Studying the Truths of the Old Testament | 01
Read or listen to Psalm 86.
Listen, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Protect my life, for I am faithful.
You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.
Be gracious to me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant’s life,
because I appeal to you, Lord.
For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive,
abounding in faithful love to all who call on you.
Lord, hear my prayer;
listen to my cries for mercy.
I call on you in the day of my distress,
for you will answer me.
Lord, there is no one like you among the gods,
and there are no works like yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and bow down before you, Lord,
and will honor your name.
For you are great and perform wonders;
you alone are God.
Teach me your way, Lord,
and I will live by your truth.
Give me an undivided mind to fear your name.
I will praise you with all my heart, Lord my God,
and will honor your name forever.
For your faithful love for me is great,
and you rescue my life from the depths of Sheol.
God, arrogant people have attacked me;
a gang of ruthless men intends to kill me.
They do not let you guide them.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth.
Turn to me and be gracious to me.
Give your strength to your servant;
save the son of your female servant.
Show me a sign of your goodness;
my enemies will see and be put to shame
because you, Lord, have helped and comforted me.
How does the psalmist describe the character of God? Whose praise is God worthy of?
What do we learn about God’s heart for the nations from this passage?
The written Scripture is CSB, however, the audio Scripture is ESV.
Read or listen to the blog. What is one thing you learned about the character of God?
What About the Church?
By Nydiaris Hernández-Santos
The Joys AND Pains of Committing to a Local Church Community
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been part of a local church community. I am a daughter of the Puerto Rican Pentecostal Church. The way I preach, lead, and relate to people has been profoundly shaped by my beloved Puerto Rico. But the Puerto Rican church is not the only community that has shaped me. Since I moved to the U.S. I have been a part of a variety of Christian communities located in the different states where I lived, from the east coast to the midwest. I attended a Methodist church in Washington DC, a small charismatic church in Pittsburgh, a large charismatic non-denominational church in Madison, WI, and a medium size Latino(a) church in the Chicago area.
My varied worship experiences around the country have caused me to grapple with both the joys and the pains of committing to a local community of believers. On the one hand, I am extremely grateful for the support that the church has provided for me over the years. I moved to the U.S. alone, immediately after graduating from college, and anyone who has migrated here can attest to the steep learning curve associated with integrating into U.S. society while remaining true to one’s own ethnic identity and cultural heritage. It is not for the faint of heart! Thus, having a support system around me, although imperfect, was a blessing.
On the other hand, I have experienced the sense of loneliness and isolation that comes with being either one of the few or the only person of color when the majority are white. I have heard my name butchered in many different ways followed by the question, “Do you have a nickname?” No, I don’t! I have been distracted in worship wondering if it would be ok for me to raise my hands and tap my feet to the beat of the music. And worst of all, brothers and sisters in Christ who care about me holding such differing and divergent political allegiances or opinions that sometimes offend me. So, why am I still committed to the local church?
Because the church is where the Holy Spirit dwells and the means by which God accomplishes his work on earth, and he designed it in such a way that its members are interdependent, like the organs of a human body. Thus, if we want to participate in God’s work, we need each other, because no single person has all the gifts necessary for God’s work to be done.
The Global Church, the Need for Hospitality, and Our Work on Earth
When I say we need each other, I am not exclusively referring to the brother and sister physically sitting next to us on Sunday morning. “Each other” is inclusive of the church in the U.S. at large and the globe. It is imperative for us to understand and constantly remember that the Church of Jesus Christ IS NOT American (I am using this term here for lack of a better one, but am aware that America is a continent not a country). The Church is a global entity that includes “every nation, tribe, and tongue,” and finds varied local expressions in different countries, communities, and neighborhoods. Keeping the global church in mind is not only an issue of theology but of praxis, of practice, which has profound implications for our current work in fulfilling The Great Commission, and for our future work in heaven when Christ returns.
A 2013 Pew Research Center study (The Religious Affiliation of U.S. Immigrants: Majority Christian, Rising Share of Other Faiths) revealed that of the 1,030,000 immigrants that received permanent resident status, 620,000 (61%) were Christians. These brothers and sisters need Christian communities who will both extend hospitality to them AND receive hospitality from them. We have much to learn from the Church around the world, but our arrogance in thinking we have the best, brightest, and better, hinders our learning and keeps us in bondage to the same Euro-American theology books, the same white authors, the same…. You can fill in the blank. It is time for us to allow the Spirit of God to set our imagination free from such bondage by submitting to the teaching of the global Church. Why?
Philip Jenkins, author of The Next Christendom observed that in 2010, approximately 1.4 of the 2.3 billion Christians alive in the world lived in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and it is projected that “by 2050 only about one fifth of the world’s 3.2 billion Christians will be non-Hispanic whites.” While Christianity is declining in the U.S., it is expanding in the majority world. We do ourselves a disservice by arrogantly assuming that “we know how things are done.” Therefore, we need to embrace hospitality, and the discomfort that it may bring, in order to open our imagination to the expansive work of God around the world and how we might adapt it to our context in the U.S.
The Global Church, the Need for Hospitality and Our Work in Heaven
Embracing hospitality and keeping the global Church in mind not only aids our work in sharing the gospel, but also prepares us for an eternal reality when we will be working side by side with people from all around the world. There is a glorious passage in Revelation 7:9–10 that says,
After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!
Heaven is a gloriously diverse place! We cannot allow our individualistic, Euro-American framework to entrap us in American myopia. We ought to ask God for the spiritual vision and insight to see the Church in its glorious diversity and complexity. If we do not, we will be surprised by our neighbors in heaven. We might have to learn a new language!
I sincerely believe that if we catch a vision for the global Church and learn to welcome our brothers and sisters from around the world in our midst by embracing the spiritual practice of hospitality, we will be more effective in our present work on earth and our future work in heaven. So, let’s get to work! The glorious vision for the Church presented in Scripture is worth the pain of striving to belong.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your love for your global Church and that you will not let the gates of hell prevail against it.