Scripture reading for January 2nd: Matthew 2, Psalms 2:1-6, Proverbs 1:8-14
Greetings on this first Sunday morning of 2011! What a joy to begin the year with worship with a community of believers as we start our journey in a new year with new opportunities and challenges! May you find a place to worship today and go with hunger and expectancy that God will speak to you!
Just a note about our readings for today, Psalm 2 is tied with Psalm 110 for the most-quoted Psalm in the New Testament writings. We in America seem to pay little attention to this Psalm and like Psalm 23 and 91 for obvious reasons. This psalm speaks of a spiritual battle that rages even today. This battle concerns the nations and peoples who are opposed to the rule of God and His Son Jesus Christ and God’s plans that are established forever in heaven. God has installed His King while the nations and rulers are gathering together to rebel and break what they consider to be God’s “chains” and “fetters”. God is laughing in derision at their feeble attempts to get rid of His loving rule and His divine law that they consider a “chain”.
This psalm is a prophetic announcement of Jesus Christ, God’s Son and God’s plans for bringing all nations under His rule! It is a prophetic warning against rejecting the Son and the consequences that follow! We would do well to read it carefully and receive the encouragement and warnings. God bless you!
In His Love, Pastor John
Greetings on this Sunday, July 4th! What a day to celebrate freedom in Jesus Christ! It is not only our nation’s birthday, but it is another celebration of the resurrection of the King of Kings! Now that’s something to get excited about! Jesus Christ is alive and our gathering together to Him could happen at any time. That’s when the real fireworks starts! A flash of lightening will light up the sky from east to west and the trumpet will sound and graves will be opened! We who are alive and remain, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air! We shall ever be with Him!
We celebrate our freedom today to worship in the church of our choice. Many countries do not have religious freedom but we are blessed by God to have no fear when we gather to praise our Lord. We are free to choose where and when and how we worship. This is a blessing to have choices and to be able to follow our hearts. We must be careful not to let our freedom become license to neglect the Lord and gathering with His people. Many have taken that route to their own destruction!
We celebrate God, Himself! Our awesome God is the King of Kings! He has forgiven us our sins and healed our diseases. He has redeemed our life from the pit and from destruction. He is a Father who has compassion on His children and is loving and merciful toward all He has made! He is our refuge in time of trouble and He protects us from all our enemies. He rules the universe in justice and truth, having all power and authority. He has promised us eternal life with Him and joy unspeakable as we dwell in His glory! What a celebration we can have today!
May the love of the Father and of Jesus Christ and the precious Holy Spirit bring you a brilliant revelation of His goodness that lights up your soul with heavenly fireworks on this special day!
In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for July 3rd: Psalms 146-150
Every one of these last psalms begin and end with “praise the Lord”! That Hebrew word is “Hallelujah” and is familiar to Christians from use in many hymns and choruses. It is fitting that this Hebrew book of worship would end in a crescendo of praise to the awesome God of heaven!
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” (Psalm 146:1-2) This psalm is a personal statement of the psalmist’s choice to praise the Lord personally. It is something that comes from his soul and inspires song. Praise is a life-long pursuit and not optional for those who know Him as “my God”.
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him! The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:1-3) The nation, as well as individuals, praises the Lord with joy and singing. God builds up Jerusalem, His holy city, filling it with the redeemed who worship Him freely!
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him from the heights above. Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His heavenly host. Praise Him sun and moon, praise Him all you shining stars.” (Psalm 148:1-3) Praise flows from the angels and all of the heavenly creation to God as well. Like a rock dropped into still water, praise resonates from individuals to the nation and then to the heavenly hosts!
“Praise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, His praise in the assembly of the saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King.” (Psalm 149:1-2) The saints particularly praise their Lord with creativity by composing a “new song”! This song is a joyful song of gladness and praise to God for His mercy in redemption and for the King and their kingdom!
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6) The last verse of the last psalm commands everything that breathes to give the Lord praise! All mankind owes its breath and life to the One who breathed life into them. Man alone can give God the praise that is due Him!
Scripture reading for July 2nd: Psalms 140-145
“I will exalt You, my god the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your might acts.” (Psalm 145:1-4)
The Israelites had demanded an earthly king like the other nations, but in reality, God was their true King. Psalm 145 is a psalm of King David written in praise of “KING GOD”! David recognized God as worthy of all praise and great beyond our ability to comprehend. He wrote this psalm down to pass on the record of God’s greatness to the next generation and saw this happening as history rolled on. Here we are today, recounting the greatness of “my God the King” as we read this record!
