His Revealed Word

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Reading: Psalm 147
(Verses 19-20)
He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.
He has done this for no other nation;
they do not know his laws.
Praise the LORD (NIV).*

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Night vision — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Have you ever asked yourself this question: Where is God?

It’s a valid question. But when we ask that question, it may indicate a lack of faith or at least a level of doubt. When disaster strikes it’s not unusual to wonder, where is God in all this?

There are several theologically correct answers to that question. One could reply that God is in heaven, where He always has been. Or we could say God is everywhere because the Bible teaches that the LORD is omnipresent. See Psalm 139:7-10. Still others may say that the Lord is in their heart. St. Paul reminds us of this truth with this admonition: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The simple truth is God needs to reveal Himself to us. The most obvious way that God does this is through His written word. Today’s reading from Psalm 147 speaks of the importance of that revelation. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.

But the written word of God can be nothing but dead words on a page to us unless those words are activated—made alive by the Spirit of God. We need the intervention of God—a revelation from God. When that happens, the written words dance off the page and into our hearts. The writer of Hebrews expresses it this way. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Just as God revealed His word to Jacob, we need God to speak to us today. He does that through His written word, but He also does that through the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit. God still speaks to people today. Are your ears open to hear His voice?

The greatest revelation of God came through the person of Jesus Christ. He is the word incarnate—the logos of God who came to dwell among us.

Where is God? He is in the person of Jesus. Jesus, come and dwell in my heart.

Response: LORD God, I need a greater revelation of you. When you show yourself to me, I am changed. Come, Lord Jesus. Invigorate my life. Help me to know you better. Speak deeply to my heart.  Amen.

Your Turn: How does God speak to your heart? Has He reveal Himself to you in a variety of ways?

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

As Lent Approaches…

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Imagine my surprise and gratitude when I saw the following Facebook post from my friend Andrew:

“As Lent approaches I made the decision to read this excellent book by my friend David Kitz for I think it will be the 3rd or 4th time. I am curious if anyone would like to join me for a Lent book study of this amazing book? If so message me.”

I have encountered a number of people who tell me they reread “The Soldier Who Killed a King” every year as Easter approaches. But it’s great to see that fact posted on social media.

A journey to the cross and the empty tomb is valid at any time of the year. This year why not take that journey as seen through the eyes of Roman centurion, Marcus Longinus?

A free seven week discussion guide is also available for personal or group use. Click for the link.

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His Swiftly Running Words 

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Reading: Psalm 147
(Verses 13-18)
He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
He sends his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow (NIV).*

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Ice crusted snow, Grey Nuns Park, Orleans, ON — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
What does a swiftly running word look like? Does it have legs on the bottom of each letter so it can run along, somewhat like a scurrying centipede? Or maybe when words run, they flow like a babbling stream rushing around and over rocks? How do you visualize running words?

Here in Psalm 147, the psalmist uses this metaphor to describe God’s word in action. He [the LORD] sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 

We can be sure of one thing. When the word of the LORD is sent forth, it accomplishes its purpose. The prophet Isaiah wrote of that unchanging truth. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).

God’s word brings blessing. That’s the picture that the psalmist paints. Isaiah uses different brush strokes, but in essence he paints a similar picture. The outpouring of the word of God onto His people brings a bountiful blessing. He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat. 

Wherever God’s word reaches, it brings new life and fullness to life. Yes, it often brings conviction of sins, but those are the dead limbs that need to be cut off so new growth can flourish. God’s word reorients my life from a path that leads to death to the way everlasting.

The inner peace and security that I need are found in the presence of the LORD. I need a constant flow of God’s word into my heart and my mind. True prosperity, healing and strength are found in the swiftly running words of God. I want to be immersed in those running words.

Response: LORD God, I treasure your commands and your words. I want your word to be active within me, cutting off those sins and habits that are unproductive, and then bringing forth new life and the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you allow God’s word to run and play in your mind? Has a Bible verse changed your life?

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

Craft, Cost & Call: How to Build a Life as a Christian Writer

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For anyone who is serious about developing a career as a Christian writer, this book is a48117319 (2) true gem. From start to finish, authors Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller provide a host of tips, and sound advice that can benefit any writer. This holds true for the novice writer as well as the grizzled veteran.

