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Thread: Our Daily Bread

  1. #1831
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    July 16, 2019

    Precious

    You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.
    Psalm 16:2


    “My precious . . .” First portrayed in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the image of the emaciated creature Gollum in his maniacal obsession with the “precious ring of power” has become an iconic one today—for greed, obsession, even insanity.

    It’s also a troublingly relatable image. In his tormented love-hate relationship with both the ring and with himself, Gollum’s voice echoes the hunger in our own hearts. Whether it’s directed at one thing in particular, or just a vague longing for “more,” we’re sure that once we finally get our own “precious,” we’ll be satisfied. But instead, what we thought would make us whole leaves us feeling even emptier than before.

    There’s a better way to live. As David expresses in Psalm 16, when the longings in our hearts threaten to send us on a desperate, futile quest for satisfaction (v. 4), we can remember to turn to God for refuge (v. 1), reminding ourselves that apart from Him we have nothing (v. 2).

    And as our eyes stop looking for satisfaction “out there” to gaze instead on God’s beauty (v. 8), we find ourselves finally tasting true contentment—a life of basking in the “joy [of God’s] presence,” walking with Him each moment in “the way of life”—now and forever (v. 11 nlt).

    By Monica Brands
    Reflect & Pray

    What’s the thing you often turn to for satisfaction when you lose sight of God? Who can be a source of support and love for you when you feel trapped in your addiction to “more”?

    God, forgive me for thinking I can find what I need apart from You. Thank You for always being there even when I forget to look for You. Draw me to Your side to live in the joy of walking with You.
    Psalms 16:1-11

    1 (Michtam of David.) Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.

    2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;

    3 But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.

    4 Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.

    5 The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.

    6 The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

    7 I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

    8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

    9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

    10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  2. #1832
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    July 17, 2019

    Victory Parade

    But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.
    2 Corinthians 2:14


    In 2016 when the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first time in more than a century, some sources said that five million people lined the parade route and gathered at a downtown rally to celebrate the championship.

    Victory parades are not a modern invention. A famous ancient parade was the Roman Triumph, in which victorious generals led a procession of their armies and captives through crowded streets.

    Such parade imagery was likely in Paul’s mind when he wrote to the Corinthian church thanking God for leading believers “as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14). I find it fascinating that in this imagery, followers of Christ are the captives. However, as believers we’re not forced to participate, but are willing “captives,” willingly part of the parade led by the victorious, resurrected Christ. As Christians, we celebrate that through Christ’s victory, He’s building His kingdom and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

    When we talk about Jesus’s victory on the cross and the freedom it gives believers, we help spread the “aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). And whether people find the aroma to be the pleasing reassurance of salvation or the odor of their defeat, this unseen but powerful fragrance is present everywhere we go.

    As we follow Christ, we declare His resurrection victory, the victory that makes salvation available to the world.

    By Lisa M. Samra
    Reflect & Pray

    What does Jesus’s victory on the cross mean to you? How are you living out the power of His resurrection?

    Jesus is our victorious King.

    For further study, see christianuniversity.org/NT109-06.
    2 Corinthians 2:14-17

    14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

    15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

    16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

    17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  3. #1833
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    July 18, 2019

    Wise Aid

    Encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
    1 Thessalonians 5:14


    As I stopped my car at a red light, I saw the same man standing beside the road again. He held a cardboard sign: Need money for food. Anything helps. I looked away and sighed. Was I the kind of person who ignored the needy?

    Some people pretend to have needs but are actually con artists. Others have legitimate needs but face difficulties overcoming destructive habits. Social workers tell us it’s better to give money to the aid ministries in our city. I swallowed hard and drove past. I felt bad, but I may have acted wisely.

    God commands us to “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). To do this well we must know who belongs in which category. If we warn a weak or disheartened person, we may break her spirit; if we help an idle person, we may encourage laziness. Consequently, we help best from up close, when we know the person well enough to know what he needs.

    Has God burdened your heart to help someone? Great! Now the work begins. Don’t assume you know what that person needs. Ask her to share her story, and listen. Prayerfully give as seems wise and not merely to feel better. When we truly aim “to do what is good for each other,” we will more readily “be patient with everyone,” even when they stumble (vv. 14–15).

    By Mike Wittmer
    Reflect & Pray

    When have others most helped you? What did you learn about how best to help others?

    Father, help me to help wisely, and often.
    1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

    12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

    13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

    14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

    15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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  5. #1834
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    July 19, 2019

    Who Is He?

    Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory.
    Psalm 24:10


    On our way home from our honeymoon, my husband and I waited to check in our luggage at the airport. I nudged him and pointed to a man standing a few feet away.

    My spouse squinted. “Who is he?”

    I excitedly rattled off the actor’s most notable roles, then walked up and asked him to take a photo with us. Twenty-four years later, I still enjoy sharing the story of the day I met a movie star.

    Recognizing a famous actor is one thing, but there’s Someone more important I’m thankful to know personally. “Who is this King of glory?” (Psalm 24:8). The psalmist David points to the Lord Almighty as Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of all. He sings, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (vv. 1–2). In awestruck wonder, David proclaims God is above all, yet intimately approachable (vv. 3–4). We can know Him, be empowered by Him, and trust Him to fight on our behalf, as we live for Him (v. 8).

