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Singing Psalm 81 for a second chance

After you’ve blown it, what do you most long for? Isn’t it a second chance? To be restored to good graces as if you hadn’t blown it? And after receiving a second chance, wouldn’t you be more likely to extend a second chance?

Singing Psalm 81 you celebrate a second chance

“To God our Strength, to Jacob’s God,

    A song and shout now raise!

With psalm and timbrel, harp and lute,

    Awake to joyous praise!

At each new moon the trumpet blow

    For solemn festival days.” ~ Psalm 81:1-3

You know a good thing when you see it. Like an ocean wave train, God continually gives you a second chance even when he, for a time, leaves you to your stubborn heart to express your individualism, to do your own will. He forgives and erases each blunder in his mercy. You operate from a clean slate. By the blood of Christ, your sins don’t store up for God’s wrath but each one is dissolved by God’s mercy toward you in Christ. In spite of daily troubles, you have something wonderful to celebrate: you can listen for your good shepherd’s voice and choose his far better way.

Singing Psalm 81 you listen for a second chance

“Hear, O My people, I will speak:

   O Isr’el, listen now!

Let no strange god be in your midst;

   And to them do not bow.

I am the LORD your God who saved —

   From Egypt brought you out.” ~ Psalm 81:8-10

Maybe you are listening for how you can acquire that thing out there, find that person somewhere, travel to the place that will satisfy you, comfort you, make you feel safe, give you security, joy, and peace.

Why is it that we don’t gravitate to listen first to the Lord? Why do we so often need a second chance?

The answer to these questions surfaced as a friend shared about grappling for some time with the question of, who placed the serpent in the garden of Eden? And why did he do it? Do you trust that he did it for good purpose?

Adam and Eve had all good things from God but needed to sharpen their relational understanding of themselves and God. Satan is God’s master swordsman that he uses to teach his people how to use their swords to diligently study God’s word that equips them to fight the temptations to doubt God’s love, to break trust, and to be independent from God. Jesus fought well in the desert to win the battle in his thoughts first and then in his actions. Satan took advantage of all opportune times to tempt. Jesus never succumbed to his schemes, and because he is with you, you can resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Giving into his temptation to doubt God’s love in even placing or permitting the serpent in the garden, it’s only a matter of time before your allegiance to God will be broken. God’s care for you is the only way to relational loyalty, anxiety release, and peace.

The fall was necessary to bring them and us near.  It revealed that they were near in body, but God is interested in being near in mind and heart as well. So his people would learn how to trust him when his love for us is challenged and never to doubt him. This we cannot do without Jesus. Therefore, it is better to be clothed with Christ than to be naked and unashamed. We are vulnerable in our nakedness and must be clothed with Christ. His taking on sin, Satan, and death for us displayed his love and humility like nothing else could. The Lord wants you not only to be obedient but also to be willing. It is a sad state when a friend outwardly complies but inwardly is not with you. Indeed, you were made in God’s image. You don’t like lip service because God doesn’t like vain worship:

“Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

‘This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me,

    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” ~ Matthew 15:7b-9

Marriage can be a beautiful picture of our nearness to God in body, heart, and mind, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength in response to his love and care for you.

Marriage gets distorted when near in body without the heart and mind engaged and near. Faithful in our body while unfaithful in heart and mind doesn’t suffice. If being close (near) in body was enough, God would never have placed the serpent in the garden of Eden.

Thank you, Lord, for showing your people that they are not nuts for wanting to be close in mind and heart as well as in body. You made us in your image. 

It’s hardwired in human beings to need and desire whole-self nearness. Anything less, and you’re settling and missing out on all God has for you. One thing is needed for a second chance: do not give up. Persevere by wrestling through your temptations to doubt God’s love in all he purposes, in all that comes to pass. God never fails. (Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 9:24)

The Lord is your prize, your safe place, your best friend. Listen for him, don’t refuse him. Though you have sought many other things besides him first, he is merciful, our God of the second chance.

    “If you are willing and obedient,

        you shall eat the good of the land;

    but if you refuse and rebel,

        you shall be eaten by the sword;

        for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” ~ Isaiah 1:19-20

The prerequisite to becoming a good husband is for the man to know that he himself needs God as his husband. If you’ve tried to husband without that prerequisite, take heart. The Lord is a gentle, lowly, and kind husband who will be with you and give you a second chance as many times as you need one. A living covenant begins at the top.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34

The proud won’t listen for a second chance for themselves nor will they extend a second chance to others. These are the marks of God’s enemies, yet his own people were once his enemies:

“Then open wide your mouth to Me;

    And it I’ll surely fill.

But to My voice, they gave no heed;

    My Isr’el spurned Me still.

I left them to their stubborn heart,

    To walk by their own will.” ~ Psalm 81:10b-12

They needed a second chance. 

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” ~ Hebrews 9:27-28

    “Seek the LORD while he may be found;

        call upon him while he is near;

    let the wicked forsake his way,

        and the unrighteous man his thoughts;

    let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,

        and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

        neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.

    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

        so are my ways higher than your ways 

       and my thoughts than your thoughts. ~ Isaiah 55:6-9

As you live, God gives you a second chance again and again. Turn to him, call on him while he is near.

“O that My people would Me hear,

    And Isr’el choose My way!

How quickly I would subjugate

    Their every enemy!Upon their adversaries all 

   My outstretched hand I’d lay.” ~ Psalm 81:13-14

Singing Psalm 81 your second chance satisfies

“I from his shoulders took the load,

    His burden and hands found rest.

You called in trouble; My response

    In thunder I expressed.

And by the streams of Meribah,

I put you to the test.”~ Psalm 81:6-7

The Lord makes it his practice to satisfy the needs of his people from the most unthinkable, unexpected sources:

Rescuing the world from famine using a Hebrew slave. Feeding the multitude of thousands from a boy’s lunch. Protecting his people from oppression by parting the waters of the sea and releasing them again. Bread from heaven. Water from the rock. Fine wine from water. Honey from the rock.

When your circumstances look least likely to yield anything good, there is your test. Wait and watch for the second chance and trust the Lord your God to completely satisfy you.

“Then all who hate the Lord would cringe,

In fear and abide.

But Israel, with the finest wheat

I’d always keep supplied.

Yes, I with honey from the rock

Would keep you satisfied.” ~ Psalm 81:15-16

March 1-8, 2024



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