Kindness for the Lowly

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Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar (Psalm 138:6, NIV).

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Gatineau Park – photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is kindness.

Have you ever been around people who make you feel invisible, as though you don’t exist? Recently, I was in a line up when someone stepped ahead of me without so much as a nod or an excuse me. I was left wondering, “Did he even see me?”

Today’s verse from the Psalms reminds us that God doesn’t overlook us. Though the LORD is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar (Psalm 138:6, NIV).

We are always visible to God. It’s through the kindness of the LORD that He stoops down to listen to our prayers. He forgives our sins – overlooks our sins and meets our needs. What a kind and loving God!

Response: LORD God, your kindness is too wonderful for me. Thank you for looking passed my shortcomings and receiving me as your child. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you want to be visible or invisible to God?

Speak for Justice

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Words of wisdom come when good people speak for justice (Psalm 37:30, CEV).

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Sunset photo courtesy of Eric E. Wright

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is goodness.

Bad things happen when good people remain silent. It’s always right and good to speak up for justice. Why then do we remain silent?

In many cases the answer is fear. We are afraid of being ridiculed or attacked. Criminals get away with murder because good people are afraid to speak out. But it’s not just criminals, who are allowed to strut their stuff. The devil gets his way whenever God’s people remain silent and don’t take a stand.

Today’s verse from the Psalms puts a more positive spin on this topic. Words of wisdom come when good people speak for justice (Psalm 37:30, CEV).

Wisdom is often in short supply. You can be absolutely right about a matter, but absolutely wrong about how you address it. Both wisdom and goodness need to come from our lips.

Response: LORD God, help me stand for what is fair and just. Give me wisdom to speak into the situations around me. Help me overcome the fear that allows evil to triumph. Amen.

Your Turn: Is there a situation that you need to speak into?

Young Lions

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Young lions may go hungry or even starve, but if you trust the LORD, you will never miss out on anything good (Psalm 34:10, CEV).

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Image courtesy of tratong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is goodness.

I don’t like being late for supper. I don’t like being the last one in the line up for the self-serve banquet. I might miss out on something good.

I’m hungry for something good. Aren’t you? Of course, something good can be more than just food. Sometimes it’s good-natured fun with friends. Sometimes it’s a game, or a round of physical or mental exercise, and at other times it’s rest and relaxation.

Something good comes in a variety of packages.

I like the promise in today’s verse from the Psalms: Young lions may go hungry or even starve, but if you trust the Lordyou will never miss out on anything good (Psalm 34:10, CEV).

The key factor is trusting in the LORD. Are you someone who trusts in the LORD even in hard times?

Response: LORD God, increase my faith. I want to experience the good things you have set aside for me. Help me daily to put my trust in you. Amen.

Your Turn: What does trusting in God mean for you today?

A Gift

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I have said,
    “Only you are my Lord!
    Every good thing I have
    is a gift from you” (Psalm 16:2, CEV).

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Stormy Skies — photo by Eric E. Wright

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is goodness.

Today’s verse from the Psalms fills me with gratitude. I have said, “Only you are my Lord! Every good thing I have is a gift from you”(Psalms 16:2, CEV).

If you haven’t said these words, you probably have thought them.

Every good thing I have is a gift from the Lord—every ability, every talent, every joy. Chief among those good things is the gift of life itself. After the resurrection, Peter called Jesus the author of life (Acts 3:15, NIV).

Now with the psalmist we can say, “Only you are my Lord!”

Response: LORD God, thank you for all the gifts you have given me. You are good and you have been good to me. Most of all I thank you for Jesus, the author of life. Amen.

Your Turn: What gifts are you thankful for today?

Are You Poor and Needy?

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Reading:                                     Psalm 70

For the director of music. Of David. A petition.

Verses 1-5

Hasten, O God, to save me;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

May those who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The L
ORD is great!”

But as for me, I am poor and needy;
come quickly to me, O God.
You are my help and my deliverer;
L
ORD, do not delay (NIV).

Reflection

When I consider my situation—my station in life—I would not call myself poor, but neither would I say I am rich. I live in a comfortable suburban home. It’s no mansion, but we are mortgage free. I have income that covers our expenses with a little left over at the end of the month. We can afford one major trip each year, as long as we do a little penny pinching along the way. Our eight-year-old car will need to be replaced at some point, but for now it’s doing just fine. I have no worries about retirement.

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Our modest suburban home — photo by David Kitz

Many in this world would see me as rich. On the other hand, I’m a pauper in the eyes of the super wealthy. I’m in the comfortable middle.

David did not see himself that way. Hear his confession—his desperate prayer: But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; LORD, do not delay. 

We don’t know at what point in his life David penned this humble petition. We know that the Shepherd-King of Israel was a man of humble origin, but he also ruled as King of Judah for seven years and for all of Israel for another thirty-three years. From the midpoint of his life onward, he was a man of wealth and power, but his humility remained. Like authoritarian rulers throughout the ages, he could have had his personal history cleansed of such self-effacing pleas for mercy, but David chose a different path. He let the record stand. Perhaps he was looking for a better kingdom.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Some poverty and humility of spirit might be fitting for me as well. How about you?

Response: LORD God, I don’t want to live the life of the self-satisfied. You are my treasure and my very great reward. I am needy—in constant need of you. Come quickly to me, O God. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you poor in spirit? How do we remain that way even when we are blessed?

