Counting Days: God is Forever

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2)

Life is short and hard, and God is angry with us. Have a good week!

countingday_350Okay, there’s more to it than that, but those are the messages that come through the loudest in the first half of Psalm 90. We’re going to camp out with this depressing, motivating, and inspiring (really!) psalm of Moses (yes, that Moses) this week.

For starters, though, Moses points out that God has been around for a really long time. As each new generation of humans is born, lives, and then dies, God remains – an unchanged and unchanging home for his people.

The first step to seeing ourselves for what we are – temporary, fragile, minute – is to see God for who he is – endless, indestructible, expansive. And available to his people.

Think: What does it mean to have God as your dwelling place as a Christian? Do you think of yourself as living “in him”?

Pray: Thank God that he is everlasting and an unchanging home for his people.

Do: Up for some math? If we think of a generation as 40 years or so, about how many generations of humans has God seen come and go since the time of Moses in about 1500 B.C.?

Counting Days: Return to Dust

“You turn men back to dust, saying, ‘Return to dust, O sons of men.’ For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

“You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning – though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.” (Psalm 90:3-6)

Here is a foundational principle of life that everyone agrees on – Christians, atheists, protestants, Catholics, democrats, republicans – doesn’t matter. We all believe that this life ends, that everyone dies. (What happens after that is more controversial.)

countingday_350Those of us who believe in God also believe that He doesn’t die. He never ends. From his perspective of forever, our 80 or so years is just a moment. Here and gone again as a single day or night is to us. He brushes away the remains of another generation and the next one takes its place.

Why dwell on that humbling reality we all agree on? Because we cannot be wise people without first admitting that God’s view of everything is as far above ours as ours is above a blade of grass. If he doesn’t include us in his plan, his family, we have no hope for anything better than this short, hard life.

Think: Are you connected to God and eternity? If someone asked you to explain how your single life is more than just another one to be swept away in the sleep of death, what would you tell him?

Pray: Thank God that he is everlasting and that he offers you an opportunity to live with him forever through faith in Jesus.

Do: With this is mind, read Colossians 3:1-4 and think about why it matters what we think about during our few short years on this side of eternity.

Counting Days: Consumed and Terrified

“We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” (Psalm 90:7-8)

I had friends as a kid who would go a little cold when their moms’ said, “Your dad is going to give you a spanking when he gets home from work.” They had done something so wrong that a “mom spanking” would not be enough of a punishment. They had a dad spanking coming, and they knew it.

countingday_350The result? The rest of their day was ruined, spent in dread of the wrath of dad to be administered when he got home from work, tired, hungry, and cranky. Even if they were allowed to keep playing, they were “consumed” by the prospect of their punishment.

Magnify that a billion times and it’s exactly what Moses describes here. How can you possibly enjoy the few short, difficult years of this life knowing that God is angry about your sins (even the secret ones) – and that your punishment is coming?

What would we do without Jesus? “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Think: How often do you think about God’s anger toward sin? Do you think God has a right to be angry about sin and to punish people for it? Why doesn’t he punish Christians for our sin?

Pray: Thank God that through your faith in Christ your sins are forgiven and you are no longer an “object of wrath.”

Do: Read Ephesians 2:1-10 all the way through to be reminded how God’s grace works in our lives.

Counting Days: This is Not Good Enough

“All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. The length of our days is seventy years — or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:9-10)

Today we face one last, unpleasant dose of hard reality before we turn the corner tomorrow into Moses’ hopeful pleading with our good God. Bottom line: If this life is all there is, that’s not good enough.

countingday_350But that’s not the story we tell each other very often. Instead, the world is mostly full of hopeful stories urging you to believe a different message: “Look at all of life’s beauty! Look at the brotherhood of man! Look at all the progress we’ve made!” But any story that offers hope without Jesus – meaning without the intervention of a grace-giving God – is telling a lie.

