Thursday, February 28, 2013

Psalm 138 - The Lord Regards The Lowly

"The LORD regards the lowly." (Psalm 138:6 NIV) He regards those whose hearts are humble before him.

At our Bible study yesterday, as we were discussing Acts 4, the discussion evolved into the fact that those first disciples were uneducated and ordinary men unlike the men who were interrogating them over healing a blind man. Those questioning Peter and John are stumped. How could they heal this blind man? Realizing that they are uneducated men, they also recognized that they were companions of Jesus.  As much as they hated to admit it, they knew of the power of those who called on the name of Jesus. They knew and they were very much worried about it. Trusting in Jesus rather than one's one abilities or status could upset the whole hierarchy of their systems. Big thing could happen and they might fall with that hierarchy that they were entrenched in if this Jesus movement got any more momentum. 

God, it seems, over history, has leaned toward calling, to serve Him, ordinary men and women.  He calls to those who do not think over-highly of themselves and their own knowledge and abilities. He calls to those who are willing to trust that the LORD will hear their prayers and answer. He calls to those who will not try to usurp the praise that belong to Him.

Let us all give thanks to the LORD, before all the false gods let us sing His praise, for He calls to those who are humble in heart.  He hears our prayers and answers, in Jesus' name!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Psalm 137 - Remembering and Weeping

"By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered..."  (Psalm 137:1 NIV) Having a bit of a hard time focusing this morning on Psalm 137 as I am sitting here, remembering and weeping. So I am taking this psalm out of context.... I am stopping at verse one.

Yesterday, a wonderful friend and brother in Christ died. I am so grateful that we were able to spend our vacations these last two summers with D.J. (Everaldo DeJesus) and his wife Mikki (Megdalia). It had been about 20 years since we'd seen them before we got together again. D.J. and my husband served together in the U.S.M.C. at a couple of bases. I remember so many wonderful evenings wandering the streets of Rota.  D.J. and Howard out front. Mikki and I following behind. For those who have never experienced Marine Corps life, you should know that the Marine Corps is a very small branch of the service and those whom you serve with and their families become your family. Separated from your birth family for years, even decades, the Marine Corps family becomes your own.

Howard and I talked often in the following years about going to Puerto Rico to visit, but it never happened. It was D.J. who finally figured out how to get us together for the vacations the last two summers. We will be flying for Puerto Rico later this week. But, D.J. is not there.  And, so I sit here, remembering and weeping. 

If there is any joy today, it is D.J. who knows that joy. I remember the promise that all who believe in Jesus Christ will not perish, but inherit eternal life in the presence of God, in His glorious Kingdom. In that, there is comfort. For the privilege of knowing D.J., I am grateful. Yet, there is still grief. Life here on earth is so short and we waste so much of the time given to us by God.

May God help us all to learn not to just love, but to live that love, to live life experiencing the love of God and the love of the people He gives to share our lives with.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Psalm 136 - Great Hallel

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1 NIV)

This song is familiar to all who have celebrated the Passover meal as it is one of the psalms sung during the meal. It is known as the Great Hallel. Sound familiar? Sound a bit like Hallulajh! The Great Hallel gives thanks and glorifies God for all that He has done: creating all things, saving the people from bondage, and all the miracles that went with both of those activities. The Great Hallel is a reminder what God had done, is doing, and will do for His children. 

Be assured, His love for you endures forever. Give thanks for He is good and is with you, now and forever, protecting, providing, caring for every aspect of you and your life. Give Him thanks and praise for all that He has done! Hallelujah... we can depend on Him for our lives!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, February 25, 2013

Psalm 135 - Praise Ye The LORD!

Praise ye the LORD!  Going through the psalms - one psalm - one day at a time - has kind of been depressing for me. It has been, so far 135 days remembering how good the LORD is and how very absent He is from so many lives around me.  Not that He wants to be absent.  Unless, we are in some sort of major crisis then many of us simply don't want to hear from Him.  We don't want Him around watching our every move. 'Cause our moves are not so great...

Sadly, to many God is only a judge. He is forgotten as the creator and giver of all things.  He is forgotten as the genuine and only Savior of our souls, of our lives, when we're busy doing what we want to do no matter who it might hurt. He is forgotten on our daily journeys through life, until....  we really mess up and need his power to save us. Sadly, our eyes do not see; our ears do not hear anything, but what we want them to.

