Wholehearted Praise

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Reading: Psalm 138:1-5
Of David
I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness,
for you have so exalted your solemn decree
that it surpasses your fame.
When I called, you answered me;
you greatly emboldened me.
May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD,
when they hear what you have decreed.
May they sing of the ways of the L
ORD,
for the glory of the L
ORD is great (NIV)*

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As darkness falls — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
David was wholehearted in all that he did, so it should not surprise us that he begins Psalm 138 with this assertion: I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

David, the shepherd king, wasn’t shy or reticent about offering praise to the LORD. He knew his God and was quick to give Him praise. He would even praise the LORD before foreign gods. Elsewhere in the psalms we see this declaration: For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens (Psalm 96:4-5).

During David’s time each nation had its own national god. These national gods were represented by carved idols of wood, metal or stone. But Israel had no idol. They were strictly forbidden to make any image or likeness of the LORD (Yahweh). See the First Commandment, Exodus 20:3-6. This prohibition set Israel apart. They were the people with no visible god.

But why settle for a visible god, when you can have the invisible God who fills the entire universe? Why settle for a national god, when you can have the LORD who created the heavens and the earth? Inevitably, if we fashion our own god, we will create a god who is far too small. The true God is far bigger, far wiser, and far more just, and compassionate than we can ever imagine. How can we as finite creatures begin to fathom the infinite power and glory of God?

By His great mercy the LORD reveals Himself to us. He does that best through His Son. The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15). Jesus helps make the infinite God comprehensible to us, so we can join with David’s anthem of praise. May all the kings of the earth praise you, LORD, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.

Response: LORD God, I praise you for your unfailing love and your faithfulness. Thank you for answering my prayers. You give me courage, and like David, you greatly emboldened me to carry on. Amen.

Your Turn: How big is your God? Is He bigger than your problems—bigger than your doubts?

* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

Schadenfreude

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Today’s quote and prayer from
“Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer”
by David Kitz
365 Schadenfreude 137b

Psalms 137:7-9

LORD God,
at times I have been guilty of schadenfreude*.
Help me to show compassion
rather than smug indifference
when I see others experience loss.
Thank you for your ongoing mercy.

Amen.

*rejoicing in someone else’s suffering or loss

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at this #1 new release click here. For a look back at Volume I click here.

Rejoicing in Someone’s Suffering

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Reading: Psalm 137:7-9
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks
(NIV).*

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Sunset glow — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
German is a fascinating language. It’s a language that seems to specializes in compound words—short words that are combined to form longer words. Some English language examples of compound words are homerun, overcoat and windshield.

Schadenfreude is a compound German word. Actually, it’s such a useful and descriptive word that it has migrated into the English language and it can be found in any quality English dictionary. Schaden means harm or damage. Freude means joy. Simply put schadenfreude means joy experienced at another person’s expense—rejoicing in someone else’s suffering or loss.

Today’s reading from Psalm 137 is all about schadenfreude. The Edomites celebrated the destruction of Jerusalem. Rather than mourn over their neighbor’s calamity, they joined in calling for the destruction of the Jewish capital.

This manifestation of schadenfreude was rooted in centuries of fraternal rivalry and envy. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, while the people of Jerusalem were the descendants of Jacob. These two people groups were linked by heredity, language and culture, and yet generation after generation they continued this brothers’ feud.

This psalm is not the only biblical counsel for us to avoid rejoicing in other people’s harm: Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from them (Proverbs 24:17-18).

If the LORD is punishing the evildoer, we should not appear too smug. We are spared by the grace of God and not by our moral superiority. The self-righteous suffer from delusions of pride. It’s best not to identify with that camp. The opposite response is called for. Rather than crowing over someone else’s misfortune, we should be offering help or drawing lessons on how to avoid a similar calamity.

When I see others experiencing calamity, I need to replace my schadenfreude with the genuine joy found in extending mercy, grace and compassion.

Response: LORD God, at times I have been guilty of schadenfreude. Help me to show compassion rather than smug indifference when I see others experience loss. Thank you for your ongoing mercy. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you experienced schadenfreude? How do you keep it in check?

* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

You Who Answer Prayer

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I will praise the LORD!

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Backyard garden iris — photo by David Kitz

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

(Psalm 65:1-4, NIV)*

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

Through the Watches of the Night

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I will praise the LORD!

green tree

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

(Psalm 63:6-8, NIV)*

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

Wise Words from Phil Callaway

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Here are some wise words from author, Phil Callaway:

I’m not certain I’d be alive without the Psalms. While my wife was losing her family to Huntington’s disease we lived in its inspiring pages. We still do. David’s devotional is a welcome companion on this journey, particularly for those needing a fresh shot of hope.

