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Our Role vs God’s.

I found myself rewriting Scripture this morning as part of my daily devotional. Lately, I've chosen to read just one chapter and spend considerable time reflecting on it. In the past, I used to read multiple chapters in one sitting, but lately, I've been impressed to read less and allow time for God to speak through His word.

To aid in this process, I keep a notebook next to my Bible and jot down any thoughts that come to mind while reading. As I read through Psalm 80 this morning, a particular idea struck me, and I felt compelled to rewrite verse 18.

The original verse reads:

"Then we will not turn away from you.

Revive us and we will pray to you." (Psalm 80:18 NET)

Upon reading this, I took issue with how Asaph (the author of this particular Psalm) phrased the passage. It seems to imply that we should wait for God to act before we take action ourselves. I questioned why we shouldn't first act and then seek God's blessings.

As I thought about this more, I thought about the numerous instances in Scripture where the Children of Israel strayed from God. They would be faithful for a time, but eventually, they would return to idol worship. Often, their actions were influenced by their leaders. When the kings or prophets were faithful, the people would be too. Conversely, if the leaders acted wickedly in God's sight, the people would also turn away from God and act wickedly.

In light of this, I decided to rewrite the verse in my own translation, which goes like this:

"Because we have chosen not to turn away from you,

Because we have continually prayed to you,

Revive us." (APWT - Adam's Poorly Worded Translation)

As I reflected on my reworded translation, it stuck to me that it focuses on our actions rather than on God's grace. It becomes a works-based approach as an attempt to receive God's blessings. (While there is some theological truth to it, the basis is flawed.) It's as if I am saying, "If I behave correctly, then God will do something for me."

Have you ever experienced something similar? Have you ever fallen into the trap of thinking that you need to do certain things for God to love, bless, or accept you?

Think about this parable;

A young child is learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. This child and his father are standing on the street, with the child's face beaming with eager excitement over the possibility of impressing his dad. The child hops on the bike and pedals furiously, only to crash a few wobbly seconds later. His father rushes over, lifts him up, and encourages him to try again. Time and time again, the child attempts to ride, but each time ends with a fall.

Frustration began to build inside the child, and he tearfully asked his dad, "Why can't I do it? What am I doing wrong?"

The wise father smiled gently and said, "You're not doing anything wrong, my child. It's all part of learning. I don't expect you to ride perfectly on your first try. You just need to keep trying, and I'll be here to support you every step of the way."

His words struck a chord within the young child's heart. It wasn't about getting everything right from the start; it was about the journey, the effort, and the love and patience his father showed him. It didn't matter if he fell or stumbled; what mattered was that he kept trying and that his father was always there to pick him up.

As I wrestled with the concept of my grace and works-based thinking, I re-realized that my relationship with God shouldn't be based on a checklist of actions or an attempt to earn His love and blessings. Instead, it should be rooted in His boundless grace, just like the love of that father showing his son how to ride a bicycle.

God's grace didn't wait for us to achieve perfection before embracing us. His love reaches out for us, knowing that we will stumble and fall along the way. It was never about what we could do for Him but about what He had already done for us—extending His grace through the sacrifice of His Son.

With a renewed understanding, I revisited my rewritten verse in Psalm 18. While there is truth in acknowledging our commitment to God, it is vital to remember that His grace came first. Our actions should be a response to His grace, not a means to earn it.

So, as we continue our daily devotional practices, may we approach it with hearts full of gratitude for God's undeserved love and kindness. Instead of striving to impress God with our deeds, let's seek to draw closer to Him, knowing that His grace will guide us (Titus 2:12), pick us up when we falter (Psalm 145:14), and ultimately lead us on the path of righteousness (Psalm 23:2).

May our prayer be similar to Asaph;

"Then we will not turn away from you.

Revive us and we will pray to you." (Psalm 80:18 NET)

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