June Reading from The Message

June 1, 2023

Do you think the Christian life will lift you out of trouble? Don’t wish in the wrong direction, God often draws us deeper into the stuff of creation and that doesn’t always mean safety. But He doesn’t abandon us to face the troubles of life alone. We see this with David here in Psalm 34…

I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with his praise.

2 I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:

3 Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out.

4 God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.

5 Look at him; give him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from him.

6 When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.

7 God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.

8 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.

9 Worship God if you want the best; worship opens doors to all his goodness.

10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry, but God-seekers are full of God.

11 Come, children, listen closely; I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

12 Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

13 Guard your tongue from profanity, and no more lying through your teeth.

14 Turn your back on sin; do something good. Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

15 God keeps an eye on his friends, his ears pick up every moan and groan.

16 God won’t put up with rebels; he’ll cull them from the pack.

17 Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.

18 If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

19 Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.

20 He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken.

21 The wicked commit slow suicide; they waste their lives hating the good.

22 God pays for each slave’s freedom; no one who runs to him loses out.

Scripture Insight

The Single Qualification for Being Eligible for God’s Help

As you look closely at the beginning of this psalm, you’ll find that it doesn’t say, “I am happy at all times,” but “I bless God every chance I get” (Psalm 34:1).

These aren’t the words of a person whose moods are always ebullient; they’re the words of a person who has simply decided to speak a blessing every chance he gets, determined to be ready to give thanks in all things. The reason, of course, isn’t because he feels great but because he believes that God is working through all things to bring forth good (see Romans 8:28).

Do you think of the Christian life as something that lifts you out of the realm of the mundane into something more majestic? If so, you’re wishing in the wrong direction. The Christian faith draws us deeper into the stuff of creation: bodies, money, emotions, relationships. Some of the stuff we see is awful. And some of the stuff we feel is painful.

But it is precisely there, in the awfulness and the painfulness of life, that we discover something that transcends these things. In Psalm 34:18, the psalmist says, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.” The times the psalmist lived in were not all that different from our own times. Back then, as now, there was a pseudo theology that explained any kind of misfortune as a sign of divine punishment, whether that punishment was sickness, poverty, disability, or death. The sufferer’s recourse was either to avoid the gods or to strike a bargain with them so they would back off.

The ministry of Jesus was the great refutation of this. He deliberately singled out every kind of trouble and initiated a healing ministry to the sick, the guilty, the hungry, even the dead. The single qualification for being eligible for God’s help is that we be in trouble. The reason we’re in trouble doesn’t matter, whether it’s our own fault or someone else’s. What matters is that God is right there in the midst of our troubles, stooping to pick up the pieces of our broken hearts and put them back together.

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