Monday, January 2, 2017

God is Faithful

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.

-- Lamentations 3:22-24 KJVB

The Book of Lamentations tells of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, which took place over 587 and 586 BC when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar overran the city. The surviving inhabitants either fled to other countries, were carried away to Babylon as slaves or remained under the brutal rule of an occupying force.

Lamentations is a collection of five poems. It does not name its author, but it is generally attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. For many years, Jeremiah had warned the people and their leaders about their unfaithfulness to God. Jeremiah knew that being chosen by God did not translate to a free pass. He knew that actions had consequences. If God's people were not faithful to God's instructions, bad things would happen.

But even when surrounded by death and destruction, Jeremiah still had hope. He knew that even if the people were not faithful in their commitment to God, God would still be faithful in His promises to them.

The third poem, Chapter 3, speaks of hope for God’s people. In verse 22 the writer speaks of God's "loving kindnesses" and "compassion." The first term is the Hebrew word transliterate as checed (pronounced "KHEH-sed"), meaning "favor," "good deed," "kindly," "loving-kindness," "merciful kindness," "mercy," or "pity." The second word, racham ("RAKH-am"), meaning "tender love," "tender mercy" or "pity." Both words tell of God's faithfulness to express His kindness, His love and His mercy toward His people even when they do not deserve it or return it.

Then, in verse 23, the writer observes that God’s love, kindness and mercy are new every morning. The writer uses the Hebrew chadash (“khaw_DAWSH”), which means “fresh” or “a new thing,” and he uses the Hebrew boqer (“BO-ker”), meaning “day,” “early,” “morning,” or “morrow.” Here Jeremiah recognizes that with each new day, God’s love, mercy and kindness are brand new; that God never tires in his faithfulness. God’s captive people were first-hand witnesses to His faithfulness a few decades later, with the overthrow of Babylon by Persia in 538 BC, the return of the people to Judah, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Beyond those events, God’s people would ultimately witness His faithfulness in the coming of His Messiah, Jesus.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Song

O sing unto the LORD a new song; for He hath done marvellous things: His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory.

The LORD hath made known His salvation: His righteousness hath He openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.

He hath remembered His mercy and His truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
-- Psalm 98:1-3 KJVB

This passage is an excerpt of one of the Royal Psalms (Psalms 93 through 99), which God is praised as the King of His people. In this song of praise, “victory” and “salvation” allude to the same thing. The word translated as “victory” in verse one is the Hebrew word transliterated as “yasha” and meaning “to save” or “to deliver.” The word “salvation” in verses two and three are the Hebrew word transliterated as “yeshuah” and meaning “salvation” or “deliverance.” And so the passage is a song of salvation.

For the Christian, the work of God’s redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ is a work of wonder. Consider all of the steps, from before the beginning of time through its consummation, and beyond. It is God’s doing and it is truly marvelous!

Consider, too, the difficulties appointed for and overcome by Jesus, God in human form. Consider His setting aside of power, His service, His discouragement, His suffering, and His death. Let us praise Him for fulfilling the prophecies and promises of the Old Testament. God gave Jesus, His Son, to be not only a Light to the Gentiles, but the glory of His people Israel.

Let us put away our old, vain and petty songs for new songs of joy and thanksgiving. Let our lives celebrate and praise Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Take Ownership

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to Yahweh.
Let us lift up our heart with our hands to God in the heavens.
We have transgressed and have rebelled; you have not pardoned.
You have covered with anger and pursued us; you have killed, you have not pitied.
You have covered yourself with a cloud, so that no prayer can pass through.
You have made us an off-scouring and refuse in the middle of the peoples.
All our enemies have opened their mouth wide against us.
Fear and the pit have come on us, devastation and destruction.
My eye runs down with streams of water, for the destruction of the daughter of my people.
My eye pours down, and doesn’t cease, without any intermission,
Until Yahweh look down, and see from heaven.
— Lamentations 3:40-50 WEB

The Book of Lamentations, thought to be authored by the prophet Jeremiah, is a collection of lamentations on the destruction of Jerusalem and the capture, enslavement and exile of its people. Following these events, many wondered how God could have done these things to His chosen people.
But in this passage, the writer explains that it is not God who is ultimately responsible for these events, but the people themselves. God had given instruction to the people on how to live. But the people and their leadership ignored God. They did not do so all at once, but gradually, a little at a time, to the point where their transgressions did not seem as such to them. But they transgressed none the less.
When the destruction and the enslavement finally came, the people wondered, “How could God do this to us?” But the writer responds, “How could we have done this to ourselves?” The writer calls for self-examination. He calls for the people to take ownership of what has happened to them, to search themselves, and to turn back to God.

