Tag Archives: Psalms

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July 2014

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Celebrate Independence!

Tensions flared in Ukraine.  Crimea was annexed by Russia.  The tension isn’t over, but it has almost faded away in the minds of many Americans.  It has faded, because now we are focused on the crisis in Iraq, even if only because it has driven our gas prices through the roof and has burned holes in our pockets.  We may live in relative peace in our own country, but we are not completely naïve about the state of our world.  There is war.  There is violence.  There is hatred.  As we celebrate Independence Day we do reflect on the privilege and gift that independence is.  We understand the importance of the relative peace we enjoy, because it is fragile.  IT could easily go away, and that is a scary thought.

We can have a confidence that goes beyond the strength of our armed forces.  We can join with the Sons of Korah, who wrote:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

God is our refuge.  Always.  God is the one to whom we can turn, when anyone or anything threatens our peace.  God is the one to whom we can turn when any fear attacks us.

 Therefore we will not fear, thought he earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is no certainty apart from our God.  We can search for certainty in science or morals or ethics or the economy, but deep down we understand that type of certainty is but a wisp of smoke.  We can search for certainty in treaties and alliances, but they can and will be broken.  Yet there is certainty in our God:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

Even when..

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

            We do not fear because…

The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The Psalm continues in verses 8 as we are beckoned to “…come and see the works of the LORD..” There are many works of our God that point us to his power, his might, and his strength, but there is one that demonstrates all of that and his incredible love for us.  We have seen how God carried out his plan of rescue and redemptions through his Son Jesus Christ.  It was on the cross as sin was consumed and at the grave as death was swallowed up in victory that a true and eternal peace was shown to this world.

It is in Jesus that we see our God’s strength of love.  It is in Jesus that we can always be confident of the peace God brings to us:

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth… ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms.  These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.


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June 2014

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The Lord of Glory

Lately I have noticed several people have gotten work done on the trees on their property. That sight caused me to consider those trees.  Trees are incredible!  They are strong, grow so tall, and are beautiful in the spring!  Most trees don’t really belong to anyone.  They grew from wildly scattered seeds, hundreds, and even thousands of years ago.  Except in a few cases, we can’t claim them as the work of our hands.  Those beautiful trees, and everything in our world, are the work of someone’s hands: God’s. Psalm 24 marvels at this fact with us:

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.

Everything we see in all of creation, all of the beauty that is bursting forth at the seams as the weather warms, belongs to our Lord.  Each and every one of us also belongs to God.  That may not always seem to be the case.  Time upon time the people of our world, and their actions, do seem to belong to the Lord.  Time upon time, we ourselves, and our actions, have not belonged to our Lord.  Rather, on too many occasions (and a single occasion is too many), our actions have opposed our God and we have destroyed the beauty he intended for our world and for our relationship with him.

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart…

If we were to ask those questions, we know we would not meet the expectations.  We have not had clean hands or a pure heart. Yet, we know of one who was able to ascend that hill; who was able to stand in God’s holy place; who had completely clean hands and a completely pure heart: Jesus. Yet, Jesus took everything he was and everything he had and he gave it up for us.  He gave his life on the cross to vindicate us and to rescue us.  He gave his life on the cross for our sins and to be our Savior.

He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Know what Jesus has done for you and rejoice!  Know what Jesus has done for you and look to him as your mighty and powerful God, the king of Glory! Be lifted up! Not only is your God the God who created strong, majestic, beautiful trees, along with all creation, but he is your own Savior, the King of Glory.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory.

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms.  These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.


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May 2014

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A Needed Relationship

This month we remember and celebrate our mothers. What could be more appropriate than to celebrate moms?  They care for us, they nurture us, and on the very deepest level, we all need our moms. Even if your relationship with your mother has seen ups and downs or worse, you cannot deny you needed your mother.  Without your mother you wouldn’t have any good thing you have experienced, or ever will experience, because without your mother you wouldn’t be here.  For nine months she carried you inside her womb – she kept you safe and provided the nutrients your tiny body needed to grow.  What a humbling thought! A humbling thought that moves us to celebrate mothers.

The author of Psalm 16 had a similar thought.  He knew a relationship without which he could never survive.  The relationship he knew was one with God.  He wrote:

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.

I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Just as we absolutely need our mothers, we absolutely need our God.  Apart from God we have no good thing. Apart from God life is not worth living. Maybe we think we can exist and function apart from God, but there won’t be much joy in it – certainly not as we look to the inevitable – death. To be cut off from God is to be cut off from life, as certainly as a premature fetus removed from his mother’s womb will die. Apart from God we have no good thing.

With God we have every good thing. He sent his only Son, Jesus, to take away everything that cut us off from his blessings.  In Jesus’ life, his cross, and his empty tomb, our perfect relationship with God has been restored, and he gives us every good thing. The psalmist writes:

Surely I have a delightful inheritance.