Remember, all that He has done for you, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and give thanks.  It seems humankind really has hard time remembering and realizing the fullness of God and that is sad. He is more than a judge. He is more than a Savior. He is more than a creator. He is all these things, but God is way more. He is a sublime example of gestalt.

Praise ye the LORD!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Psalm 134 - By Night

"Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 134 NIV
A short, but wonderful message in the psalm this morning:  "Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD!"  It's short enough to post the whole psalm.

It seems I have been ministering by night lately or maybe God has been ministering to me.  For some reason 2 a.m. (sometimes as late as 3 a.m.) seems to be the time to wake up and start talking to God - talking and listening.  I'm not sure what that is all about, but all I can do is go with it because sleep is far from me. "Praise the LORD!" Praise Him for this quiet time with Him.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Psalm 133 - How Good To Live In Unity

"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!" (Psalm133:1 NIV)
Falls River, Baraga County, MI

Now, that is an understatement! It is great when people can live together in harmony and unity. Try it, you'll like it!

May the LORD, open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to a greater understanding of what living in peace with one another really would be like. If we could see the great pleasures in store for us maybe we would be more inclined to live together, with our neighbors, in peace. Like a river flowing, beautifully, over the rocky places, so would our lives be.

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Psalm 132 - Sing Songs of Joy

We make promises to others from time to time.

David swore an oath to the LORD. He swore to "find a place for the LORD, a swelling for the Mighty One of Jacob." (Psalm 132:4-5) The LORD swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke. (132:11 ) He has chosen David and David's descendants. He has chosen Zion. He has promised to bless her faithful people. (vs 16)
Notice that the LORD will cause Zion's faithful people to ever sing for joy. It is those who trust the LORD who have reason to sing songs of joy. We sing songs of joy because we know that the LORD is with us and for us. We sing songs of joy because we know the LORD.
No matter what you may encounter or where your journey takes you, may you always sing songs of joy unto the LORD in thanksgiving for His presence with you.
God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Psalm 131 - Calmed and Quieted

Calmed and quieted is what so many of us seek. How do we find this? I have a friend who has vowed off anything that will cause her to lose her serenity. Just back away from those things, even people, who repeatedly and purposely cause undo stress.  Wean yourself from those things that cause discontent and seek those things that bring contentment. And... what is it that brings contentment? Rather, I should ask, "Who is it that bring contentment?" It is the LORD and only the LORD who can do this that can grant you peace of heart and mind. Put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore. "(Psalm 131:3 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Psalm 130 - Persistent Prayer

I wait for the LORD, to hear my prayers and answer. There have been a few prayer petitions that I have been praying for forty, even fifty plus years. Like the persistant widow, (Luke 18) I will not let up.  My whole being waits for the LORD to answer. There are times, when the prayers are answered, and then thanks to the human condition, everything goes back to the way it was before.

Psalm 130 reminds us that God does not keep a record of the sins of those whom He forgives. The problem is that we do. Even though God forgives; sometimes, it is impossible for us to forgive ourselves and we carry along the old baggage, doomed to repeat those things that have separated us from God. We are doomed to repeat those very things which we hate about ourselves.

Through faith in the one who died for our sins, we are forgiven. Believe it so that you might move on. Believe it so that you will be one less prayer petition on someone else's tongue! 

I have seen so many prayers for salvation of others answered. They serve the LORD with gladness. I was one of the prayer petitions for an aunt for many years. The LORD heard her and answered, leading me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, guiding me beside still waters (Psalm 23). Thanks be to God for this persistent widow! Like the persistent widow, I will not stop crying out of the depths to the LORD for those who are lost. I may never see, with these eyes, the answer to my prayer. But, with the eyes of faith, I know that it is already done.

The LORD forgives you. He has wiped the record of your sins clean. You are free to reverence and serve Him.  Thanks be to God!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Psalm 129 - Move Foward in Christ! Live Life!

"They have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me." (Psalm 129:2 NIV)

We've all met someone, maybe many someone's, who blame their very poor attitudes toward life, toward others, toward God, on the way they were raised. Granted, our environment effects the way that we live. It effects who we are or whom we present ourselves as. But, it doesn't have to. With the help of God, we can have victory over all those negative things that have entered into and seek to influence our lives; whether they happened 50 years ago or yesterday.

