Daily Devotions

Redeemed

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"The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

 

This passage has provided a great deal of comfort, but has also been misinterpreted far too often. By a "broken spirit," the psalmist is not talking about destroying a person's self-worth. The passage speaks of God expecting our spirit being broken in such a way that we need God in order to be fully whole beings.

 

If our spirit isn't broken, we run without direction or purpose. Like a horse that needs to be broken for it to be useful, so is our spirit to be broken that we might be useful, and guided by the will of God.

 

You might bristle at the idea of being guided, as if with a bit in our mouth. You may not relish the thought of loosing one's freedom, by being directed by God. But, God's direction is what brings wholeness, meaning, and eternal life to our lives. Without God's bit directing us, we wander, directionless and wasting the life God created for us.

 

Let God break the arrogance and the selfishness in you. Allow God's Spirit to replace your broken spirit. Then, prayerfully listen for God, because God is going to tug on your bit, and direct you in special and life-transforming ways. Begin today by offering God your entire life, and God will direct your conscience in the days, weeks, and months to come.   

The Kingdom of God

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"But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me." (Psalm 49:15)

 Outside of the books of the Prophets, the Old Testament has little direct acknowledgement of the afterlife. Psalm 49:15, however, is an outlier. But it is undeniable that the writer believes that the soul of the faithful remains intact. Beyond that, the soul is not in jeopardy of separation from God. God is said to "ransom" the soul, which means that God paid the price "for freeing a captive." We could have been captive to the "power of Sheol, but we are now free to be received by God.

 

"Sheol" is an interesting word here. Sheol is defined as "the abode of the dead." It is a place separate from God, but a place that is "not removed from God's jurisdiction." According to Job, "Sheol is naked before God." The Psalmist interjects, "If I make my bed in Sheol, behold thou art there" (Ps. 139:8). Sheol is a place that is abnormal to human beings and is a result of sin. Yet, even in that place, God is not absent.

 

I offer detail to the words "ransom" and "Sheol" in order to offer comfort to you. All of us have loved friends &/or family members who either did not believe in God, or lived a life of such sin that we question whether heaven will be there eternal resting place. The Biblical reality of the word "Sheol" is part of the reason that the Roman Catholic Church created the idea of purgatory. As Protestants, we do not affirm purgatory, but I do want to make the point that even in Sheol, a person is not lost to God.

 

Today, lift up in prayer the people in your past, or in your present circumstances who you are afraid may find their abode with the dead. Pray for the faith to trust God's unconditional love. Pray for God's power to ransom captive souls. Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for God's divine power and willingness to overcome Sheol, with a heavenly kingdom.

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