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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, February 13, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 112:1–10

Praise the Lord!
   Happy are those who fear the Lord,
   who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
   the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
   and their righteousness endures forever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
   they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
   who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
   they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
   their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
   in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor;
   their righteousness endures forever;
   their horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked see it and are angry;
   they gnash their teeth and melt away;
   the desire of the wicked comes to nothing. (NRSV)

The righteous “fear the Lord.” To fear God means to be in awe of God’s holiness and steadfast love, revere God’s ordinances, honor God as the matchless Creator of all people and all things, and respect God with highest regard as the God of grace, glory, majesty, and justice.

The blessings of those who fear God are named specifically enough that such persons can be recognized by their attitudes and actions. Happy. Delighting in God’s commandments. Light rising in darkness. Gracious. Merciful. Generous. Conducting their affairs with justice. Standing firm. Unafraid of evil tidings. Hearts secure in the Lord. Unafraid (a second time). Distributing resources equitably. Giving to the poor.

Karl Zinsmeister, editor-in-chief of Philanthropy magazine, recently presented research showing that Americans who regularly worship spend their hours and money quite differently from those who don’t. Religious people are more involved in community groups, have stronger links with their neighbors, and visit more often with extended family. Seven out of ten weekly church attendees consider “work to help the needy” an “essential part” of their faith. Sixty-five percent have donated funds, goods, and their own labor to the poor within the previous week. They give away two to four times as much of their income every year as those with no religious affiliation. Local congregations and faith-based organizations provide a significant level of community social services, education, and health care. Zinsmeister worries that patterns of declining religious practice in our nation will erode generosity, and habits of mutual aid will spiral further downward, portending a harsher, less benevolent future.

“God of grace and God of glory, on thy people pour thy power; crown thine ancient church’s story; bring its bud to glorious flower.” Move all generations increasingly to honor you, God, to love our neighbors, and to give generously. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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