God the King’s greatness was centered in His mercy and compassion for all He had made. Those who have come humbly to God the King have found His forgiveness of sins to be amazing and precious. Those who needed deliverance from enemies without and within have found the King all powerful and merciful on their behalf. God the King is faithful to all His promises and loving toward His creatures! (Psalm 145:13) His kingdom is everlasting so He will always be available for help to those who will call on Him!
“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145:18-21)
This great King is always near to those who love Him. He hears their cry and answers them. He saves them in trouble and watches over them for good and blessing. He destroys all the wicked and preserves the life of His people! The only logical response is eternal praise! Take time today to lift your voice in praise to “my God the King”! If you don’t know Him as “my God”, ask Him to show you mercy through Jesus Christ!
Scripture reading for July 1st: Psalms 135-139
“I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:2-3)
The psalmist, David, was not near God’s temple but bowed down toward it in reverence and longing. He desired to praise God with all of his heart. As he thought about God, God’s love and faithfulness were the source of his praise. David had experienced God’s love and faithfulness personally in the midst of many trials of his early life. God was with him as he tended his father’s sheep in the wilderness, giving him victory over the lion and the bear. God’s faithfulness enabled him to stand up to Goliath, the Philistine giant, and bring him down. (1st Samuel 17:45)
God’s love and faithfulness are revealed in His name and His word! David stated that God had exalted His name and word above all things! God’s name is above every name and every ‘god’. His name is holy and those who know his name personally and act in that name have supernatural abilities. God’s word is forever settled in the heavens. Faith comes by hearing God’s word and true faith acts. When we know God personally by name and know His powerful word, God’s love and faithfulness become reality to us and we call on Him and He answers!
“May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.” (Psalm 138:4-5)
When we are filled with God’s love and His word, our desires begin to line up with His desires. Notice how David’s prayer in this psalm goes up for the nations and their leaders. David wants them to know God’s words, to worship Him, and to bring Him glory!
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever–You will not abandon the works of your hands.” (Psalm 138:7-8) Through heartfelt worship, faith rises with boldness. David confidently states his trust in God’s enduring love!
Scripture reading for June 30th: Psalms 128-134
When journeying to the House of the Lord, one begins to think about the need to have mercy for our sins. We are all sinners and are aware that we have broken God’s laws. Those laws are initially written on our conscience. For Israel, they were written on tablets of stone and then written into the Law of God as received by Moses. Breaking of those commandments brought the need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. A sacrifice of blood must be presented by one of the priests. God must accept the sacrifice and forgive the one who offended Him and broke His law.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared.” (Psalms 130:1-4) As the psalmist travels onward toward the temple, he begins to call out to God for mercy. He knows his need of forgiveness and mercy and asks unashamedly in faith. He also acknowledges that none could stand if God kept a record. We know that He does keep good records! (Revelation 20:11-12)
The psalmist waited in anticipation for the Lord. The waiting was one of eager expectation of God’s mercy and comforting presence. “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. He Himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130:7-8)
Like the psalmist in this psalm, we anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ and know that our sins are forgiven and that we have a glorious future in His presence. This blessed hope causes us to cleanse our lives from all sins and live in the same holy expectation. (Titus 2:11-14) Like the watchman waiting for the morning, we wait for the trumpet to sound and Jesus Christ to return. His unfailing love is better than life and full redemption includes a glorified body and unspeakable joy with Him forever! He will redeem Israel from all her sins as well as they trust in Him! Praise the Lord!
Scripture reading for June 29th: Psalms 120-127
“I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the House of the Lord.” Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.” (Psalm 122:1-4)
Psalm 120-134 form a series of writings called the “Song of Ascents”. These psalms were sung or chanted by the Israelites as they made their way from their homes to Jerusalem for the annual feasts at the temple of the Lord. Many of these pilgrims had to travel from the north and others from the south climbing from Jericho through the winding road that climbs nearly 3000 feet in about 20 miles. There were dangers of robbers and wild animals. They left their homes behind and joined others climbing to worship their Lord and God.
The psalmist was glad to go to the “House of the Lord”. God’s presence was and is something to treasure. It is as if the psalmist could envision his feet standing inside the walls of the city and feel the joy and security of being in God’s presence with God’s people. Although God had commanded them to gather there to meet with Him, this was a willing journey done in faith with joyful anticipation. All the tribes of God’s family would join in unity there, packed into the walls of Jerusalem for worship, sacrifice and joyful festival!
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” (Psalm 122:6-9)
Prayer is the great privilege of God’s people. The psalmist knows that only through prayer can all these tribes and individuals be unified and remain at peace with one another. Brothers and friends sometimes fight and have issues. Conflicts still break out among the family of God. Peace must be prayed for and sought after for others’ sake and for the sake of God’s house! Would you take time today and obey this ancient psalm on your journey to the “House of the Lord”?
