Monthly Archives: July 2012

Psalm 116, 117, 118; 1 Thes 4

“His Love endures forever.” Ps 118:1b

Although I’ve cited this verse as Psalm 118:1b, it appears in some form or fashion over 45 times in the bible – mostly in the Psalms.  Obviously this is not a mistake.  In fact, it is the single most important thing God wants us to know about Him.  That no matter what happens, He will always love us.  I know we say this a lot.  So much so, that we run the risk of it becoming cliché and loosing it’s meaning.  That’s why I chose to write about it today.  I wanted to spend some time just taking in what it means.

Take away all the stuff around me, and God will still be there.

Take away all those who love me, and God will still be there.

Take away the world, and God will still be there.

I’m sitting here thinking more about what I just wrote and am struck by the enormity of these statements.  God will always be there.  I know I’ve been guilty of trying to box Him in – of trying to fit him in to my perceptions of the way life is, but when I think about those statements and what they truly mean, I realize, I can’t put Him in a box.  Doing so may make it convenient and comfortable for me, but that’s not what He wants.  He isn’t convenient by design.  I am not to be comfortable, for it is then that the enemy get’s in.  Accepting the fact that His love and faithfulness always endure, means I have to accept that my life is His and, as Paul tries to get across to the Thesolonians, I need to live my life to please Him and Him alone – and do so from a grateful heart.

God, thank you for revealing the enormity of your Love.  Teach me true gratitude and help me to share that with others. In Jesus name, Amen.

Jim (jmitch1)

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Psalm 113, 114, 115; 1 Thessalonians 3

There are an unfathomable number of reasons why the Lord is worthy of praise. There are so many, that even if each person in the world could list 100 reasons, together, we would still not even name more than what would fill the palm of His hand.

We are called over and over in the Bible to praise the Lord, all the time, every day, in the good times and the bad. Praise is offering words of homage as an act of worship, love and admiration. It is an expression of approval and tribute, an applause and a compliment. It is an act of gratitude, an act of devotion. It is a celebration.

So many of the Psalms are filled with explanations as to why God is worthy of praise. Here are some of the reasons according to Psalms 113, 114, and 115 (based on the Message version):

Psalm 113

  • God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies.
  • God cannot be compared with anyone.
  • God is majestically enthroned, surveying the heavens and the earth.
  • God picks up the poor from out of the dirt.
  • God rescues the wretched who’ve been thrown out with the trash.
  • God gives us a place of honor among the brightest and best.
  • God gives childless couples a family.
  • God gives joy.

Psalm 114

  • God brought Israel out of Egypt.
  • God made Judah a holy land.
  • God made Israel a place of holy rule.
  • God parted the seas and the rivers.
  • God moved mountains.
  • God opened the earth.
  • God turned the rock into a pool of spring water.

Psalm 115

  • God is full of glory.
  • God is merciful and loving.
  • God is faithful.
  • God is in heaven, alive.
  • God is real, not made of metal and wood by a craftsman.
  • God has a mouth and talks to us.
  • God has eyes to see us.
  • God has ears to hear us.
  • God has a nose to smell the incense of our living sacrifice.
  • God has hands to hold us.
  • God has feet to walk with us.
  • God has a throat that utters sounds to us.
  • God can be trusted.
  • God is our Helper.
  • God is our Ruler.
  • God is to be feared.
  • God remembers us and blesses us, both small and great.
  • God enlarges our families and helps us grow.
  • God gives us life.

I love praising God through song. One of my favorite times happens at every family gathering on my mother’s side. When we are preparing to eat, rather than saying a traditional ‘thank you for our food’ prayer, we sing the Doxology. Everyone sings, an ever growing family chorus, full of talented musicians and those who simply make a joyful noise. A humble song, yet one that reflects our family’s gratefulness to the Lord for all He has done for us.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him, all creatures here below.

Praise Him, above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.*

DOXOLOGY – THE SAUER FAMILY, 2010

My prayer for you today, dear reader…

May you be a walking doxology. May the Lord be praised through your life – your words, your actions, the content of your heart. ‘Just to remember God is a blessing—now and tomorrow and always. From east to west, from dawn to dusk, keep lifting all your praises to God! (Psalm 113:2-3; MSG) ‘…May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from [me] to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father…’ (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; MSG). ‘May you be blessed by God, [the God] who made heaven and earth.’ (Psalms 115:15) In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Sthoththiram! – Praise the Lord!

 

Blessings – Julie, Vadipatti, India

* Doxology, Thomas Ken, 1674 © Public Domain

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Psalms 106, 111, 112; 1 Thessalonians 2

There it is was sitting right in the middle of an old familiar Psalm:

They exchanged THEIR Glory for an image of a bull which eats grass.  They forgot the God who saved them.  Psalm 106:20-21

Ouch.  It sounds so foolish when considering how the Israelites  had witnessed all those miracles straight from the hand of God,  but how many times have I done the same thing?  How easily I forget that God is MY Glory.  My Glory is not my winning personality, my clever intellect, my nicely decorated home, my 401K or how I look in that new dress.  Why would I try to impress anyone with anything less than the God who loves me?  My Glory is my heavenly Father.  The same Father who has rescued me numerous times and has patiently gone out of his way to tell me that he loves me.  The same Creator who breathes life into those who surround me and has made this wonder filled universe.  The same God who bent down to my level and took the form of a man so I can understand and know Him; the same God who sent his beloved Son to pay the price for my sins.

Where did I ever get the idea that I should push God aside and try to fill the void with something or someone less than Him?  The Israelites and I have much in common.  We have fruitlessly tried exchanging the God who saves us for ridiculous gods we attempt to own all the while forgetting that what we worship controls us.  Why do I ever seek another master?

