Submitting to the Son

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Reading: Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together
against the L
ORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
“I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the LORD’s decree:
He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father.
Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him (NIV).

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Petrie Island morning — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Kisses are so close-up and personal, so intimate. I don’t know about you, but I don’t kiss everyone I meet. Kisses are reserved for those special people in my life—people I know and trust—people I love.

Here in Psalm 2, kings and rulers are commanded to kiss the Son of God. What an odd command? What is the significance of this? The kiss in this case signals full submission to the supreme potentate. Kings and rulers are to submit to the overarching rule of Christ over themselves, their affairs and their entire domain.

Psalm 2 is the first of several messianic psalms scattered throughout the Book of Psalms. There is nothing subtle about the messianic message found here. The LORD has installed His anointed as king in Zion and furthermore this anointed one is identified as the Son of God. The term the LORD’s “anointed” is frequently translated as Messiah or Christ.

In the Book of Acts, we see the apostles viewed this psalm as the prophetic fulfillment of Christ’s mission during his last days in Jerusalem. The anointed Son of God was rejected by Herod and Pilate, the rulers of that time. They refused to kiss the Son. See Acts 4:23-31.

But what about me? Have I kissed the Son? Have I submitted to his will for my life? In my own small way, I too am a monarch, a ruler of my own domain. Today, will I allow him to rule over me, my conduct, my activities, and my financial affairs?

Response: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your unconditional love. You want only the best for me. I yield to you. Help me to embrace your will and purpose for my life. I trust in you. I love you, Lord. With my lips I kiss the Son. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you kissed the Son? How can you show your love and loyalty to Jesus today?

Our Tree of Life

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Reading: Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the L
ORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction
(NIV).

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Weeping willow, Grey Nuns Park, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Have you ever noticed the prominent role that trees play in the Bible? The creation account in Genesis begins with God planting two very special trees in the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After our first parent’s disobedience, we were banned from access the Tree of Life. But the amazing, good news of the Bible is that at the end of the book, in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, God restores our access to the Tree of Life (Revelations 22:1-5).

In a very real sense the Bible is a story about trees.

Here in the very first Psalm, the life of the righteous is compared to a fruit-bearing tree, flourishing by streams of water. The psalmist presents a picture of tranquil beauty. Is that a picture of my life, or am I caught up in busyness? Sometimes I feel more like windblown chaff—rather worthless and lacking a sense of direction.

But that’s where the other tree at the heart of the Bible comes into play. It stands on a hill called Calvary. There my Saviour bled and died. There he showed me my true worth. There my sins were washed away, never to be remembered again. That’s where I became righteous, not by works that I had done, but by the grace and forgiveness of Christ.

What a beautiful tree! The tree on Mount Calvary isn’t beautiful because of its leaves. It’s beautiful because of its fruit—the fruit of redemption purchased by the blood of Jesus. My righteousness is solely due to him.

Response: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice. Help me to always remember that you are the true source of my righteousness. At your prompting help me to rid myself of the worthless chaff in my life. Wind of God, blow on me. Water of life, refresh my soul. May I be fruitful, Lord, for you. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you knelt before the tree on Mount Calvary?

My God Turns my Darkness into Light

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I will praise Him!

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You, LORD, keep my lamp burning — photo by David Kitz

To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
You save the humble
    but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
    my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

(Psalm 18:25-29, NIV)

A Spacious Place

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I will praise Him!

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He brought me out into a spacious place — photo by David Kitz

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

(Psalm 18:16-19, NIV)

The End Is Here

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Quiet beauty, Round Lake, Ontario — photo courtesy of Liz Kranz

Yesterday’s Psalm 150 post signals the end of the Book of Psalms. But is it really the end? Technically, Psalm 150 is the last of the biblical psalms, but God’s people have not stopped writing psalms. Down through the ages, God’s spirit has continued to move on people’s hearts, and in response they have written psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.

Paul, the apostle, gave this advice to the Ephesian church: Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Psalm writing and singing have never ended, just as worship has never ended. It will continue through all eternity.

Those who have faithfully followed this post have journeyed through the entire Book of Psalms—from Psalm 1 to Psalm 150. In total I have written 365 devotional posts on the Psalms; a devotional post for every day of the year. At some point I hope to have these posts published in book form. If you think this is a good idea, please let me know in a comment below.

Is this really the end of my daily posts? 
No. On Monday I will start the sequence once more beginning at Psalm 1. I hope you will continue the journey. Each time through we can gain new insights.

Response: LORD God, thank you for your holy word. Help me to read, study and apply it to my daily life. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you enjoyed this journey through the Psalms? Is there some aspect of these posts that you have particularly appreciated?

Little Froggy Sets Out

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Not very far from here,
there is a little pond,
and in the pond,
there’s a little frog.

Now he’s really a little frog.
As a matter of fact
he has just become a frog.

He used to be a tadpole.

But now that he has legs,
He thinks it’s time to explore
the BIG WORLD.
So off he swam,
swish, swish, swish,
to talk to PAPA Bullfrog.

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The beginning of life in the pond — artwork by Mircea Gabor

PAPA Bullfrog sat on a big log
in the middle of the pond.

Swish, swish, plop!
Out hopped the little frog
on to the log.
Plop, plop, plop,
He hopped over to PAPA Bullfrog
And said,

To discover the next stage of Little Froggy’s adventure visit and click on the Little Froggy YouTube link found here. https://davidkitz.ca/froggy.php

For direct purchase from the author visit
https://www.davidkitz.ca/bookcart/index.php?route=product/product&path=59&product_id=53

 

 

A Crescendo of Praise

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Reading: Psalm 150
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD (NIV).

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Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
We have reached the crescendo—the conclusion and the high point of the Book of Psalms. Hallelujah and praise the LORD!

The word praise appears thirteen times in this final psalm. The number thirteen is suggestive of Jesus and his apostles. He is at the core—the very center of God ordained worship.

Eight forms or instruments of praise are listed in this psalm. Eight is the number of new beginnings. Seven suggests completeness, so we see that God rested on the seventh day. But eight signals a new start. In the same way, these eight means or instruments of praise do not represent a complete list. They simply suggest the varied ways in which we can express our praise to the LORD. We have only just begun to discover and explore the many ways in which we can show our gratitude to our Creator.

No one—no living being—is excluded from this call to praise. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. 

This call for all the breathing to praise the LORD is truly fitting. We received our original breath from the LORD. Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7). Now with our breath—our God-given breath—let us praise our Maker.

In the same way after his resurrection Jesus breathed on his disciples.  Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22).

We need the breath of God in us—the breath of the Holy Spirit in us to live—to truly live in the overcoming power and joy of the psalms. For the Holy Spirit’s presence I will praise the LORD!

Response: LORD God, I praise you. You are my strength and my song. Help me to discover new ways to praise you because you are good. Let my entire life reflect your redemptive presence in me. Amen.

Your Turn: Why are you breathing? Is praising God an integral part of your purpose?

Our Double-Edged Sword

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Reading: Psalm 149
(Verses 6-9)
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
Praise the LORD (NIV).

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The Parthenon, Athens, Greece — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
In society today there are moves afoot to rewrite history. Old monuments are being torn down or neglected. Places and buildings are being renamed because past victories or policies are now seen as oppressive or unjust. Many of the heroes of the past have lost their luster. In many cases there is sound reasoning that goes into justifying this change. Let’s face it; not every conquest was undertaken with pure motives. Not every government policy in the past was without racial or gender bias.

But are we wise when we judge people from a different era with the moral positions and perspectives of today? Do we carry our own set of biases that color our view of history? Of course we do.

We encounter the same issues when we look back at Old Testament history. It’s difficult for New Testament believers to justify Old Testament vengeance, genocide and slaughter. And yes, there’s plenty of that recorded in our Bibles. Today’s reading from Psalm 149 touches on this very point. The psalmist urges the infliction of vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron. As followers of a gentle Jesus, who taught us to love our enemies, how are we to interpret and apply this call to action?

First, let’s realize that we are living under a new and better covenant with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When he was arrested, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword. We do well when we heed that advice. The eager warmongers among us often need to take a chill pill. Jesus showed no tendencies to war, or armed revolt against the oppression of the Roman Empire.

But we do have a battle to fight, and we urgently need a double-edged sword. St. Paul calls it the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). How effective are you in handling the word of God? How effective are you in battling the spiritual forces and daily temptations that are arrayed against you? With the praises of God in your mouth, and the sword of the Spirit in your hand, are you propelling your way to victory in the daily grind of life? Are the joy and peace of God reigning in your life?

