Today’s Reading: Matthew Chapter 5
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Greatly[a] have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say—
2 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
4 The Lord is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
5 May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward!
6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up,
7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
8 nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the Lord!”
This is one of many songs that is in the Septuagint. This psalm was originally song while making one of the three mandatory annual pilgrimages which is written about in Deuteronomy Chapter 16: The Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. Each of these pilgrimages were to call the people of God back to their main place of worship. This was a way of returning and remembering the goodness and providence of God. The Septuagint consists of the psalms 119-133.
In our western practice of Christianity, these have been used in daily prayers, particularly in the monastic and vesper practices. These prayers are still practiced today in many monasteries and convents. They are part of the three, seven, or nine daily prayers. In these prayers it is similarly the original Hebrew prayers, it is remembering a time in which we were oppressed as a religion and now we have the freedom under God to worship.
In childhood and throughout our lives we all have been the victim of bullies and verbal abuse. Sometimes it is passive, but others times it is overt and harsh. This teasing or demeaning behaviors can have some harsh and irrevocable effects on the individual. We are currently transitioning into a more open and accepting world, but bullying and teasing are still current. We as adults have to listen and console our children and others who are subjected to this unjust behavior. We have to encourage our sons and young men to be sensitive to others needs and be affectionate to others without any stigmas or questions of their masculinity. We need to enrich our daughters in the ways of engineering and backcountry knowledge and help them to become reliable in all situations without a question of their femininity. This psalm reaches out to us to remember our youth and allows us to be emboldened to not have the same ignorance of our past to dictate that of our children. This psalm teaches us to not forget the past but to remember and then move forward.
The main portion of this psalm is hidden in the middle: THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS. No matter what has afflicted us in the past or what we think should be of the ones that afflicted us, God is righteous and his grace will be given to us all the time. No matter what has been done to us or held from us, we cannot allow this to shape who we are in God’s eyes. He alone is righteous and give this to us. Let us remember the times of our youth: the good, bad, and the ugly. These times make us who we are because God used his righteous to keep us righteous for His sake.
This is the shortest verse in the bible. It has some of the most powerful imagery and connotation that can be given in the Bible. This is one of the most excruciating moments in Jesus life. It is summed up in two words.
I have in the past miscounted the simple terms and phrases, but as I reflect on these items I have found they are the most profound. I have also miscounted the sequences of name and events of their importance. This is something that we have been conditioned in our society to do. We have associated brevity as something simple and non-complex. We have associated the last as the least of the group.
But Christ has changed the system completely. In the simplest items he has given us the most complex entity : Blood :: Salvation. He has also changed the way we see order. The Spirit of God is not the least of the persons of God, but the unifying presence of the Father and the Son. The Spirit also unifies time: The Spirit was there in the beginning; in the creation of man; in the conception of Christ; in the resurrection of Christ; in the conversion of Paul; and in us today.
Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord!
This psalm is the shortest chapter in the Bible. It also is the exact middle chapter of the Bible. It is so powerful in many ways. Let us not discount this chapter due to its brevity, but let us mediate on this to see how powerful and amazing God will use this chapter in us.
Let this be our anthem for the week; the summer; and the remainder of the year.
- Kissing my kids and wife daily and telling them I love them
- Talking with my parents and mentors often
- Taking a shower (hot or warm water that is easily accessible)
- Having the ability to do laundry whenever I need
- Being able to walk and move without hesitation
- Having a job and the ability to get there without any problems
- Being able to go to the restroom without assistance
- Being able to sit with my children and just be in their presence
- Being able to breathe
- The Lord’s Prayer
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
10-12 When God, your God, ushers you into the land he promised through your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to give you, you’re going to walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well-furnished houses you didn’t buy, come upon wells you didn’t dig, vineyards and olive orchards you didn’t plant. When you take it all in and settle down, pleased and content, make sure you don’t forget how you got there—God brought you out of slavery in Egypt.
Psalm 93 (The Message)
1-2 God is King, robed and ruling,
God is robed and surging with strength.
And yes, the world is firm, immovable,
Your throne ever firm—you’re Eternal!
3-4 Sea storms are up, God,
Sea storms wild and roaring,
Sea storms with thunderous breakers.
Stronger than wild sea storms,
Mightier than sea-storm breakers,
Mighty God rules from High Heaven.
5 What you say goes—it always has.
“Beauty” and “Holy” mark your palace rule,
God, to the very end of time.
Since the beginning of time the seas have always intrigue us. The immense size and depth of the waters continue to perplex us even today. There are many areas and places in the oceans and seas that still have not been discovered. Approximately five percent of the total oceans have been explored. The same can be stated about the many seas that we have on earth. The seas and the oceans have one particular predictability: they can have calm or storms at a moment’s notice and these two (peace and chaos) can happen simultaneously on the same body of water at two different locations.