The book is broadly divided into three sections: craft, cost and call, that match the title. The authors don’t hold back in exposing both their successes and failures as writers. It’s great to see your own struggles mirrored by these two professionals. There is an integrity and a candor to their writing that I truly admire.

I was left wanting more from these two authors, especially in section on our God-given call to write. But I see wanting more as a good thing.

For anyone on the writing journey I highly recommend this book. I was introduced to this book through the Ottawa Christian Writers’ Fellowship, which is a local chapter of The Word Guild.

He Supplies the Earth with Rain

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Reading: Psalm 147
(Verses 8-12)
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle
and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Extol the LORD, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion (NIV).*

close up photo of person holding green watermelon fruit

Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com

Reflection
I grew up on a farm on the prairies. During the hot summer it was not unusual for rain to be in short supply, but rain is essential for growing field crops of any kind.

As a child one of my favorite garden projects was growing watermelons. Two key ingredients are needed if you want to grow watermelons: lots of direct sunlight and a plentiful supply of water. I could count on the sunlight pouring down from the sky, but rain was far less dependable. There may be afternoon or evening thundershowers, but they were often of the hit and miss variety. All too often on the thundershower scoreboard, we scored a miss. In such conditions daily watering was essential.

Each of my watermelon plants could count on a daily supply of a gallon of water. Barring a major downpour, I was their supplier. I brought my plants pails of water from the well. By September all the hard work of summer began to pay off. The garden-grown watermelons were delicious and juicy beyond compare.

Today’s reading from Psalm 147 reminds us that the LORD is our supplier. He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 

The LORD is the ultimate supplier of all things, rain and sunshine and life itself. All He asks is that we fear Him—honor Him with the respect He deserves. The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. What a comforting thought! The LORD delights in me. Wow! 

I need a daily supplier. I need a supply of daily bread—those necessary things that sustain life. But beyond that, I also need less tangible things like love, encouragement and peace of mind. Sometimes those things fall from the sky. But there are other times when I need to go to the well—the well of my salvation. There is a supply of grace stored up there for me to access. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:2b-3).

Response: LORD God, I am thankful that you are my supplier. You provide for all my needs and many of my desires as well. Your grace is abundant. You are my salvation and source of joy. Amen.

Your Turn: Do you have a steady supplier? Do you have access to the well of salvation?

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

The Law of their God is in their Hearts

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I will praise the LORD!

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A sign of your goodness — photo by David Kitz

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
    the offspring of the wicked will perish.
The righteous will inherit the land
    and dwell in it forever.
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,

    and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.

  (Psalm 37:28b-31, NIV)*

* Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Turn from Evil and Do Good

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I will praise the LORD!

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A winter view of Parliament Hill from the Chateau Laurier, Ottawa, ON — photo by David Kitz

I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.

Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
For the LORD loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.

  (Psalm 37:25-28, NIV)*

* Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Determining the Number of Stars

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Reading: Psalm 147
(Verses 4-7)
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp (NIV).*

sky space dark galaxy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reflection
How many stars are there in the Milky Way galaxy? According to astronomers the answers is somewhere between 100 billion and 400 billion. That’s quite a wide range. If we don’t know the number of stars in our own galaxy, how can we possibly know the total number of stars in the universe?

The difficulty of this calculation has not stopped scientists from coming up with an estimate. There are about two trillion galaxies in the known universe, so multiplying the number of stars in an average size galaxy by two trillion will give us an answer. Using these figures the total number of stars is 1 with twenty-four zeroes after it. But astronomers admit the actual number could well be ten times higher.

We need to understand today’s reading from Psalm 147 in the light of this astronomical number. He [the LORD] determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

The size of the universe blows my mind. It is so beyond comprehension in size and scope that we are left staggered and breathless. We can’t begin to take in the smallest fraction of it. But our great Lord knows the name of every star. If the universe is so big then it’s painfully obvious that my concept of God is far too small. He boggles the brain. The word awesome doesn’t begin to capture His greatness. He is truly limitless in time and space.

Knowing the greatness of God and his created universe should leave us in wonder about the next statement in this psalm. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.  

Why would this great limitless God care about me and the state of my heart and mind? Why would He consider me significant? Why would He care for me? Why would He fix His attention on anyone on this earth—this speck of dust in greatness of the universe? The LORD has galaxies to tend to.

But He cares. This great, limitless God cares for the likes of you and me. Now that’s the wonder of it all. That’s the biggest ‘wow’ in the universe. I’ll never get over His love—the love that hung suspended between heaven and earth on a wooden cross. That’s love—limitless love.

Response: LORD God, I can’t begin to fathom your greatness. You are far too wonderful for me. I don’t deserve a moment of your thoughts. But you did so much more. You sent Jesus. Thank you for your creation and your great redemption. Amen.

Your Turn: How big is your God? Does He fill your universe?

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

The Healer of the Brokenhearted

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Reading: Psalm 147
(Verses 1-3)
Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds (NIV).*

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Reflection
There are a lot of brokenhearted people in this world. No, I’m not talking about sports fans who have suffered heartbreak because their team has lost. I’m talking about the more serious issues that arise—the loss of a home, a career, or a family member. I’m talking about those devastating life events from which full recovery may never be possible.

Today’s evening news carried the story of a woman who had lost her home due to severe flooding throughout our region. There she stood with her voice breaking as she described all the work she and her husband had put into their lovely home. Looking beyond her you could see nothing but brown water lapping against the sides of her house. Everything they had worked for was ruined.

Every Friday morning for a dozen years I have been meeting with a group of men who have entered into a covenant to grow stronger in their relationship with the Lord. We are accountable to one another in our commitment to grow in love and service to Jesus. But faithful commitment to the Lord provides us with no guarantee against personal heartbreak.

One of the leaders of our group lost his wife due to pancreatic cancer. Now Chris must cope with the loss of his wife while also providing care and comfort for his young son and his teenage daughter. That’s heartbreaking. That’s a daunting task!

I’m not sure that I could cope with that level of loss.

In today’s reading from Psalm 147, we see a call to praise coupled with a promise that the LORD will build up, restore, and heal the heartbroken. The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

I need words like that. I need healing words. The wounded need healing words. As God’s people we need to give and receive words that comfort the grieving, build up the downcast, and minister healing to the wounded. All too often our tongues do more harm than good. Too often we speak words of judgment, when we should leave judgment to the LORD.

Today, remember there are a lot of brokenhearted people in this world.

Response: LORD God, heal my hurts so I can help heal the hurts of others. I pray that your people will find comfort in your word. May your words bring health and healing. You are worthy of praise. Amen.

Your Turn: How can we bind up the wounds of others? Do you have wounds that need healing?

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

The LORD of the Needy

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Reading: Psalm 146
(Verses 6-10)
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD (NIV).*

hands above water

Photo by Arun Kr on Pexels.com

Reflection
Are you looking for the LORD’s help? Let’s be honest now. Many of us are. Well here’s a startling truth. The self-sufficient and well-to-do need not apply. We can also add the smug, the proud, and the arrogant to that list.

I thought the LORD was willing to help all who came to Him. True, but here is the sad reality; the arrogant and self-sufficient don’t come to God. They have no need for Him. They are too wrapped up in their successes and their pride to come in humility before the LORD. In reality, the LORD is the unseen author of any genuine human achievement of lasting value.

Today’s reading from Psalm 146 gives us a glimpse at those who should get their application in for the LORD’s help. Here’s the list as found in this psalm: the oppressed, the hungry, prisoners, the blind, the bowed down, foreigners, the fatherless and widows. Help is promised to all of these. To put it simply, the LORD helps the needy.

I have often heard it said that the Lord helps those who help themselves. I have even had people insist that this statement is found in the Bible. It is not. This non-biblical proverb is often used to justify human greed. In other words, I’ll grab whatever I can without any thought for those who are less fortunate. Furthermore, I’ll frame it as God blessing my greed. Ouch!

The character of God is the exact opposite. He is attracted to the needy. He helps the needy rather than running from them. Jesus continually demonstrated this quality in his earthly ministry. He showed compassion to the oppressed, the hungry, the blind, the widow and the fatherless. He set captives free from prisons of sin and shame. Jesus calls his followers to do the same.

Response: LORD God, I confess that often I avoid the needy rather than seeking to help them. Give me a heart of compassion—a heart like your Son, Jesus. You are my great provider. Thank you. Amen.

Your Turn: How do you respond to someone in need? Do you always help?

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