Happy Saturday! I pray you’ve had a great week. For me, the last few weeks have been colored with several sightings of God at work through my interactions with other people. As Sweet T and I continue preparing for OCC’s National Collection Week, we’ve met a couple of new ministry partners and are excited about seeing what the Lord is going to do during this year’s shoebox collection season. In addition to getting ready for OCC, I’ve been busy with men’s ministry, our outreach to the homeless men, and serving as a member of our worship team. The workplace chaplaincy continues to yield fruit and grow as my director connects me with new opportunities. I’m seeing God work in all of these different areas.
This blog is also continuing to grow and gain new followers, which is exciting. Ministering to people through this online medium is rewarding and a source of constant encouragement.
The past number of Saturdays, we’ve explored the Songs of Ascent and their place in the Great Hallel. This week, we’re taking a look at Psalm 133.
A Davidic song of ascents.
1 How good and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!
2 It is like fine oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down Aaron’s beard
onto his robes.
3 It is like the dew of Hermon
falling on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord has appointed the blessing—
In this psalm, the writer notes the value of family unity. In ancient Israel, families often lived in close proximity to each other. This provided for both security and greater prominence in the community. At our home church, we have several families that have been part of our church’s story. As kids have grown, gotten married, and started families of their own, these family branches form a vital part of our body. I imagine it provides them with a sense of security and gives them greater prominence within our church. It also creates a oneness in our body of believers.
Keep in mind, these psalms-the Songs of Ascent-were typically sung as communities of worshippers made their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual holy festivals at which they would encounter other Jewish believers. Hence, the psalmists’ reminder of the beauty of oneness in our worship community takes on greater significance.
You and I are intended to be a reflection of the wonderful, perfect unity that exists between the Trinity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, due to the Fall and sin corrupting Creation, our human relationships are difficult and challenging. Marriages, family, friendships, and other relationships have all been impacted by the stains of sin. We see that dysfunction and disunity throughout the world, in our nation, and in our towns and cities, and in our respective communities and neighborhoods. Division abounds.
One of my favorite thinkers, Stephen R. Covey, hit the nail on the head in his book the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he suggested we seek first to understand then be understood. I believe this approach helps lead us to greater unity. Right now, everybody is talking and nobody seems to really be listening. Too often, we are all just waiting to reply. We aren’t proactive but live in reactionary mode.
As Christians, we are often divided. We don’t reach out to our fellow believers. We question the genuineness of those proclaiming to believe—just ask Kayne West. We stand ready to criticize voices of popular influence–ask Laura Daigle. While we are to test the spirits and stand for truth, we must also quit cannibalizing fellow Christians whom we really don’t know. Although it would be cool to visit with them, I’ve never met either Laura or Kanye. There’s no way I can know what is in their hearts. And that’s not my job. While we must use discernment and test the spirits in living out our testimonies, we aren’t appointed judges, jurors, and executioners. If their walk and yours is anything like mine, it’s filled with highs and lows, twists and turns, and things unforeseen. God is after all, able to abundantly exceed our wildest imagination (Ephesians 3:20). The gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life and only a few find it (Matthew 7:14).
Unity isn’t just a modern phenomenon. The Apostle Paul stresses its importance in his writing to the Philippians (Philippians 2) and the Corinthians.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment,” (1 Cor. 1:10).
Disunity degrades our witness. I think the Devil stands ready to stir up our divisions, stirring up discontent and disrupting the peace. You see, his main aim is to besmirch God by degrading us. We are, after all, made in the image of God. By staining us, he stains God. He is jealous of us and envious of God. A house divided cannot stand. We must strive for unity among the church gathered and the church scattered.
Fortunately for us, God sent His son, Jesus Christ to pave a path to redemption through the shedding of His precious blood. Jesus made it possible to experience unity and oneness with Him and with all people.
May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. (John 17:21)
How does your church reflect the unity seen between the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit?
How do you interact in unity with fellow believers in the scattered church?
What solutions do you think would help heal the divide in our nation between religious, political, and cultural groups?
How do we heal from the racial tensions that continue to separate us?
How can you be an agent of unity in your family, your church, and your community?
To experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. This gift from God is available to all who ask. Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
God is good all the time and all the time God is good! No matter what.
As always, thanks for reading. For nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37)
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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Have you packed your shoebox gift?