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Psalms 104, 105, & I Thessalonians 1

Thanks be to God for His creation!  Scripture has inspired great writers, composers, and artists of all times to create their own masterpieces of praise to God for the miraculous springing forth of nature.  In Psalm 104, the psalmist joyfully celebrates the retelling of the Creation punctuating with praise the beginning and end of the poem.  Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel lavishly paints three episodes of creation that continue to marvel the world: the Creation of Light and Dark, God’s outstretched arms in the Creation of the Heavenly Bodies, and the Separation of Land and Water.  Contemporary composer John Rutter’s “Look at the World” uses choral harmony to sing the wonders of God’s creation and man’s natural response of praise and thankfulness:   www.youtu.be/xLxM0s6XOJo

Remember to give thanks in everything!  Even His judgments are reason to be thankful, says Psalm 105. God’s “marvelous wonders” should not be forgotten for they are reminders of His faithfulness and His love for us, therefore a cause to praise Him.  Also, God will not forget His covenant, and that too, is reason praise Him.    Giving thanks will return our gaze from the world to the One who died for us.

You are the reason to give thanks to God!  Your Christian walk, as Paul demonstrated in Thessalonians, can be seen by others.  You are being talked about as a follower of Christ when others see your faith in action, your love of the brethren, your generous gifts, your hope and perseverance in troubled times.  And these acts are not dependent on your efforts, but are possible through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.

The Hebrew word for ‘give thanks’ is yadah which means to publicly acknowledge thanksgiving to God with outstretched hands toward Him.  If giving thanks comes hard, as it sometimes does for me, I re-read the beautiful passages of the birth of our world, the birth of Christianity, and the re-birth of man.  I may step outside to experience the uniqueness of nature or the simplicity of silence.  In some settings, I shout or sing or stretch out my hands in worship, or kneel before our God to acknowledge the wisdom and kindness in Christ Jesus which has come together in perfect love.

Meister Eckhart, German theologian during the Middle Ages, wrote, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank You,’ that would suffice.

I thank You, God!

Janet

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Ps 99, 100, 102; Acts 17:16-34

Evangelism is something that we are all called to do.  That will of course look differently depending on the person and where God has called them.  But those of us who have been blessed with the light of Jesus are told to share that light with others.  It can be scary sometimes or intimidating.  I think for me knowing how important the truth is and how much people need God in their life, I get concerned that I might say the wrong thing or not say the right thing.  If you think it about though, those thoughts are pretty arrogant.  I mean in those situations if I am thinking about me and not them, then my head is in the wrong place or should I say my heart.  And shouldn’t I be letting God do the talking?  I also can’t be worried about the result as if it’s a win lose situation.

I love this passage in Acts where we see Paul just throwing out the truth, first in a public place for all to hear and then in a smaller setting where he can answer questions and go deeper.  He also isn’t judgmental or condemning. Instead he uses the very sin of idolatry to point to God and speak with words that they know and understand.  He is culturally relevant, authentic, but at the same time fully truthful.  In the end, he also is content with leaving it all out there and letting God handle the rest.

some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” That ended Paul’s discussion with them,but some joined him and became believers.” Acts 17:32b-34a NLT

God,  Help me to be bold and unashamed. Help me to value others and their need for you above my own fear.  I pray for your Spirit to pour through me so that others can see your light. Amen

Allen (allen4myfamily)

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Psalms 96,97,98; Acts 17:1-15

Paul goes to Thessalonica.

As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people.

Later, he travels to Berea.

11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.

He tells them what earth, sea, fields, and crops already knew.

Psalm 96:

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice!
Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy!
Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise

Life in exclamation: Jesus is Lord.

Sing to the Lord; praise his name.
Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.
Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.
Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.

Some people have an undeniable gift for evangelism.

I got to know a woman recently who is gifted this way. Nearly every story she tells, she will tell you whether or not the people in it are believers.

“How do you know if they are believers?” I asked. “Do you ask them?”

“Yes,” she said. “Because I may not ever see them again.”

Like a crop in the field, her love bursts with joy.

I am not so bold in my daily travels, like her, or Paul. But I do hope that my love for Him is palpable and evident in how I live–like the rustle of a tree in the forest, or the crashing of waves against the shore … a life that can’t contain praise.

But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”

Lord, what does my life speak of you? Who do I resemble: the world or you? Would someone have to ask me if I’m a believer? Would they notice me in the crowd?

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalm 93-95; Philippians 4

I’ve heard it said that the part of the newspaper you read first says a lot about your personality.  For example, if you go straight for the obituaries, you tend to have more stress in your life.  But if you go to the comics first, you tend to have more laughter in your life.  Honestly, I don’t know if there’s any truth to it or what the “experts” would say about those who just read the paper for the coupons.

 

The point of today’s reading has nothing to do with newspapers and everything to do with your focus.  In Psalms 94 and 95, Moses talks about how his focus shaped his anxiety level.  “When anxiety was great within me, your [comfort] brought joy to my soul,” (Psalm 94:19).  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care,” (Psalm 95:6-7).

 

Paul said, “I have learned the secret of being content,” (Philippians 4:12).  He didn’t say he was born with it, but rather that he learned it, that he had to work to retrain his focus.  Many times over the course of our lives, we are going to have hard times when our anxiety will be great: in financial struggles, in marital struggles, in struggles with our kids, etc.  In these times of anxiety, where will you train your focus?

 

Father, I thank you for all the times you have delivered me out of my anxiety and into your joy.  You hold me in your hands and keep me close to your heart, promising to never let me go.  I pray that I would always remember that, no matter the circumstances.  In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

HeatherPotts5

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