For those who insist on blaming their "hard luck" of today on the parents who raised them decades ago: give it up, please!  Get on with your life. Move toward a better future. Quit blaming others whom you may not have even seen in a few decades and live life today!  And... if you have a counselor or therapist who keeps you dwelling on the past, better find another one. One that will help you focus on living life today and tomorrow and all the other tomorrows. Certainly, you can remember the past. It might teach you what you shouldn't be doing for your sake and for the welfare of others. But, move on. Move forward. As that favorite hymn reminds us: "Onward Christian soldiers." Don't be going backwards. The only way to victory is with Christ, moving forward, not backward to the miry pits you've dwelt in. Christ has the victory over sin, death and the power of the devil. Receive His help. Receive His love. Know that He, not your and anyone else's past, has the victory over all that would keep you from living life to the fullest as a child of God. You have been freed in Christ! You are no longer in bondage to yesterday! Live Life!

"The blessing of the Lord be on you!" (vs 8)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, February 18, 2013

Psalm 128 - Blessings of Work and Family

The blessings of the LORD.... In Psalm 128 the blessings relate to working hard and being prosperous; having a good wife (spouse) and having children.  Good things, all of them. But, they are things we often take for granted.

Today, it seems, a lot of people want to be prosperous without the work that is required to get there. Well, maybe not just today. I'm thinking it's probably part of our human condition. Scripture reminds us that those who don't work won't eat. Paul wrote, "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies." (2 Thess 3:10,11 NIV) Apparently, wanting something for nothing (without working) has been around for a long time.

And, family....  Family is a blessing that sometimes we ignore. In the end what do we have except the love of those around us. Is there anything on this earth that is really more precious than that? Everything else will pass away, but love endures. Genuine love does not pass away. It does not fade into the sunset. It continues on. But, love only received and not returned is a very sad thing. When one person receives and cannot return the love of spouse or children it is a very sad thing for all. How sad it is when love is taken for granted.

How sad it is that our Father, in heaven, would love us so much to give His only begotten Son to die so that we might be reconciled in His love, and not be willing to receive and live in that love. How can one not love one who has died for them? Such a very sad thing... to live without the blessing of the love God has given us through His Son and through the people around us.

May God bless you with fruitful labor and a family and friends that love you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Psalm 127 - Children Raising Parents

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him." (Psalm 127:3 NIV)

For a few of generations now, I have witnessed children being  neglected.  Sure, most, but not all, have adequate food, shelter, clothing, etc.. Most of the children are physically provided for. But, not all of them. This morning, the neglect that I'm thinking of isn't due to lack of caring for physical needs. The neglect that I'm thinking of is when love is withheld. This neglect happens when these precious gifts from God are ignored by their parents. Some are even left to raise their parents because their parents put themselves before all others. They put themselves before God. They put themselves before their children. Sometimes, they have a lot of fun with their children. They horse around and play with them because that makes the parents feel good for the moment and then they are off to do their own thing.

There are some who say that their are many children raising children. Sadly, in many cases it has gone beyond that. The children are raising their parents and they are not equipped. I am not saying that the whole world or all parents are being raised by their children. But, way too many are. It really is up to the parent to raise up a child in the way that they should go. It is not up to the child to take care of the parents needs and desires.

"Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Eph 5:14)

Wake up, as they say, and smell the roses. Your children are a gift from God. Care for them, guide them, teach them, love them as God loves you. Love your children even as they love you.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Psalm 126 - Paradise Restored

Have you ever found something treasured that had been lost?  Have you ever felt like you were in the deepest, darkest valley and suddenly everything changed and you were on a mountaintop dancing in the sunlight and giddy as you breathed the mountain fresh air?

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, that's how they felt. They were filled with joy. They sang and danced for the LORD had done a marvelous thing. They proclaimed it to the world and the world acknowledged this great thing that God had done for His children.

God has done a marvelous thing.  He sent His Son, that all who believe in Him, would not perish, but live eternally in His Kingdom, in His presence! Let us sing and dance for joy.  Let us proclaim the good news that He has restored us to Paradise through His only begotten Son! Thanks be to God!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, February 15, 2013

Psalm 125 - Shaken

Peace be on you... 

I read the news every morning online. Quite a turmoil out there! The news never fails to remind me of how blessed I am to live in Aura. Last night a meteor streaked over the Ural Mountains in Russia. Those mountains were shaken. Over 500 people were reported injured from the event.   It was reported that many thought that the world was coming to an end.

