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Songs of Praise: Psalm 123-126

Today’s readings: Psalm 123-126 [Click the reference to read online.]

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy on us.

Psalm 123:1-2

God sent me to Psalm 123 as my life reeled from devastating news. My feet couldn’t find a firm place to stand.

When a moment came I could finally consider this psalm, I heard Him say: Trust Me. Watch. Wait. I will have mercy.

The circumstance didn’t end as I would’ve chosen. But I did clearly see His mercy through and through. And I learned to look to Him as a maid to her mistress, trust Him, and wait when life careens out of control.

Looking at these four psalms in context today, stringing them together, I see the blessings of setting our eyes on the Lord as a servant to His Master. From the perspective and attitude of being fully obedient to His Way, we find security, peace, protection, strength, and mercy when the trap has been set, the enemy attacks, and circumstances rage out of control around us.

Submitting ourselves wholly to God as Lord and Master, keeping our gaze fixed on Him alone, trusting Him with all we are and have, we find His mercy and discover Him trustworthy. No matter what circumstances threaten, He surrounds and encircles us as a mountain range.

He is trustworthy, even in the most devastating of circumstances. I know.

Choose to serve Him only. Not self. Not the things of the world. Nothing else will provide what we need to survive the perils of this dark broken world.

Today, I ask you to submit to Him fully as your Lord. List your fears and wants. Bring them before Him and say:

I want to serve You with all I have. I want what You want. Teach me to serve You. I will wait for You to direct me at home, work, and play. I want to know the joy of Your work in my life, bringing mercy and joy out of all I face. You are trustworthy.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!

Psalm 126:5

Lord, may all my tearful sowing be in full obedience to You. I know serving You alone secures my life and brings me to a place of  eternal joy.

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Songs of Praise: Psalm 119:145-176

We begin the week with the final stanzas of Psalm 119. Read the verses in your Bible or click the reference to read online: Psalm 119:145-176.

At the heart of our passage today is a verse I discovered several years ago and hold onto as a promise and precept to pursue.

Great peace have those who love your law; and nothing shall make them stumble.

Psalm 119:165 ESV

The King James Version was the one I found first and memorized:

Great peace have they which love thy law: And nothing shall offend them.

If I found myself offended by another, my peace disturbed, then I concluded I must not be loving His law. I would search my heart, ask Him where I was failing to love His law, and to fill me with the great peace He promised in return.

You see, the whole of His law is wrapped up in loving Him by loving others the way He calls us to.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:14 ESV

When we find ourselves offended by someone, we are most likely looking out for self, loving ourselves more than Him or others.

To be offended by another is to stumble in the law when the whole law is fulfilled in: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

His definition of love does not leave much room for being offended by another. Jesus also told us:

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

John 15:13 ESV

When we lay down our lives, we lay down our rights, our way, our pride. We trust God’s sovereignty, His judgment, and His setting all things right in the end. We will not miss out on what really matters. And peace will be ours in abundance, no matter how others treat us.

Have you found yourself offended lately? Did you sin in your anger? stumble over your pride?

To love His law is to give others the same grace He gives us. When we love His Word in all the ways described by the psalmist in these 176 verses, we love like Him. Without being offended.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:24 ESV

Oh Lord, teach me, grow me, to love Your law, Your Word, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Fill me with Your love for others. Fill me with Your great peace.

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Songs of Praise: Psalm 119:97-120

We are still praising God’s Word. Could there be anything better? Read Psalm 119:97-120 [Click the link to read online or open up your Bible.]

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.

Psalm 119:103

Does God’s Word taste good to you? Is it a sweet savor you long for more of?

I’m not sure everyone finds His Word palatable. These days, many seem to gag on His words when it comes to what He says about sexuality, creation, authority, marriage, pleasure, eternal life, heaven and hell.

The psalmist’s words describe how those who love God feel about His Word. It’s agreeable to them and useful. I see his words as a barometer of our love for Him. If we love Him, His Word will taste good to our spirits. We will use it to light our way so we don’t stumble. We will find hope and security in His precepts. It’s where we will run for refuge and strength.

How does your love for God measure up when you lay your feelings about Scripture next to our psalmist’s?

This may seem unfair to you. But it’s not really me who made the measure of the test. God did.

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…

1John 5:3 NIV

Father God, reveal stubborn strongholds in me, which keep me from finding delight in all Your Word.

[Feature Image Photo seen on website by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash]

Songs of Praise: Psalm 119:33-72

We continue our love song to God’s Word. Read Psalm 119:33-72 [Click on the reference to read online or open up your Bible.]

The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Psalm 119:72

What a rich passage of Scripture. What a wise psalmist who has fallen in love with His Word. I find myself overwhelmed by the writer’s heart for God’s rules and promises laid bare before me.

I’m humbled by the writer’s pleas and at the same time a little embarrassed at seeing into this man’s heart. Like I’m a peeping-tom… a voyeur… these words feel very intimate.

Teach me, O Lord… we hear him cry. The stanza reveals the writer’s past experience with the delights of  walking His Way, but he longs for more. Asking God to change his heart so he will no longer wander.

Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord… I hear the writer cry: Love me! Love me! Having experienced the freedom, protection, and joy of God’s love for him through the law makes him want more of God’s love.

Remember your word to your servant… In these words I hear him say simply: Remember me. The hope and comfort he’s experienced in God’s promises come to him like a song. It sings to him while he’s far from home. A blessing along the way of obedience. The writer doesn’t want to be forgotten by God.

The Lord is my portion…  Here the psalmist claims God as his inheritance, his treasure. God’s grace has touched his heart in a way he longs for more. The writer desires the grace of God’s way to be his. A treasure worthy of praise.

You have dealt well with your servant, O Lord… The psalmist gratefully comes under God’s lordship because he’s tasted His goodness. Knowing the goodness of God through His Word and His Way, the psalmist longs for it more than any riches the world has to offer.

The psalmist lays his heart bare proclaiming his love for God and His Word and his desire for so much more of Him.

Can you connect with the writer’s desire for God’s Word? Do you feel the kind of intimacy he feels for God?

I challenge you to turn today’s passage into a prayer. Re-read the verse asking God for all the things the psalmist asked for. Ask Him to make the psalmist’s words true for you too.

Amen.

[Feature Image Photo seen on website by Ben White on Unsplash]

Songs of Praise: Psalm 117

Read Psalm 117. (Click the link to read online or open up your Bible.)

Today’s psalm only two short verses. A psalm we should commit to memory. A reminder that He is not just the God of those who believe. He is the God of all.

No matter who you interact with today. No matter who comes to your attention, either face-to-face or through any form of media. Remember, your God is their God, too. Whether they recognize it or not. There is only one God. He is the Lord of all. And He loves all.

Pray for the eyes and hearts of those who cross your path today to be opened to their God and His love for them. May they be moved to praise the Lord their God.

Lord, with all the talk of religion and gods and those who claim no god, remind me afresh, You alone are GOD. We are all accountable to You. All creation is Yours.

[Feature Image seen on website by João Silas on Unsplash]

Songs of Praise: Psalm 107:23-43

Read the second half of yesterday’s song of praise: Psalm 107:23-43 [Open up your Bible or click the reference above to read online.]

…they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.

Psalm 107:24-25

He stirs up storms and calms them. Turns rivers to deserts and deserts to pools of water. All for the purpose of drawing us to Himself.

Sometimes He saves through storms and trials. For many, it’s the only place we’ll see our true need for Him. When we’ve come to the end of our own resources. When life is totally out of hand.

From these stormy trials, wilderness places, and hungry times. The wise cry out to Him for help. Surrender to Him. Love Him and serve Him.

Otherwise we would never see and be saved.

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things, let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 107:43

Lord, thank You for storms which turn me to You.

Songs of Praise: Psalm 107:1-22

As one of the redeemed, praise the Lord today, with Psalm 107:1-22. [Click the link above or open up your Bible.]

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble…

Psalm 107:1-2

Because He is good and His steadfast love endures forever, He redeems the lives of those who call out to Him. Even when the trouble we’ve gotten into is of our own making.

Some of us wander away from His Word. Seeking satisfaction in the world, but only find souls empty. Hungry. Thirsty. When we find the world has failed there is no one to cry out to but Him.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and delivered them from their distress.… Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 107:6, 8-9

Some of us choose to rebel against His Word. Exchanging light for darkness. We spurn the counsel of His Holy Spirit and find ourselves sitting imprisoned by the lies of the world, in the shadow of death. Heavily burdened. Entrapped by our own choices. No one to help… except Him.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.… Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Psalm 107:13, 15-16

Some of us choose the way of the fool. Thinking we alone are the ones who won’t get caught. Found out. Tangled in a web of sin. Drawn to the gates of death by addiction or deception or denial. There is no one to cry out to from this place, but Him. No one to hear. But Him.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Psalm 107:19-20

Jesus. His Son. The Word made flesh. The Father sent Him to heal us and deliver us from the messes we’ve made. Bad things happen in the world because we chose our own way rather than His. We alone are responsible for the sin and brokenness. And He alone redeems all we have broken.

There is no pit so deep that He cannot save. But we must cry out to Him!

Finding yourself in a pit these days? Cry out to the Lord. Wait. And be prepared to give Him thanks. His steadfast love is unfailing.

Let us thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let us offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Thank You, Lord! For redeeming the messes I make. For loving me and working wonders for me, none of which I deserve.

Amen.