Monday 11 May, 2015

Psalm 116

1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. 2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. 3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. 4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” 5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me. 7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. 8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, 9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. 10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. 15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. 16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains. 17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. 18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, 19 in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.

Here we read the Psalmist writes in his deepest of despair. So much so that death is almost knocking at his door. Yet in the deepest of anguish and sorrow, he knows that he can call upon his God for help and mercy.

His God is the one that can be trusted fully. He is full of compassion, gracious and righteous. He will always turn His ears to the cry for mercy. And God did not disappoint him. He was delivered from death and greatly comforted. God will never forget and abandon his beloved children.

I am reminded of other similar verses in Psalm 91:14–16

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honour him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Father, I thank you that you are the God that can be trusted fully. I can seek refuge in you in times of deepest need and trouble; yes even when the anguish of death is hovering over me. You love me and will never forsake me.   You will deliver me. In Jesus name. Amen.

Written by Shin Liu

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Sunday 10 May, 2015

Psalm 115

Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. 2 Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see. 6 They have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell. 7 They have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but cannot walk, nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. 9 All you Israelites, trust in the Lord— he is their help and shield. 10 House of Aaron, trust in the Lord— he is their help and shield. 11 You who fear him, trust in the Lord— he is their help and shield. 12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us: He will bless his people Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, 13 he will bless those who fear the Lord— small and great alike. 14 May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. 15 May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to mankind. 17 It is not the dead who praise the Lord, those who go down to the place of silence; 18 it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord.

This Psalm has been a big encouragement to me in the past few weeks as I’ve meditated on it, as I’m sure it was meant to be to the people of Israel when it was written. It’s not in everything that the Psalmist wrote about God but what he didn’t. Our God sees, hears, feels & touches, He speaks to us, He moves with us, goes before us, He is not made by us & is not a powerless, impotent idol, He is not a wooden pole or a shiny piece of metal – crafted and artistic as they may be.

This Psalm was written as an encouragement/challenge to Israel to worship the one true God and has encouraged my prayer life. My God is in the heavens, He is above all, He hears me & speaks to me, He’s alive and real, I am not worshipping something that is a motionless object. He can be trusted, He is faithful and will bless those that reverence Him. He is my help and my shield.

How eternally grateful I am.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Saturday 9 May, 2015

Psalm 114

1 When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, 2 Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion. 3 The sea looked and fled, the Jordan turned back; 4 the mountains leaped like rams, the hills like lambs. 5 Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back? 6 Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water.

This psalm celebrates the exodus of Israel from Egypt.  The sea, the river, the mountains, and the hills all made way for the people of God as they marched in triumph.  Even the rocks became Israel’s servants and gave them water to drink.  God brings us out (v. 1), takes us through (v. 3), and leads us over (v. 4).  This Psalm is so powerful as it shows just how much God is at work and makes a way for His people.  When we are following Him, no obstacle can keep us from the goal He has set for us, except our sin and unbelief.  When we are in the will of God, all of creation works for us to accomplish God’s purposes.  In all of this we need to see God at work and that means Him having dominion – leadership in our lives! (v.2).  Now is the time to lift our eyes and see the Lord in His mercy and power at work in our lives!

Father, help me to be Your servant and so see Your hand at work in making a way where there is no other way like you did for Israel!

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

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Friday 8 May, 2015

Psalm 113

1 Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. 2 Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. 4 The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? 7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 8 he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. 9 He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.

What an extraordinary juxtaposition of ideas: the Lord who is high above the nations and higher than the heavens stoops down to look at Earth; He lifts the poor and seats them among princes!

I prefer not to stoop: it’s awkward and uncomfortable, a little demeaning. Yet almighty God chooses to stoop down to look on me. He has no need for me, but He comes looking for me. Why? So He can lift me to a place of honour I don’t deserve.

It’s similar to Psalm 8 “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”

I see it again in Philippians 2:6-8, speaking of Jesus: “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

What’s the appropriate response? “Praise the Lord!” – beginning to end.

Written by David Cornell

1 (reply)
  1. Dimity Milne says:

    Hands that flung stared into space reach down to lift us up to himself. Praise the Lord in all His glory, for His love and compassion.

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Thursday 7 May, 2015

Psalm 112

1 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. 8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. 9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn[c] will be lifted high in honor. 10 The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.

God doesn’t call us to be righteous out of some mean-spirited desire to rob us of good things… God calls us to be righteous because it is the best possible life, a life of abundance and joy.

