Love you, Kelly!

Kelly and I

On Monday October 4, 2021 Kelly arrived in Lancaster from Fort Worth, Texas. Kelly and I met in July 2010 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. From the moment that I met Kelly I was inspired and challenged by her unwavering love and devotion for Christ and others. Few people have had such an impact on my Jesus Journey as Kelly.

This is the longest that I have gone without seeing Kelly. From the beginning of the pandemic Kelly has worked in an ICU that strictly saw covid patients. The amount of suffering and death that Kelly has seen is beyond what I can comprehend. Kelly has one last shift left at her hospital and then she will be heading to the Dominican Republic in which she will serve the Lord through helping women and children with a Christian organization.

I praise God for friendship. I praise God for the opportunity to have spent time with Kelly. While I am deeply sad (and have tears running as I type this) that Kelly is on her way back to Fort Worth, I would not have traded this time with her for anything!

While she was here, we read 2 Peter together on Tuesday and yesterday we read Jude. It is amazing that God in His grace has given us these warnings of false prophets, false teachings so that we will not be led astray. Lies and manipulation are hallmarks of this world but for those who are in Christ we know that Christ is Light and Truth. May we continue to walk and shine Christ’s Light!

I am thankful for the meals Kelly and I were able to share with Nathan. It is beautiful to see how much Kelly and Nathan get along. Truth be told, when I first met Nathan I thought that he and Kelly would be really good together and they both said, “NO!” While I am NOT a camper, mountain climber like Nathan and Kelly, I am glad they can encourage each other in these shared experiences and interests. Kelly helps me to understand Nathan by giving me a different perspective.

What I love the most about my friendship with Kelly is that even though we have very different interests, our friendship is deeply rooted in our love and passion for Christ and others. I am also thankful and humbled that Kelly sees the love that I have for her and for Nathan. I am SO thankful for the opportunity to have hosted and served Kelly and in return, I am SO thankful for how Kelly brought love, joy and the fruit of the Spirit to encourage and bolster me!

Lord God, thank You for the incredible gift of friendship. Relationships are messy and I KNOW that I am not always an easy person to love so thank You for Your grace and mercy that You give to me and give to others who love, live and deal with me!

Lord God, thank You for Kelly. Thank You for her heart to visit Nathan and I before heading to the Dominican Republic. Lord God, prepare Kelly for the Dominican Republic and prepare the Dominican Republic for her. Lord God, prepare the family Kelly will be staying with for her and prepare Kelly for the family. Lord God, make Kelly’s efforts successful! Lord God, use this time to refresh, restore and renew Kelly. Lord, use Kelly to bring life to others as she brings life to me. Lord God, thank You for the friendship that You are cultivating between Kelly, Nathan and I. Thank You and praise You Lord that we all get along and that we love and care for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, may they have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. May they be a friend to others even when it is messy and difficult. Lord God, for the reader who may not want friends or does not have close friends, Lord God, send me, send a believer into this person’s life. You have NOT called us to do life alone. Lord God, for those of us who are bent more toward solitude convict our hearts that You have wired us for community.

Lord God, thank You again for Kelly! May Kelly be Your Hands and Feet no matter where she is, no matter what work she is doing. Lord God, help all of us to be more like Christ. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Watchmen

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 

“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul” (Ezekiel 33:1-9 ESV).

In verse 2, Alter translates watchman (qal, participle, ms, absolute) as lookout and “the connotation is clearly military: he is the person posted in a tower on a height to look out for and warn the people of approaching armies, as the prophet sees and warns of impending disaster” (The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary vol 2, 2019, p. 1151).

The trumpet that is used to warn the people is the shofar or ram’s horn (v 3, see pictures above). The shofar was used to muster troops, warn of attacks and was also used in religious ceremonies to call the people of Israel together (for example: Ex 19:16; Lev 23:24; 25:9). The shofar is mentioned more than any other instrument in the Bible at 72 times. “It is the only instrument of ancient Israel which survives in its original form and is still used in Jewish liturgy” (W. Elwell and B. Beitzel, “Music and Musical Instruments” BEB, 1988, p. 1510).

