The Great Summoning!               

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Reading: Psalm 50:1-6
A psalm of Asaph.
The Mighty One, God, the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice
(NIV).*

snow covered trees in winter

Photo by Simon Robben on Pexels.com

Reflection
Psalm 50 begins by reminding us Judgment Day is coming. A great summoning will take place. We will all gather before the throne of God. Rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, the living and the dead—all will gather before the LORD. None are excused. The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets.

On the day before his crucifixion Jesus elaborated at some length on this great summoning. For some it will be a day of joy and gladness; for others it will be a day of dread and sorrow. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

What kind of day will it be for you?

It will certainly be a day of justice. The world is crying out for justice. All too often in this world—in this life—there is no such thing. The innocent suffer, while the perpetrators get off free. They gloat in their pride, while swaddled in luxury. On that great day—Judgment Day—the tables will be turned. The great Judge of all the earth will see to that. And so He should. Since the fall of man, the world is crying out for justice.

It is well worth noting in his account of Judgment Day, Jesus decides if we will enter into bliss or torment based on how we treat others. He states, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:40).

Response: LORD God, help me to live my life in joyous preparation for that great summoning when wrong will be made right. Help me to be merciful so I will receive your mercy in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Your Turn: How can we prepare our hearts and live our lives aright in the knowledge Judgment Day is coming?

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

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Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award. For those who love God’s word, it is an ideal devotional to start you off in the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

A New Day Will Dawn

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

Psalm 49_15
Reading: Psalm 49:13-20

LORD God,
I thank you that Jesus,
my Redeemer, lives!
I put my trust in you, now and for eternity.
I rest in the hope that a new day will dawn
when the dead in Christ will rise.
Amen.

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award, and for those who love God’s word, it’s an ideal gift to start the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

Two Fates—One Choice

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Reading: Psalm 49:13-20
This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings.
They are like sheep and are destined to die;
death will be their shepherd
(but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).
Their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
he will surely take me to himself.
Do not be overawed when others grow rich,
when the splendor of their houses increases;
for they will take nothing with them when they die,
their splendor will not descend with them.
Though while they live they count themselves blessed—
and people praise you when you prosper—
they will join those who have gone before them,
who will never again see the light of life.
People who have wealth but lack understanding
are like the beasts that perish
(NIV).*

landscape photography of snow pathway between trees during winter

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

Reflection
Throughout Psalm 49 the psalmist is establishing a contrast between those who trust in themselves and the wealth they have accumulated, and those who put their trust in God. Death is the fate of all, rich and poor, wise and foolish. The grave spares no one. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning).

I find great hope between the parentheses in the passage above. But the upright will prevail over them in the morning. A new day is coming—a day of resurrection—a day where justice will prevail at last. We can rest in hope that wrongs will be righted, truth will triumph over lies, and joy will snuff out sorrow. Yes, a new morning will dawn. A Redeemer is coming. Along with suffering Job believers can say, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26).

The psalmist boldly declares where he has placed his faith: But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.

Is that where you have placed your faith? Do you put your trust in Jesus, the Redeemer, who purchased your redemption with his shed blood? Death is a certainty, but so is redemption for those who put their trust in the One who died and rose again.

Response: LORD God, I thank you that Jesus, my Redeemer, lives! I put my trust in you, now and for eternity. I rest in the hope that a new day will dawn when the dead in Christ will rise. Amen.

Your Turn: Is your heart ready for that glorious day? Have you bowed before your Redeemer? How will
you respond to him when he takes you home to glory?

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

BGBG_v4.3_150[1818]

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award. For those who love God’s word, it is an ideal devotional to start you off in the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

The Dead of Winter and the Spirit’s Fire

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It’s the dead of winter, the coldest time of the year. My back is aching. A pandemic is raging. Nerves are frayed. Patience has collapsed in a heap of ruin. And it’s the best time to praise God. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s the best time to lay aside our troubles and worries, and praise our Creator.

Praising God in good times, for good times, is easy. Praising God in hard times requires more afore thought—more raw determination. Perhaps it’s the best measure of our faith.

The apostle Paul challenges us with this admonition: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, NIV).*

My Bible breaks the statement above into four separate verses and then tosses “Do not quench the Spirit” into an entirely new paragraph. But in the original Greek, there are no verse numbers, or indented paragraphs. These four statements all flowed together as one.

The Spirit’s fire is stoked or quenched by our rejoicing, our prayer and our thanksgiving. None of these responses—our rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving—should be driven by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our circumstances may vary, but God’s love for us is constant.

Paul and Silas perfectly illustrated the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives, as they prayed and sang hymns after being severely flogged and imprisoned in Philippi. See Acts 16:16-40. Did their circumstances inhibit their rejoicing? Apparently not. They refused to quench the Spirit’s fire. Instead, they stoked it.
Fireplace

Is your fire going out? Can you still find some glowing embers among the ashes? Then take some action. Add some fuel. Throw on a few splinters of rejoicing. Log on some prayer time. Top it all with some heartfelt thanksgiving.

In the dead of winter, at the coldest time of year, in defiance of a pandemic, let’s build the warmest fire.

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

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David Kitz is the chair of The Word Guild. His most recent book series is Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer.
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You Founded the World

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I will praise the LORD!

earth illustration

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reading: Psalm 89:9-13

You rule over the surging sea;
    when its waves mount up, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like one of the slain;

    with your strong arm you scattered your enemies.
The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth;
    you founded the world and all that is in it.
You created the north and the south;
    Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name.
Your arm is endowed with power;
    your hand is strong, your right hand exalted.

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

BGBG_v4.3_150[1818]

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award and for those who love God’s word it’s an ideal way to start the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

Who Can Compare?

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I will praise the LORD!

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Photo credit: Jeannine St. Amour/Reflections of Nature Photo Contest

Reading: Psalm 89:5-8

The heavens praise your wonders, LORD,
    your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD?
    Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared;
    he is more awesome than all who surround him.
Who is like you, LORD God Almighty?
    You, LORD, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.

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

BGBG_v4.3_150[1818]

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award and for those who love God’s word it’s an ideal way to start the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

He Paid My Ransom

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

Psalm 49_1-12 -365
Reading: Psalm 49:1-12

LORD God,
I thank you for the victory of Jesus!
By faith in His redeeming work,
I will live and reign through Him.
Amen.

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award, and for those who love God’s word, it’s an ideal gift to start the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

The Psalmist Gets it Wrong!

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Reading: Psalm 49:1-12
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.
Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high, rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:
Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
No one can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for them—
the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—
so that they should live on forever and not see decay.
For all can see that the wise die,
that the foolish and the senseless also perish,
leaving their wealth to others.
Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.
People, despite their wealth, do not endure;
they are like the beasts that perish
(NIV).*

scenic view of the forest during winter

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Reflection
This opening portion of Psalm 49 reminds me of that old maxim: There are only two certainties in this life: death and taxes. The same fate awaits us all; no one is spared. The Grim Reaper cuts down all without exception. The psalmist asserts the obvious: For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.

But the psalmist is not entirely correct. He makes a sweeping statement that fails to account for a most unusual exception. The psalmist states: No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay.

Jesus Christ is that unusual exception. He proves the psalmist wrong. Jesus paid my ransom. He redeemed my life. He went to the cross on my behalf and there he poured out his life blood so I can live forever. Then to prove Jesus’ sacrifice was accepted, God the Father raised Him from the dead. Death no longer has dominion over Him. Better still, those who put their trust in Jesus Christ will be raised to life on the last day. Praise be to God, who breaks the bonds of death.

Response: LORD, I thank you for the victory of Jesus! By faith I will live and reign through Him. Amen.

Your Turn: Jesus faced death and overcame. How can you be an overcomer too, through him?

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

BGBG_v4.3_150[1818]

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award. For those who love God’s word, it is an ideal devotional to start you off in the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

The Ruler of Your Mind

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

Psalm 48_9-14 -365
Reading: Psalm 48:9-14

LORD God,
 reign in me.
Establish your capital in my heart.
Govern my ways, now and forever more.
I commit my thoughts and intellect to your service.
Stir my heart and my affections.
Amen.

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award, and for those who love God’s word, it’s an ideal gift to start the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.

My Cityscape

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Reading: Psalm 48:9-14
Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.
Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.
Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them
to the next generation.
For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end (NIV).*

Parliament

Parliament of Canada, Ottawa — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Have you watched a television newscast recently? Invariably at some point during that telecast you will see a cityscape—a grand view of the city skyline in all its glory. If experts from Montreal, Vancouver or Chicago are being interviewed, they will appear against the backdrop of a large photo of their city. Routinely, sports telecasts feature brief live shots of the arena and the host city’s downtown.

Why do broadcasters go to the trouble of filming these cityscapes and providing these skyline backdrops? A good part of the answer is identification. We identify a city by its skyline and by its landmark buildings and towers. Washington, D.C. is intimately linked to pictures of the Capitol, Paris with the Eifel Tower and Toronto with the CN Tower. When the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed, New York mourned not only the loss of lives, but also the loss of an element of its identity—the twin icons of its identity.

Psalm 48 is the Bible’s version of a cityscape telecast. Read the psalmist’s call: Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels that you may tell of them to the next generation.

What is the psalmist asking us to do? He is asking us to identify with the city of God. What makes Zion unique in the earth is the presence of God within her. The psalmist clearly stated, “God is in her citadels.” Is God within you? Is He reigning in your heart and mind? Is He the master of your affections? Have you had landmark experiences with God that changed the course of your life? Have you climbed towers of prayer? Have you stood guard on the ramparts of your mind? Then with conviction you can say with the psalmist, “For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.”

Response: LORD God, reign in me. Establish your capital in my heart. Govern my ways, now and forever more. I commit my thoughts and intellect to your service. Stir my heart and my affections. Amen.

Your Turn: Has Jesus come to rule your heart? Is the Lord enthroned there? What steps can you take to establish the Lord as the ruler of your mind?

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

BGBG_v4.3_150[1818]

Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award. For those who love God’s word, it is an ideal devotional to start you off in the New Year. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.