Tag Archives: Psalms

Beauty of Harmony

It was a beautiful sight. All of Israel coming together to anoint David their king. The Bible records the Elders of Israel telling David they knew the Lord had chosen him. So, David made a covenant with the leaders of Israel before the Lord, and they anointed him king. Israel was experiencing unity and harmony at this time.

It may have been this event that prompted David to write the words of Psalm 133, reflecting on the beauty of harmony:

How wonderful and pleasant it is
    when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
    that was poured over Aaron’s head,
    that ran down his beard
    and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
    that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
    even life everlasting.

These words remind us of the beauty and peace harmony and unity bring. A harmonious and unified people of God have changed lives in the past, and can still change lives today. We may have our differences, but we also have common ground. We are all in need of the transforming work of the cross.

Max Lucado writes:

I spoke at each Good Friday service of a nearby Episcopal church for many years. On one occasion, I shared the responsibility with the bishop of the diocese of West Texas. He wore a robe and a large gold cross around his neck. My church background didn’t make me too keen on preachers wearing religious jewelry. So, I was less than impressed. And, I confess, even a bit judgmental.

But as he shared the story behind his gold cross, my attitude began to change. In order to assume his role as bishop, he had to leave behind St. Mark’s Episcopal, a church where he was loved dearly. The people tried to talk him into staying, but he felt it was God’s will to leave. The members, then, expressed their gratitude by making him this cross. Two hundred and forty-two households contributed gold pieces which were melted down and forged together. Some of the gold provided was from the wedding bands of widow and widowers. Three couples who had divorced and then reconciled each gave a set of wedding rings to the cross. One friend of the bishop was a bachelor who was rejected by “the love of his life” just days before the ceremony contributed her ring to the cross as a symbolic surrendering of the pain of his lost love. The cross includes a college ring as well as the bridge from a fellow bishop’s mouth. One mom donated some gold beads. When her son was four, he found them on a dresser, thought they were toys and damaged them. He died soon thereafter in an accident. She donated them on the day before what would have been his seventh birthday.

Two hundred and forty-two stories. Stories of celebration, stories of sorrow. Stories of peace, stories of pain. But when forged together they form the cross of Christ.

What happened literally with the bishop’s cross happens spiritually in every church that devotes itself to fellowship. When your story intermingles with mine, and our stories interweave with others, the cross is formed. When one hand holds another in a hospital, the cross is lifted up. When a conservative loves a liberal; when an Anglo seeks to understand a Hispanic; when the redneck and the tree-hugger stand side by side at the communion table, the cross is lifted up.

No matter our backgrounds, our socioeconomic status, or our political views, we have one thing in common. We’re all in need of grace, and when we share grace with one another, the cross is what is lifted up. How can you lift up the cross today?

Please share this post.

Are You Afraid?

Much fear has gripped many people over the past few months, and recent events are still causing many folks to battle with fear. Scenes of recent events startle us, and headlines provoke the natural emotion of fear to enter our lives. Individuals are fearful of what is happening around them; they are fearful of the days ahead. If you are saying, “That’s me,” you are not alone. There are a lot of people finding their way through a fearful season right now, and the Bible offers a suggestion.

David had fearful seasons in his life, and he writes these words in Psalm 56:3-4.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

We can find encouragement a few times in David’s words.

  • David says, “When I am afraid….” Fear is natural and comes into life occasionally. Though he experienced fear, David was still a person after God’s own heart. Being frightened does not make us a bad person. It is how we handle the feelings of fear that make all the difference.
  • Take note of how David handles his fears. He remarks when he is afraid, he trusts in the Lord. The Lord can deliver him from his fears.
  • At the end of verse 4, David asks, “What can mere mortals do to me?” He recalls God is more powerful than the circumstances causing him to fear. The Lord says in Isaiah 41:10, “10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
        do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
    I will strengthen you and help you;
        I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When we are afraid, the Bible suggests we look to our trust in the Lord for strength.

Please share this post.

Where is God?

Where is God? This is a question Job asked often as he was going through his season of pain and suffering. He couldn’t comprehend events, and he had trouble remembering where God was. Can you relate?

This is a question which has been asked through the generations, and many people are asking it today. Events seem incomprehensible as history is made right before our eyes. Folks may have trouble remembering God’s location. Job’s friend Elihu gives some insight.

In Job 36:26, Elihu says, “How great is God—beyond our understanding!
    The number of his years is past finding out.”

Max Lucado writes, “we may search out the moment the first wave slapped on a shore or the first star burst in the sky, but we’ll never find the first moment when God was God. For there is no moment when God was not God. He has never not been or he is eternal. God is not bound by time.”

