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 LORD 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).
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?
Stories of Finding Love in Unexpected Places
These stories will amuse, encourage, and inspire you to reflect on ways you’ve been shown love, and to consider how you might show more love in the future.
The men, women, and children in these stories experience love in ways they’d never have thought of, from people they might not normally have noticed, and in surprising places:
- on the wrong side of the tracks in small-town Ontario
- beside a wood burning stove in the Central African Republic
- in the words of an old letter in a New Brunswick house
- next to a burned-out Saskatchewan farmhouse
- upon a deserted country road in British Columbia
- adjacent to a chopped-down jackfruit tree in the Philippines
- over a table in an empty Alberta restaurant
- at a bus stop in a Quebec city
- from the bombed-out ruins of a house in the Netherlands
In a world that seems consumed with busyness, these heartfelt stories will take you to a quiet place and remind you that simple acts of love can make a lifetime of difference.
“As we emerged into an open grassy area, Champ suddenly went ballistic.”
Author Bio: David Kitz is an award-winning author and a contributor of the short story entitled, CHAMP! on page 171 of Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon.
For more information on the book purchase visit: https://www.davidkitz.ca/bookcart/index.php?route=product/product&path=64&product_id=63
Reading: Psalm 139
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
As much as I love the psalms of the Bible, there are some psalms, or verses within psalms that I would just like to skip. I wish they weren’t there. Today’s reading from Psalm 139 is a prime example. The author’s words are filled with venom. Why are they even in the Bible? (Please bear with me.)
Passages like today’s reading are particularly troubling in light of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament. In his great Sermon on the Mount, he gave us this teaching: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Reconciling today’s reading from Psalm 139 with Jesus’ words makes my head hurt. Jesus calls us to an incredibly high standard—God’s standard. God shows kindness and love even to the unrighteous. They like us receive both sunshine and rain. Let’s face it, when someone hurts me, my default position is to hurt them back. That’s the natural human response. That’s the way it has been since the beginning, and the world is full of lasting scars—intergenerational scars because of it. Wounded people have been busy hurting other wounded people as hate builds on hate in the home, at work and internationally.
But Jesus came to interrupt that corrosive cycle. He asks us to counter that hurt—that slight—that injury with love. Now that’s truly revolutionary. It’s a revolt against the status quo of hatred that has poisoned human relations in our country and the world. Has someone gone out of their way to hurt you? Retaliate with an act of love. That’s what Jesus is saying.
Is that hard? Absolutely. It’s much easier to respond like the author of today’s reading from Psalm 139. So why is this portion of Psalm 139 in the Bible? Maybe it should be redacted—blacked over like a secret government file.
In reality, Psalm 139 like all the psalms, began as someone’s personal prayer—their personal interaction with God. They are pouring out their heart before God. It’s a heart that has been wounded by others. Should they bottle up those feelings and never express them to God? Of course not. We need to pour out our hurts to God. He alone can heal and change that wounded heart.
Response: LORD God, you know all my hurts. I bring them before you. Pour your love into me, so I can love my enemies. Show me the way forward. Jesus, you forgave even those who killed you. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you changed your default position from hate to love?
Reading: Psalm 133
A song of ascents. Of David.
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore (NIV).
Short, but powerful and evocative—that’s my description of Psalm 133. I might also add, easily read, but difficult to put into practice. Unity among the people of God is that great elusive goal that seems to always disappear around the next bend in the road just as we approach it. But there God has commanded His blessing, if we could only reach that blessed state.
The psalmist uses two metaphors to portray this good and pleasant state of affairs. The first may appear to be rather messy and wasteful. Who wants oil running down their beard and onto their clothing? But in the Old Testament, prophets, priests and kings were anointed in just this way. It symbolized the release of divine authority and power into an individual’s life. The Spirit of God was coming upon them for public service. This concept forms an effective bridge to the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts. When the waiting disciples were of one accord, the Holy Spirit was poured upon them; the anointing came. See Acts 2.
The second metaphor signifies rejuvenation. The dew of the morning is new each day. It refreshes and revives. When our social interactions are positive and enriching, the outcome is spiritual renewal and a deep sense of belonging. Recent studies have shown that social isolation may be a greater risk factor among the elderly than smoking or heart disease. Lack of meaningful interaction with others also has a negative impact on mental health.
The person who continually self-isolates is committing a slow form of suicide, both physically and spiritually. Satan loves the isolated believer—feasts on the mind of the isolated believer.
Simply put, we need each other. We need to be surrounded by loving caring relationships, at home, at work and in the church. On every level, unity of purpose coupled with unselfish love, refreshes and revives the weary soul. We all want God’s blessing. Well, here’s the key to God’s blessing. The LORD commands a blessing when God’s people live together in unity!