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).

Response: LORD God, I want to grow in my love for your word. Help me to use it wisely and deftly to the advance of your Kingdom. Lord Jesus, help me gain victory over spiritual forces that oppose me. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you developing competence in using the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God?

Let His Faithful People Rejoice

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Reading: Psalm 149
(Verses 1-5)
Praise the LORD.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing
and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people;
he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
and sing for joy on their beds (NIV).

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Nature’s exuberance for praise — wild roses, Edmonton, Alberta — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
I previously wrote that as we draw to the end of the Book of Psalms, we are slowly building to a crescendo of praise to the LORD. Today’s reading from Psalm 149 expands and amps up the level of praise.

For some praise to the LORD is one dimensional. It involves singing a hymn or worship chorus to the LORD in a place of worship at a designated time. Usually this simply means in church on a Sunday morning. But praise that is birthed by the Spirit of God can be much more than just that. Psalm 149 calls for a wide range of praise. It begins by calling for a new song. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.

It would seem that the Creator would like to hear something fresh and creative. That’s so much like Him. After all, His mercies are new every morning. See Lamentations 3:22-23. Now don’t get me wrong. There is a place for the tried and true, and the old and familiar. But genuine praise is like fresh homemade bread. It’s best served warm from the oven. Stale worship invigorates no one.

Secondly, our praise for the LORD can take a variety of forms. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.

Just yesterday I watched a couple do a beautiful dance to a popular worship chorus. The words, the music, and their expressive movements, added heartfelt meaning to their praise. God was glorified in their dance. We were created to move and our posture and movements can reflect an expressive exuberance for God. 

Finally, Spirit initiated praise knows no bounds. It refuses to be confined to a church building. It is after all an outward expression of a thankful heart. There is a place for praise, wherever we find ourselves, whether it’s on a park bench, a subway car, or as we stroll down the grocery aisle. Praise the LORD!

Response: LORD God, renew in me a heart of praise. I want to lose my self-consciousness as I praise you. This is all about you. True worship is not about me. I want to praise you with my whole being. Amen.

Your Turn: Is it possible to be God focussed when we are self-focussed or self-conscious?

Hallelujah!

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Reading: Psalm 148
(Verses 13-14)
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD (NIV).

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Rock strewn stream, Gatineau Park, Quebec — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Broadly speaking I like modern translations of the Bible over the traditional King James Version, but… But sometimes the old King James just sounds better, or more familiar. Here at the close of Psalm 148 we have a case in point.

The New International Version ends the psalm with these words: Praise the LORD. The King James Version ends the psalm with Praise ye the LORD. But a more literal translation or transliteration of this final phrase is Hallelujah! The footnotes to the New American Standard Bible point out that Hallelu means praise, while JAH is the abbreviated Hebrew name for God, which is often translated Jehovah or more accurately Yahweh.

Whenever you see the phrase praise the LORD, you are actually looking at a translation of the Hebrew word hallelujah!

Hallelujah is entirely absent from the New International Version of the Bible. It has also been scrubbed from most of the other modern translations. To put it bluntly, I miss hallelujah. It has an uplifting ring to it. Hallelujah skips off the tongue like a shooting star. It bursts forth from a thankful heart like fireworks on a summer night. 

For the Christian believer Christmas is the great Hallelujah! God has come to the earth and been born as a baby like you and me. This is the beginning of the great redemption story.

The resurrection is the second great Hallelujah! The Son of God was vindicated. His death was not in vain. He conquered death, our greatest foe, and now Jesus reigns on high forever. That calls for a hallelujah! And for good measure, let’s add praise the LORD too!

The one who at his birth was laid in a manger is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. As Handel’s Messiah proclaims, “He shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!” Let the hallelujahs resound from the earth to the heavens as we join in the song of the angels—the song of the ages.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

Response: LORD God, I praise you for sending Jesus. I praise you for your great plan of redemption. Jesus, I thank you for carrying my sins to Calvary. I rejoice in your resurrection victory. Hallelujah! Amen.

Your Turn: Do you enjoy Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus? What is your favorite expression of praise to God?

Finally, for all my fellow Canadians, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. We have so much to be thankful for! Hallelujah!