For the person who failed to hear Ezekiel’s shofar blast of impending doom, their blood was on their own head. Had the person taken the lookout’s warning seriously, they would have saved their life (vv 4-5). This person’s death is solely upon that person, not the watchman!

Now, if the watchman/lookout sees calamity approaching and does not blow the shofar warning people, and that person dies in their sin, the blood of that person the Lord will require from the hand of the watchman (v 6). The Lord reminds Ezekiel again of his divine calling (see Eze 3:17) to warn the house of Israel (v 7) of the coming destruction of Jerusalem. Again, the Lord says that if he fails to warn people of the coming destruction “retribution will be extracted from him” (Alter, p. 1152).

The Lord says to Ezekiel again that if he warns the wicked person and they do not take heed to his warning, the person will die in their sins; however, Ezekiel will have delivered his soul (v 9). Ezekiel, the watchman/lookout is NOT responsible how the message is received, he is responsible to deliver it!

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have MUCH to warn others about today. As Cooper states, “Warning others of the consequences of judgment inherent in sin is never a popular assignment. Believers have a duty to be “watchmen” who warn those who are in the world and are without God of the destructive nature of sin and its final irrevocable result—death and hell (33:1–33). Our responsibility is to warn and proclaim as persuasively as possible, but how the message is received is beyond our control” (Ezekiel NAC, 1994, p. 294).

It is the responsibility of every believer to be diligent watchmen and lookouts. We live in an extraordinary time where end time events are beginning to unfold like never before. In a world that celebrates conformity, tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of evil; may we be watchmen and lookouts blowing the shofar that God’s Wrath and Judgment are coming and that unbelievers need to repent and be saved because sin itself will not spend eternity in hell, but rather unrepentant sinners.

Lord God, help us to keep watch, to be on the lookout and to warn sinners that You are real and that You will not be mocked. Lord God, help each believer to understand they are called to be a watchman and a lookout. This is a serious responsibility. While there are many things that we can blow the shofar about geopolitically, economically help us to not lose sight of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and that the Kingdom of God is at hand! Lord God, help us to love You and Your Word and Truth more than this world and its message of lies. Help us to conform to You and not this world. Thank You Lord for this reader! May our lives glorify You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 119:73-80

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Yodh

73  Your hands have made and fashioned me; 

give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. 

74  Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, 

because I have hoped in your word. 

75  I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous, 

and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me. 

76  Let your steadfast love comfort me 

according to your promise to your servant. 

77  Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; 

for your law is my delight. 

78  Let the insolent be put to shame, 

because they have wronged me with falsehood; 

as for me, I will meditate on your precepts. 

79  Let those who fear you turn to me, 

that they may know your testimonies. 

80  May my heart be blameless in your statutes, 

that I may not be put to shame! 

ESV

The psalmist begins this stanza with a statement of confidence and trust. “As the Lord originally formed the first human (Gen 2:7), so the psalmist asserts that the Lord’s hands made and formed him…He wants to learn from the one who fashioned him and who knows him completely, so he calls on the Lord to give him understanding that will enable him to learn what he has commanded. He needs understanding from God if he is to learn God’s word” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 418).

The foundational truth of life, whether one likes it or not, is that God made us, God formed us, God established us. The psalmist is absolutely certain of this truth; thus, he prays asking the Lord to give him understanding (hiphil, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix). This is a verb of causation. The psalmist is asking the Lord to cause him to have understanding. God is the Agent causing this not the psalmist. Ross states, “[this] is a prayer for God to finish his work of creation: God made us for a purpose, and to fulfill that purpose we need spiritual understanding to learn God’s commandments…In the psalmist’s mind, since God made him, God must instruct him. And because of the crises that he faced in life, he realized his need for understanding was urgent if he was to live blamelessly (v. 80)” (A Commentary on the Psalms 90-150 KEL, 2016, p. 528).