Response: Father God, help me sow words of love and unity. Open my eyes to see where I can bring a word of encouragement and affirmation to those around me. Make me an instrument of peace, love and unity today. Amen.
Your Turn: How can you avoid sowing seeds of discord? What can you do today to build unity or break out of self-isolation?
I will praise Him!
I have done what is righteous and just;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
Ensure your servant’s well-being;
do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes fail, looking for your salvation,
looking for your righteous promise.
Deal with your servant according to your love
and teach me your decrees.
I am your servant; give me discernment
that I may understand your statutes.
It is time for you to act, LORD;
your law is being broken.
Because I love your commands
more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right,
I hate every wrong path.
(Psalm 119:121-128, NIV)
I will praise Him!
You are my portion, LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, LORD;
teach me your decrees.
(Psalm 119:57-64, NIV)
I will praise Him!
May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
for I have put my hope in your laws.
I will always obey your law,
forever and ever.
I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.
I will speak of your statutes before kings
and will not be put to shame,
for I delight in your commands
because I love them.
I reach out for your commands, which I love,
that I may meditate on your decrees.
(Psalm 119:41-48, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 103
The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the LORD, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, my soul (NIV).
Have you ever found yourself in a chaotic situation where you immediately ask this question, “Who’s in charge here?” Sometimes I have walked into an unruly classroom where that question is very pertinent. The teacher may be nowhere in sight, or is absorbed with one or two students while bedlam reigns supreme all around. It takes very little to lose control of thirty thirteen-year-olds. Trust me on this point: It takes a wide range of skills to get a class of youngsters motivated, engaged and moving in the same direction.
Today’s reading from the psalms gives us an answer to that age old question, “Who’s in charge here?” The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
So there is your answer. The LORD is in charge here. He’s in charge of everything—the orderly and the controlled, and the seemingly random. Above this world and its mixture of order, routine, bedlam and chaos, the LORD sits enthroned as ruler over all.
Often the LORD is blamed for the bedlam and the chaos, but is that a fair assessment? Yes, He could control everything—every detail, but then there would be no humans on this planet—no free moral agents. To be human is to have the ability to choose both good and evil. If God sovereignly decided that we could only do good, then we would be robotic humanoids—not true humans at all.
Can there be true love, if love is enforced from on high rather than freely chosen? Can there be genuine worship, if this divine privilege is induced by the Creator rather than willingly offered by the created? No, the LORD calls for our worship, but He forces it on no one. Forced love isn’t love at all. The God I serve is not a rapist; He is a true lover.
So I will freely join with all creation to praise Him. I will join the angels, the heavenly hosts and all his works everywhere in his dominion. I will join in praising my Creator and my Redeemer, who was born in a stable and raised high to suffer on a cross, but now His throne is established in heaven and His kingdom rules over all. He is the One I will praise. How about you?
Response: Father God, I appreciate the free will that you have given me. I choose to worship you. You are the lover of my soul. Thank you for all you have done. I owe my life to Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Do we choose God or does He choose us, or are both answers correct?
Reading: Psalm 103
Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed (NIV).
Psalm 103 begins by David calling on his soul to praise the LORD. Many see praise and worship as a purely cathartic response to the manifest goodness of God. Something good happens to us. Unexpectedly, we get a thousand-dollar check in the mail. Quite naturally our response is praise to God.
For many people, praise to God never progresses beyond this natural, cathartic level. If God does not bless, no praise is forthcoming. Our praise for the LORD becomes, or simply remains circumstance dependent. But that was not the case with David. His praise extended beyond simple catharsis. He taught his soul to praise the LORD in all circumstances. True biblical praise and worship is after all a spiritual exercise, a discipline we grow in, just as we grow in the discipline of prayer.
The LORD, the object of our praise, does not change with our circumstances. He is forever the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is constant, hence our praise and worship of him should be constant, unaffected by weather conditions, world events, the gyrations of the stock market, our swings of mood or our personal situation.
Of course this constancy in praise is something the natural man simply rebels against. Our world needs to be right in order for us to praise God aright, or so we reason. The only problem with this logic is that the world has never been right since the Fall. Death, disease, war and misery have been raining down on the children of Adam, since wilful disobedience to God first took root among us. And this is one weather forecast, for all humanity, that is not about to change—not until Christ returns.
If we are waiting for a perfect world before we lift our voice in praise to God, we will never praise Him. In fact, if our eyes are on the world, or on ourselves, there will always be grounds to withhold our praise. But then, the whole purpose of praise and worship is to lift up our eyes. We desperately need to get our eyes off ourselves, off the world, and onto God our Maker.
Response: Father God, I genuinely want to learn to praise you in all situations. You are always good, loving and worthy of praise. Along with David I declare, “Praise the LORD, my soul!” Amen.
Your Turn: Have you learned to praise God even in difficult times?