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!
Scripture reading for June 25th: Psalm 107-110
Psalm 109 is one of the Psalms of David where he calls on God to get even with his enemies. We don’t know what enemy David had in mind, but the attack on him was one of lying and evil speaking against his character. We can do some very heavy damage with our tongues and the words can go deep and cut at the heart of a person. David felt these words of hatred surrounding him and bringing false accusations. (Psalm 109:2-4) He felt that he had tried to be a true friend, but that he had been betrayed by one whom he had considered a friend.
How is a person to deal with this kind of situation? The word of God tells us that we can’t “get even” because we are not in a position to judge another person. All vengeance belongs to God, who alone can repay justly. David appeals to God to do just that! He calls for God to send an evil man against him to give him a taste of his own medicine. He asks that his own prayers would condemn him! (Psalm 109:6-7) He even asks that God would not forgive his sins and that his memory be cut off from the earth! (Psalm 109:14-15) David also asked that this man’s curses come back on him and wrap around him. (Psalm 109:17-20)
David’s prayer then turns to his own need of grace. “But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your Name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.” (Psalm 109:21-22) David knew that God was the only help he could depend on in this crisis. He was not able to deal with this crisis with physical power or his kingly authority. God alone was the source of mercy and healing for his wounded heart! David expressed his faith and confidence in God’s mercy and justice to deliver him!
This psalm reminds us that God is just and will in the end deal justly with all men. We must wait on the Lord and entrust our vindication to Him. We need mercy, not judgment! Jesus Christ taught us to pray for our enemies’ forgiveness instead of their condemnation. Our new model is “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Scripture reading for June 24th: Psalms 104-106
“Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps Himself in light as with a garment. . .” (Psalm 104:1-2a)
In Psalm 104, the psalmist begins to worship the Lord of creation for who He is. This psalm mirrors the creation account of Genesis 1 and by careful observation one can find references to all 7 days. The creation declares the glory and majesty of the Creator. (Psalm 19) God not only wrapped Himself in light, but He stretched out the heavens like a tent. Light marks the sky by day and night and God sets the times and seasons using their consistent motions.
God also formed the earth and it’s atmosphere, making it a place fit for life, and filled it with all forms of life. The waters of the sea, as well as the land, teem with every kind of creature! Each creature looks to God for it’s life and provision. (Psalm 104:27) God faithfully supplies for each one and they are satisfied. When God takes away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When God sends His Spirit, they are renewed! Contemplation of the cycles of life brings one who is conscious of God to worship!
God provides for man especially. He brings forth “wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” (Psalm 104:15) This verse struck me as more than just physical provisions, although the earth surely brings forth plenteous provision for mankind. The wine speaks of the blood of Jesus Christ, which is able to purify the heart of man and make him eternally glad! The oil speaks of the precious gift of the Holy Spirit which is the down payment of heaven, God living in us and revealing His glory through the Spirit’s abiding presence. The bread represents the body of Jesus Christ, broken for us. If any man eat this bread, he will live forever! Praise the Lord for His wonderful provision!
The psalmist concludes his worship poem with these lines: “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. . .I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him as I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:31,33-34)
Scripture reading for June 23rd: Psalms 98-103
One of the reasons that we praise the Lord is for all He does for us. When we think of the Lord, we remember all His past blessings and from the depths of our being, praise begins to flow toward His throne! These benefits are not just in the past, as a part of history, but also continue on into eternity! They are gifts that keep on giving benefits and blessings. Truly, “the blessing of the Lord brings wealth and He adds no sorrow to it.” (Proverbs 10:22)
“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all of His benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” (Psalm 103:2-5)
God’s love gives us what we really need, not just what we think we need. A primary need for a relationship with God is forgiveness of sin, and all men have sinned. (Romans 3:23) Sin brings separation from God. God is holy and cannot look on sin. Sin has a penalty set by God–death and ultimately the pit of hell. (Romans 6:23) (Revelation 2014-15) God in his mercy offers forgiveness of sins by providing His own Son Jesus Christ to bear our sins on the cross. Since the penalty of death was paid by Jesus, we by faith can be forgiven freely and justly! Praise the Lord!
Not only did Jesus Christ redeem us from the penalty of our sins and offer forgiveness, but he also provided for our healing. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” (1st Peter 2:23) That healing is available to all who will humbly receive. Praise the Lord!
As we contemplate these benefits given by God through His love, our inmost being cries out in thanksgiving and worship! But it is not just His benefits, but His glorious presence with us that is most precious! We are being renewed and transformed daily in order to live in that presence for eternity! We will soar with the eagles! “Praise the Lord O My soul, and all that is in me, praise His holy Name! ” (Psalm 103:1)
Scripture reading for June 22nd: Psalms 90-97
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.” (Psalm 95:6-7)
Worship of God is not passive. The psalms call for all manner of activity and expression of our adoration and thankfulness to the God who formed the heavens and the earth. In this psalm, singing for joy, shouting aloud, extolling Him with music, bowing down, an kneeling are all urged as proper expressions for God’s people as they come before their King in worship. God is viewed as a great Shepherd and His people are the flock that He cares for. The people know their God and respond to His voice.
Jesus stated plainly that He was the “good Shepherd” and that His sheep know Him and He knows His sheep. (John 10:11, 14) Jesus used this analogy to help people understand who He was and their relationship to Him. He was tying Himself to God the Father through their Old Testament Scriptures. He also stated that His sheep would know His voice and the voice of a stranger they would not follow. (John 10:4-5) The shepherd leads the sheep and calls them to follow Him. The sheep bond to the one shepherd that they know and respond to him.
