I will praise Him!
My soul faints with longing for your salvation,
but I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes fail, looking for your promise;
I say, “When will you comfort me?”
Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget your decrees.
How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
The arrogant dig pits to trap me,
contrary to your law.
All your commands are trustworthy;
help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
They almost wiped me from the earth,
but I have not forsaken your precepts.
In your unfailing love preserve my life,
that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.
(Psalm 119:81-88, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 105
He called down famine on the land
and destroyed all their supplies of food;
and he sent a man before them—
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
till what he foretold came to pass,
till the word of the LORD proved him true.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of peoples set him free.
He made him master of his household,
ruler over all he possessed,
to instruct his princes as he pleased
and teach his elders wisdom (NIV).
Here is a question for you. Is bad news always bad news, or is it good news in disguise?
Sometimes what initially appears to be a very bad change of circumstances can over time turn out for the better. The story of the patriarch, Joseph, illustrates this truth perfectly. No one would be foolish enough to call Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers a good news event. Being sold as a foreign slave in Egypt was in many respects a death sentence. How could something good or meaningful come from the life of an obscure young slave?
But that obscure young slave rose above his circumstances and changed the course of nations. His faith and actions more than three millennia ago still have ramifications for us today. How would Egypt have survived seven years of famine without the foresight and wisdom of Joseph? Would there be a Jewish nation today without the guiding hand of Joseph, who was strategically positioned at such a critical time in history?
What began as a bad news story, turned into the salvation of a nation. Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).
Sometimes I wonder what thoughts, hopes and dreams sustained Joseph during his darkest hours. God most certainly was with him. He did not go down to Egypt alone. When we receive bad news, is it always genuinely bad? If God is with us in the hard times, great good may yet come from our most negative experiences. He is a redemptive God who turns darkness to light, mourning to gladness, and curses into blessings. Surely, this is why St. Paul admonishes us with these words: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Response: Father God, when bad news comes give me a thankful heart and a right perspective. Your ways are higher than mine. You know the end before the beginning starts. I choose to trust you. Amen.
Your Turn: Over time has the Lord turned bad news into good news for you?
Reading: Psalm 105
Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the LORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth (NIV).
This past Sunday during the children’s church time the pastor led the children in a rousing chorus of “Jesus Loves Me.” In case you need a quick refresher, here is the first verse of that much loved children’s hymn: Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong.
I remember singing this song with much gusto as a young tyke at Vacation Bible School. I took special comfort from this line: Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong.
As a child I was well aware that I needed the strength of Jesus, since I had so little strength of my own. As we grow up and mature into adulthood we can forget to depend on the Lord’s strength. We have plenty of our own strength. Soon we can find ourselves relying on our own intellect and resources to solve problems as they come our way. Who needs Jesus when we can make our own way in life? Maybe we don’t consciously say that, but our actions reflect that line of reasoning.
The children’s song “Jesus Loves Me” might have been inspired by a line from Psalm 105 where we read, Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.
The plain truth is that I need the LORD and His strength at every stage of my life. My strength on every level is miniscule in the sight of God. That’s why I need to seek his face continually. His wisdom surpasses my limited understanding. I have so little strength on my own, but His power is all surpassing. How foolish we are to rely on our abilities, when the Lord offers to walk through this life right beside us. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
Response: Lord Jesus, you are strong—strong enough to carry the cross on my behalf—strong enough to purchase my redemption. I look to you for strength and salvation. Always guide my steps. I confess that I need you at every stage of my life. Amen.
Your Turn: Did you find it easier to trust in Jesus as a child than as an adult?
I will praise Him!
May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
forever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.
(Psalm 119:41-48, NIV)
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Reading: Psalm 98
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King (NIV).
Once again in Psalm 98 the psalmist calls us to break forth with a new song of praise to our God. This call to worship is a frequent theme in many psalms. In this case the cause for worship is well worth noting. We are to worship in music and song because of the salvation of our God. The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
To some extent these words trouble me. What salvation is the psalmist talking about? Is he referring to the miraculous redemption and rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt? That’s the most significant act of national salvation in the Old Testament. On the other hand, the psalmist could be referring to the restoration of the Jewish nation after the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity. Again this is a very significant event that was witnessed by the surrounding nations. Since we do not have a timeline or date for when this psalm was written, we are left guessing the answer.
For the New Testament believer we see the fulfillment of this psalm in the salvation that was won for us by Christ at the cross. There the ancient powers of sin, hell and the grave were defeated. Death itself was vanquished through the resurrection of Jesus. In reality, the true enemies of the people of God are not foreigners or foreign nations. Our enemies are spiritual; they lurk within—within us. Salvation from those enemies was purchased at the cross with the precious blood of Jesus.
Now here is a bizarre twist. Salvation arrives with our surrender. It arrives when we surrender our lives to our Savior and kneel before our King on a cross. That’s a salvation worth singing about!
Response: LORD God, I am so grateful for the salvation you purchased for me through the blood of Jesus. I want all the ends of the earth to know about that great salvation. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you knelt before the King on a cross? Take some time to do that now.
I will praise Him!
Shouts of joy and victory
resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!
The LORD’s right hand is lifted high;
the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
The LORD has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
(Psalm 118:15-21, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 91
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (NIV).
Let’s be honest. We all want it. We all want satisfaction. For our sex-obsessed society that can only mean one thing, but in reality personal satisfaction encompasses so many facets of life. I want a satisfying meal when I sit down to dinner this evening. I want satisfactory service at the restaurant, at the auto repair shop and on the plane that I’m catching tomorrow. Above all else I want a satisfying life.
This may come as a surprise to many people, but the simple truth is God wants to give you a satisfying life. Here is the long list of promises that the LORD promises to undertake on your behalf. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation”
In summary, we will be protected and rescued. Our prayers will be answered. We will know God’s presence in times of trouble. And just imagine this; the LORD will honor us. Consider for a moment the implications of that. Furthermore, we are promised eternal salvation, and in the here and now, we will have a long and satisfying life.
That sounds like an amazing offer and it truly is. But there are two conditions attached. We need say, “The LORD is my refuge.” In other word we need to confess our dependence on God, and then we must make the Most High our dwelling. We need to live in God, not our own little world, but rather His world with our minds and hearts set on Him. That will take a decision that is renewed daily. Are you ready for that kind of commitment? Are you ready for that kind of satisfaction?
Response: LORD, you are such a good God. I don’t deserve your goodness and love and yet you continually pour out your blessings. I love you, LORD. I want to dwell in you now and always. Amen.
Your Turn: What do you think it means to dwell in God?