We see in this psalm that our part is to put God first, to fear Him and delight in His commands, to live like our father and be gracious, compassionate, righteous, generous, fair and take care of the poor. God promises that as we do so our descendants will be blessed, our material needs will be taken care of, that we will never be shaken, we will be remembered, we will not fear bad news, we will look in triumph on that which opposes us, and we will live victoriously.

It is not the promise of a trouble free life, it says that light shines in the darkness for the righteous – so there will be the experience of darkness. And the fact that the righteous person does not fear bad news does not mean that there will not be bad news in the first place. The hope is in God, above the circumstances, for the righteous person trusts in God.

Lord, please help me to walk with this glorious vision before me, to remember that you call me to righteousness because it is the best possible life for me and those around me. Help me to walk not out of a place of fear of failure, but help me stir faith, that in my weakness your strength is made perfect. Help me to believe that you are more than willing to help me choose righteousness. God, please work in my heart that I may be transformed from the inside out. Amen

Written by Beth Waugh

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Well said Beth!
    An interesting side note: In the original Hebrew this Psalm is an acrostic. That is, each line starts with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

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Wednesday 6 May, 2015

Psalm 111

1 Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2 Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever. 6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name. 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

It’s Easter time as I write this blog. And I’m totally floored by verse 9 of this Psalm…

He has paid a full ransom for his people…What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

My ransom, the payment required to save my life has be paid! In full!

And right now as I reflect on that I feel incredibly free. Like I can run and dance and fly. I’m filled with awe that he would do that. But I quickly come back to my senses as it were. How often does one get their ransom paid and yet get to spend time with the one who ransomed them? Then I return to Him and realise what it cost Him.

And I’m stunned.

As tears roll down my face I blurt out “Can it be true? Is it possibly that you could love me that much?”

And I realise that Easter is the lighthouse for all time that the answer is yes – He loves you and I that much.

My ransom is paid in full – what an awesome, awesome saviour Jesus is.

Dear Lord Jesus, I’m left with no more words to express my amazement and gratitude but to raise my hands in praise and humbly say thank you for saving my life.

Amen

Written by Boudy VanNoppen

2 replies
  1. Richard Botta says:

    Praise God – what a theme in this Psalm.

    The writer instructs us in a variety of elements of praise. These include that praise should be wholehearted, that it should be done with others, that it should be centered on His deeds and works as He does the right thing.

    God is compassionate, feeds people and remembers His promises to people. He is powerful, just, trustworthy and faithful. He has redeemed His people rescuing them from perilous situations.

    The psalm concludes that endless praise belongs to God.

    This Psalm gives us such understanding on the whys and wherefores of praise. The statement I like the most is that Praise belongs to God, and not just occasional ad hoc praise but endless praise.

    Do I just praise God when it’s comfortable or I think of it? Is praise my ‘go to’ attitude, my default?

    Father may praise of You be continually on my lips.

  2. Justin Ware says:

    As I reflect on vs 1 where it talks about the council of the upright and the assembly, I am reminded of God’s covenant with Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky: As I worship Him, whether at home or at work or on a bush walk or while shopping or in church, I am part of something big. Really really big. The scale of time passing from then to now is enormous when compared to my lifetime and I am joining with all of those across history who have worshipped Him. Then I reflect on the scale of this amazing number of people who I am joining with in worshipping Him across the ages. Even in my physical experience, when I attended Presence conference recently and had the opportunity to worship him with about 7000 others it felt enormous, but then I think about the fact that just the Christians alive today could fill 200,000 sydney entertainment centres. Then I am absolutely gobsmacked.

    All these people worship Him. He is awesome.

    Lord, You are a phenomenal force, divinely loving, completely powerful, amazingly graceful, perfectly peaceful, incredibly present, beautiful beyond description and generous beyond imagining. I am in awe of you.

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Tuesday 5 May, 2015

Psalm 110

1 The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” 2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” 3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb. 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. 7 He will drink from a brook along the way,[d] and so he will lift his head high.

This is an incredible song about Jesus, probably written over 1000 years before Jesus was even born.

“You will be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek”

This reference to Melchizedek is a cryptic one as Melchizedek was a character that appears in the book of Genesis briefly. We don’t know much about him from the story but he seems to share a lot of similar attributes to Jesus. The order of Melchizedek is probably in reference to the notion of him being a king and a priest at the same time, which would have been outside the understanding of many of the members of the original Jewish audience.

