Sing for Joy

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I will praise Him!

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Photo courtesy of Liz Kranz

We heard it in Ephrathah,
    we came upon it in the fields of Jaar:
“Let us go to his dwelling place,
    let us worship at his footstool, saying,
‘Arise, LORD, and come to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.
May your priests be clothed with your righteousness;
    may your faithful people sing for joy.’”

For the sake of your servant David,
    do not reject your anointed one.

(Psalm 132:6-10, NIV)

Remember David

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I will praise Him!

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Mackenzie King Estate, Gatineau Park, QC — photo by David Kitz

A song of ascents.

LORD, remember David
    and all his self-denial.

He swore an oath to the LORD,
    he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
“I will not enter my house
    or go to my bed,
I will allow no sleep to my eyes
    or slumber to my eyelids,
till I find a place for the LORD,
    a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

(Psalm 132:1-5, NIV)

The Pursuit of the Good Life

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Reading: Psalm 23
A psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the L
ORD
forever.
(NIV)

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Gatineau Park hiking trail — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
If there is a biblical recipe or prescription for the good life, it can be found in the words of this psalm. This is a psalm that drips with satisfaction. It oozes with the very fullness of life; it overflows with a quiet peace. There is a mellow ripeness to these words that runs down your chin, lights a spark in your eye, and puts a spring in your step.

The first line is the key to it all. Is the LORD your shepherd? If He is, then all the rest follows: the refreshing, the goodness, and the love, simply come trailing along behind Him as you follow in His steps. This is so easy, so obvious; you can miss it, because it seems far too simple.

We live in a world that is in feverish pursuit of the good life. The self-centered pursuit of happiness has become the crowning, but ever elusive goal. The word ‘pursuit’ says it all. Apparently, happiness is something we are to chase after. Can happiness be found in a host of products, devices and programs?

What a profoundly different model for the good life is found within the words of this Psalm. The good life, which in our hearts we all seek, is anchored in the Good Shepherd. Jesus is that Good Shepherd. Listen to his words, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep, and my sheep know me” John 10:14 (NIV).

It is in following Him, rather than following our own desires, that happiness comes. There is an abundance that comes into play the moment we surrender our stubborn will to the Good Shepherd and then begin to follow Him with our whole heart.

Response: O LORD my God, I want to follow after you. Dear Jesus, be my Good Shepherd, now and throughout this life that you have given me. I love you because you first loved me. I want the good life that comes from following you. Amen.

Your Turn: Why do self-centered pursuits leave us feeling empty?

How Will the Ends of the Earth Turn to the LORD?

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Reading: Psalm 22
(Verses 27-31)
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the L
ORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the L
ORD
and he rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord
.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
(NIV)

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Gatineau Park — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
This final portion of Psalm 22 signals the ultimate triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the first half of this psalm Christ’s humiliation, suffering and death by crucifixion are vividly portrayed. With stunning accuracy and detail, David depicts these events from Christ’s perspective. Only God-breathed prophetic insight could reveal such truth through a human vessel. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

With today’s reading we discover the worldwide impact of Christ’s redemptive death and resurrection. All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

Christ’s gospel—the good news of the Kingdom—has been voiced abroad. Death, hell and the grave have been conquered. Jesus Christ is Lord over all! Keep in mind that this turning to the LORD by all the families of the nations was an alien concept to the people of Israel during David’s time. Yet again, David spoke prophetically of the time when the gospel message would burst forth from its Jewish cocoon and be declared and received by ready hearts all over the world. Our Savior’s commission will be fulfilled. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

We have the promise of the world-wide spread of the gospel from generation to generation. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!

Response: Father, thank you for the good news of the gospel. Jesus is alive and reigns forever. Help me to do my part in bringing the message of your love and redemption to the world. I want to see people from all nations turning to you in repentance and faith. Amen.

Your Turn: How can we spread the good news? What are you doing to tell His story?

Final Note: This concludes our meditations on Psalm 22. This psalm is ideal for consideration during Lent and Easter, but currently we are beginning Advent. Nevertheless, I believe it is appropriate at any time of year to reflect on the redemptive purpose for Christ’s mission to our corner of the cosmos.

Be blessed as you look forward to His second coming.

Jesus’ Suffering and our Suffering

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Reading: Psalm 22
(Verses 22-26)
I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the L
ORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the L
ORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
(NIV)

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You who fear the LORD, praise him! — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
In this ongoing discussion of Psalm 22 we hit a critical turning point with yesterday’s scripture reading. The humiliated, pierced and tortured Christ prays, “But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen” (Psalm 22:19-21).

God the Father answered the prayer of his suffering Son, not immediately, but three days later Jesus arose from the dead. Now he reigns triumphant over death, hell and the grave. The opening words recorded here are the resurrected Christ’s song of triumph: I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

And why should we praise the LORD? Here is the answer: For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. 

In the context of this psalm, Christ is the afflict one. The prophet Isaiah declares, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Yes, praise Him! We have a Savior who can fully identify with every aspect of our humanity because he was fully human. He suffered just as we suffer and in his body he experience severe loss and pain. God incarnate knows all about the human condition because He lived as a human. But in all this Jesus is the victor. May your hearts live forever because of Jesus Christ who conquered death and lives now and forever.

Response: Father, thank you for victory over death, hell and the grave through your Son Jesus. By faith his victory becomes my victory. Hallelujah! I praise you my Lord and Savior. Amen.

Your Turn: Does the knowledge of Christ’s suffering help you in times of personal pain or loss?