Those who see the psalmist’s faith and hope in the Lord’s Word will rejoice (v 74). The psalmist is “confident that how he responds to the Lord will prompt others to praise the Lord as well” (Estes, p. 418). Often times the afflictions and sufferings that believers undergo are not for the person experiencing it but for those around the person to see the Lord. Like Job, may we seek to suffer well when the Lord has us in times of affliction, suffering and hardship so that others may see and praise Him.

In verse 75 the psalmist knows that Lord’s rules/judgments are right and that He is faithful in affliction (see verse 67). “The affliction he has been experiencing came from God, even though it was through arrogant oppressors…Nothing is said in this stanza about the affliction being a punishment for sin. While that may be a possibility, it is more likely the affliction was God’s way of testing him for obedience. Those who understand the ways of God know that ultimately it is his plan to exalt the righteous and destroy the wicked, but that in his wisdom he often humbles the righteous before exalting them” (Ross, p. 529).

The psalmist earnestly asks the Lord that His covenant faithfulness comfort him (v 76). The psalmist (as he has done throughout this psalm) refers to himself as servant and makes his appeal on the basis of the Lord’s promise (covenant). Next the psalmist petitions the Lord for His mercy to come to him, that he can live (v 77). The psalmist wants the Lord to end his affliction; however, “even in affliction the psalmist delights in God’s law—the divine test has proven his faith, and so now it is time for relief” (Ross, p. 531).

The psalmist asks for the arrogant/insolent people to be put to shame for the wrong they are causing him by speaking lies/falsehoods (v 78). “As the arrogant focus on speaking falsehoods against him, the psalmist focuses his attention on meditating on God’s truth. For the arrogant truth is dispensable, but for the psalmist it is indispensable because his life is shaped by God’s word as he assimilates it through the process of meditation…The psalmist longs for the Lord to give to the arrogant the shame they have attempted to inflict on him…” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist as he did in verse 74 asks the Lord for those who fear Him to see his faith and know the Lord’s testimonies (v 79). “Because the psalmist feels alone in adversity, he longs for others who like him revere the Lord to come alongside him in his time of affliction ([in v 63] the psalmist states that he is a friend of all who fear the Lord). This is fellowship built on shared commitment to the Lord and his word” (Estes, p. 419).

The psalmist ends this stanza asking for his heart to be blameless and that he not be put to shame (v 80). The psalmist wants his heart to be pure and blameless so that he may obey God. “Godly living throughout the Bible begins in the heart and works out into transformed behavior; it is not a cosmetic makeover that tries to produce the appearance of godliness through actions that are not prompted by a heart devoted to the Lord” (Estes, p. 419).

May we honor and obey the Lord by our walk matching our talk. May we be wholeheartedly devoted to obeying Christ rather than giving into fear of being put to shame for our hope and faith in Christ.

Lord God, Your Word never ceases to amaze me. Lord God, help us to know Your Word, to study Your Word and to apply Your Word. Lord God, may we never forget that good theology moves from the head, to the heart to the hand. Lord God, there is SO much deception in our world today, may we hold EVERYTHING we read, hear and see up to the light of Scripture!!!! Lord God, thank You that as You have made, formed and established this world, so have You made, formed and fashioned us! Lord God, cause us to understand Your Word. Holy Spirit, convict us and help us to understand and apply Your Word! Stir in us a desire to learn Your commandments!

Lord God, may those who come in contact with us rejoice in You. May we manifest the fruit of Your Spirit regardless of our circumstances. Lord God, as harassment and hatred for Christians increases, may we be like the early church counting it all joy to be worthy to suffer for Christ. I know this is easier said than done. Lord work on my heart to suffer well for You hoping in Your Word! Lord God, we know that affliction produces endurance, help us to depend on Your strength. Lord may we cling to Your hesed. May we hold fast to Your Covenant Faithfulness knowing that You will never do anything that violates who You are and how You work.

