The Works of the LORD

Tags

, , ,

I will praise Him!

img_20160903_165138

Bilberry Creek, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Great are the works of the LORD;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the LORD is gracious and compassionate.

(Psalm 111:2-4 NIV)

Your Unfailing Love Supported Me

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Reading:                                          Psalm 94

Verses 16-23

Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the L
ORD had given me help,
I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, L
ORD, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—
a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?
The wicked band together against the righteous
and condemn the innocent to death.
But the L
ORD has become my fortress,
and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.
He will repay them for their sins
and destroy them for their wickedness;
the L
ORD our God will destroy them (NIV).

Reflection

Here is a question that is well worth asking at election time, or really at any time during the life of a nation: Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—a throne that brings on misery by its decrees?

img_20160921_135717

1000 Islands boat cruise near Gananoque, ON — photo by David Kitz

Whatever your political persuasion, this is a question that has relevance. Corruption isn’t a problem that is unique to just one party or candidate. It transcends the political spectrum. Corruption and poorly designed laws or decrees can bring misery to millions. According to the psalmist, it has happened in the past and as long as we live in a fallen world, it will continue into the future.

If we fix our eyes on the problems of this world, we can soon find ourselves in despair. Like the psalmist, in times of worry, we need to turn to the LORD. When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

That’s the good news of the gospel. In times of anxiety we have someone to turn to. His name is Jesus. He was familiar with suffering and adversity. In Psalm 55 we read, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22). The apostle Peter reiterates the same thought: Cast all your anxiety on him [God] because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

In times of trouble the unfailing love of the LORD will sustain you. In times of loss His consolation will bring you joy. That’s the promise of Psalm 94. It’s a promise that’s worth clinging to in good times and bad, and yes, even in election years.

Response: LORD God, I am so glad that first and foremost I live under your Kingdom rule. You are my King. I find unfailing love and consolation in knowing you. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you facing adversity now? How can I pray for you?

The One You Discipline

Tags

, , , , ,

Reading:                                         Psalm 94

Verses 8-15

Take notice, you senseless ones among the people;
you fools, when will you become wise?
Does he who fashioned the ear not hear?
Does he who formed the eye not see?
Does he who disciplines nations not punish?
Does he who teaches mankind lack knowledge?
 The L
ORD knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.

Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD,
the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
till a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the L
ORD will not reject his people;
he will never forsake his inheritance.
Judgment will again be founded on righteousness,
and all the upright in heart will follow it
(NIV).

Reflection

Do I like discipline? Hardly. Do I like self-discipline? Not really. Discipline sounds difficult or unpleasant. Self-discipline and self-denial are twin brothers. I don’t like either of them. They are two tough customers that demand that I change, but I don’t like change. My flesh—my stubborn sinful nature—resists change.

img_20160903_164450

Sailing on the river — photo by David Kitz

On the other hand, do I like the fruits of self-discipline? Absolutely. Self-discipline pays huge dividends. In any field of endeavor, in due time self-discipline will bring rewards. Athletes succeed because of self-discipline. Fortunes are accumulated through self-discipline. But those same fortunes can be frittered away through a lack of discipline. Strength of character does not develop naturally; it develops through adversity and self-discipline.

Discipline comes in two forms, internally or externally. Both are needed if we are to become people of the cross.  Son though he was, he [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9). If Jesus learned obedience through the discipline of suffering, should we not expect to experience the same?

Here in Psalm 94 we learn that the LORD disciplines nations. The following admonition reminds us of the vital role that discipline plays in the life of the believer: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all (Hebrews 12:5-8).

Response: LORD God, I confess that I need your discipline. I want to become like your Son, Jesus. Help me to learn from the difficult experiences of life. I want to live my life as your obedient child. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you appreciate God’s discipline?

How Long, LORD?

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Reading:                                          Psalm 94

Verses 1-7

The LORD is a God who avenges.
O God who avenges, shine forth.
Rise up, Judge of the earth;
pay back to the proud what they deserve.
How long, L
ORD, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?

They pour out arrogant words;
all the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush your people, L
ORD;
they oppress your inheritance.
They slay the widow and the foreigner;
they murder the fatherless.
They say, “The L
ORD does not see;
the God of Jacob takes no notice”
(NIV).

Reflection

As I gather my thoughts to write this post there are fresh reports that a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict has come to an end. Aid convoys have been bombed. Recriminations fly back and forth between the warring parties; each blames the other. Meanwhile, war rages on. People starve. Refugees flee. Bombs fall from the sky and children are killed and injured.

img_20160918_182051

While we enjoy peace in other lands war rages — photo by David Kitz

There is a present-day relevance to Psalm 94. Its words are an ongoing reality in war-torn Syria. How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, LORD; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. 

The Syrian conflict is now into its fifth year with no end in sight and many people are asking, ”How long, LORD?”  

There is so much evil in the world. Evil expresses itself most graphically during war. There are those who would like to blame God for war, but that makes no sense. Human pride, greed and cunning lead to war. Human intransigence keeps it going. We can and should pray for God to show mercy and bring peace, but ultimately human hearts must change to bring an end to war.

We are right to pray for an end to murderous regimes. Essentially that is what the psalmist is praying. Is there more we can do? Emergency aid to war-torn regions is always needed. We can open our hearts and our wallets to provide some help. When an entire nation falls into the hands of murderous thieves are there a few good Samaritans who are willing to help?

Sometimes there are no easy answers in this difficult world.

