Deuteronomy 32 is called the Song of Moses. It is a song that was intended to warn Israel through the ages of the consequences of apostasy and disobedience to God.
In these verses Amos confronts the distorted view of the Israelites concerning their status as God’s chosen people.
Do you sometimes seem to be doing everything right and everything goes wrong?
You are faithful to God, planting seed for His Kingdom by serving and obeying Him in every way. Then, in the middle of your faithfulness and obedience, first one problem or tragedy strikes, then another, and then another.
“When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:49-52, HCSB).
Have you ever read a familiar passage in the Bible and found something new in it? That’s what happened to me as I read again this familiar story of Jesus walking on the water.
Admittedly, Mark’s version of this story does not include an important element described in Matthew’s account (Matthew 14:22-33). In Matthew’s version, Peter gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Jesus until he notices the wind and the waves, and consequently, begins to sink. So Peter’s faith (or lack of it) is usually the focus of this story for us.
Before Jesus performed the miracle of feeding the five thousand (or ten or fifteen thousand, actually), He first commanded the disciples to feed them!
Now His command could be interpreted in two ways. Either Jesus was commanding the disciples to let Him empower them to perform the miracle or He was trying to teach them a lesson about God’s miraculous provisioning.
We usually interpret His command to the disciples in terms of the latter, but let’s take the perspective that He was actually commanding them to feed the five or ten or fifteen thousand.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He rescued them from their distress. He led them by the right path to go to a city where they could live. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for all humanity. For He has satisfied the thirsty and filled the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:6-9, HCSB).Psalm 107 contains a powerful message of God’s lovingkindness and deliverance.
The fundamental message of the Psalm is that when people encounter adversity, if they cry out to God for help, He will rescue them from their troubles.
You’ve heard this message before, many times, but the Psalmist’s proclamation of God’s faithful love, His covenant loyalty, His chesed, in this Psalm is so powerful that it warrants further consideration.
“I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus…for I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole plan of God” (Acts 20:20-21, 27, HCSB).
These declarations are from the Apostle Paul’s farewell address to the elders of the church at Ephesus (vs. 17-38).
This is one of those days when I get to the end of the day and find myself really weary. Some would say “weary from well-doing,” though I question how much “well” I’m really “doing.”
I’ll spare you the details of all my troubles because as hard as I think I have it, my troubles pale in comparison to the troubles encountered by Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13 and 14, who were undertaking the task God had assigned them.
In Acts 13:2 God sent Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey: “The Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.'”
“For You, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined. You lured us into a trap; you placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us out to abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12, HCSB).
The Psalmist indicates that refining is a process meant to purify God’s people.
And if these verses allude to God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, the Psalmist seems to apply Israel’s experience personally to us.
“Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God” (vs. 5).
Life is treating you well so you must be in God’s will because you are so blessed.
Then the bottom falls out of your life and all that “blessedness” seems to go away.
Then you get all conflicted and begin to question everything you think you knew about what is God’s will.
These are some of the emotions the psalmist is expressing in this Psalm. He asks himself why he is so depressed when God is his hope and his Savior? He knows God is there and yet he yearns for fellowship with God: “As a deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, God. I thirst for God, the living God” (vs. 1-2).
But life has him at a disadvantage; he is down and out and looking for a way up to God.
It’s as if he is living life from the bottom!
So, my fellow bottom-dwellers, when you live life from the bottom, what’s important to you is not so much that you get to the top, but simply that your cry for help is heard and heeded by God…to know that God hears you from the bottom!
There’s a passion (or desperation) for God that comes from being at the bottom that’s really not there when you’re at the top of your game.
You see, God’s Kingdom is the abode of desperate people: “The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:3).
We trust and hope in God the most when we have to, not when we want to.
It’s hope sustained by desperation!
God knows how we work and so this is the way He works on us, from the bottom up!