Lord God, may we be servants who comfort others as You have comforted us. Lord, thank You and praise You that Your Goodness and Mercy are never far from us. Lord, may we delight in Your Word until You call us home. May we never forget that vengeance is Yours. Thank You Lord that someday when You see fit You will hold all those who have persecuted Your people throughout time accountable. In the meantime, may we again be a people who show and tell about You to this dark and dying world. Lord God, may we choose to obey You. May we choose to be holy as You are holy. May we choose to keep our hearts pure for You, obeying You regardless of what it costs. May we fear being separated from You, disappointing You, not in a works based righteousness way, but because we love You and want to please You. Thank You Lord for this reader. Fill them with Your grace and truth today so that they may glorify You wherever You have them today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Sunset August 20, 2021

Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

The Mighty One, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth
(Psalm 50:1-2 ESV).

Nathan, PQ and Gary are cat fishing, which means I get a Friday night to myself. What a gift to marvel at the majesty of God. In the midst of all the chaos, do not lose hope dear reader, the Triune God is in control.

Lord God, thank You that You control when the sun rises and when it sets. Thank You Lord that while nightfalls here, day is breaking and in full swing elsewhere. Lord God, no two sunrises and sunsets are the same, each day is unique whether we realize it or not. Thank You Holy Trinity that Your mercies are new each morning. Lord God, for the one who reads this at night, may they rest well in Christ. Lord God, for the one who reads this in the daytime, may they walk in the light of Jesus, being a light to all they meet. Lord God, thank You that nothing that happens under the sun catches You unaware. Lord God, may we never lose sight that one day soon we will see Jesus, our King, in His Beauty ruling and reigning in Zion. Thank You Lord for today! In Jesus’s Holy and Majestic name I pray. Amen.

Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset. August 20, 2021. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Psalm 119:65-72

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Teth

65  You have dealt well with your servant, 

O Lord, according to your word. 

66  Teach me good judgment and knowledge, 

for I believe in your commandments. 

67  Before I was afflicted I went astray, 

but now I keep your word. 

68  You are good and do good; 

teach me your statutes. 

69  The insolent smear me with lies, 

but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; 

70  their heart is unfeeling like fat, 

but I delight in your law. 

71  It is good for me that I was afflicted, 

that I might learn your statutes. 

72  The law of your mouth is better to me 

than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

ESV

Five lines in this stanza begin with the word good (ṭôb). In verse 65 the psalmist remembers how the Lord has dealt well (ṭôb) with him in the past. “As he reviews how the Lord has dealt with him in the past, he recognizes that the Lord has treated him well. What the Lord has done has lined up with what he has said, as he has been true to his promises” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 416). The Lord will never deal with us in a manner that violates His Character, Word and Covenant.

After remembering what the Lord has done in the past, the psalmist in verse 66 commands/petitions the Lord to teach (piel, imperative 2ms with 1 cs suffix) him good judgment and discernment. The Lord’s judgment is always best; hence why the psalmist is an eager student of the Lord, believing in His commandments. What the psalmist is asking here “is a practical prayer for spiritual growth and not just the best information” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, p. 523).

The psalmist reflects on his past commitment to the Lord and reveals that before he was afflicted he went astray (v 67). Estes notes the Hebrew word for astray “šgg likely speak[s] of inadvertent sin. He then was afflicted by God, a process that had led to his repentance and restoration…The Lord used the pain of adversity to purge the psalmist of his waywardness, and he has now returned to keep the Lord’s word” (Estes, p. 417).

The Lord is good and He does good (v 68a). The Lord doing good is a hiphil, participle whereby the Lord is always doing good. The psalmist again petitions to be taught (piel, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) His statutes (68b). “This teaching could come through the ministry of priests who were to teach the laws of God (Deut. 33:10); but it could also include the LORD’s impressing the reality and significance of his word on the heart of the psalmist in times of meditation (see Ps. 16:6–7)” (Ross, p. 524).