Hands and Feet Pierced for Me

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Reading: Psalm 22
(Verses 16-21)
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen
(NIV).

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Bracket fungus on a decaying log — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
The title notes to Psalm 22 state, “A psalm of David.” But while this is David’s psalm, it’s entirely about Jesus—about our Savior’s personal thoughts and experience—about his suffering and death. Nowhere is this expressed more clearly than in the opening lines posted above: Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.

On the rock hill called Golgotha, surrounded by his taunting enemies, Jesus is stripped naked. His hands and feet are pierced as he is nailed to the cross and lifted up for the whole world to see. The helpless Christ silently laments, “All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.”

All four Gospels record what happens next. The soldiers divide up Jesus clothes and gamble for his seamless garment. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did (John 19:24).

Thoughtless Roman soldiers fulfilled what David penned nine centuries earlier. But was Jesus truly helpless? If he was helpless, he was helpless by design. If he was forsaken by his Father, he was forsaken by choice—his choice. This was a course of action that Jesus willingly chose. He lay down his life. The Lamb of God suffered and died that our sins might be atoned, that we may receive a full pardon. Redemption has come; the price has been paid in full—paid in blood.

The turning point in this psalm is found in the last stanza above. With unvoiced words Jesus cries out to be rescued and delivered from death. Three days later his prayer was answered through his bodily resurrection. Ultimately, Jesus triumphed over death, hell and the grave. By faith his suffering brings our redemption and victory.

Response: Lord Jesus, my thanks flows to you. You were forsaken that I might have eternal life. Thank you for thinking of me rather than of yourself. You deserve all praise. Amen.

Your Turn: What is the right response to the love Jesus showed?

A Suffering Savior

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Reading: Psalm 22
(Verses 9-15)
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death
(NIV).

cross jesus summit cross

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reflection
As we continue this meditation on Psalm 22, it is essential that we bear in mind that prophetically this is the crucifixion psalm. As stated in my previous post, the crucifixion is portrayed from the victim’s point of view—Jesus’ point of view. Through the poetic medium of this psalm, Jesus is speaking. He is describing his thoughts amid the horror of his excruciating affliction.

I recently read an account of the disastrous Dieppe Raid of 1942. In one scene from the carnage on the Normandy beach, a horribly-mangled, mortally-wounded young man is trapped in coils of razor wire. With his last desperate breaths what does he do? He cries out for his mother. In the pain of death the thoughts of grown men often turn to the soothing remembrance of their mother’s love. For our Savior it was no different. But from birth Jesus put his trust in God. Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

As Jesus hangs pinned to the cross, he is encircled by his accusers—strong bulls of Bashan—who hurl insults at him. Peering down at his mangled and bleeding body he laments, I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. 

As the heat of the day builds, the trickle of blood continues and severe dehydration sets in. He cries out, “I thirst!” (John 19:28). This is our Savior’s confession—his stark reality—a reality he endured for our redemption. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

Response: Father God, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to this cruel world to suffer on my behalf. Your unconditional love for me was demonstrated on the cross for all to see. I thank you. Amen.

Your Turn: What does Jesus suffering mean for you?

The Sheep of His Pasture

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I will praise Him!

three lamp on green field

Photo by Michael Morse on Pexels.com

A psalm of David.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
    forever.

(Psalm 23:5-6, NIV)

The LORD is my Shepherd

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I will praise Him!

agriculture clouds countryside daylight

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

(Psalm 23:1-4, NIV)

The Soldier Who Killed a King—A Review By Dr. Darlene Witte-Townsend

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The Soldier Who Killed a King was voted the top book in the biblical fiction category for 2017 by the Christian book service, Interviews and Reviews. Having recently read this book, it’s not difficult to see why. It plays like a high-stakes movie in your mind.

Canadian author, David Kitz, closely examines the events occurring between Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and his resurrection a few days later. But we see all these events from a unique perspective—through the eyes of a Roman soldier.

This engaging, hard-hitting narrative is a distillation of Kitz’s study and prayer over a 50-year span, when as pastor, educator and Bible dramatist, he steeped himself in the wonder of this story. As a novelist, he reveals profound respect for the historical record through his characterization of Marcus Longinus, a Roman centurion who is unwillingly caught in the power struggles of the day. Furthermore, Kitz stays true to the scriptural account by integrating more than a hundred quotes from the Gospels into the story text.

Three corrupt men, Herod Antipas, “the Fox,” Pontius Pilate, “the Badger,” and Josephbiblical-fiction-award-2017_orig Caiaphas, “the Weasel” have an insatiable lust for money and power. They each attempt to use the political tumult of the time for their own gain. In contrast to the stench of their machinations, Kitz offers a deep sense of Jesus, the donkey-riding King, as the man in whom all of heaven is invested. Jesus emerges in the Roman world offering an entirely new way for humankind to be reborn.

Above all else, this is a story of personal redemption. Marcus, the Roman Centurion is like us, caught between worlds. Who is his king? Why?

The Son of God shows unlimited compassion through healing the sick and feeding the hungry, and his purity catches the attention of the masses in a drama that still shakes the world, one aching, open, humble heart at a time.

Do you need to rediscover the power of the cross? The Soldier Who Killed a King will take you there.

For more information regarding the author and his live dramatizations visit https://davidkitz.ca/centurion.php

For more information regarding book purchase from the author visit https://www.davidkitz.ca/bookcart/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=50

or

For more information regarding U.S. book purchases visit https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Who-Killed-King-Retelling/dp/0825444853/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537465478&sr=8-1&keywords=the+soldier+who+killed+a+king