The other evening a local television ended up hacked. Across the bottom of the screen was a runner that warned people that the dead were rising from their graves and attacking people in the local counties. This happened late in the evening.  It appeared to be the same type of warning that we get when there is a snow storm or something else we need to be aware of to keep ourselves safe. Many people got left wondering if the world was coming to an end. Can you imagine being alone, late in the evening, and receiving a warning that zombies are coming to kill you.

But, those who trust in the LORD will not be shaken. Some of this stuff might give us a start when it first happens. We are, after all, human. But, none of us will shake us so that we fall.  Any evil that might befall you, whether natural or man-made, will not destroy you. The world might end. It probably will one day But, all who who are found righteous in Jesus Christ will know peace in the presence of God for all eternity. There is no end. Do not be afraid. God is with.

Trust in the LORD. May His peace be upon you.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Psalm 124 - If The LORD Had Not Been On Our Side

"If the LORD had not been on our side..." (Psalm 124:2 NIV) If, indeed!  Where would we be if He had not saved us?

When we are attacked, the LORD is there. We will not be swept away by the flood of lies and deceit. We will not drown in the deep waters. God led Israel to their freedom from bondage through the sea. He separated the waters so that they could walk firmly on dry land. He leads us from bondage through deep water and turbulent seas. Let us walk on the firm path that He has set before us to freedom in the promised land.

"Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth." (vs 8)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Psalm 123 - Arrogant Ridiculing or Bullying

Arrogant ridiculing... today we would call that bullying.  It happens all the time and it has been happening for all time. But, that doesn't make it right or good.

A few years ago, when my granddaughter was in elementary school, she had a friend who belonged to a Christian sect that believes females should not wear pants. So, her friend wore skirts and dresses to school. For this, her friend, received a lot of ridiculing, a lot of bullying.  Cassie would talk about how horrible everyone bullied her friend at the school. One morning, Cassie put on a dress for school.  She said she was going to wear it and see what  happens when there were two of them wearing dresses. After school, I asked her if anyone reacted to her wearing a dress. She said, "Yes, we were both pushed down into the snowbank."

Cassie's friend has since moved away. Hopefully and prayerfully, she no long has to suffer bullying because of her religious convictions.

Have mercy, O LORD, on those who endure no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Psalm 122 - Peace at the Gate of the LORD's House

"I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”" (Psalm 122:1 NIV)

Let us all go to the house of the LORD to praise His Holy Name. Let us be gathered together as one so that peace may dwell among us and in us.

Our feet are standing in the gates of the Kingdom of God.  It's almost like we have one foot in and one foot out, yet not quite.  There are two kingdom. We are of; we belong to the Kingdom of God that was ushered in at the crucifixion of our LORD. Yet, we live in this world. As heirs of the Kingdom of God, we praise His Holy Name. As sojourners in this world, we pay to Caesar what is Caesar's.

Caesar demands much. God gives. He gaves us His only Son that we might live. He gives love and He gives His peace. He gives us His peace through the Christ and in receiving that peace we are reconciled to Him and to one another.

I remember as a small child going to the house of the LORD to worship with my grandmother whenever I stayed with her. The services was in Finnish so I didn't understand much. What I did understand and what has stuck with me through all these years was, as everyone was leaving they shared the peace of the LORD with the pastor. "God's peace be with you." It did not appear to me to be a mere ritual. They all appeared to really mean it. It made a lasting impression. For those who have attended Worship at Zion Lutheran, Skanee, you've probably noticed that the sharing of the peace is just a little out of hand. Not only are hands extended in peace and reconciliation, there are many holy kisses of peace being shared as well.  There may be "issues" at times between parishioners, but when the peace of the LORD is shared, all walls are torn down and we are made whole. We are one. Following Worship, as was the custom of my childhood, I also share the peace with members as they leave. It's not just have a good day, or good to see you. Those words may be spoken, but as they depart the House of God, it is with these words. "God's peace be with you."

The House of the LORD, the church, is where we gather to worship Him, where we receive the Sacraments, hear His Word, and so many other things.  Maybe we should think of the House of the LORD as larger than a church building. The church is wherever God's people are gathered.