In verses 69-70 the psalmist contrasts the insolent smearing him with lies to his keeping the Lord’s precepts with his whole heart. “The hostility of the arrogant people who have afflicted the psalmist creates a contrast to the Lord’s goodness” (Estes, p. 417). The psalmist also compares the heart of the insolent as unfeeling or gross with fat but that he delights in the Lord’s torah (law/instruction). The psalmist’s “value system is totally antithetical to theirs…They are diseased, but he is robust and well. They are insensitive, not feeling or caring about what matters to God; but the psalmist delights in God’s instruction” (p. 417).

And here in verse 71 the psalmist has his Job moment (see 42:1-6), proclaiming how it was good for him to be afflicted so that he could learn the Lord’s statutes. Affliction often keeps pride away, it humbles and teaches us how to depend on the Lord. We learn how sufficient His Word is in times of trials and hardships. Robert Alter states, “Suffering impels reflection, which in turn leads the sufferer to embrace God’s teaching as the guide to turning his life around” (The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary, 2007, p. 425). Estes continues this stating, “[The psalmist’s] painful route through the school of hard knocks likely took a significant amount of time, but the psalmist has come to rejoice in the precious results in his life produced through adversity (cf. Jas 1:2–4)” (p. 417).

The psalmist ends this stanza with language similar to Proverbs where wisdom/torah has infinitely more value than riches (v 72 see Proverbs 3:14; 8:10; 16:16). The psalmist knows firsthand how nothing is better than the Lord and His Word. Gold and silver do not do good, only Yahweh Himself is good and does good. “[T]he Lord is implicitly viewed here as the teacher of wisdom and the psalmist as the student who has chosen to value the words of the Lord his teacher above all the material riches craved by the world” (Estes, pp. 417-418).

Lord God, may we say along with Job and the psalmist that it was/is good for us to be afflicted so that we might know Your Word. Lord God, may we crave Your Word more than riches. Lord, while affliction is never pleasant nor easy may we never forget how Jesus suffered. Lord God, may we not make light of others suffering, may we be quick to listen and hear about the sufferings of others. Lord God, may we not dwell on our sufferings but glorify You through them. As You know Lord this world is becoming more and more hostile and insolent to Your people. Lord God, may we NEVER forget that You are Good, You do Good and that You will never cease being who You are. Lord God, may the person reading this who does not know Christ seek Him today while there is still time. For the reader who is in Christ, Lord God may they remember how You dealt well with them in the past and may they seek to be Your student and servant in the present. Lord God, thank You and praise You for this reader. Lord may we love and honor You well. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:57-64

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Heth

57  The Lord is my portion; 

I promise to keep your words. 

58  I entreat your favor with all my heart; 

be gracious to me according to your promise. 

59  When I think on my ways, 

I turn my feet to your testimonies; 

60  I hasten and do not delay 

to keep your commandments. 

61  Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, 

I do not forget your law. 

62  At midnight I rise to praise you, 

because of your righteous rules. 

63  I am a companion of all who fear you, 

of those who keep your precepts. 

64  The earth, O Lord, is full of your steadfast love; 

teach me your statutes! 

ESV

When the Lord is a person’s portion, there is no other response but to promise to keep His Words (v 57). The psalmist begins this stanza with the Lord as his portion (הֶלְקִי) and ends with the Lord filling the earth with His covenant faithfulness (חֶסֶד steadfast love). The psalmist exudes his love for the Lord and His Word in this stanza.

The Lord is my portion is a statement of trust. “The metaphor signifies that everything he possesses is bound up in his relationship with the LORD. It may be that this expression reflects the circumstances of the Levites; they were not allocated any land for their possession but had to depend on the LORD (see Num. 18:20). The expression would have been true of every Israelite; even if they had a plot of land, everything they possessed was to be found in God” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, pp. 516-517). I have promised to keep the Lord’s Words is the “appropriate response to the provision of God” (p. 517).

In verse 58 I entreat (sought NASB, CSB) your favor is literally I entreat your face (חִלִּיתִי פָנֶיךָ). “[This] is a poetic description of prayer; it basically means to stroke or caress the face [like a child would stroke a parent’s face], appealing to God’s good pleasure with a flattering entreaty. There is no false flattery here, however. The devout have a close, personal relationship with the LORD, so that they may make their appeal on the basis of God’s love and compassion for them” (Ross, p. 517).

