Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Tag: Psalms 34

Restore

February 4 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 22-24 and Psalms 34

My meditation today has to do with all the “rules” that governed the Israelites as a new nation under God.

Some of these make perfect sense today and some seem archaic and meaningless. One general moral standard that repeatedly stands out for me is that of RESTITUTION. We don’t see much restitution as part of our society’s justice system, but I believe this principle was meant to be part of God’s sanctifying work in our lives.

When I was 16, I met the Lord and one of the first things He began to talk to me about was restitution. I had no idea that “restitution” was in the Bible but by the Spirit, I knew that God was interested in dealing with me from the inside out. Several months before I met the Lord, I had stolen a ceramic “needle” used to play old-fashioned vinyl records (before “8 tracks” or “cassettes” or “CDs” or “iTunes o on-line streaming”). As a new believer, I wanted to “clean up” the music I was listening to so I saved up and purchased some worship music for my high school dorm room. When I began to play that album with my stolen needle however, the Holy Spirit told me very clearly that I had to make this right. The next day, I detached the needle, put it in my pocket and proceeded downtown on my bicycle to face the storeowner. I had prayed about this the night before and realized that the owner could phone the police and have me charged or insist that I pay him a large sum of money in exchange for not having me charged. This was before the Canadian “young offenders act” and I was terrified because I was placing myself completely in the hands of this unknown person that I was about to confess to.

I remember the sequence of events as if it was yesterday. I can even remember the layout of the store and the sales counter where I met the owner. I simply took the needle out of my pocket placed it on the counter and told the man how I had stolen it and how Jesus had told me to bring it back and make things right. There was a long pause as the owner tried to comprehend what I was saying. Then he told me that he was glad I had told him everything and that there was no need for any compensation. What this store owner did was very gracious and forgiving but what God accomplished in my young heart that day was even more amazing – I publicly admitted that I had harmed someone and was willing to make things right – even if it cost me dearly.

When I walked out of that store, I understood the meaning of restitution and realized I had learned a lesson in how the Kingdom of God functions. If we are being led by the Holy Spirit then we are accountable to a “higher law”, one which is far superior to any law of the land. A Christian author once wrote; “Love God and do what you please”. When I first heard this statement I thought it was heresy but the more I considered it, the more I realized that if you love God you will be operating on a higher plane, “the law of the Spirit”.

Questions:

1. Recall a “restitution” story from your life experience.

2. How would our present day justice system be changed if we included more “restitution” in the sentencing?

“My eyes will watch over them for good”

August 4 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 22-24 and Psalms 34

We see a shift happening in the book of Jeremiah right around Chapter 24. Just as soon as the people of God have gone into captivity as a result of their sin, God is already revealing His plan to get them out of there and back to where they belong. “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:5-7)

70 years was the appointed time set for the nation to be in Babylon and as we continue to read we will see that God looked after His people there and revealed Himself to them there. The people who listened to God while in captivity prospered. God placed some of them (Daniel and friends – Esther and Mordecai – Ezekiel the prophet – Ezra – Nehemiah and all the other Governors and Prophets) in great positions of honor and authority in the nation of Babylon where they had been taken. God visited several ruthless Babylonian rulers like Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius who were reigning over Israel during those years. These men were all transformed by the power of the Lord and the people of God often prospered under them.

What brings great comfort to me is not so much that the sin was judged but that even in this sentencing to captivity, God’s purposes and plans were redemptive. The reason for the captivity and judgment was to save the people from the sinful lifestyles they had chosen. Sounds like the world today – held captive by sin and brought to our knees in “Babylon” so that we can come home to God. This corrective, redemptive heart of God is also seen in the Church – “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:5-11)

When God corrects, it is as a parent corrects – when God passed judgment on Israel and Judah it was in the hope that they would repent. Even Nineveh’s judgment (Jonah 4:11) was cancelled when they turned back to the Lord. No, even the judgments of God are loving and for our good!

Questions:

1. Give another example from Scripture where God showed His “love” by passing judgment on a given situation.
2. Give an example from your own life where the “discipline” of God saved you from yourself.

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