Remember, how, when according to Matthew, the temple curtain was torn in two at Christ's death giving us access to the Holy of Holies. Something else happened as well at the tearing of the curtain. The walls were broken down. The Kingdom of God was ushered in, the Spirit of God poured out into the world, raising even the dead. (Matt 27) The Kingdom of God is indeed at hand.

"Believe me, this world is not the Kingdom of God, but at the same time the Kingdom of God has come. "Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”" (Luke 17:20-21)

Our feet are standing at the gate, may the peace of the LORD be with you all.  Pr. J

Monday, February 11, 2013

Psalm 121 - Where Does My Help Come From?

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121:1 NIV)

I know where my help comes from.  It comes from the LORD? Where are you thinking yours comes from. Is it really helping? Or, are you just all stressed out trusting in those false gods, because you know that they really can't help.

The LORD, God watches over all... Trust Him! He will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life, now and forevermore.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Psalm 120 - Too Much Drama!

Some people just like drama! I don't know why. But, some people just can't seem to live without it. So, when the drama is on the decline they will make things up, usually about other people, just to get the drama going, again. Maybe their lives are so empty that they are trying to fill them up.  It's kind of like they have to have their own personal soap operas going and they are the star. Personally, I have never made a habit of watching soap operas. I don't have the time. I have a pretty full life already and don't need to observe someone's fake life on television daily. There are way better things to focus on in life than this kind of drama.  The outcome of a lot of this drama is that the deceitful tongue that often goes with it hurts others and then it boomerangs and comes back on the one with the deceitful tongue. Everyone gets hurt.

You want a life? Skip the drama. "Live Life" in peace - in the peace of Jesus Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Psalm 120 (NIV)
I call on the Lord in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
What will he do to you,
and what more besides,
you deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom bush.

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am for peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Psalm 119 - Martin Luther and Studying Theology

Wow! I am thinking that if you have read Psalm 119 this morning, as is the plan, that is probably enough for a devotional reading for one morning... Only two chapters after the shortest chapter in the Bible, we have the longest chapter with 176 verses. That is a lot of word to take in and to try to comprehend for one sitting.

As I was going through it, I was imagining using it for one Sunday when Keith (cantor) gets back from vacation. I'm pretty sure that he would tell us that we would have to read it - forget the chanting.

Martin Luther said that he loved Psalm 119 so much, that he would not take the whole world in exchange for one leaf of it. According to Martin, if you wanted to learn how to study theology 119 teaches us three rules to follow when studying the Word. They are prayer (oratio), meditation (meditatio), and testing (tentatio).
This is a blog and to cover chapter 119, it would take way too many of my words for a blog. Martin's are much better than mine. So, if you like to learn how to study theology click on the link: How to Study Theology by Martin Luther

Have a blessed day!

God's Peace - Pr. J

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (vs. 105 KJV, my personal favorite from chapter 119)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Psalm 118 - Two-Edge Sword or Blessed Is He

"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Sound familiar? We hear it every Palm Sunday. This verse is found not only in Psalm 118:26, but Matt 21:9, 23:39, Mark 11:9, Luke 13:35, 19:38, John 12:13 (NIV) as well.
In these passages we hear Jesus reminding the people that they had rejected and had killed God's prophets before him. He tells them that their houses have been left desolate and they will not see him again until they say: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.  The other incident in Jesus' life that these verses refer to is his triumphant entry into Jerusalem for the Passover, riding on a donkey, with all of the people greeting him with joy as they shout these same words: "Blessed is he (the king) who comes in the name of the Lord" We know what happened at the end of the week.... God's chosen one, Jesus Christ, was also put to death. Hung high on a tree, the people He came to save, had Him put to death.
Those who come in the name of the LORD are not always welcomed. The prophets before Jesus were not. Jesus, himself, was not. Do we expect a better reception? The Good News, I must say, is not always welcomed. Those who bring the Word of God are still attacked on all sides. That Word of God, the Good News is like a two edged sword. One edge "penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Heb 4:12) The other edge of the sword is used to heal the nations. The sword, in times when swords were used in battle, could be heated and used to cicatrize the wound. That is what the Word of God does. It can heal the nations or it can scatter the people who cower in fear of the Word. 
If hearing the Word of God makes you feel good about yourself all of the time, you're probably not really hearing the Word. Nobody is that good that we don't need to be reminded now and then that we might be straying from the way. The Word, out of love, also corrects us, confronts us, to change.  It does not just say, don't worry about it, you can deny me, you can attack me. It says, "I am the way and the truth and the life." "Follow me."  So, when we are called to change our direction and follow, sometimes, people reject this Word and the one who brings it. Sometimes, they get down right angry on hearing this call to follow.
I have these words framed in my home office where I read them many times I day. "Comfort the disturbed. Disturb the Comfortable." It was given me a few years ago, by my friend, Jennifer Lynn. It reminds me that the Word which I share with people is a two edged sword. It is their to comfort the people who are in distress, but it is also there to disturb those who are too comfortable in the ways of the world. It will disturb those who have rejected Jesus as the "way, the truth, and the life." 
Verses 22-24 One more verse from Psalm 118 which is also found in the New Testament:
"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." (Psalm 118:22) is also found in the New Testament in Matt 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and 1 Peter 2:7.
In 1 Peter 2:6:8 we hear: "For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for."
Jesus is that cornerstone. He is the precious stone which brings salvation to all who believe. But, all who do not believe will stumble over the stone.
This Psalm 118 is just an awesome psalm. Please read it in it's entirety. But, just in case you don't, here's a few more verses for you.Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, nd I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (118:26-29)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Psalm 117 - Short Psalm