The psalmist makes his appeal with all his heart (mind, will and emotions) asking God to be gracious to him (חָנֵּנִי) according to His promise. The reason for the psalmist petitioning/commanding God to be gracious (qal, imperative, 2ms with 1cs suffix) is because the cords of the wicked ensnare him (v 61). “Rather than relying on his own resources or turning to others for their assistance, he wholeheartedly seeks the Lord’s grace. He places all of his hope in the Lord, trusting the Lord to be true to his word of promise” (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 415).

In verse 59 the psalmist examines himself by thinking on his ways. While the psalmist does not mention that he has sinned, he emphatically turns (וָאָשִׁיבָה) his feet back to the Lord’s testimonies, which are “the compass for his conduct” (p. 415). It is worth noting “the mention of feet draws in the idiom of the believer’s walk, i.e., the way of life—here is a commitment to live in obedience to God’s word” (Ross, p. 518).

The psalmist hastens and does not delay to keep the Lord’s commandments (v 60). “His eagerness to keep God’s commands corresponds to his urgent prayer for God to fulfill his promises. There is something hollow about people pleading for God to fulfill the promises in his word when they pay little attention to keeping his word” (Ross, p. 518). Eager obedience to the Lord and His commands is “what it looked like in practice to seek the favor [face] of the Lord with all his heart (v. 58)” (Estes, p. 415).

In verse 61 the wicked are no doubt the same ones from verse 53. Using imagery found in hunting, the cords of the wicked “refe[r] to snares, traps, or fetters intended to bring destruction to him” (Estes, p. 415). However intense the wicked’s schemes and oppression are against him, the psalmist is committed to not forgetting the Lord’s torah (law/instruction). So much so that at midnight he rises to praise the Lord because of His righteous rules (v 62). “It is evident that the psalmist’s worship of the Lord is not confined to times that are convenient and comfortable. For him it is more important to thank the Lord than to get sleep…which may well have been prompted by his meditation on the Lord and his word (see v. 48)” (Estes, p. 416).

The psalmist is a companion (חָבֵר) to those who fear the Lord, and keep His precepts (v 63). Keep here is a qal, participle, mp, construct meaning that it is an ongoing action. The psalmist is a companion to those who continue in keeping the Lord’s precepts. This is not a one time action. This is a life devoted to living for the Lord and His Word. “The tie that binds the devout together is the commitment to keep God’s commands” (Ross, p. 519).

In the BHS the first part of the last stanza reads חַסְדְּךָ֣ יְ֭הוָה מָלְאָ֥ה הָאָ֗רֶץ the ESV and the NASB begin this verse with the earth (הָאָ֗רֶץ), the CSB begins with Lord (יְ֭הוָה), however, the Hebrew begins this verse with your covenant faithfulness (חַסְדְּךָ֣ ESV your steadfast love/NASB your lovingkindness/CSB your faithful love). A more literal translation of this part would be Your covenant faithfulness, O Lord, filled the earth. The earth (הָאָ֗רֶץ) is the patient, “the person or thing that is acted upon or caused to change” (J. Thompson, The Lexham Glossary of Semantic Roles, 2014, n.p.). The Lord’s ḥesed (covenant faithfulness) is an “essential part of his character” (Estes, p. 416). The Lord will never do anything that violates His Name, Character, Covenant and Word. It is on that basis that the psalmist ends this stanza commanding the Lord to teach him His statutes! (v 64b).

Lord God, for those of us who have tasted Your provision, knowing You as our portion, may we promise to keep Your Words. Lord God, may we seek Your face with all of our hearts as we ask You to be gracious to us in light of Your promise. Lord God, when we meditate, reflect and think upon our actions, may our feet be quick to turn to You when we have gone astray. May we hasten and not delay in keeping Your commandments. May we hurry and not delay, being eager to obey You. Lord God, when the wicked seek to ensnare us may we preach Your Word to ourselves. Lord God may we praise You all day long because of Your righteous rules. May we be a companion to all those who fear and keep Your Word. Lord God, in Your common grace Your covenant faithfulness fills this earth but how much sweeter it is for those who are believers. Lord God, teach us Your Word so that we may love You more and share You with others who are far from You. Lord thank You for this reader! May we be gracious to others as You have been gracious to us. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 119:49-56

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Zayin

49  Remember your word to your servant, 

in which you have made me hope. 

