READ: Psalms 38-41
THINK: Sin has consequences-deadly consequences. That's why Jesus came to earth and did what He did, giving His life to pay the penalty for our offenses against God. But when those who have received God's mercy and experienced a relationship with Jesus deliberately choose to sin, the consequences can resurface in painful ways. Though God forgives those who sincerely confess their sin and determine to change their behavior, the consequences may linger and time may pass before they once again experience God's favor. You cannot earn that favor by your own sacrifice or good works; you must simply repent and rely on God's mercy as we aim to obey Him. If you are forgiven, the consequences of past sins cannot keep you from the joy and fulfilment of God's future purpose.
RESPOND: What's the reason for the desperate tone of Psalm 38? (See 38:1-22 note.) In what ways can sin's consequences affect a person, even if he or she has confessed the sin and received God's forgiveness? (See 38:3 note.) What's one of the worst consequences of intentional sin by those who have experienced a relationship with Him? (See 38:21 note.) How should this serve as a caution to us? (See 39:1-13 note.) Why is it important to stay aware of the brevity of our earthly lives? (See 39:4-6 note.) What hope do we have as we wait patiently for God's discipline to run its course in our lives (40:1-3)? Rather than sacrifices and religious works, what does God ultimately expect of His people? (See 40:6 note.) Why can't religious rituals and routines keep us right with God? (See 40:8 first note.) What does it mean to have God's law in your heart, and what kinds of desires will that inspire? (See 40:8 second note.) Why is it important not to keep silent about God's love and truth (40:9-10), and what are some ways you can convey His truth to others? How does Psalm 41 reflect God's special concern for those who are weak, hurting and helpless? (See 41:1 note.) Why and how does God bless those who help others in need (40:1-3)?
PRAY: Ask God to help you keep your life in perspective and to live with your eternal purpose in mind. Pray that your response to people who are hurting or in need will reflect God's compassion and purpose.
ACT: Find practical ways to help as many people as you can today. Particularly try to do something tangible to bless or assist someone who is hurting or in need. Let him or her know that God is there if they want His help.
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