Scripture reading for June 28th: Psalms 119
“Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it give understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:129-130)
Psalm 119 is all about the word of God! The psalmist used every letter of the Hebrew alphabet to build successive eight verse stanzas for this magnificent tribute to God’s word. Every verse, except four, contains a reference in some form to the word of God.
God’s word has many practical uses for those who love it and obey. One of the things mentioned in this psalm is the fact that God’s word is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet. (Psalm 119:105) The word of God can show us daily the steps we need to take. It can keep us from stumbling on the path of life because it exposes the dangers and pitfalls. It also tells us how to live successfully in the blessing of God by living a life of integrity and righteousness. God directs our path, laying out a purpose and plan for us. It is wonderful not to have to stumble along through life, not knowing where we are going or what life is all about! It is all about God and His word when we love it and believe it!
The psalmist also mentions afflictions several times. “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” (Psalm 119:71-72) Trials and troubles can either help us or cause us to turn away from the Lord. When we turn to God’s word during our afflictions, we learn how precious God is to us. He becomes more valuable than silver or gold and He is always with us and desires our highest good!
“Let me live that I may praise You, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalm 119:175-176) The set of eight verses is a cry for help from the psalmist to the Lord for mercy through His word. God’s word reveals His compassion and desire to help us be over comers. We need a Shepherd for we are like lost sheep. In Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, these prayers are fully answered!
Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ! He is our great priest who is now interceding for us at the right hand of God our Father! A priest stands between God and man and mediates issues between them. He offers sacrifices and bridges the gap between them. Jesus is uniquely qualified to do this because of who He is!
As I reflect on this past week’s readings, I am drawn to Psalm 110. Psalm 110 is quoted seven times in the New Testament and was used by Jesus to silence the religious leaders who were trying to trap him. (Matthew 22:44-46) The writer of Hebrews wrote extensively about Melchizedek, the priest of God Most High to whom Abraham paid a tithe of the spoils of Sodom. (Genesis 14:18-20)(Hebrews 7) Melchizedek was the king of Salem, the earlier name for the city of Jerusalem. He was also a priest of God Most High. He is unique in Jewish history, because there is no record of his birth or death. He appears and then is not mentioned again until Psalm 110 as being a priest of a special order.
Jesus Christ is a priest of this order! He is holy and blameless, set apart for God. He is King and will rule the earth from Jerusalem one day. He is declared a priest by God’s oath, not by the law: “The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind; ‘You are a priest forever.'” (Psalm 110:4) He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices for us, His people, day after day because He offered Himself for us once for all! (Hebrews 7:26-28) He ever lives to intercede for us and is the Son of God, made perfect forever!
That’s who we worship and why we gather each week on the first day! We celebrate our great priest who is King forever! We honor Him who sacrificed His own body and blood for us! We pray and give ourselves to do His work! What an honor to serve our King!
In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for June 26th: Psalms 111-118
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1) This messianic psalm begins with thanksgiving to the Lord for his goodness and enduring love. This is a recurring theme of many of the psalms. God’s people know His great goodness and love for us. We are thankful that God has favored us and we speak out loud of our gratefulness. Israel speaks it out, the house of Aaron speaks it out and finally all who fear the Lord speak out, thanking God for his great love!
The next section of this psalm speaks of a great crisis where the psalmist cries out in anguish to the Lord. He was surrounded by nations and enemies that attacked like a swarm of bees. (Psalm 118:10-12) The psalmist was confident that the Lord would be his refuge and even become his “salvation”! The Lord’s “right hand” is extolled as doing mighty things to deliver this man. He is confident he will live and not die and proclaim what the Lord has done! (Psalm 118:15-18) God had chastened him severely, but not given him over to death!
This psalm was the last one in the Great “Hillel”–a series of worship psalms used for the passover celebration. It was probably sung by Jesus and the disciples as they left the upper room for the Garden of Gethsemane. We also know that verses 26 and 27 were quoted by the crowd in Matthew 21:9 as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. They recognized Jesus by shouting “hosanna”–which means “Lord save us”. They waved palm branches and welcomed him. “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the House of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God, and He has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.” (Psalm 118:26-27)
Jesus later quoted Psalm 118:22-23 as He taught in the temple. “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Jesus was the capstone of the new Temple. The Jews would reject Him as Messiah, but the Lord placed His seal on Jesus through resurrection! As Jesus went to the cross, He cried out to the Lord and by faith knew that this was the day that the Lord had made!