“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Psalm 95:8-9)
This psalm encourages obedience to the voice of the Shepherd and warns of the consequences of disobedience. The incident in Exodus 17:1-7 when the Israelites quarreled with Moses and doubted God was with them in the desert is cited as a warning. These Israelites had seen all the miracles God had done for them to bring them out of Egypt, but refused to continue in faith when their water supply grew short! God became angry with that generation, and they did not enter into God’s rest because of their unbelief! (Psalms 95:11)
Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd calls out today to all who will listen to His voice: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Listen today and enter in with active worship!
Scripture reading for June 21st: Psalms 84-89
Mt. Zion was the name given to the holy hill chosen for the temple of God in Jerusalem. God Himself chose that location to place His Temple and to enthrone His earthly dwelling place. Mt. Zion in the natural setting is not much as far as a mountain goes. It is only about 2600 feet in elevation and is surrounded by a small valley. It was the dwelling place of the ancient Jebusites, whom King David defeated to make Jerusalem, the city of David. Solomon actually built the temple of God there after the passing of David, his father.
What made Mt. Zion special was the God who chose to dwell there. The Lord loved the gates of Zion! (Psalm 87:1-2) He established Zion as His dwelling place. He chose to set up His throne there. He is the high and exalted One who is over all the universe! He has plans for Zion that include His millennial reign for a thousand years and an eternal throne. He also has a register of the citizens of Zion and it is a requirement of citizenship to be recorded as “born in Zion”. (Psalm 87:4-6) The Lord Himself is said to write down this record of being born in Zion.
When Jesus Christ came preaching repentance and the the kingdom of heaven, He was confronted by a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” to enter the kingdom of heaven. (John 3:1-8) When we are “born again”, our names are written the “Lamb’s Book of Life”. (Revelation 21:26-27) These verses tell of the entry of those with this record into the holy city. Being born again into eternal life is recorded by God himself. Without this record, we may not enter this eternal holy kingdom!
Those who are “born again” by faith in Jesus Christ, have a joy and peace imparted to them. They love to worship their “Life-giver” and King. “The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You.” (Psalm 87:6-7) From Zion’s Throne flows the “river of Life” that will refresh God’s people forever and ever! (Revelation 22:1-4)
Greetings on this wonderful day of rest and reflection! What a day to gather with God’s people and celebrate God’s awesome presence, our salvation, and the coming rapture! The trumpet will sound and God’s people will be caught up to meet Him in the air, and thus we will ever be with the Lord. These are comforting words! We should always remember them when we gather with God’s people!
Today, I am thinking about another reason to gather together with each other. Psalm 78:1-8 tells of passing our values and knowledge of God on to the next generation. Faith is always only a generation away from extinction! If we fail to pass the baton of faith to the next generation, who will pass it to our children? How will they know of God’s power, His wonders, and His mighty acts of deliverance? How will they have faith to live a life pleasing to God?
God’s people have often neglected to pass on values and God’s law to their children. The results were always devastating! Sin leads to death and misery, no other destination! I have observed that faithful church attendance is a good way to pass values on to the next generation. That must be coupled with a life that is lived consistently day by day in the power of the Holy Spirit. God promises to be present with us and help us to live consistently.
We must remember that our flesh tends to be stubborn and rebellious. It is easy to make excuses and neglect the discipline of weekly church attendance, daily devotions and Bible reading. We get so busy that our priorities are out of order. The enemy of our soul also works to keep us from doing those things that promote spiritual health and the passing of values to our children. He is always out to disrupt that process because he wants to destroy our offspring.
Why not make some new priorities today to regular church attendance and consistent living? The purpose of that is your own spiritual health and the passing of values to the next generation. God will honor this and work with you. You and your offspring will be blessed by your decision!
In His Love, Pastor John
Scripture reading for June 19th: Psalms 78-83
“Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80:3,7,19)
The psalmist begins by addressing God as the “Shepherd of Israel”. (Psalm 80:1) It is interesting that a shepherd is one of the metaphors used to help the Israelites understand God’s relationship to them. Lots of the leaders of Israel were shepherds and understood what it meant to care for sheep. Included in this group were Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. Sheep were easily led astray and distracted. They needed a watchful shepherd to keep an eye on them. Sheep were easy prey for predators and could quickly be cornered and devoured by wolves or lions for a tasty meal.
The psalmist appeals to God to “make His face shine on them”. God’s smile and watchful eye was a comfort to those who were under His care. The Aaronic blessing found in Numbers 6:24-27 was spoken over the Israelites as a covenant blessing reminder of God’s smiling face. It is God’s presence that brings us confidence and peace in the presence of enemies. God’s smile tells us of His love and mercy and brings hope.
Since sheep are defenseless, they need saving. The cry for salvation is for the protection from enemies, but goes further than that. Sheep sometimes turn away from their shepherd and are their own enemy. They need saved from themselves and their tendency to wander.
“Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. They will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.” (Psalm 80:17-18)
The psalmist appeals to God for salvation to come through a “son of man” that God would raise up. This man was at the Father’s right hand. This could be none other than Jesus Christ! He is now seated at God’s right hand and is interceding for us. God raised Him from the dead, that we might be revived to eternal life from our dead state! All who call on His name, the Name of Jesus, will be saved! No one who calls on Him will ever be ashamed! This Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who can smile on us for eternity and restore us to right relation to God!