Response: LORD God, thank you for the peace and security I enjoy. I don’t want to take my peace and prosperity for granted. Show me how I can be a help in this troubled world. Amen.

Your Turn: Should we be concerned about foreign conflicts or only pay attention to things at home?

Robed in Majesty

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading:                                          Psalm 93

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty;
the L
ORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, LORD,
the seas have lifted up their voice;
the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.

 Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the L
ORD on high is mighty.

Your statutes, LORD, stand firm;
holiness adorns your house
for endless days
(NIV).

Reflection

What things in this world are majestic? As I write this post, I’m looking out across my front lawn where a squirrel is cavorting about. Are squirrels majestic? Certainly not in my opinion. In the animal kingdom perhaps lions or stallions are majestic in their bearing. Snow-covered mountain peaks may be majestic, but squirrels not so much. 

011

Sunrise at Perce, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

Here in Psalm 93 the psalmist is trying to capture in words the might and majesty of the LORD. Surely, this is an impossible task, but the psalmist makes a valiant effort. His thoughts turn to the vast power of the sea. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea—the LORD on high is mighty.

Of course the might of the LORD is incomparable. How can the power of the sea be compared to the power of the One who created the sea? The comparison breaks down; it is not valid. The greatest minds find themselves grasping at straws when they try to capture the majesty and glory of the LORD.

According to the psalmist two things stand firm and secure, the world and the statutes of the LORD. How firm are the laws of the LORD established in your mind? In a world where moral relativism rules the day, absolutes are shunned. What may be deemed right and good today may be judged as unacceptable or reprehensible tomorrow. In our society it seems the opinion of the fickle masses determines what is good. God’s opinion—His statutes matter little.

But in reality—in this thing called eternity—there are things that never change. There are absolutes. On the day we die, ready or not, we will know and experience the absolutes of God. The unchanging God has not thrown out His moral law with yesterday’s garbage. The psalmist declares, “Your statutes, LORD, stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days.”

Response: LORD God, I want your holiness to adorn my house and my heart. Help me to conform to your will and your ways, rather than the other way around. You are my Lord. Reign on sovereign Lord. Amen.

Your Turn: What does God’s majesty mean to you? Do majesty and holiness fit together?

Planted in the House of the LORD

Tags

, , , , , ,

Reading:                                           Psalm 92

Verses 9-15

For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
You have exalted my horn like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured on me.
My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the L
ORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The L
ORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him”
(NIV).

Reflection

God’s people have been called or compared to many things. Often we are likened to sheep—the sheep of the LORD’s pasture. But here in Psalm 92 we are likened to trees, the palm tree, the cedar and various fruit trees.

img_20160916_142004

Looking up at trees — photo by David Kitz

There is a striking parallel between the tree analogy found in this psalm and a similar analogy found in Psalm 1. In both cases the righteous are compared to trees. That person [the righteous] is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers (Psalm 1:3).

By its very nature, there is something very settled about a tree. Unlike a sheep, a tree is not prone to wander. Trees flourish or perish where they have taken root. Have you been planted in the house of the LORD? Are you staying fresh and green and flourishing in the courts of our God?

Fruitfulness begins with flowering. Is your relationship with God in the flowering stage? Have you fallen in love with Him—so in love that you radiate beauty? Are you and the message you bear attractive? Have you made yourself attractive because of your love for the Lord?

What about fruit? Are the fruits of the Spirit beginning to appear on your branches? But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).

I can’t speak for you, but I would rather be a flourishing, fruit-bearing tree in the courts of the LORD than a wayward sheep.

Response: LORD God, daily I want to grow more in love with you. Grant me a settled heart. I want my life to bear fruit that will bring honor to you. Help me to radiate your goodness and beauty. Amen.

Your Turn: How attractive is the message you bear? What signals are you sending out into the world?

He spoke and it came to be

Tags

, , , ,

When will I see your face?

img_20160823_193112

Petrie Island at sunset — photo by David Kitz

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars;
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

(Psalm 33:6-9 NIV)

Proclaiming Your Love in the Morning

Tags

, , , , ,

Reading:                                            Psalm 92

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

Verses 1-8

It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, L
ORD,
how profound your thoughts!
Senseless people do not know,
fools do not understand,
that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be destroyed forever.

But you, LORD, are forever exalted (NIV).

Reflection

Why is music such a central part of the Christian worship experience? For the answer to that question we need to look no further than the opening lines of Psalm 92. It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.

img_20160915_211722

I sing for joy at what your hands have done — photo by David Kitz

To put it simply, praising the LORD is a good thing. Making music to honor the name of the Most High is a wholesome expression of our love for God. Furthermore, the LORD approves the use of musical instruments. The harp and the lyre are mentioned here, but there is no scriptural reason to limit the use of instruments.

Why do men sing love songs? Because they love the woman of their dreams—the object of their affection. The same holds true when we fall in love with God. The LORD becomes the object of our deepest affection. He is worthy of our praise.

Do you need some reasons to praise God? The psalmist provides us with some sound reasons: For you make me glad by your deeds, LORD; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!

If the marvels of creation are insufficient to prompt us to praise, then consider for a moment the wonders of redemption. God sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die on our behalf. He purchased our eternal redemption with the shed blood of Jesus. Oh what love! What wondrous love! It makes me want to break out in song.

Response: LORD God, every morning I want to praise you. Thank you for the gift of music. Help me use my voice and every talent you have given me to express my praise to you. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you enjoy praising God? Do you save your praise for Sundays or is it expressed daily?