50  This is my comfort in my affliction, 

that your promise gives me life. 

51  The insolent utterly deride me, 

but I do not turn away from your law. 

52  When I think of your rules from of old, 

I take comfort, O Lord. 

53  Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, 

who forsake your law. 

54  Your statutes have been my songs 

in the house of my sojourning. 

55  I remember your name in the night, O Lord, 

and keep your law. 

56  This blessing has fallen to me, 

that I have kept your precepts. 

ESV

The psalmist opens this section commanding the Lord to remember His Word to His servant (v 49). “The call to remember is a common plea in the lament psalms (D. Estes, Psalms 73-150 NAC, 2019, p. 413). The Lord’s Word gives the psalmist hope as well as it is his comfort in affliction (v 50). “Through his adversity the psalmist has come to learn that the Lord’s word can be trusted. He has felt pain from his oppressors, but from the Lord he has received protection and preservation that have given him comfort” (p. 413).

The psalmist does not turn away from the Lord’s Word even though the insolent deride and mock him (v 51). When the psalmist remembers (זָכַרְתִּי translated think ESV) the Lord’s Word he takes comfort. “The use of the verb here is instructive: if people want God to “remember” (i.e., fulfill) his word, they must “remember” (i.e., obey) his word. What he remembers are the laws and decisions of God in all matters, which are here described as “ancient” (מֵעוֹלָם, “from antiquity”). They have stood the test of time with all its conflicts and pains; God’s word is eternal—ever reliable and ever binding” (A. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms (90-150) KEL, 2016, pp. 511-512).

Only the Lord and His Word can truly comfort in times of oppression, affliction etc. However, “with the comfort there is also a burning indignation (זַלְעָפָה). This is a rare word; it can mean a burning, or the effects of the burning (faintness)” (Ross, p. 512). The psalmist’s burning indication is more directed toward the wicked who “have no regard for the word of God than for his own plight. The truly devout naturally have a moral outrage over the ungodly who forsake God’s laws” (p. 512).

In verse 54 the Lord’s Word has been his song. “Wherever he goes and whatever he faces, God’s word tunes his heart for worship” (Estes, p. 414). The psalmist remembers the Lord’s name in the night, keeping His Law (v 55). Night could be a reference to time or it could be a reference to adversity, either way the psalmist will keep His Law.

The psalmist ends this section literally saying, “this was to/for me” (זֹאת הָיְתָה־לִּי). The question then becomes what is “this?” The ESV supplies the word blessing which has fallen on him. The CSB translates this as “This is my practice.” Commentators agree “this” refers to the psalmist having kept the Lord’s precepts. The psalmist in this verse “sums up his whole life as doing what the Lord directs. He does not just know God’s words, but he practices them because his life is formed and shaped by what the Lord commands. Obedience to the Lord is not just part of his life, but it is central to his life as it controls all that he does” (Estes, p. 414).

Lord God, help us to be a people who delight in remembering and obeying You! May we remember and obey You and Your Word no matter what situation we are going through. Lord God, may we take comfort in Your Word, may we also comfort others because You have comforted us. Lord God, there are many wicked people today who want to harm Your Name and Your people, may we have righteous indignation for the wicked who mock and defame You more than being angry about what the wicked are doing to us. Lord God, thank You that when we choose to praise You that You will fill our hearts and mouths with songs of worship that please You. Lord God, thank You for all the songs You have given us for this journey! Lord God, may Your servants make a joyful noise to You today! Lord God, You call Your people to remember. When Israel did not remember You, disobedience abounded; when we do not remember You we are no better. Lord God, may it be our practice, may it be to us that we have kept Your precepts. May we be like the Apostle Paul who fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7). Lord God, may we remember You and Your Word today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

August 2021 Prayer

Lord God, as time moves ever closer to Your return may we cling to You now more than ever. Lord God, so much is happening in this world and we need Your help to process what we see, hear and think. Lord God, give Your people wisdom and discernment in this new month.