"Praise the Lord, all you nations;
    extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever." (Psalm 117 NIV)

For those of you who are not reading your Bible daily along with these blogs, that is the entire Psalm. To satisfy your desire (or maybe mine) for trivia: Psalm 117 is not only the shortest the Psalm in the Bible, it is also the shortest chapter in the Bible. It goes to show a lot can be conveyed with just a few words.

This Psalm speaks to me words of joy, maybe even the ecstasy, of knowing that God loves us and His faithfulness to us will never end. While the love and faithfulness we desire can be quite fleeting in this world, we can count on the love and faithfulness of God for us to be there always.

Praise the LORD!

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Psalm 116 - Taxes

"I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!" (Psalm 116:1-2 NIV)

I was not facing death, but we have been facing the steady decline of our small business for the past few years. As overhead, things like insurance and taxes, keep going up and up, profits go down and down. My husband has been anxious about it and I have been just a little anxious for him.  The good news is as one's income decreases so do the taxes! (At least the lower tax debts are good for the small business owners even if it's not going to help the U.S. budget much)

I have been up since 1 a.m. and just finished our 2012 income taxes. The good news for my husband when he wakes up this moring - the silver lining in the cloud - is that we don't owe the huge amounts we normally do. What a relief! Of course, we owe. One never gets away from taxes, I suppose. But, God has been merciful.

I do not like tax time one iota. Income taxes are relatively easy to do. It's just so time consuming to I try to find all the documents I need to do them in the first place. It is a troubling time - frustrating - as I try to remember where I filed what.  I use to take a week's vacation time to dig up all of the paperwork. This year, I did not. I'm just getting up earlier to do them.

So, this morning, I see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and I rejoice. The LORD has always seen us through. He has always provided. He has always met our needs. I remember days when husand was a very young U.S. Marine and there were nights when we would have pancakes, no bacon or ham or eggs, just pancakes made with water for supper. I had a budget of $20.00 per month for groceries. It was tight, but we ate. I remember his first W-2. Actually, I have it saved somewhere. It is unbelievable how much he didn't make and we had a son to support on it. It was less than most people get today for 2 weeks work. But, God has always provided for us, no matter how tight things seemed to get. God heard of our needs and answered.

Those early days of our marriage taught me to trust the LORD. They drew me into a closer relationship with Him. I can look back and know that we would not be where we are today, but by the grace of God.

In every need, do not hesitate to call upon the LORD. He hears your voice and answers.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Psalm 115 - Tear Down Those False Gods!

It's been one of those weeks, no months. I was up at 2 a.m. this morning. Tried to go back to sleep, but couldn't, so here I am, thinking and writing.

Anyone remember the name Carrie Nation? She was the hatchet lady from the temperance movement in the 1900's. She went around destroying saloons with a hatchet. Carrie believed that these "false god's" were destroying the country.

Even though she is an intriguing character from America's history, I'm not advocating following Carrie Nation's lead. In all reality she probably was mentally ill. She never attacked people, but she was really luck no one got hurt or even killed.