God always has been and always will be. He is right beside us.

  • “May he rule from sea to sea
        and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Psalm 72:8).
  • 7 “Where can I go from your Spirit?
        Where can I flee from your presence?
    If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
        if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
    If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
        if I settle on the far side of the sea,
    10 even there your hand will guide me,
        your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:7-10).

Amid all that is going on, the Lord is right beside us.

Romans 8:38-39 reminds us, 38 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

He is not going to leave us or forsake us. We can have comfort in knowing the Lord is with us.”

Please share this post.

Pressure Cooker of Life

Life is a pressure cooker.

Good cooks, which does not describe me, know a pressure cooker can be a useful tool. It can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender dish. The heat and pressure help cook the dish perfectly. You need just the right amount of pressure though, or you end up with ketchup on your kitchen ceiling. Pressure cookers are useful as they reduce cooking time, and a well-versed chef can use the tool to create delicious food.

Life can be described as a pressure cooker. Each day is filled with stresses which cause our anxiety levels to rise. The decisions we are forced to make can be overwhelming. We have more bills than income, deciding how to keep our families safe amid a pandemic, and juggling our home being the center for work, school, and everything else. The pressures of life can certainly come from all directions.

The pressures of life may cause us anxiety, but we are not alone. Others have had the same experience including the writer of Psalm 119. In verse 139, the writer states he is overwhelmed with indignation. He feels insignificant. Perhaps nothing is working out in the way he planned. Pressure is increasing, yet the Lord is still there.

Psalm 119:143-144 says, as pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right. Help me to understand them so I may live.”

Though he was in the pressure cooker of life, the Psalmist kept his focus on the Lord. The challenge for us is to follow the Psalmist’s pattern.

Amid stress and anxiety, remember…

  • The Lord is with us.
  • The Lord is trustworthy.
  • Jesus asks us to trust him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • The Lord sees the big picture and is a master chef at using life’s pressure cooker. He knows when to release the pressure so the ketchup doesn’t end up on the ceiling.
  • Christ has promised he will come and take us where he is.

Please share this post.

Confidence in a Storm

Psalm 18 reminds us of God’s faithfulness.

It is no secret our journey through life will encounter storms. Things may be going well to suddenly be derailed by events and actions that are out of our control. David was no stranger to life being derailed.

The Bible’s biography of David reveals a turbulent life filled with mistakes, yet the Lord remained faithful to David. People turned against David, but the Lord did not. David made stupid mistakes, but the Lord stayed true. In Psalm 18, David reflects on the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness.

Psalm 18:30 says, “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.”

Here are 3 take-aways from Psalm 18:30.

God’s way is the best way.

It may not always seem like the best approach, but if God is leading, he will always take the best way. He will always make arrangements for things to work out.

Remember, he arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah and help him travel to where God wanted him.

God’s promises prove true.

The Lord keeps his promises. He has never made a promise he does not intend to keep. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds found everything the way they were told it would be. The Bible records many instances of the Lord sending someone on a journey with a promise, and the individual found the promise to be true.

You and I have been made promises by the Lord, and we will find each of them to be true.

God is a shield of protection.

God offers us protection.

Psalm 18 says, “For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect.”

Life may lead us into storms, but the Lord will always be with us. Amid the storm, remember the words of Psalm 18.

Please share this post.

God is here, there, & everywhere.

“Whether I’m looking for him or not, that’s where I find God.”

He may show up in the strangest of places. For someone hitting rock bottom, he can be the person who lends a listening ear and gives advice. For the parent who is struggling, he can be the friend who offers a great idea. For the husband or wife who is ready to throw in the towel on marriage, he can be the older friend who offers encouragement. We never really know where he will reveal himself.

God can be found many places in our daily lives. He is not restricted by buildings or worship services, and he promises he is always with us. He will show up at the right place and time. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life. For your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me for you made me.”

We just need to be attentive to his presence and recognize his work. You never know when the Lord will show up.

Giving Thanks

Many reasons to give thanks.

A husband had a habit of grumbling about the food his wife prepared for meals. He would grumble, then offer a prayer of thanksgiving. His pattern of grumbling then thanking was the same every day.

One day his young daughter asked, “Dad, does God hear our prayers?”

“Why yes,” the father replied.

The daughter continued, “Does God hear everything else we say?”

“Of course,” the dad said. He was bubbling with pride because he had inspired his child to ask spiritual questions.

His pride quickly turned to embarrassment and humility when the daughter asked, “Well, which one does he believe: your grumbling or thanksgiving?”

Blessings can come in all shapes and sizes, and Psalm 136 encourages us to give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done for us.

Verses 1-3 say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.”