    God provides opportunities for us to declare Him as the only Famous One truly worth sharing with others. As we reflect His character, those who don’t recognize Him can have more reasons to ask, “Who is He?” Like David, we can point to the Lord with awestruck wonder and tell His story!

    By Xochitl Dixon
    Reflect & Pray

    What has the Lord shown you about Himself? How might you share that with someone?

    Lord, thanks for blessing us with the pleasure and privilege of seeking You and giving us opportunities to share You with others every day.
    Psalms 24

    (A Psalm of David.)

    1 The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

    2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.

    3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

    4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

    5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

    6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

    7 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

    8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

    9 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

    10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 07-19-2019 at 06:20 AM.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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    July 20, 2019

    Hands-On Learning

    Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.
    1 Corinthians 11:1


    My six-year-old son, Owen, was thrilled to receive a new board game. But after a half hour reading the rules, he was frustrated. He couldn’t quite figure out how it worked. It wasn’t until later, when a friend came over who already knew how to play, that Owen finally got to enjoy his present.

    Watching them play, I was reminded of how much easier it is to learn something new if you have an experienced teacher. When we’re learning, reading the instructions helps, but having a friend who can demonstrate makes a huge difference.

    The apostle Paul understood this too. Writing to Titus about how he could help his church grow in faith, Paul emphasized the value of experienced believers who could model Christian faith. Of course teaching “sound doctrine” was important, but it didn’t just need to be talked about—it needed to be lived out. Paul wrote that older men and women ought to be self-controlled, kind, and loving (Titus 2:2–5). “In everything,” he said, “set them an example by doing what is good” (v. 7).

    I’m thankful for solid teaching, but I’m also thankful for the many people who have been hands-on teachers. They’ve shown me by their lives what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ and have made it easier for me to see how I can walk that path too.

    By Amy Peterson
    Reflect & Pray

    What lessons have you learned from those who have taught you about living for Jesus by their words and actions? What are others seeing as they view your faith in action?

    God, thank You for graciously giving us mentors who can show us by example how to live for You, and thank You for giving us Your Son, the only perfect model of faith.

    For further study, see christianuniversity.org/HR202 .
    Titus 2:1-8

    1 But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

    2 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

    3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

    4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

    5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

    6 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

    7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

    8 Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  7. #1836
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    July 21, 2019

    Never Too Late

    Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
    Mark 5:36


    During the anxious moments that followed my mother-in-law’s heart attack, she was fortunate to receive immediate medical care. Later, her doctor told me that treatment within fifteen minutes of a heart attack results in a survival rate of 33 percent for critical patients. But just 5 percent survive if treated beyond that time frame.

    On the way to heal Jairus’s desperately ill daughter (someone definitely needing immediate medical care), Jesus did the unthinkable: He paused (Mark 5:30). He stopped to identify who touched Him, and then spoke gently with the woman. You can imagine what Jairus was thinking: There’s no time for this, my daughter is dying! And then, his worst fears came true—Jesus appeared to have delayed too long and his daughter passed away (v. 35).

    But Jesus turned to Jairus and offered a word of encouragement: “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (v. 36). Then, calmly ignoring the mockery of onlookers, Christ spoke to Jairus’s daughter and she came back to life! He revealed that He can never be too late. Time can’t limit what He’s able to do and when He chooses to do it.

    How often do we feel like Jairus, thinking that God was simply too late to accomplish what we had hoped for. But with God, there’s no such thing. He’s never too late in fulfilling His good and merciful work in our lives.

    By Peter Chin
    Reflect & Pray

    How have you recently experienced the reality of God’s timing? Why is it vital for you to rest in God’s sovereignty—acknowledging that His plans are the best?

    Jesus, help me to remember that You’re sovereign even over time itself, and that You’re never too late to accomplish Your perfect plans.
    Mark 5:35-43

    35 While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?

    36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.

    37 And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.

    38 And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.

    39 And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.

    40 And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.

    41 And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise.

    42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

    43 And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  8. #1837
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    July 22, 2019

    Faithful in Captivity

    While Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him.
    Genesis 39:20–21


    Haralan Popov had no idea what turn his life would take when the doorbell rang early one morning in 1948. Without any warning, the Bulgarian police took Haralan away to prison because of his faith. He spent the next thirteen years behind bars, praying for strength and courage. Despite horrible treatment, he knew God was with him, and he shared the good news of Jesus with fellow prisoners—and many believed.

    In the account from Genesis 37, Joseph had no idea what would happen to him after he was mercilessly sold by his angry brothers to merchants who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an Egyptian official. He found himself in a culture surrounded by people who believed in thousands of gods. To make things worse, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. When Joseph refused repeatedly, she falsely accused him, leading to his being sent to prison (39:16–20). Yet God didn’t abandon him. Not only was He with Joseph, but He also “gave him success in everything he did” and even “showed him kindness and granted him favor” with those in authority (39:3, 21).

