READ: Psalms 102-103
THINK: Can you recall a time of deep distress and despair-when everything seemed to go wrong and you felt helpless to change the situation? As you've probably seen, several psalm writers felt that way for extended periods of time. They expressed intense emotions and asked desperate questions-but did they give up? In the midst of despair they openly praised God's goodness, love and faithfulness. Even when things didn't change and their cries were met with God's silence, they acknowledged the Lord as their only Source of real hope and encouragement. Persistently they called on God, placed their lives in His hands, and counted His many blessings.
RESPOND: What's the attitude and condition of the writer of Psalm 102? What gave him hope and encouragement despite his desperate situation (102:12-17)? What did he want future generations to understand, and why (102:18ff)? In what ways is God distinct from His creation (102:25-27)? What's the main emphasis of Psalm 103? (See 103:1-2 note.) Who can enjoy God's blessings and benefits, and how can they continue to do so? How can you keep from forgetting all the benefits of serving God (103:2)? What's the first and most important gift one can receive from God, and why? (See 103:3-16 note.) What other benefits does God give us? Why and in what way does God "not treat us as our sins deserve" (103:10)? What does it mean that God removes our sins "as far as the east is from the west" (103:12)? What does it mean to fear the Lord (103:13), and what blessings does this bring? (See 103:13 note.) How does God's awareness of our frailty affect His attitude and activity toward us? (See 103:14 note.)
PRAY: If you're facing a difficult or distressing situation-or know someone who is-bring the problem to God in exchange for His strength and peace. Give thanks for God's precious gifts of forgiveness and eternal life.
ACT: Encourage someone you know who is going through a difficult time. Do something practical to help or relieve the person. If the individual is open to you praying for him or her, do so in person if possible. Throughout the day, give thanks for every blessing that comes to mind.
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