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South Fellowship Church

Expedition

Being Truly Known | Psalm 103:13-19

Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.  Psalms 103:13-19

This section in Psalm 103 gives us a picture of the anatomy of compassion. God’s compassion for us grows out of his knowledge of “our frame.” God knows how we are. He knows our weakness, he knows our fragility, and he knows our mortality. God understands his creation intimately. Knowledge about a person’s actual soul condition can help us develop compassion for them.

There may be in some of us a fear of being truly known. It is a fear that makes sense for us as humans. If People know our sin and mistakes, they may choose to dismiss us as unlovable. As we develop, we begin to learn this about other human beings. That deep experiential knowledge then incorrectly informs us about what God is like. God does not reject us based upon his knowledge of us. He cannot be surprised by some new discovery about us. He knows it all. Instead, God’s complete understanding of us produces compassion in him.

Look at the text, it says, “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” God knows everything about you, and his lovingkindness is everlasting towards you. This is why boldness in prayer can be one of the most freeing experiences. God knows it all; why do we try to speak to him as if he doesn’t? Let us pray as if we trust he already knows our dark secrets.

God’s complete intimate knowledge of us is a beautiful freedom. We have no need to hide. That truth, combined with the fact that God’s “sovereignty rules over all” is powerful. God is a strong yet loving father. He is powerful, and he has compassion on us.

Take a moment to visualize this. Picture the size and strength of a God who spoke the universe into motion and sustains it by the power of his word. Then picture that same powerful God seeing and smiling at you with compassion. Finally, pray to him with honesty. Tell him how you really are doing. Ask him for wisdom about the secrets in your life. Enjoy his presence.

By Aaron Bjorklund

Being Truly Known | Psalm 103:13-192022-06-20T10:34:51-06:00

Immanuel Journaling | Psalm 103:20-22

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,

    you mighty ones who do his word,

    obeying the voice of his word!

Bless the Lord, all his hosts,

    his ministers, who do his will!

Bless the Lord, all his works,

    in all places of his dominion.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! Psalm 103: 20-22

As we finish out Psalm 103 today, let’s soak in a practice of blessing the Lord by trying Immanuel Journaling. This type of journaling is designed to help followers of Jesus come awake to an interactive conversation with God centered around gratitude.

STEP 1: Gratitude from me to God
Take out a pen and paper to write out your blessings as a prayer to God. Feel free to free write your blessing or try completing the statement “I bless you, Lord, for …” Spend as much time as you need in this state of gratitude.

STEP 2: God’s response to my gratitude
Once you’ve written out your thanksgiving, pause to reflect on what you wrote. As a humble openness to hearing from God, ask God what he would say to you in response to your gratitude. Just start writing and allow the Spirit of God to lead you.

STEP 3: Share with others
Read what you wrote to a friend or group you consider trustworthy or safe. Sharing our interactions with God is a blessing to others because it provides an opportunity to see God and ourselves in a fresh way.

By Yvonne Biel

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Immanuel Journaling | Psalm 103:20-222019-11-21T10:35:58-07:00

Learning God’s Ways | Psalm 103:7-12

He made known his ways to Moses,

  his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, 

  slow to anger, abounding in love. 

He will not always accuse,

 nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve

  or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

 so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

 so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:7-12 NIV

Psalm 103:7-12 expounds on a theme from Exodus 33 & 34. At that point in the story, the Hebrew people are just learning who God is. In Ex. 33:13 Moses asks to be taught God’s ways so he can know God, and continue to find favor with God. The essence of God’s ways are recorded for us by Moses after he witnessed God’s glory. Moses says, “The Lord, The Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin,” Ex. 34:6-7. Psalm 103:7 tells us God answered Moses prayer.

Isaiah and Jeremiah use descriptive language to explain the enormity of God’s love for us through his complete and total forgiveness of our sin. Isaiah 1:18 says though our sin was crimson, now it is white as snow, and in Is. 43:25 that it is blotted out, gone. Jeremiah 50:20 says God will no longer remember our sin and even if a search was made for our guilt, it could not be found. This is a profound concept, difficult to grasp, yet we must try to understand The Lord of Lords is compassionate and forgiving. God offers this complete forgiveness to those who repent, and fear the Lord.