Goodness and Peace

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Love and loyalty will come together; goodness and peace will unite (Psalm 85:10, CEV).

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Monarch Butterfly — photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is goodness.

Do you pay attention to the news? At times it can be quite discouraging listening to a daily barrage of reports about violence, suffering and war. Then there’s that other feature of the news: politicians and world leaders arguing about—you guessed it—violence, suffering and war.

It can leave you wondering if there is any goodness left in our world.

That’s why I find today’s verse from the Psalms so comforting. Love and loyalty will come together; goodness and peace will unite (Psalm 85:10, CEV).

There’s a promise in that verse. This is something that will happen. We have God’s word on it. I want to be part of it.

Response: LORD God, give me faith to believe your word. Grant me hope so that I can see you at work. Give me grace to be an instrument of peace and love in a world of discord. Amen.

Your Turn: How can you be an instrument of peace this week?

Always Loving

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You are merciful, LORD!
    You are kind and patient
    and always loving 
(Psalm 145:8, CEV).

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Sunset over Lake Ontario – photo by Eric E. Wright

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is mercy.

What is God like? Gaze into the sunset pictured above and you will get a very good idea of what God is like. He is splendid, glorious and creative–a God of diversity and variety. We can deduce this from observing nature.

God puts on a splendid show before our eyes every day. The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what he has done (Psalm 19:1, CEV).

But today’s verse from the Psalms also tells us the LORD is merciful, kind, patient and always loving. The word of God reveals more fully to us the character of God. That’s why I read the Bible.

We see God in nature, we learn about Him through His book, the Bible, and we experience Him through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Response: LORD God, I want to know you better. I want to see more of you in my life. I want to experience your mercy, kindness and love. Open my eyes to see you all around me. Amen.

Your Turn: Where do you most often see God?

In the Shadow of your Wings

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God Most High, have pity on me! Have mercy. I run to you for safety. In the shadow of your wings, I seek protection till danger dies down (Psalm 57:1, CEV).

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Clematis – photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is mercy.

Does God have wings? You might think so based on this verse from the Psalms.

In our attempts to picture God we often give Him anthropomorphic qualities. In simple terms that means we turn Him into a human. The truth is God is a spirit and any attempt to ‘picture’ Him will be grossly inadequate at best, and at worst idolatrous.

Nonetheless, Jesus reminds us that he is eager and willing to shelter us“Jerusalem, Jerusalem! Your people have killed the prophets and have stoned the messengers who were sent to you. I have often wanted to gather your people, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you wouldn’t let me” (Luke 13:34, CEV).

God in the person of Jesus is willing and eager to show us mercy, if we will just come to Him. Take time to come to Him today.

Response: LORD God, I need your mercy. I set my pride aside and ask for your help. Keep me safe from all forms of harm in the shadow of your wings. Amen.

Your Turn: Has God been your shelter in the storms of life?

Waiting for Mercy

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I am worn out from waiting for you to keep your word. When will you have mercy (Psalm 119:82, CEV)?

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Snowy Woods – Photo by David Kitz

Reflection

This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is mercy.

When we are in a really tight spot, God’s mercy cannot arrive fast enough. We want help immediately.

Our impatience can be part of the problem. In God’s mercy, He has us wait. In the waiting process our situation may stay the same, but we change. God’s Spirit works on us.

I fear the kind of person I would become if God answered my every request immediately. 

That doesn’t mean we should never pour out our complaint to God as the psalmist does here. I am worn out from waiting for you to keep your word. When will you have mercy (Psalm 119:82, CEV)?

Bottled up frustration is never a good thing, especially when that frustration is directed at God. Are you frustrated waiting for God’s mercy? Take it to Him in prayer.

Response: LORD God, I need your help. I need your mercy. I need your patience. Give me the grace I need for today. Your word and your good promises sustain me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you impatient as you wait for God’s mercy?

Despite Affliction and Pain

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Reading:                                      Psalm 69

Verses 29-36

But as for me, afflicted and in pain—
may your salvation, God, protect me.

 I will praise God’s name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the L
ORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hooves.
The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!
The L
ORD hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.

Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,

for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;

 the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there
(NIV).

Reflection

The word ‘despite’ does not appear in this final reading from Psalm 69, but despite its absence it’s at the core of what David is saying here.

But as for me, afflicted and in pain—may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

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National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

Despite affliction and pain David resolves to praise God and give Him thanks. David decides to rise above his circumstances. He does not give into his troubles and sorrows. He does not yield to the complaints of his body. Not by the flesh, but in the Spirit, he rises above his afflictions.

Often I would rather wallow in my difficulties and coddle my discomforts. But the LORD calls us to live on a higher plane. It takes praise, thanksgiving and a song in our heart to lift us to that higher level. But before the song comes and the praise begins to flow, we determine our response. We must decide. We have a ‘but-as-for-me’ moment.

Despite opposition from our flesh, despite the doubts and misgivings of our peers, we determine that God is worthy of our praise. He is the God of the afflicted—not just the God of the feel-good set—so let the thanksgiving begin and praise burst forth.

Often God sees our heart and He intervenes and our situation changes. But if not, He is still worthy of whole hearted praise. Take time to praise and thank Him now.

Response: LORD God, in my difficulties I praise you. This pain-prone human flesh praises you. Thank you for this life you have given me. Your goodness and mercy never end. Amen.

Your Turn: Is praise difficult for you at times?

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