Phil Callaway
award-winning author & Christian humorist, www.laughagain.org

And here is a look at Volume II of the devotional series Phil is talking about.
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For nearly 3,000 years people have been getting in touch with God through the sacred literature of the Psalms. Generation after generation has drawn strength, comfort and inspiration from the words of the psalmist.  

Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer is a devotional study that takes you through all of the Psalms during the course of a full year. The author’s goal is to help the reader interact with each psalm and connect with God in a fresh and living way.

In times of calamity the psalms bring peace. When storms rage within, a psalm can provide a haven of rest. When anger erupts, a psalm can act as a release valve. When God seems distant, the psalms bring us near.

There is something surprisingly practical about the psalms. They are meant to be lived. The Bible is in fact a living document that must be applied to life to be effective. This should not surprise us since, “The word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12a). Author David Kitz draws from a range of biblical sources and real life experiences to make the psalms come alive. 

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.


Harsh Judgment Brought Change

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Reading: Psalm 137:1-6
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the LORD
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy
(NIV)*

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Photo courtesy of Donald Adam

Reflection
It’s difficult to pinpoint the time in history when many of the Psalms were written. Many scholars believe that the Old Testament was compiled over a period of about 900 to 1,000 years. As for the Book of Psalms, there is considerable evidence to suggest that psalms were collected from three distinct periods: the reign of King David (1 Chronicles 23:5), the rule of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:30), and during the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 12:24).[1]

Psalm 137 is distinct, because we can tell from its content that this psalm was written early during the period of the Babylonian exile. Memories of Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC were still fresh—etched with bitterness and pain in the mind of the author.

There are two great pivot points in the history of Old Testament Israel. The first is the liberation of Israel from Egypt and the subsequent conquest of the holy land. The second is the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which was followed by the seventy-year exile in Babylon. The mercy and power of God brought about the first pivotal event. The disobedience and idolatry of man set in motion the catastrophe of the second event.

From its inception the Jewish nation flirted with idolatry. While Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments, the people were reveling before a golden calf. King Solomon set up idols in Jerusalem so his foreign wives could worship their gods. See 1 Kings 11:1-8. This duplicity continued generation after generation until the Babylonians swept in and destroyed Jerusalem. Harsh judgment brought change. Will harsh judgment bring change in us, or will the mercy of God bring us to repentance?

Response: Father God, I don’t want to learn things the hard way. I want to be quick to obey you. Help me to learn from the lessons of history. You are the one, true God. I worship you. Amen.

Your Turn: How faithful are you to the LORD? Do other interests draw you away?

[1] K.R. “Dick” Iverson, Spirit Filled Life Bible, New King James Version, Jack W. Hayford, General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1991, p. 750.

* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

I Admit My Need

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Today’s quote and prayer from
“Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer”
by David Kitz
365 Rescue the proud 136c

Psalms 136:17-26

Father God,
I admit my need for Jesus,
your Son,
my Savior.
His love endures forever. 

Amen.

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at this #1 new release click here. For a look back at Volume I click here.

In Our Low Estate

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Reading: Psalm 136:17-26
to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.
He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever (NIV).*

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Wetlands — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
In recent months I have transitioned from attending an established church to involvement in a new church plant. In many respects the change has been refreshing. This new church has a clear focus on reaching the lost in our city, specifically those who are trapped in addictions. Almost weekly new converts are coming forward to put their trust in Christ. The church itself is a place of transition, as deadly habits are broken, and the healing power of Jesus is applied to long festering inner wounds.

So how does this connect with our reading from Psalm 136? In his description of Israel, the psalmist makes this statement: He remembered us in our low estate… and freed us from our enemies.

We serve a God who rescues us at our lowest point, in our low estate. In our foolish pride, we would never turn to God. But when we hit bottom—when there is no way forward, but up—then we turn to the Lord. You see, Christ has been patiently waiting for us to acknowledge our need. But Jesus doesn’t rescue the proud. He doesn’t save those who see no need for salvation. He only comes to the humble—those who admit they need a lift from the hole they find themselves in.

Sadly, there are many who sit in fine churches that have never discovered their low estate. Actually, they have become experts at hiding it. We all have a secret addiction to sin. Even St. Paul wrote, “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). The only one who can turn us around is Jesus, our Savior. See Romans 7:25.

Response: Father God, I admit my need for Jesus, your Son, my Savior. His love endures forever. Amen.

Your Turn: Why do we hide our sins rather than confess them? Does pride hold you back or are there other factors?

* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at Volumes I and II click here.

Adopted into Your Family

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Today’s quote and prayer from
“Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer”
by David Kitz
365 blood of Christ 137b

Psalms 136:10-16

I thank you for redeeming me
with the sacred blood of Jesus.
I have been adopted into your family.
You are my heavenly Father.
I can never thank you enough.

Amen.

Volume II of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is available now. For a closer look at this #1 new release click here. For a look back at Volume I click here.