The Psalmist gives us some reasons to give thanks.

  • Give thanks for the mighty miracles God performs.
  • Give thanks for the beautiful creation surrounding us.
  • Give thanks to him for the freedom he brings.
  • Give thanks to him for the provisions he provides.
  • Give thanks to him for his past actions.
  • Give thanks to him for his present grace.
  • Give thanks to him for his grace and love. We are reminded 26 times the Lord’s faithful love endures forever.

With current events, it is easy to forget how many times we have been blessed, yet there is much for which we can be thankful.

Helen Keller said, “So much has been given to me that I have no time to ponder that which I don’t have.” There are many reasons we have to be grateful. Take time today to thank God for 10 of your blessings.

Please share this post.

Coming Together

Harmony brings joy, refreshment, and well-being.

The worshipers of the Lord in David’s day had some differences. They came from different parts of the country, they descended from different tribes or were immigrants to Israel, and they did not all look exactly the same. With all these differences, they did have common ground.

They traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate feasts. No matter their heritage, socioeconomic status, or looks, every follower of the Lord traveled to Jerusalem. As they traveled up the mountain road to the city, they would recite Psalms. One such Psalm is Psalm 133.

“How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony. For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard, and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon, that falls on the mountains of Zion, and there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting,” writes David in Psalm 133.

This Psalm reminds you and me harmony is beautiful. It brings joy and refreshment. Living harmoniously is what is best for all. David reminds us the Lord blesses harmony.

Today, we still find differences. Geography, race, ethnicity, economics, and more create differences between us and our neighbors, yet we have common ground. The Lord’s grace is available to us. On the night of Jesus’ birth, the angel told the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

God does not restrict salvation to one people group. It is available to all, and the Bible challenges us to live in harmony with one another.

Scripture implores us to make every effort to keep the unity of the bond of peace. This is certainly hard work, and involves listening rather than shouting, respecting rather than destroying, and promoting peace over agitation. Psalm 133 reminds us the Lord blesses harmony.

Can I suggest we step back and ask ourselves how well we are doing at living in harmony with our neighbor?

God’s Word has benefits

Psalm 119:89-176 offers many benefits of following God’s Word.

Following God’s word offers many benefits, and Psalm 119 lists many of them for us.

God’s Word is eternal.

Verse 89 reminds us God’s Word stands firm in Heaven. When everything else is gone and nothing else can be considered secure, we can count on the words and promises of the Lord.

God’s Word provides wisdom.

In Psalm 119, the Psalmist states the word of the Lord gives him wisdom. We find guidance for every part of life in the Scriptures.

God’s Word offers guidance.

Verse 105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” As we walk through life, God’s Word can guide us. We should think of it like a flashlight at night. A flashlight guides our path and lights up what is right in front of us. If we turn it off, there is a chance we will run into something. If we do not allow God’s Word to guide us, there is a chance we will run into a pitfall in life.

God’s Word is a treasure for us.

Psalm 119:111 says, “Your laws are my treasure, they are my heart’s delight.” God’s Word is the most valuable thing we can possess. It is more valuable than gold or silver.

Verse 162 says, “I rejoice in your word like one who has found a great treasure.”

God’s Word can bring justice.

The Psalmist reminds us following God’s Word brings justice to all.

The writer of Psalm 119 expressed a genuine desire to continually follow God’s Word. May we echo his desire and work daily to apply the truth of Scripture to our lives. Doing so will be beneficial to us and our neighbors.

Benefits of God’s Word

Psalm 119:1-88 gives benefits of God’s Word.

There are many benefits to God’s Word. Here are a few listed in Psalm 119:1-88.

God’s Word gives us wise advice.

Psalm 119:24 says, “Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.” There’s advice on every topic.

God’s Word encourages us.

When we are in need of encouragement, it seems the Bible has just the right words for the moment.

Psalm 119:50 says, “Your promise revives me. It comforts me in all my troubles.”

God’s Word gives us hope.

Psalm 119:43 says, “Do not snatch your word of truth from me, for your regulations are my only hope.”

Psalm 119:49 says, “Remember your promise to me. It is my only hope.”

God’s Word is trustworthy.

Psalm 119:86 says, “All your commands are trustworthy.”

The promises we find in God’s Word can be trusted. The shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth can serve as an example for us. According to Luke 2, the shepherds trusted the angel’s word and went to find Jesus. They found the baby, his mother, and everything just as the angel had said it would be. God’s Word is trustworthy.

Hiding God’s Word in our hearts has many benefits. May we echo the desire of the Psalmist in always keeping God’s Word close to us using it as the compass to guide our lives.

Please share this post.