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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 105
O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
     make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
     tell of all his wonderful works.
Glory in his holy name;
     let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
     seek his presence continually.
Remember the wonderful works he has done,
     his miracles, and the judgments he uttered,
O offspring of his servant Abraham,
     children of Jacob, his chosen ones.

He is the Lord our God;
     his judgments are in all the earth.
He is mindful of his covenant forever,
     of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
     his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
     to Israel as an everlasting covenant,
saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan
     as your portion for an inheritance.”

When they were few in number,
     of little account, and strangers in it,
wandering from nation to nation,
     from one kingdom to another people,
he allowed no one to oppress them;
     he rebuked kings on their account,
saying, “Do not touch my anointed ones;
     do my prophets no harm.”

When he summoned famine against the land,
     and broke every staff of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
     Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters,
     his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass,
     the word of the Lord kept testing him.
The king sent and released him;
     the ruler of the peoples set him free.
He made him lord of his house,
     and ruler of all his possessions,
to instruct his officials at his pleasure,
     and to teach his elders wisdom.

Then Israel came to Egypt;
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
And the Lord made his people very fruitful,
and made them stronger than their foes,
whose hearts he then turned to hate his people,
to deal craftily with his servants.

He sent his servant Moses,
     and Aaron whom he had chosen.
They performed his signs among them,
     and miracles in the land of Ham.
He sent darkness, and made the land dark;
     they rebelled against his words.
He turned their waters into blood,
     and caused their fish to die.
Their land swarmed with frogs,
     even in the chambers of their kings.
He spoke, and there came swarms of flies,
     and gnats throughout their country.
He gave them hail for rain,
     and lightning that flashed through their land.
He struck their vines and fig trees,
     and shattered the trees of their country.
He spoke, and the locusts came,
     and young locusts without number;
they devoured all the vegetation in their land,
     and ate up the fruit of their ground.
He struck down all the firstborn in their land,
     the first issue of all their strength.

Then he brought Israel out with silver and gold,
     and there was no one among their tribes who stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
     for dread of them had fallen upon it.
He spread a cloud for a covering,
     and fire to give light by night.
They asked, and he brought quails,
     and gave them food from heaven in abundance.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
     it flowed through the desert like a river.
For he remembered his holy promise,
     and Abraham, his servant.

So he brought his people out with joy,
     his chosen ones with singing.
He gave them the lands of the nations,
     and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples,
that they might keep his statutes
     and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

Psalm 105 is a wonderful summary of the escape of the Israelites from Egypt. It begins earlier with God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, moves on to the Joseph story in Genesis 39–50, and concludes with the miraculous acts of Exodus from chapters 1–18—texts we read earlier this year.

The psalms often look back at what God has done to give us faith and confidence in what God will do. This is called salvation history and was a wonderful reminder to the early Israelites and to us to trust in God’s ultimate deliverance. “Pursue the Lord and his strength; seek his face always! Remember the wondrous works he has done, all his marvelous works and the justice he declared.”

When we are in the middle of a difficult situation it is often hard to see if God is helping. When we most need to rely on God’s strength, we often find it hardest to pray. Thinking about what God has done in the past, which we often can’t see until we are removed from the situation, gives us confidence that God will ultimately deliver us from whatever we face. So take heart, no matter what you face, “pursue the Lord and his strength.” Nothing can separate us from the love of God, and our God is always working to deliver us.

Loving God, thank you for delivering the Israelites from Egypt so long ago, and thank you for the psalms that remind me of your steadfastness. Even when I find it hard to have faith, remind me of your presence in my life, and reassure me that you are always with me. Help me, O Lord, to rely on your strength when my own strength has gone. Your strength brings deliverance, and you will also deliver me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Written by Liz Nickerson, Family Ministry Coordinator

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