Psalm 34 teaches us what fear of the Lord looks like. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him, lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord,” Psalm 34:8-11. Fear of the Lord includes having reverence for God and doing the words I listed in bold, tasting, taking refuge in the Lord, seeking, coming, listening to the Lord, and his word.

Moses asked God to teach him his ways. I ask God to do the same for me. Ask God to do the same for you. Reread some of these passages, and seek God’s heart, his purpose in these words. Immediately after Moses prayed to be taught God’s ways, God replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” This is a promise I’ve taken hold of and gained strength from in the past 18 months of our grieving over family members going to heaven. May you gain strength from his presence and rest as well.

By Grace Hunter

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Learning God’s Ways | Psalm 103:7-122019-11-21T10:21:45-07:00

Walking in Worship | Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,  and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

       who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5

What do we need to do on this expedition, this journey through life? The introduction to the Psalms says (1) we need God’s Word and (2) we need to make him Lord. David’s Psalm 103 is pure worship. All of life comes down to worshipping the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The first commandment says, “you shall have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength” (Matthew 2:37). In Psalm 103 there are no cries for help, or pleas for deliverance. This Psalm is all about God and his great blessings.

God’s desire is for us to walk with him and worship him alone. King David struggled big time with sin yet God called him a man after His own heart. We can’t walk with God without worshipping him and growing as a worshipper. David grew in his worship of God in spirit and in truth. The Psalms express this with his reverence and love for God in verse after verse. He knew he was a sinner, and He knew God was his Lord. Yet David’s heart was filled to overflowing with thanks, praise and worship in response.

We are coming to the Thanksgiving holiday. What if there are presently circumstances and relationships that are getting you down? Maybe you don’t feel like you have anything to be grateful about. It may not be easy, but focusing on the goodness of God brings perspective, hope, and confidence that he is with us and is working all things for good. Seeing helps us experience. If we look for and focus on God, we will experience his love, joy and peace and be able to see past the heartaches and struggles. Using David’s examples, write a list of how God has forgiven your sin, healed your diseases, redeemed your life from the pit, crowned you with steadfast love and mercy, and satisfied you with good. Let worship flow in response and your heart will be renewed.

By Donna Burns

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Walking in Worship | Psalm 103:1-52019-11-21T10:16:37-07:00

Imaginative Exercise | Psalm 2

The God of the Bible is affectionately known as the “King of Kings.” With this name, Christians proclaim God’s authority in the highest place as the one who sits in the seat of ultimate authority over heaven and earth. However, we see how the kingdom of this world is run by another dominion – the dominion of darkness.

In John 18:36, Jesus announced “my kingdom is not of this world.” The gospels identify two kingdoms. The division is between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan (Luke 11:14-22). Jesus demonstrates how the kingdom of God disarms and will ultimately defeat the kingdom of this world over which Satan rules. Yet our hope rests in that one day, we look forward to the time when heaven declares “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

Today, imagine waking up to a brand-new world. Your new world is a kingdom of light. Darkness has vanished. You feel freedom and joy and perfect belonging. All authorities in this new world are good – the authorities in your home, at your work, over your leisure. Every sector of life is filled with fulfillment and flourishing. The beautiful reality of the Kingdom of Christ is that we can experience it now. We don’t have to wait. We can walk in the light as he is in the light in all of our comings and goings. Imagine yourself walking through every part of your day under the banner of this light, then step out to walk under the authority of the King of Kings who oversees a kingdom not of this world.

By Yvonne Biel

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Imaginative Exercise | Psalm 22019-11-15T09:49:04-07:00

God’s for ‘The Little Guy’ | Psalm 103:6

The Lord performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. Psalm 103:6

This verse has significance. Certainly, it has theological significance because it’s from God. But, for me, it strikes a resounding chord. Our oldest daughter has struggled in life, and she’s that person in every setting that gets picked on. She’s the one who can maintain her car perfectly, but it still ‘blows up.’ Most of her experience in life is just really hard. Recently, she’s had someone in her apartment complex’s management company that didn’t do what she’s supposed to, causing stress. This injustice brings frustration and, sometimes, anger. In the end, things seem to work out for her, so, to me, she’s a shining recipient of this passage.