    Imagine the fear Joseph must have felt. But he remained faithful and kept his integrity. God was with Joseph in his difficult journey and had a master plan for him. He has a plan in mind for you too. Take heart and walk in faith, trusting He sees and He knows.

    By Estera Pirosca Escobar
    Reflect & Pray

    What difficult situation have you experienced—perhaps one in which you were falsely accused? Why is it vital for you to maintain your integrity?

    God, thank You for being with me always, even when life’s circumstances cause me to be uncomfortable. Help me to be faithful to You.
    Genesis 39:6-12,20-23

    6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

    7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

    8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;

    9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

    10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

    11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.

    12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

    20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.

    21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

    22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.

    23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  9. #1838
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    July 23, 2019

    Eyes in the Back of My Head

    From his dwelling place [God] watches all who live on earth.
    Psalm 33:14


    I was as mischievous as any other child in my early years and tried to hide my bad behavior to avoid getting into trouble. Yet my mother usually found out what I had done. I recall being amazed at how quickly and accurately she knew about my antics. When I marveled and asked how she knew, she always replied, “I have eyes in the back of my head.” This, of course, led me to study her head whenever she’d turn her back—were the eyes invisible or merely cloaked by her red hair? As I grew, I gave up looking for evidence of her extra pair of eyes and realized I just wasn’t quite as sneaky as I had supposed. Her watchful gaze was evidence of her loving concern for her children.

    As grateful as I am for my mother’s attentive care (despite being occasionally disappointed I hadn’t gotten away with something!), I’m even more grateful that God “sees all mankind” as He looks upon us from heaven (Psalm 33:13). He sees so much more than what we do; He sees our sadness, our delights, and our love for one another.

    God sees our true character and always knows exactly what we need. With perfect vision, which even sees the inner workings of our hearts, He watches over those who love Him and put their hope in Him (v. 18). He’s our attentive, loving Father.

    By Kirsten Holmberg
    Reflect & Pray

    How does it comfort you to know that God sees everything and is watching over you? What has He been doing recently to sharpen your character?

    Dear Father, thank You for watching over all people and for seeing what happens in our world and in my life.
    Psalms 33:6-19

    6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

    7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

    8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

    9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

    10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

    11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

    12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

    13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

    14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.

    15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.

    16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.

    17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

    18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;

    19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

  10. #1839
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    July 24, 2019

    Something to Brag About

    Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.
    Jeremiah 9:23


    What does it mean to be real? That’s the very big question answered in the small children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit. It’s the story of toys in a nursery and the velveteen rabbit’s journey to become real by allowing himself to be loved by a child. One of the other toys is the old and wise Skin Horse. He “had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by and by break . . . and pass away.” They looked and sounded impressive, but their bragging eventually amounted to nothing when it came to love.

    Boasting starts out strong; but in the end, it always fades away. Jeremiah lists three areas where this is evident: “wisdom . . . strength . . . riches” (Jeremiah 9:23). The wise old prophet had been around long enough to know a thing or two, and he countered such boasting with the Lord’s truth: “But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord” (v. 24).

    Let us, the children, brag about God, our good Father. In the unfolding story of His great love, it’s the wonderful way you and I grow to become more and more real.

    By John Blase
    Reflect & Pray

    Think of a person you know who embodies the ability to “boast in the Lord.” What is one way this week you can follow their example?

    Father, help me to remember Jeremiah’s words. May my only boasting be in the knowledge of You and Your great love which endures forever.
    Jeremiah 9:23-26

    23 Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

    24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

    25 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised;

    26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.
    Last edited by Old Ridge Runner; 07-24-2019 at 07:14 AM.
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    July 25, 2019

    But a Breath

    My hope is in you.
    Psalm 39:7


    Bobby’s sudden death brought home to me the stark reality of death and the brevity of life. My childhood friend was only twenty-four when a tragic accident on an icy road claimed her life. Growing up in a dysfunctional family, she had recently seemed to be moving forward. Just a new believer in Jesus, how could her life end so soon?

    Sometimes life seems far too short and full of sorrow. In Psalm 39 the psalmist David bemoans his own suffering and exclaims: “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure” (vv. 4–5). Life is short. Even if we live to see a century, our earthly life is but a drop in all of time.

    And yet, with David, we can say, “My hope is in [the Lord]” (v. 7). We can trust that our lives do have meaning. Though our bodies waste away, as believers we have confidence that “inwardly we are being renewed day by day”—and one day we’ll enjoy eternal life with Him (2 Corinthians 4:16–5:1). We know this because God “has given us the Spirit . . . guaranteeing what is to come”! (5:5).

    By Alyson Kieda
    Reflect & Pray

    How is it comforting to know that God has made it possible for you to share in His eternal life? How can the gift of each moment encourage you to make the most of your time?

    Thank You, Lord, that this life is not all there is! You have eternity in store for all who believe in You. Help us to spend our numbered days here in service to You.
    Psalms 39:1-13

    1 (To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.) I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

    2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.

    3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

    4 LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

    5 Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.

    6 Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

    7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

    8 Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

    9 I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.

    10 Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.

    11 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah.

    12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.

    13 O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
    Humble yourself, for there is an enormous change coming.

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