Psalm 118 ~ Rejected Stone

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:22-24

These stanzas carry a familiarity for the Christian as they are heard in both the New Testament and modern worship. Christ uses the words of himself in all three of the Synoptic accounts, not only making it memorable but also, markedly important across the three diverse audiences for each book. In its NIV84 form, not a week goes by that the day the Lord has made doesn’t ring out in music from the stages of His church. We hear these words and envision the imagery through Christ’s voice, but what does He intend to convey?

Psalm 118 is a hymn of thanksgiving for deliverance. In the case of the Psalmist, deliverance from military enemies who threatened to encroach upon the sovereignty of God’s people. The author leaves no historical context from which to apply the celebration to a particular victory, leaving it open to wide range of interpretations. Regardless, the hymn begins and ends with a vibrant call to praise that cements the goodness of God in the minds of the celebrants:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;

His love endures forever. (v1)

Is your maturity such that you can say the same thing? Can you look over the record of your life, its struggles, troughs and troubles and say with confidence that God is good every minute of every day and this His love is on full display in your life? Should He elect not to deliver you from trouble, will you sing the same words?

When Jesus speaks these words of the monumental change in the kingdom, He has just told the parable of the Tenants to a dumbstruck audience, most of whom would fail to see themselves as actors in the story. If the parable applied to them, their thoughts would run to a world turned upside-down, something they were wholly unprepared to face.

Salvation for followers of Christ is inextricably bound up in this monumentally changed kingdom. While travail may still be a part of our lives, we can take a celebratory attitude in the hope and promise that this change engenders. For a short time we may suffer, but at an appointed time the Lord’s goodness will be more than a promise. It will be the reality of His enduring love.

Grace and peace to you…

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Psalm 117 ~ Extol Him All You People

Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.

For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord. Psalm 117

Extol: glorify, magnify, exalt, bless, make much of, celebrate, emblazon, sound or resound the praise of, ring one’s praises, sing the praises of, trumpet, praise to the skies, porter aux nues, doxologize, praise God from whom all blesing flow…does your list end here?

Grace and peace to you …

image Eric Slatkin

Psalm 116 ~ He Saved Me

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When the prolific duo of Ashford and Simpson penned these words, were they thinking beyond the human realm?

Ain’t no mountain high enough.

Ain’t no valley low enough.

Ain’t no river wide enough, to keep me from getting’ to you.

The psalmist portrays this distance from the Savior in terms of life and death, painting mortality as the last moment in which He can reach out and pluck His creations for the abyss.

The cords of death entangle me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” (Ps 116:3-4)

Such is extent of the Savior’s reach that not even the ebbing moments of life can rebuff Him. We cry out “Lord, save me!” and redemption extends life forever. Restoration is a now and still to come reality. Whatever remains of our time in this world can be in peace and assurance;

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. (v7)

A thankful heart taken captive by the Spirit guides our gratitude-filled steps, all of these remaining days;

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord—in your midst Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord. (vv 17-19)

Grace and peace to you…

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Psalm 115 ~ Deaf, Dumb and Blind

imageOur God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. Ps 115:3-4

Despite the historical and experiential evidence that idols are powerless over our lives, humankind has continued in their manufacture throughout all of our existence. These statues are meant to assure us of a god’s presence and provide a focal point for our worship. A God who doesn’t take corporeal form requires faith to entrust, an effort that we would often prefer to avoid.

Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. (v8)

Because the idol cannot reveal himself nor communicate his attributes, we are left to invent them. Our default character matches our own. As we explore the theology of our idols we find the worship requirements malleable as the attributes adapt to our fallen nature. Low demands and a conciliatory spirit become the hallmark of the deaf, dumb and blind objects.

The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. (vv 16-18)

Idols ultimately fail. The moment comes when the answers they provide no longer fulfill their intended design. We are left to confront the reality of the omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God who can, and does, answer our prayers and petitions. Only, that is, when our eyes are pointed in the right direction.

Grace and peace to you…

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Psalm 114 ~ We Ran So Far Away

 

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Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

who turned the rock into a pool,

the hard rock into springs of water. Ps 114:7-8

The psalmist pours out his worship as he remembers the great work of God in bringing His people out of Egypt. Psalm 114 is brief but wonderfully expressive. He writes of the moment marking the birth of Israel, of the becoming God’s people.

When Israel came out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,

Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. (vv 1-2)

Do we have an equally exquisite psalm stored up in our hearts for the day we were called out from our previous bondage? In true worship of the Holy Almighty God, you and I as His people should be putting pen to paper and leaving a legacy of thanks for those who come after us. That they may read of our transition from imprisonment to freedom is the greatest motivation we can give to others, imbuing them with hope for their own situation.

Grace and Peace to you..

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Psalm 113 ~ Distances

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Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? Psalm 113:5-6

In this brief recital of God’s great glory, the careful reader notes the psalmist’s use of contrast in the verses. As you read and meditate on the verses you are struck by the various ‘distances’ that bookend the effusive worship.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. (v2)

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, (v3)

the One who sits on high, who stoops down to look (v6)

He raises the poor from the dust (v7)

The God of All, seated in the Heavens surveying all in His domain is also the intimate God. He is seated next to you in trouble, He is present in His full glory no matter the distance we attempt to place between us. He is timeless; there was, is, and never will be, a time in which we are not His beloved. Bending a knee in humble adoration does not call Him screaming across the heavens to be with us, He is already present, His heart overflowing with love.

In our Lenten reflections we focus on the redemption that has transformed our lives. This same distance applies to our forgiven sins..

Let our sins be forgiven and forgotten, both now and forevermore..

Let us walk in the light of God’s glory from the rising of the sun to the time at which it sets..

Let us be mindful of the One who sits on high, who desires to look down on lives of holiness..

Let us remember always that we are the poor and lost who He raised from the dust…

 

Grace and peace to you..

image Horia Varlan

Psalm 112 ~ His Heart is Steadfast

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Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. Psalm 112:6

The psalter can be a challenge to understand in some cases. We must read with the eyes of those who first received the psalms while applying to our lives many centuries past, not always the easiest task. In other cases, the inspired phrasing of the Psalmist make his intent crystal clear. Such is the message of Psalm 112.

The Lord is praised by the life of a godly man. Praise without the need for words is lifted by the God-honoring life of those who fear the Lord and obey Him. Those who pay notice to their abundant lives see no other explanation except divine favor. The just and compassionate fear nothing of men, knowing that they live in the light.

Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor. (vv 8-9)

There is no place other than in the light of the Lord for man to be.

Grace and peace to your soul…

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