David also experienced life where he needed God to exercise ‘righteous deeds and judgments’. Saul, despite knowing his kingdom had ended, tirelessly pursued David to do him harm, and God steered David away. It helped a ton that David revered God so much he wouldn’t harm Saul, despite having opportunities to do so. David honored God, so God honored David.

While ‘being for the little ‘guy’’ doesn’t begin to describe the love of God for all people, it demonstrates the depths of love God has for us. As James outlines (James 2:1-13), our work for the Kingdom is driven by Jesus not our eyes. Our striving should be for all people, no matter their station. Jesus talked to whomever presented themselves to him, from the leper (Matthew 8:1-4), to the rich young man (Mark 10:17-22). He answered their request, which wasn’t always what they wanted to hear.

Denver and the surrounding areas have more and more people, eternal beings, roaming the streets in search of many things. While giving them money may not be prudent, perhaps listen to the Holy Spirit. There are many ways to answer their requests, which could be buying them a meal or taking them to the nearest shelter. All of these responses fit what’s outlined in James 2:15-16. Our call is to represent the Kingdom of God to others. As you go about your day, keep your soul, eyes and ears open, see and hear what’s going on around you, and react as Jesus would.

By Rich Obrecht

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God’s for ‘The Little Guy’ | Psalm 103:62019-11-21T10:19:58-07:00

The Way of the Kingdom | Psalm 2:10-12

‘Be wise Son therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.’ Psalms 2:10-12

This passage is full of seemingly contradictory thoughts. The kings are told to be instructed rather than to teach. They are supposed to fear and rejoice at the same time. They are commanded to kiss (reverence) the Son to prevent anger rather than to be reverenced. One of the hardest parts of being a follower of God is the fact that God’s way is counter-intuitive. There are many situations where seemingly conflicting ideas marry in Christianity.

We are told to fear God both in this passage and in many others. The trouble is, fear gets a bad rap in our society. The fear of God is a beautiful thing; this passage describes it as something to rejoice over. God is powerful, and that power can and should instill a fear. Yet the exciting thing about power is that it can also protect and prosper all those under its good favor. God is both powerful and good. He is an authority that intends to bless, but our tendency to grasp for power can prevent us from benefiting from God’s power.

This psalm is a challenge to the authorities of the world to submit to the rule of God. Submission is another idea that we struggle with, isn’t it? There is a truth deposited in the relationship between fear and submission. The proper reverent fear of God is designed to help us surrender and submit to his good rule. The theologian named Yosemite Sam once said, “if you can’t beat’em, join ’em.” The reality is we can’t beat God, so why fight him? He is a good king, after all; let us submit to his authority.

Take a moment to pray the Serenity Prayer. Pray it slowly and learn to trust him in the process:

The Serenity Prayer goes like this —
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

By Aaron Bjorklund

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The Way of the Kingdom | Psalm 2:10-122019-11-15T09:47:37-07:00

Promise of the Kingdom | Psalm 2:7-9

 I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;

    today I have become your father.

 Ask me,

    and I will make the nations your inheritance,

    the ends of the earth your possession.

You will break them with a rod of iron;

    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Psalm 2:7-9

While some of the language in this psalm, like breaking the nations with a rod of iron and dashing them to pieces like pottery, sounds harsh to us, in the Ancient Israelite context it was a promise of hope. The establishing of God’s king, and kingdom, in Israel is a promise to his people of peace, stability, and justice for the Israelites in the face of injustice and violence that has been perpetrated against them.

Living on the other side of the coming of Jesus, we read this psalm through the context of his kingship. He has established a kingdom that will come fully and bring peace, stability, and justice for all the earth. That is a good promise.

It is also a promise that requires us to embrace some tension. The reign and justice of God means that the reign of other people, places, and things, find a limit somewhere. Find a piece of pottery and consider its fragility. Thank God that he is a God without limits and he will bring his kingdom that has no end.