One good thing our mothers give us is advice, even if sometimes it takes a while for us to accept it. When we face some of our toughest life decision, our mothers can be invaluable. God and his Word are also invaluable.

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

In his Word, God gives us not only the keys to salvation, but also advice and counsel for our lives, but notice how the verses continue:

I have set the Lord always before me.  Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

God never abandons us, but sometimes we fail to keep him close – sometimes we turn away from him.  Set the Lord always before you.  Keep him close.  Keep him close in prayer and keep him close as you stay close to his Word. Then you will know every good thing that comes from this relationship.  Then you will have cause for celebration. Remember the joys and promises of Eater and celebrate the needed relationship Jesus has granted you.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grace, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.  You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms.  These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.


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April 2014

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How Majestic!

“Ride on, ride on, in Majesty…”  Jesus rode into Jerusalem as our majestic King.  That classic hymn is fitting, isn’t it? Jesus does exude majesty.  Our God exudes majesty.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

So begins, and ends, Psalm 8.  God is truly majestic.  We see it in his creation. When we remove the distractions and distortions of stubborn hearts, or complaints, or regrets, we are compelled to praise God for his majesty.  Children understand the greatness of God and are quick to praise him for it.  Certainly there were children among those who lined the path with palm branches as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.  What joy must have filled their young voices at the sight of Jesus! When the Pharisees told Jesus to rebuke the crowd and silence those children, Jesus said, “If they were silent, the stones would cry out.”  The Psalmist captures that compelling nature of God’s majesty:

“You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise…”

Yet, when we consider God’s majesty aren’t we struck by our own unworthiness?

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”

God’s creation opens our eyes to his power, his goodness, and his perfect majesty.  His works, made by his own hands sit in stark contrast to the works we try to accomplish with our feeble hands. When we look at our life and our work, what majesty is there?  None.  Instead we see the blemishes and defects of sin littered across the landscape of our life.  Why would God care for us?

That’s his true majesty. God crowns us with glory and honor, even in our imperfection. God’s true majesty is found in what he did for us through Jesus.  After Palm Sunday it seemed Jesus’ majesty was stripped from him.  He was beaten, ridiculed, and hung upon a tree to die.  The creator of the heavens and the earth suffered as the worst of criminals.  Yet, this was God’s majesty: the king who would die for his subjects; the king who really did care for his people; our God who cares for us.  So Jesus died for us. He died to remove our blemishes and he rose to life to give us his majesty.

On Easter we celebrate his life and the life he gives to us.  Psalm 8 speaks first about Jesus and then what Jesus gives to us:

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.  You made him ruler over the works of your hands; and put everything under his feet.

This Easter, and always, let us join to say:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”


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March 2014

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Drama, Drama, Drama

Do you enjoy drama? Are you a “drama queen” or “king”? Maybe you aren’t, but the idea of drama seems to be welcomed and expected today, doesn’t it? The entertainment industry thrives on our desire for more and more drama: more twists, more turns, more cliff-hangers. We import drama into our everyday conversations as we overemphasize the details of our most recent dining experience, or the other drivers on the expressway, or our children’s teachers, or the dating adventures among our circle of friends. Drama is all around us.

Then real drama comes crashing down on our own lives and we have a problem. We can’t handle actual drama. When drama hits home it is no longer welcome. When drama hits home it can be annoying, frustrating, saddening, maddening, or downright depressing. Too much drama crushes us like a ton of bricks and leave us feeling helpless and alone. King David knew what real drama felt like. Listen to what he writes in Psalm 6:

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony.

I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

It’s hard to say what drama had entered David’s life when he wrote these words. We know there were agonizing moments in his life: when he understood the crushing guilt of his sins with Bathsheba; when the child of that adulterous relationship perished; when one of his adult sons rebelled against him and tried to snatch his kingdom. Whatever the drama was, it was severe. He felt it go deep into his body – all the way to his bones. He was worn out from all his groaning. His sobs and tears had drenched both his bed and his couch. He couldn’t keep his eyes open because they swelled from those tears. Have you ever felt like David did?

Then keep reading.

David turned to God. God doesn’t mess around with drama. He has always had one, straightforward plan in mind. Perhaps we see incredible drama in that plan: who would have thought God would send his only Son to redeem us from the dramatically damaging effects of our sins? Who would have thought God would die on a cross? Who would write the story-line so captivating? Who would expect Jesus to burst forth from the grave, alive? God did. God sent his only Son. He died. He rose. God did that for you. Do you think he will listen when drama hits home?

…the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.

Beautiful Savior’s newsletter articles in 2014 will focus on portions from short Psalms. These Psalms can be easily committed to memory and serve as wonderful prayers and tools for daily meditation on God’s Word.


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