December 18

Psalm 80:17-19

“Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name.” vs. 18

With the kingdom in shambles, the psalmist knows that Israel needs the help of the Lord and asked that the king be empowered to lead his army to victory. He promises that if the Lord will act to restore the people, they will never again turn away from faith. Many of us are familiar with the psalmist’s tactics. We too have gone the bargaining route with God. If only God will answer our prayers we will be faithful and live as God desires. Our words and actions will be pure and we will serve Jesus with gladness for the rest of our lives. The people of Israel made such promises regularly in moments of stress, and, as soon as things had turned for the better, went right back to living in their old ways. Sad to say, that’s likely the way it is for us too. No matter how heartfelt our promises to change and live differently, we will usually revert to our previous patterns as soon as the pressure is off. This doesn’t mean that change is impossible–humans are capable of repentance and it actually happens quite frequently. But true repentance is rooted in a recognition of our need to change and a sincere desire to lead a new life. It can never be a part of a bargaining process. It didn’t work for Israel and it won’t work for us either.

Thought for the Day: What kinds of bargains have I made with God?

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