As we look to a new year, let us also take ownership of our lives. Let us acknowledge that God loves us and wants the best for us, but we do not always do what is best for ourselves. Let us prayerfully examine and try our ways. Let us ask God to help us recognize the sin, the bad, the things He knows are not the best for us. Let us welcome the pruning process with praise and thanks, knowing that the end will be better than the start. And whatever the outcome, let us remember that God loves us and is with us always.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Prayers for Comfort in Affliction

Psalm 34:18 - Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have crushed spirit. (WEB).

File:Clasped hands.jpg

David's words are still true today. And they are so needed today in light of the many who are afflicted, suffering from storm and from violence.

Dear Father, You taught us in Your Word that You do not willingly afflict or grieve us. Look with pity on the sorrow of these who are suffering. Remember them in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with Your goodness, lift Your face upon them, and give them peace. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Remembering Those Who Have Gone Before

Cloud Shielding The Sun
Cloud Shielding the Sun, by Lynn Greyling

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - But we don’t want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don’t grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we tell you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with God’s trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. So we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (WEB).

Dear Father, we remember our bothers and sisters who have gone on before us. We thank you for giving them to us, to know and to love as companions on our earthly pilgrimage. In Your great love and compassion, console us who mourn for these. Give us faith to see in death the gateway to eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our own course on this earth, until, by Your call, we are reunited with them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Morning Has Broken

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (WEB).

Eleanor Farjeon (1881 - 1965) grew up in the literary and dramatic circles of London, the daughter of novelist Benjamin Farjeon. Eleanor began her professional carrier in her teens on the operatic stage. Later, she had great success in writing and eventually published about 80 works in all. She wrote books for children and books adults, but she especially loved writing for children.

Around 1930, editor Percy Dearmer was preparing a hymn collection and asked Eleanor to contribute a hymn for children. In his request, Dearmer had two specific requirements. First, the song had to give thanks for each new day. Second, the text had to be set to a Scottish tune known as "Bunessan", which had first appeared in print in 1900 and had already been paired with Mary MacDonald's Christmas carol, "Child in the Manger". With these requirements, Eleanor created a lilting hymn that linked the creation stories of Genesis 1 and John 1, and reminded the singer that each new day was a gift from God. The text praised God for the sights and sounds of the new day and compared each dawn to the very first day in the Garden of Eden. The hymn first published in 1931, as part of Dearmer's second edition of Songs of Praise.
Morning has broken
like the first morning,
blackbird has spoken
like the first bird.
Praise for the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for the springing
fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain's new fall
sunlit from heaven,
like the first dewfall
on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
of the wet garden,
sprung in completeness
where his feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
praise every morning,
God's recreation
of the new day!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Psalm 46:1-3 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we won’t be afraid, though the earth changes, though the mountains are shaken into the heart of the seas; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains tremble with their swelling. (WEB)

Martin Luther (1483 - 1546), a German professor of theology, composer, priest, and former monk, came to reject several teachings and practices of the Late Medieval Catholic Church. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. Luther proposed an academic discussion of the power and usefulness of indulgences in his Ninety-Five Theses of 1517, which he posted on the door of Wittenberg's Castle. This act began years of trial and persecution for Luther. His refusal to retract all of his writings, at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521, resulted in Luther's excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor. Luther continually faced threats against his life and his freedom. And Luther knew that other reformers had been persecuted and burned at the stake. But Luther put his trust in God and in Scripture passages such as Psalm 46.

In 1529, Luther wrote his hymn based upon Psalm 46, "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" ("A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"). It has been called the one hymn that most symbolizes the Protestant Reformation. In the hymn, Luther proclaims his confidence in God and rallies all Christians to war against evil. It is said that those persecuted and martyred for their convictions during the Reformation sang these words.

The hymn has been translated from German into nearly every language, and there are said to be over eighty English translations alone. The version most used in the United States is the translation published in 1853 by Frederic Henry Hedge (1805 - 1890). The first line of this hymn is inscribed on Luther's tomb at Wittenberg.

A Might Fortress Is Our God
German text by Martin Luther, 1529.
English translation by Frederic H. Hedge, 1853.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever

Learn more: