"Kneeling in Prayer" painting by Nadine Rippelmeyer

Today: Psalms 25:1-7; Mark 6:30-56; Exodus 31 & 32; Exodus 33:1-6

Psalms 25

I talk about seeking God a lot. But what does that mean, to seek God? David shows us some of the ways in Psalm 25. “To You, LORD, I lift up my soul. My God, in You I trust.” (v.1-2) Lifting up your soul to God is simply another way to describe the act of prayer.

God’s plan isn’t always our plan. He doesn’t always do things that we wish He would do. But there are certain requests that He does promise to fulfill. I’m talking about asking God to teach us more about Him, to help us to grow closer to Him. “Make me know Your ways, LORD, teach me Your paths,” David asks, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me.” (v.4-5)

"Jesus Walks on the Water" painting by Elizabeth Wang

Mark 6

Jesus and His disciples are learning how to deal with stardom. They are constantly barraged by hordes of fans clamoring for healings and more stories. Jesus and his disciples were so busy in their services to the crowds that “they did not even have time to eat.” (v.31)

But Jesus told them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while.” (v.31) Jesus knew the importance of stealing away to spend time alone with God. He knew the necessity of rest.

It is easy to be too busy. But even if we are busy with GOOD things, we still need to carve out time to spend often with Gd. We cannot feed others successfully if we don’t feed our own souls. The work will always be there waiting for us when we return.

Jesus tells His disciples, “You give them something to eat!” (v.37) He was teaching them how to be servants. And they fed 5,000+ people with five loaves of bread and two fish. A little effort goes a long way in the kingdom of heaven. God multiplies it!

Finally the time of service ended and Jesus went up the mountain alone to pray. He needed time alone with God to replenish his soul, time to rest away from the crowds.

But the disciples “had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves,” Mark tells us, “…their hearts were hardened.” (v.52) So what did they do? They weren’t resting and they weren’t seeking God. They were battling it out in their boat against a headwind. They didn’t even recognize Jesus when He came to them walking on the water. Then they were shocked and confused when He calmed the storm.

It’s easy to criticize the disciples for their lack of understanding. I mean, c’mon, how many miracles does it take for them to get it?!

But our hearts are hardened just like theirs. Hard hearts are part of our human condition. We are surrounded by miracles every moment — all of creation is a miracle. Yet most of us are so blind to God’s unceasing workings.

But Jesus comes to us in the storms as we struggle against the headwinds of life. He tells us, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.” And the winds of worry and fear will subside if we just let Jesus into our boat!

"Sabbath Blessing" artwork by Irving Amen

Exodus 31

I love that God Himself appointed artists and craftsmen to help build His temple. I am an artist, a musician, and a writer. These gifts God has given me bring me the most joy when I give them completely back to Him and let Him create through me.

Sabbath

A Sabbath, a time of rest to honor God, is a covenant with God. It is so important to carve out time in our lives to spend with God. We are too busy. That time isn’t going to just happen. We have to make it happen, prioritize it, make it holy in our hearts. This is our personal Sabbath, our “permanent covenant” with God so that we may know that God is the LORD who sanctifies us. (v.13)

Study for "Moses and the Golden Calf" by Leon Sitarchuk

Exodus 32

Look at the difference between someone who regularly spends time alone with God (Moses) and people who do not (the Israelites). Moses is face to face with God often. God speaks to him, gives him clear directions.

But the Israelites on the other hand…

It only took them 40 days to completely screw everything up. Only FORTY DAYS after they had made a covenant with God and promised to follow Him. FORTY DAYS was all it took for them to totally forsake God and create a new god for themselves and “engage in lewd behavior.” (v.6)

It is easy to laugh at these foolish Israelites and their golden calf. But we have our own version of this. Did you ever consider how most of our living rooms are arranged — chairs and couches in a half circle around a glowing screen. Doesn’t that kind of resemble an altar? How much time do we prostrate ourselves in front of it and let it feed our minds every day? How about those little shining boxes we carry around with us everywhere, to our dinner tables, into the bathroom, into our beds? The Israelites worshipped an idol made of gold. How many of us also worship money. Maybe we aren’t so different from those foolish Israelites?

God was sick of them. He wanted to get rid of them and start over with the ONE person who was faithful. But Moses pleaded with God for mercy. God listened to his friend, Moses, and did not destroy the Israelites.

I believe that we people of prayer need to be Moses right now. We need to also plead with God to have mercy on our foolish country and on our foolish world. Please join with me in praying every day that God will heal our land and bring us back to Him.