There are several seas that are referenced in the Bible. Two particular seas are the Red Sea and the Sea of Galilee. These bodies of water are places of many miracles. For the Red Sea one of the first major miracles was performed by Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt. On the sea of Galilee there was several miracles that shown by Christ. On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus shows himself to the disciples in the night and Peter understands Christ power as he walks on water. The other miracle is when the disciples are in dismay and angst during the tempest and storm. During the storm Christ is slumbering and has to be woken by the disciples. When he awakens, he silenced the storm with a whisper and a flick of the hand. These are some of the ways God shows us magnificent power over the most complex part of nature. He shows us that He is all powerful and able to control the things where we still do not understand but only 5% of the waters.
This particular psalm is meaningful to me this past week, this past month, and this past year. The Lord reigns over everything and can be heard, even over the roaring and raging seas. The seas of life are raging everywhere. Sometimes we can not hear the love and peace that God has for us because we are listening to the sea and not His voice. In the midst of the roar, we have to remember that Jesus was able to rest in the storm because he knew whom he belonged and who has the power over all things. This coming week, I will rest in Him who has the voice that pierces over the roar of the sea. He who can give me utter peace in the storm. How will you react to the roaring seas this week?
Psalm 81 6-16
I hear this most gentle whisper from One
I never guessed would speak to me:
6-7 “I took the world off your shoulders,
freed you from a life of hard labor.
You called to me in your pain;
I got you out of a bad place.
I answered you from where the thunder hides,
I proved you at Meribah Fountain.
8-10 “Listen, dear ones—get this straight;
O Israel, don’t take this lightly.
Don’t take up with strange gods,
don’t worship the popular gods.
I’m God, your God, the very God
who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,
filled your hungry stomachs.
11-12 “But my people didn’t listen,
Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!
Do it your own way!’
13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,
give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,
never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread
spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”
Psalm 69: 4
More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
- When we are in relationship with God the world will be against us. The relationship with God stops us from having a true relationship with the things of this world: list, hate, greed, loss, frustration, etc. When the world recognizes that this relationship has been severed it then comes against us. The world has become our “enemy” since God has become our main focus. Psalm 23: 5 , in order to be blessed you have to have enemies. Psalms 23:5 : You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Psalm 69: 5; 19-20
O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
- After David tells his situation, he acknowledges his own sins. He recognized that God is the supreme judge and justifier. He knows that man would only give him grace when it is appropriate and good for the other. In the light of God’s eye, the justification is genuine and permanent. No matter how many issues that we face, when we believe in God and the price that Christ paid for us, we will be able to acknowledge all that is wrong in us and have the peace that God can cover all of our transgressions and downfalls .
Psalms 69: 30-31
I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs
- God wants your heart, not the sacrifice. So many times we attempt to do things and make sacrifices to gain better standing with God. But God doesn’t want our deeds, he wants our heart. He wants us to have the relationship with Him and not the objects of sacrifice. Sometimes we get into the “doing” of the things and try to check them off. But we forget why we are doing these “things”. God wants us to remember why we are doing the things for him. What is the mission behind the journey? How will this sacrifice bring God glory?
Psalm 57: 1-3
Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
During our time traveling through the Psalms, we have seen many faces of David revealed in his songs. We have seen joy and adoration. We have seen sorrow and despair. We have seen adultery and murder. In this song we see a different face of David, this is his face and attitude in the presence of fear.
In the beginning of the David story, we see David as a strong young man with confidence and strength. David is on the front lines of the Israelites war, where the entire army of the Israelites are shaking with terror. But David is strong in his determination to win the battle against Goliath. This courage has been conveyed over the ages as a pinnacle part of courage in the face of fear. In his later years David also experiences fear when his son is king and David is exiled from his kingdom.
But in Psalm 57, this experience of fear is when David is being pursued by Saul the king of Israel. At this time Saul is David’s father-in-law. David has served as a major general in Saul’s army. David has been his personal musician. David is Jonanthan’s best friend. David knows that king Saul has been anointed by God. Because of this David will not raise a hand against him. Saul relentlessly pursues David for an extended amount of time upto the point where David hides in the cave. In this cave, Saul comes within inches of death and harm from David, but David spares his life.
Psalm 57 illustrates how God protects us in the face of certain death and fear. The only way I can equivocate this setting is if you are standing in front of a tiger who is three feet from you but the tiger does not see you and he does not harm you. The overwhelming presence of that fear can immobilize a person or cause so much fear that the person falls dead. But when God is with us he protects us and gives us calm and peace in the fear. God protects David in such a way that he blinds the threat and allows no harm to come to David.
There are many people currently that are experiencing such terror and fear in the direct face of opposition and they try to run or fight and do not succeed. This psalm is telling us that when we actually believe that God is in control and He is true to his promise. We can literally stare at anything that threatens us and be calm. This is not only physical, emotionally, mentally, financially or spiritually. He is able to comfort us and allow us to rest in the midst of adversity and condemnation if we are in him.
Because of this I am able to smile every day despite what is happening around me. I hope that the Spirit will allow you to rest in him as well.