Anyone remember what Moses did to that golden calf, that Aaron had created for the people, when Moses came down from the mountain after receiving the ten commandments from God?  Yes, he destroyed it. There were a few prophets and kings who did a bit of destruction to the false idols that people built. They believed God's word that these things were leading them away from the good things, the good life, that God wanted them to receive.

My point this morning is that maybe we should consider how it is our false gods are destroying this country. I woke up this morning thinking of all the damage that alcohol, drugs, and gambling have done in the lives of people I care about.  There are other false gods, such as gold and silver, social status, fame, self, etc.. Just about anything in this world, even if it is a good thing, can become a false god, when it begins to be the center of our lives.  Temperance actually means moderation, not abstinance. But, if something cannot be enjoyed in moderation, than abstinance would be a real good idea. Making things our gods is a bad idea and will lead to destruction rather than living an abundant life.  You'd be surprised how pleasant real life, lived in and with Christ, actually is.

I see so much misery around me. When I am called for emergency pastoral care, other than for the sick and dying, it normally has something to do with one of these three false gods: drugs, alcohol, or gambling.  There are times when I am asked to help someone financially because of unemployment or sickness or just a case of stuff happened beyond their control and they need emergency aid. That is one of the things the church (and Christians) on earth does. But,  most of the time the problems are related to one of these three: alcohol, drugs, gambling.

Every now and then, someone will mention how blessed my life seems to be. They can't seem to figure out why that would be. I am not rich, by any stretch of the imagination. I'll tell you my secret, because it is no secret, as the songs goes, what God can do.

I try my utmost to stay away from the false gods that lead to destruction. Sure, I am tempted. But, I stay away. I stay away because I want life. I like the life that God gives me in His presence.

I remember Carrie Nation. She was a zealot, for sure. But, sometimes, as I watch the pain and suffering caused by these false gods, I cannot help but smile as I think of her dedication (maybe mis-directed) to remove the false gods from our lives.

It's up to us, not Carrie Nation, not even Moses, to remove the false gods from our own lives. I say this out of love, not judgment: Tear them down! For your own sake, tear them down! Worship and give praise to the one true God, the only God, who can give you life and life abundant, here in this world and the Kingdom to come.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, February 4, 2013

Psalm 114 - A Rock Has More Sense Than We?

I cannot help but wonder, why humankind does not have enough sense to tremble at the presence of the Lord; the earth did. When Israel came out of Egypt the sea saw and fled, the river Jordan turned back, but humankind has not the foresight to know that God is God. At the hand of God, water can spring forth from a rock, but people, refuse the water. People refuse the Word that can bring eternal life; that brings real and abundant life.
Huron River at Million Dollar Bridge, Arvon Township, MI
Just makes no sense to me that anyone would follow after false gods. But, sadly, there is nothing I can do to change that. Only God can change people. Only God can lead people out of bondage to their false gods. But, He has given you free-will.  Choose ye this day, whom you will serve: the one who keeps you in bondage or the One and only One who can free you.

There is something, though, that I can do, that I am called to do. It is what the LORD calls all of His disciples to do; that is to proclaim the Good News of His Kingdom is open to all people through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  So, no, even if the message offends you, I will not stop proclaiming. Just as you deem it your right to proclaim a false gospel, a path that leads to destruction; I will proclaim the truth of the Kingdom of God. There is only one way to that Kingdom.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one goes to the Father, but by Him. (John 14:5 NIV)

God has shaken the mountains. He has dominion over the sea. He has dominion over all things. If the earth will bow down and worship Him, then why is it so difficult for humankind to see that God is Supereme. Does a rock or a river have more sense than we?

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Psalm 113 - Sunrise To Sunset

"Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised." (Psalm 113:2.3 NIV)

Praise the Lord. At all times and in all places, everyone shall praise the LORD.

Sunrise Aura, MI
I woke up a little late this morning. The sun should rise in about an hour. Many of the people that I know have the same habit as I, wake up early, before the sun rises for devotions and prayer and again around or after the sun sets spending more intentional time in God's presence. 

It does not matter where you are, who you are, or what time it is; He who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look upon the heavens and the earth, is always worthy to be praised. Spend time in His presence, not just to go down the list of prayer petititions, but to thank Him for answering our prayers; thank Him for listening; thank Him even for the sunrise and sunset; praise His Holy Name.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. It is about about hour before sunrise on Sunday morning. You still have time to get ready to join your brothers and sisters in Christ at Worship, praising His Holy Name.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Psalm 112 - Fear Not

"Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LordTheir hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes."   (Psalm 112:6-8 NIV)

I was watching "Batman Begins" last night and wondering what it is that I really fear. I can think of some major fears from years past. But, to tell you the truth, the older I get and the closer to the LORD that I get, those things that make me anxious and even hint at fear are less and less.