It’s not that every moment of life here sucks. God made the place, after all. There is beauty! There is goodness. Some moments do bring gladness, pleasure, joy, and friendship, even for those far from God. But that’s still not good enough. As Solomon put it in Ecclesiastes, God has put “eternity in our hearts.” We know deep inside that we were meant for so much more than this.

We need God. He built us to need him.

Think: Do you think it would make sense to be a hopeful, positive person without a relationship with God through faith in Jesus? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for building you to need him – and then making a way for you to be with him.

Do: Read Romans 8:22-25 to hear Paul describe this groaning we all feel now, even those of us who are in Christ.

Counting Days: Teach Us to Count

“Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:11-12)

Living under the Law, Moses was terrified by God’s anger. He saw it firsthand, as God punished faithless or idol-worshipping Israelites and even talked about wiping out the nation completely. God is unlimited power in a Person who loves people but punishes sin.

countingday_350He has poured out his anger for our sin, as well. As Christians, that anger was unleashed on Jesus, who was crushed to pay the price we owed. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s anger any longer, forgiven by his grace for our faith in Jesus, but we had better not take his power or our sin lightly. We’re still fragile, momentary beings on this earth.

So how should we live now? Step 1: We need God’s help to remember that the clock is ticking. Fools spend time like they will never die. We can’t live wise lives without understanding there’s a deadline, a real one.

Notice, though, that Moses’ prayer is hopeful. Life may be hard, but with God’s help we can be wise. Our choices can make a difference. More hope for this hard life in tomorrow’s devo.

Think: What are some ways we might live foolishly, as if time was something that never runs out? What is the consequence of forgetting that our days will quickly fly away?

Pray: Ask God to help you to remember your days are limited so you can gain a heart of wisdom.

Do: Ask an wise friend how they feel about time, death, and wisdom. Do they wish they’d lived more wisely when they were younger – or not? Do they feel like the years are going by more and more quickly?

Counting Days: Satisfy Us with Your Love

“Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.” (Psalm 90:13-15)

Moses is asking God to do for the Israelites what he has now done for us through Jesus. God’s anger has been satisfied by the death of Jesus. Through our faith in the Son’s substitution for us on the cross, the Father has flooded our souls with his love.

countingday_350Do you hear the change in Moses’ tone now? He recognizes that God has the power to turn our short, meaningless, momentary lives into days lived with wisdom and packed with joy. He can even make us feel like singing!

What is the difference between night and day? Between suffocating darkness and the fresh light of morning? God’s love. The love that sacrificed a Son to bring us home, to turn us from needles lost in the haystack of humanity into sons and daughters in the arms of the King.

Think: Most of us believe that God loves us, but do you take those words personally? Have you thought much about what difference it makes to be loved by God?

Pray: Thank God that he loves you. Ask him to help you to be satisfied with his love and glad because of it today.

Do: Read Paul’s description in Colossians 1:12-13 of how God saved us from the dark kingdom.

Counting Days: See Your Power Do Your Work

“May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:16-17)

We’ve already seen in our study of Psalm 90 that we find meaning in our short, difficult lives by seeking wise hearts – and by receiving his love through Jesus. God’s loves changes the story of our lives from a tragic, futile quest to a great adventure.

countingday_350Moses begs God to allow his people to see evidence of God’s greatness in their short lives, to be firsthand witnesses to the everlasting God’s enormous power. As other psalmists and Romans 1 explain, God reveals that power in what he has created. He also reveals it in the change he brings to our previously stone-cold hearts.

Finally, Moses asks that God would bring meaning to their too-brief lives by allowing their work to matter long after this life is over for them. Jesus said we have the choice to invest our lives now in work with forever rewards. All work that promotes God’s glory will matter long after we’ve laid down our hammers and shovels.

Think: Have you ever seen evidence of God’s great power in your life? What form did it take? What work are you involved in for God’s glory? How are you investing in eternal rewards?

Pray: Ask God to help you to see the evidence of his great power in your life. Thank him for his favor to you through Jesus. Ask him to establish the work you do for his glory.

Do: Read in Romans 1:18-32 about God’s wrath for those who refuse to acknowledge him, even with the the evidence of his power in creation.