By Jessica Rust

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Promise of the Kingdom | Psalm 2:7-92019-11-19T14:38:35-07:00

King Enthroned in Heaven | Psalm 2:4-6

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Psalm 2:4-6

“The buck stops here.” These words made famous by President Harry S. Truman describe the final responsibility for decisions made and actions taken by America. Likewise, God maintains the final decisions for Creation – all of it. This is such a massive thing, it’s incomprehensible to me. I can’t fathom it’s depth. And yet, God remains.

Another incomprehensible thing is the love of God. Despite the fall, God’s love for us is at a depth where his Son willingly died to remove this stain (John 3:16). Unimaginable, and yet true. Understanding the depth of God’s love is truly unachievable by human means. This love is so wide, deep, tall, and present, anything else seems wicked in its shadow. Those things outside God’s love might seem like anger, perhaps even wrath.

Since we can’t see beyond the physical aspects of Creation, this anger or wrath could possibly be seen similarly to Hell. Hell is defined as the absence of God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9), and the words humans have used to describe it pale in the reality of the experience. Words like ‘the worm that doesn’t die’ and ‘unquenchable fire’ (Mark 9:43-48) were used to pictorialize the suffering in the absence of God. Perhaps, just maybe, this word ‘wrath’ is used in the same manner.

As we go through our lives here in this wisp of time, God provides a path. Being human and having free will, sometimes our steps take us away from that path. This might lead us to experiences that seem like God is angry with us, exhibiting his wrath. What if that’s really God not being ‘with’ us in our choices? Yes, God’s always with us: he’s very present. But when our choices lead us away from God and his path for us (like the Israelites and their ‘wanderings’ towards the idols of their day), things happen, hopefully returning us to where we’re meant to be. Our stepping away from God and his divine path for us feels like anger, or ‘wrath.’

In reading news sources, we find things affecting what we care for. This could encompass politics, our faith, family, and home. As you’re catching up, try always to keep one thing in mind: God cares about these more than you or I ever could. Thank God for that!

By Rich Obrecht

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King Enthroned in Heaven | Psalm 2:4-62019-11-15T09:45:47-07:00

Kingdoms of the Earth | Psalm 2:1-3

Why do the nations rage 

and the peoples plot in vain?

 The kings of the earth set themselves,

    and the rulers take counsel together,

    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,

 “Let us burst their bonds apart

    and cast away their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3

Psalm 2 continues in the way of Hebrew rhyme of thoughts instead of words. Psalm 1 is about who’s going to rule your heart whereas Psalm 2 is about who is going to rule the nations. These two Psalms are a fitting beginning to the entire book of Psalms with a theme of Lordship, great advice for the journey of life. The heart meditates on God’s word in Psalm 1 and in Psalm 2 the wicked kings are plotting their evil dominion. Psalm 2 begins with a warning to all those contemplating a stand against the Rule and Reign of God’s Kingdom where Psalm 1 ends with the consequences of wickedness. The contrasting idea between the righteous and the wicked in Psalm 1 appears again as the contrast between the rule of the righteous Messiah and the rebellion of wicked rulers in Psalm 2.

Psalm 2 is a Royal Psalm and was probably used at the coronations of the Kings of Israel (see also Psalms 20, 21, 45, 61, 72, 89, 101, 110, 132, 144). The words pronounce divine support and protection by God’s hand. They also have a future sense of the ultimate King of David’s line, Jesus the Messiah, ruling for all eternity. From Psalm 1, God’s word is for all people, and from Psalm 2 the rule and reign of the King of Kings is for all tribes and nations. God’s word brings life and growth when a person responds to it states Psalm 1. The rulers of the earth try to cast away God’s law because they believe it is restrictive and limiting in Psalm 2, but in reality, God’s law is given for protection, well-being, wisdom and guidance.

Psalm 1 and 2 come down to kingship in rebellious hearts and rebellious nations. Fallen humanity (individuals and groups) want independence from their creator. Both grieve the heart of God. His desire is for every knee to bow, every tongue, tribe and nation to acknowledge his grace and glory. His love extends to all and he longs that none should perish. Psalm 1 begins with a blessing and Psalm 2 ends with the same word for blessing. As we consider God’s reign among the nations, take time this week to pray for repentance and blessing for our country.

By Donna Burns

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Kingdoms of the Earth | Psalm 2:1-32019-11-15T09:44:10-07:00
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