Yesterday, I wrote about fearing the LORD. Today, I'm thinking about how in reality "perfect love does cast out all fear."  (1 John 4:18) By trusting in the LORD, our fears are cast aside.

For one thing, trusting God and following in the way of the LORD, keeps us from doing some of those foolish things that will endanger our lives and futures. We know that trusting Him means trusting that His will is for our good, so we strive do His will. It's when we go purposely go off the path that Jesus sets before us that we begin to fear because we know the paths that we create for ourselves lead to destruction and not life. 
Some of the things we fear are really just a waste of time. It's like the devil tricking us, leading us away from focusing on our journey with Christ. Fear just kind of sucks the joy right out of life. Think about it... The last time you were anxious about something were you focusing on serving God or how to save your own skin? Were you joyful, were you at peace?  Or did you feel like throwing up? Don't be letting the evil of the world steal your joy by filling you with fear. Trust in the LORD, follow Him and Him alone, for His will for you is good. He is the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6)

When I was a small child, I use to play in the woods a lot and often alone. I was not afraid and there were a whole lot more wild animals around than there are now. I was not taught to be afraid. But, as I became an adult, I became a bit more anxious about walking in the woods alone. Maybe rightly so, maybe not. The problem was, I really enjoy walking in the woods. I like hiking and very few others that I know like it as much as I do, so my opportunities for hiking were limited. I began taking one of the little Toy Fox Terriors, that we were raising, with me - not for protection - because they certainly could not protect me. (Well, maybe Pudgy could - he was bit aggressive) But, I knew from what my parents had taught me when I was young that the noise they and I made together as we walked through the woods would scare any animals off. The animals, you see, fear us.  Over the years, I overcame my fear of hiking alone in the woods (yes, without a gun) so I can once again enjoy the beauty and peace of this part of God's creation.

I do not believe that we are born with fears. We are taught to fear. We create fear in our hearts when the LORD is not residing there.

Trust in the LORD.  Those who are righteous in Christ have no need to fear. He is with you always. He abides in you and you in He.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. Sorry so late this morning - took some time to sort through old photos... I'm not real good at filing them.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Psalm 111 - Fear and Wisdom

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever." (111:10 NRSV)

Now, we know that we are to love the LORD, our God, with all our heart, our soul, and our strength (Deut 6:5), so what does this mean that we should fear the LORD? Doesn't scripture (1 John 4:18) also say: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."  All of this seems to be a contradiction, does it not?

Think of it in this way. Last week many of our children brought their report cards home from school.  Some of them were afraid to show their parents their grades. They love their parents and their parents love them, yet they were a bit anxious about their parents finding out that while they were in school they were not focusing on the main objective and that would be to receive a good education so that they might have prosperous futures in this world. They had been busy doing their best at something other than what they should have been working on. So they were afraid because they did not want to be exposed. They did not want their parents to know that they had dishonored and disrespected their parents and themselves as well as their teachers and peers, by doing what they ought not and not doing what they ought to. It is not, hopefully not, that they were afraid of their parents. They feared the disapproval of their actions and inactions. They maybe even feared losing their parents love and respect. Maybe, some were just afraid of the consequences; that they might be grounded or have some privileges taken away until they can get back on track and start studying a bit harder. Out of love, parents will give consequences for not going in the way our children should be going. But, in all this, they do not stop loving their children.

There is no fear in love, yet do we not all, in some way, fear not being loved? And, who could love us more than He who was willing to die so that we might live in His loving presence forever?  Over and over again I hear the worries of the people that they may have done something so horrible that God cannot forgive them. How could He possibly love them after all they had done? Like a loving parent, He corrects us, but He never stops loving us. For those who have the wisdom to know that they have not been following in the way of the LORD, our God and Father forgives you all your sins. In this you should trust and have no fear. Do not fear that you cannot be forgiven or loved. He loves you enough to die for you.

Praise the LORD, extol Him with all your heart! Thanks be to God for, in Jesus Christ, His love is made perfect for you!

God's Peace - Pr. J