gave me vengeance
    and subdued peoples under me,
48   who rescued me from my enemies;
    yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you delivered me from the man of violence.
49   For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
    and sing to your name.
50   Great salvation he brings to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.

Proverbs 8:32–33 ()

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32   “And now, O sons, listen to me:
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33   Hear instruction and be wise,
    and do not neglect it.

Thu 28 March, 2019


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