I will praise the LORD!
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
(Psalm 50:11-15, NIV)*
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
I will praise the LORD!
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened —
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, LORD,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
(Psalm 40:6-10, NIV)*
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 109
For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me (NIV).
Right now we are a long way from the giving season. I am of course referring to the pre-Christmas shopping binge, when gifts are purchased, wrapped and hidden away for the big celebration. Many rail against this tradition, but in reality the scriptures are filled with admonitions that encourage us to be generous and bless others. Christmas and year-end provide us with wonderful opportunities to do just that. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
If we find no pleasure in giving, we may be suffering from more than a simple case of Scrooge-like stinginess. Soul sucking self-centeredness destroys us from within. It defaces the image of God that is stamped upon us from birth. God our heavenly Father is the picture of generosity. He gave His only Son for us. In light of this sacrifice, there’s something terribly wrong if we can’t spare a dime or a kind word for the less fortunate. Generosity is never out of season.
Today’s reading provides us with a negative contrast to the generosity of God. The individual being described withheld his blessing. He loved to pronounce a curse—may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing—may it be far from him.
How generous am I with words of encouragement, praise and blessing? How generous am I with this world’s goods that have been lavished on me by a gracious Father? Throughout the year, and in the pre-Christmas season, I need to check my heart and my bank account, but above all my heart. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Am I generous with words of praise and thanks for those around me—with the clerk at the shopping mall or the life partner who shares my bed? Am I reflecting or defacing the image of God?
Response: Father God, today I want to be a blessing and pronounce a blessing on those around me. I am thankful for the generosity of your love, forgiveness and grace. It’s more than I deserve. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you too tight fisted or too lavish with your giving?
I will praise Him!
Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, LORD;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD.
(Psalm 116:15-19, NIV)
I will praise Him!
Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
(Psalm 107:17-22, NIV)
Reading: Psalm 49
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).
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 that I can live forever. Then to prove that 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. Will you be an overcomer too?
blessed, blood, body, body and blood, C.S. Lewis, cat and mouse, fear, fearing God, five senses, flesh, God, Green's Creek, Jesus, John Ortberg, Know Doubt, Lion of the tribe of Judah, refuge, sacrifice, taste, the LORD, touch
Reading: Psalm 34
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it (NIV).
What a strange command! David begins this portion of Psalm 34 by urging us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good.”
One can logically argue that of the five senses taste is the most intimate. I can see, hear, and even smell someone at a distance. Touch of course requires direct contact, but to taste someone or something, I must take it or them into my mouth. That’s intimate.
How then do I, “Taste and see that the LORD is good?” If I can’t see, hear, smell or touch the LORD, how can I possibly taste Him? David goes on to state, “Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him [the LORD]. Notice David did not say we are blessed if we take refuge with the LORD. We are to take refuge in Him. That requires a higher level of intimacy—a marital kind of intimacy.
Do I taste and see that the LORD is good? Do I take refuge in Him? Do I actively seek God? John Ortberg in his book Know Doubt tells us that C.S. Lewis said that speaking of man’s search for God always sounded to him like speaking of the mouse’s search for the cat. The mouse hides from the cat because he fears the cat may require his life. We avoid God for the same reason. If you find God, He may ask for your life. Are you willing to give it up to Him?
But Jesus was willing to give his life for you. He willingly suffered, bled and died on a cross so that you might have eternal life. The big cat—the Lion of the Tribe of Judah—lay down his life for the mouse, even a mangy mosacriuse like me. That’s real love. Now Jesus invites us to come and dine. Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:54-56).
Response: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for laying down your life for me. Through the sacrifice of your body and blood I can truly taste and see that the LORD is good. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you seek God or avoid Him? Why?
Reading: Psalm 106
In the camp they grew envious of Moses
and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.
The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
it buried the company of Abiram.
Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.
At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God
for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them,
who had done great things in Egypt,
miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
So he said he would destroy them—
had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
to keep his wrath from destroying them.
Then they despised the pleasant land;
they did not believe his promise.
They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the LORD.
So he swore to them with uplifted hand
that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
make their descendants fall among the nations
and scatter them throughout the lands (NIV).
Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in United States. That day was chosen to honor and remember our fallen soldiers because November 11, 1918 marked the end of the First World War. It is fitting that we remember those who sacrificed their lives in the defense of their country and its way of life. To forget them would be a disgrace to them and to the nation. We owe our liberty to these brave men and women. Lest we forget is the oft repeated motto of this day of solemn remembrance.
Today’s reading from Psalm 106 highlights the importance of a nation’s collective memory. Israel was redeemed and set free from slavery in Egypt by the miracle working power of God, yet in a few short years they forgot, or chose to ignore the LORD who rescued them. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt, miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
There are serious consequences for the nation that forgets, or turns its back on the God who called its people out of darkness. The same is true on a personal level. We need to routinely mind ourselves that Jesus paid the ultimate price to redeem us and make us his very own.
Response: Father God, I thank you for my personal redemption. Lead me in the right path for my life. Guide our nation. May there be a collective turning to you in repentance and faith. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there such a thing as national redemption or salvation, or is it always personal?
The sacrifice that honors me is a thankful heart. Obey me, and I, your God, will show my power to save (Psalm 50:23, CEV).
This week’s I Love the Psalms theme is salvation.
Here’s a rather uncomfortable truth about God. He wants us to obey Him. We want Him to save us from our troubles, but He in turn wants our obedience.
For the independent, I’ll-do-it-my-way crowd, this call for obedience is a real downer. Who wants to follow a Savior who requires obedience?
Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will do as I command (John 14:15).
We prefer salvation without sacrifice. I want Jesus to save me, but I don’t want him telling me what to do. Ah, but this salvation he offers requires sacrifice. It cost Jesus his life. He went to the cross to purchase my salvation. That’s a steep price.
Our joy-filled gratitude and willing obedience are a fitting response.
Response: LORD God, I am thankful for the salvation you purchased for me through Jesus death. Help me today to hear your voice and be obedient to your commands. Amen.
Your Turn: Are the Lord’s commands difficult for you to obey?