Lord, thank You that you are not only the priest but that you were also the sacrifice that took care of all sins for all time. Thank You that you are not only a king of the Jewish people but Lord of the universe, above all other kings and rulers.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Melchizedek – “Ancient man of mystery”
    The only other reference other than the original Genesis 14 reference is in Hebrews 5-7.
    .
    My favorite is Hebrews 5:7-10
    7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

    Thanks Justin

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Monday 4 May, 2015

Psalm 109

1 My God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, 2 for people who are wicked and deceitful have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. 3 With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. 4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. 5 They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. 6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. 7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. 8 May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. 9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. 10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. 11 May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. 13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. 14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. 15 May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may blot out their name from the earth. 16 For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted. 17 He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. 18 He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. 19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him. 20 May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me. 21 But you, Sovereign Lord, help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. 22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. 23 I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. 24 My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt. 25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads. 26 Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. 27 Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord, have done it. 28 While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice. 29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak. 30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him. 31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.

I am doing C3 Online Bible College, and this term’s subject is Bible Interpretation (which is an excellent course, by the way). In this week’s lecture  we learned that not all of what’s written in the bible – especially in the Old Testament, is there as an example to be followed. Even the great heroes of faith were still human men and women with flaws and weaknesses- unless, of course, we are looking at the life of Jesus.

I think this principle could apply to much of what David writes in this Psalm. Over half of this Psalm involves David calling down very specific curses on his enemies.

As I read this it struck me how very different and radical Jesus’s teachings are.  No more “an eye for an eye” revenge mentality. He teaches us to love our enemies and pray blessings for those who curse us.

Psalm 109 reminds me of what our natural human nature would be like without Jesus. We naturally want bad things to happen to those who have wronged us! How grateful I am today that Jesus came to show the world a better way, and to give us the ability by His grace to forgive and bless our enemies.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Sunday 3 May, 2015

Psalm 108

My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. 3 I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. 4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth. 6 Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered. 7 God has spoken from his sanctuary: “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Sukkoth. 8 Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter. 9 Moab is my washbasin, on Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.” 10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? 11 Is it not you, God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? 12 Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless. 13 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

As king of Israel and as commander of the army, David acknowledges the importance of being quiet before the Lord. It gave him the confidence to launch into passionate praises; so much so that his songs of praise were heard loud and clear by the nations he fought against.

What great songs they were, filling the heavens, giving glory to his Lord. David sung about the extravagant love of God and his amazing faithfulness through his worship, he appeals to his God to “come with His might and strength” and he acknowledges that the Lord is the One who will conquer their enemies and secure the land He had promised.

David also recognised that it is no use putting trust in any man, he declares that if God will help them there was no foe able to withstand their might and power.

This is such an inspirational Psalm! It encourages us to live in God’s Presence every day of our lives. It reminds us that only with God’s help will we be able to overcome the problems we face, and it tells us that there is no problem capable of withstanding the power of the Holy Spirit in and through each one of us.

Lord, thank you for who you are and we rejoice in your incredible love. We honour you for your amazing faithfulness. Holy Spirit make us aware of the Father’s presence in every circumstance of our lives.

Written by Keith Bennett

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Saturday 2 May, 2015

Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. 4 Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle. 5 They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away. 6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. 8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 9 for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. 10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains, 11 because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the plans of the Most High. 12 So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. 15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, 16 for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. 17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 18 They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. 21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy. 23 Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters. 24 They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. 25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves. 26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away. 27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards; they were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. 29 He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea[b] were hushed. 30 They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. 33 He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, 34 and fruitful land into a salt waste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there. 35 He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; 36 there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle. 37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards that yielded a fruitful harvest; 38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased, and he did not let their herds diminish. 39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled by oppression, calamity and sorrow; 40 he who pours contempt on nobles made them wander in a trackless waste. 41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction and increased their families like flocks. 42 The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths. 43 Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

As I write this reflection on Psalm 107 we have just had baptisms over the Easter weekend at our church. At those baptisms we were stirred by the testimony of people for whom God had “turned deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water.” God, our redeemer, does works of transformation in us and around us so we can’t help but sing out our praise to God. This psalm tells me it is good to speak out what the Lord has done for me!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.”

Psalm 107 shows me that testimony is the natural response to what God has done for me. “Lord show me the works of your hand in my life. I know they are there, reveal them to me in your grace that I might be alive to the wonder and majesty of all you are and all that you do!”

Written by Andrew Mellor

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