Lord God, lies and deceptions are surrounding us. Help us to not deceive ourselves thinking we are immune from deception. May we test and hold everything we see and hear up to the Light of Your Word. examine us Lord to see where we are straying from You and Your Word in our thoughts and actions.

Lord God, give us wisdom when it comes to the covid vaccine. Lord God, there is so much division and animosity over this vaccine and I know it grieves Your heart how believers are treating each other over this. Lord, bring Your people to a place where even if there isn’t unity, we disagree peaceably in love.

Lord God, may we trust You more this month. May we seek Jesus and His Kingdom and what He requires rather than focusing solely on the political issues of this world. Lord God, stir our hearts to pray for those who are under persecution. Churches are being shut down all over the world, hostility is growing for those who hear and do Christ’s Word.

Lord God, help us to be a people who spread Your Good News. Lord God, give this reader courage this month to boldly live and serve You in a hostile and dying world. Thank You Lord for the time You have given us. For the reader who does not know Christ may they come into a saving relationship with Him today. Lord, may we NEVER forget that it is a fearful thing to fall into the Hands of the Living God. Lord, may we rest in Your Arms, being Your Hands and Feet to those whom You place on our path. May we love and serve You faithfully this month. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

See You Soon, Mom!

Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

In an hour or so my mom will drop me off at the airport. It is inevitable that the night before my mom and I have to say, “see you soon” that I cry and get really, really sad. Tears are forming as I type this!

I am not too proud to say that I love my mommy! As I have shared in other posts, my mom and I are as close as we are because we were tried by fire. I love my dad too, don’t get me wrong, but the relationship I have with my mom is different than any other relationship.

I know for some of you, this is an area of hurt, please know I do not share this in pride or arrogance, making light of your pain. Relationships are never easy. I am not always very easy to get along with (like that’s a shock to y’all!). I can be headstrong, stubborn, brash, anxious, enthusiastic and passionate. I am thankful for the patience God gives people to deal with me!

Although my heart is VERY sad to leave my mom, it will be good to see Nathan and PQ. Before COVID, I would travel to FL starting in October to May coming to FL every six weeks. (I am a snowbird!) I am thankful for this time. I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy for this unexpected visit. I am thankful for all the ways God works on my (and your) behalf without even realizing it.

Dear reader I am thankful for you! I am thankful that we are journeying together! May you look for opportunities to share with your loved ones today how much they mean to you.

Lord God, thank You that even though relationships are hard and messy You do not call us to do life alone. Lord God, in the midst of the political turmoil that is happening around the world, may Your people remember they are part of a bigger, more wonderful family than their political party. May we be loyal to King Jesus and our brothers and sisters in Christ. Lord God, thank You for my mom! Thank You for the time I was able to spend with her. Thank You Lord for family. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Sunset Monday July 26, 2021

Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its setting,
the name of the Lord is to be praised!
(Ps 113:2-3 ESV)

Father God, thank You for how You reveal Yourself to us in and through Creation. Lord, I am humbled by Your Majesty, in awe of Your Glory and thankful for Your forgiveness, mercy and grace for those of us who are in Christ. This world does not exist on its own. Thank You Lord for Your Sovereignty over when the sun rises and when it sets. May we never forget that You love color! Lord, calm this reader today. May they find rest, peace and comfort in You. Thank You Lord for each and every day that You give us. For the reader who does not know Christ, Lord stir their heart today. Lord You know when we will meet our demise, may we love, worship and serve You well while there is still time. Thank You Lord for the Beauty of Your Creation and thank You for this reader. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.
Sunset, 26 July 2021. Boca Ciega Bay, St Petersburg, FL. Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn.