I will praise the LORD!
Reading: Psalm 148
Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and women,
old men and children (NIV).*
Psalm 148 began with a call for praise for the LORD from the angels, who are heaven’s messengers, from the heavenly hosts and all the heavenly bodies. In today’s reading, the psalmist expands this call for praise to all the creatures of the earth, the elements of nature, wind, cloud and ocean depths, and finally to all humanity.
There is a logical progression in this call for thunderous praise. The call begins with what is distant, the galaxies and the heavenly beings, and then it descends to the earth, and finally it touches humanity. It becomes personal. We are called to praise God. Will you join the swelling chorus?
John, the beloved, gives us a picture of what heaven’s praise party looks like.
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Revelation 5:11-12).
Our Lord taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9b-10).
Surely, it is the will of God that He be praised and worshiped on earth just as He is around His throne in heaven. The purpose of God’s Kingdom—the Kingdom that Jesus came to establish—is to bring heaven to earth. God did not remain distant. In the person of Jesus, He came to dwell among us. He brought and is presently bringing the will of God to the earth through the Holy Spirit. For that Jesus is to be praised. Let all of creation praise Him—praise Him from the earth, because from it we were formed. As we reflect on his first coming let the praise for our Lord ascend from you and me.
Response: LORD God, let your Holy Spirit be active among us. Help us to love and serve you and those around us. Help me to bring a little bit of heaven—a little bit of your will to the earth today. Amen.
Your Turn: How do you picture heaven? What does a little bit of heaven on earth look like to you?
Reading: Psalm 148
Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away (NIV).*
As we draw to the end of the Book of Psalms, we are slowly building to a crescendo. It’s a crescendo of praise for the LORD. Today’s reading from Psalm 148 represents another stepping stone in that rising crescendo of praise.
The word praise appears nine times in this six-verse portion of the psalm. The psalmist repeatedly calls for all of creation to praise the LORD—to praise him. In today’s reading the call to praise is focused on the heavenly realm. You would think that the angels and the heavenly hosts would need no reminder to praise the LORD, but nevertheless the psalmist calls on them to praise their Creator. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars.
If the angels need a praise prompter, then I know that I certainly do. There are days when I have a greater tendency to complain than to praise. If I am feeling a bit out of sorts or experiencing discomfort, it doesn’t take much to trip me into full-blown, grumble mode with a side order of self-pity tacked on for good measure. Praise for the LORD is a distant thought or a faint memory.
But has God changed? Has His mercy been diminished because I have a grumbly tummy or a kink in my neck? Of course not. The LORD is constantly worthy of praise—even in hard times—especially in hard times. In hard times I need to change my focus. I need to lift up my eyes to the heavens. I need to see the big picture rather than be caught up in the trifling details of my life. God is still on His throne even if I burn the toast or spill that glass of milk. Praise has greater significance at such times because it springs from a troubled heart that has shifted to become a thankful overcoming heart.
In the midst of his great suffering, Job made this declaration about his faithfulness to the LORD, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15a). Will that be your testimony? In all these things, the LORD, our great Creator, remains steadfast and worthy of praise.
Response: LORD God, give me a heart that is eager to praise you—even in hard times—especially in hard times. Your constant care for us does not change. Let my praise for you be just as constant. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you have a greater tendency to grumble or praise? Can you change that tendency?
Reading: Psalm 147
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).*
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?
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.
Reading: Psalm 147
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).*
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?
For anyone who is serious about developing a career as a Christian writer, this book is a 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.
Reading: Psalm 147
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).*
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?