Psalm 48 – How Great Is Our God

Read Psalm 48

The first line of this psalm “Great is the Lord” is striking and it continues, “and how much we should praise him..”  But that thought doesn’t end there in what we should do, it doesn’t even have a comma, but goes right into “in the city of our God, which is on his holy mountain.”  There, on his holy mountain, is that we are to praise him?

Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman comes to mind. (John 4:1-38) You may remember she tells Jesus that her people only worship on the mountain and questions why Jews say Jerusalem is best.  Today’s passage continues and does point toward Jerusalem – Mt. Zion – holy mountain – city of the great King.  But recall Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman, they come full circle, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”  

We can worship God from anywhere and everywhere!  Verse 9 calls us to  meditate on God’s unfailing love.  We should do this 24/7. When I think of what Jesus has done for me, oh the agony, the brutality, and the blindness of people, I am humbled.  Jesus’ victory was all orchestrated for me and for you!  How can we not praise?  How can we not want to give all we have?  How can we continue in selfish pursuits?  Give God the glory!!

So I circle back to the references to Jerusalem, and I don’t know about you, but hose confuse me a bit. We are all aware of the current state of that holy city.  The Book of Revelation speaks of a New Jerusalem where God will live with his people. How tremendous that will be.

Let’s pray.  Lord, I praise you with every inch of me. May you fill me anew this day with your light.  Let me be a beacon and reveal your love to those I encounter. May I act in ways that make it clear I am your follower.  I want the world to see me glowing for You.  This is a dark world in need of a Savior.  Use me to help them find there way.  Let my heart rejoice and praise you continuously.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 47 – Awesome God

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I hope you’re sitting down because this psalm will knock you off your feet with all the praise going on! Verse 2, “for the Lord Most High is awesome” – that’s why we praise.  The word “awesome” is in my vocabulary, and I use it often, but to describe God as awesome feels a little awkward.  I think I (and others) have devalued the word awesome.  For example, I looked in some other translations to see what I’d find, and in place of awesome I found “terrible”, “fearsome”, “to be feared”.  That certainly puts the reference of awesome to a different level.

So how do you describe God?  We can never fully comprehend his “awesomeness”. I look forward to the day when more understanding will be mine  Yet, I don’t want to rush that time.  This passage tries to describe God and all that makes him awesome.  But the big focus is on praise.  I think that is a weakness in  our society — we don’t praise God enough. What does it mean to truly praise God?  Does it look different from person to person?

The first verse invites everyone to come clap their hands and shout to God.  Is that how you praise? Is that what praise should look like?  Have you been involved in a church where clapping and shouting were common?  I didn’t see a lot of that going on until moving to Mexico.  There’s a lot of praising going on here!

But praise shouldn’t just be on Sunday morning, or in the fellowship of other believers, should it? Shouldn’t our lives be lived in praise to our awesome God?  I think I can do a better job of praising God and having enthusiasm for his greatness.  I can’t let circumstances squelch my cheerleader mentality when it comes to my God, my Savior, my Protector. Can you do a better job at praising God in your life?

Let’s pray.  Forgive me, Lord, for taking the quiet side of things, for letting fear of rejection  or persecution squelch my joy and reverence to you. You are mighty and loving and indescribable in power and strength.  You are so worthy to be praised! Thank you for the smile on my face at the thought of you.  Thank you  for the  peace that flows over me when I rest in you.  Help me set aside all my “stuff” and praise and trust You!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 45 – A Love Song

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My Bible study notes indicate that this psalm was written for a historic occasion, possibly the wedding of Solomon, yet also prophecy to Christ and his bride, the church.  Read it through again, with these contexts in mind.  What do you think?  I could see it as a love song to a bride, but I had a harder time seeing it as a reference to Jesus and us, his church.

There are some real nuggets here that do support the latter.  I see it in the following verses, “God himself has blessed you forever” (the church); “You are so glorious, so majestic” (Jesus); “Defending truth, humility and justice” (Jesus); “your throne, O God, endures forever” (both); “you love what is right and hate what is wrong”.

Jesus delights in us, and we need to come joyfully before him.  How do you feel when you imagine Jesus delighting in you?  Do you feel a bit giddy? Do you feel a little guilty and start to think of your behavior, asking yourself, “Am I giving Jesus my best?”  We need to honor Jesus in all we do.

Let’s pray.  Lord it is humbling to know that you adore us.  God of the universe, creator of all, and yet you care for us, love us without abandon. We come to you today on bended knee.  Forgive us when we fall short of your ideal and help us to give you our best at all times.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Psalm 44 – God’s Power

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This psalm clearly has a breaking point between praise and the plea.  I could really resonate with both.  It is so important to focus on the goodness of God, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he has yet to do.  We need to focus on his power, the mighty deeds he has done and the pattern seen in Scripture of how he repeatedly rescues his people.  He doesn’t promise a trouble free life, but he does promise salvation.  Couple that praise and awe with our own humility, we know we can’t do it all on our own, although sometimes we try, don’t we?  We need Jesus and the power of God within us.

While much of this psalm focuses on enemies and foes, strength and victory, we must remember what our own foe is.  It may not be a person, but a situation, a struggle, a temptation.  God’s strength to conquer may come in many forms, and this is a good reminder to trust that it will.  God may use the words of Scripture, the counsel of a godly friend, the beauty of his creation, or perhaps a billboard message!

The psalmist seems to have an awareness of God’s presence but feels deserted just the same.  Has this happened to you, maybe it’s happening right now?  You know inside that God is there, but you feel lonesome and afraid of what is lurking just beyond, or in distress by a separation from loved ones, or unsure of God’s will for your future.  I often ask, “God where are you in this world of chaos?”  The key to hold on to is that God is always with us, and NOTHING can separate us from him.

Do you ever question, “why am I here” or  perhaps struggle with feelings of inadequacy in how you handled a situation or wishing you could be more like so-and-so because they have such an amazing personality, or wish you hadn’t wasted time on that project or want to be more of a philanthropist, or want more free time to do something that will make a difference?  Take a moment to think of your struggle or the thing that is really eating at you right now.

I came across some old writings I had done somewhere along the way, and here’s what I wrote that day…”I’m feeling a bit stuck in a rut and while my rut is very comfortable, there is a nagging inside me that there is more.  I could be doing so much more, and yet there is a weariness overtaking me that seems to be pulling me down.  I feel like my feet are stuck in the mud.” Clearly, I needed to focus on God and his strength.

Let’s pray.  Lord, help me light the spark in my life so I can sparkle with your love on those around me.  Help us to look beyond our struggles and focus on your face, on what you have done for us and for those who have come before us.  Draw us into your glory and wash away all doubt and fear.  May your peace be in us this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 43 – Our Hope

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Hope.  We all need it.  Our hope is in the Lord.  Say that putting emphasis on a different word each time you say it.  Powerful.  I bring this truth to the table from hearing it over and over again in Scripture and praise songs.  “My hope is in you, Lord, in you, it’s in you!”  Here in this passage, the psalmist is feeling overwhelmed by enemy oppression. He looks to God, as should we, as a “safe haven”, a “source of all joy”, “my Savior, my God”.  Did you notice the last few verses of today’s psalm are the same as yesterdays (Psalm 42)?

Action words, such as “defend”, “rescue”, “send light”, “send truth”, “guide”, “lead me” are all over the place in this short psalm.  When trouble comes, we need to rely on and trust the truth, Jesus.  When times are great, we need to rely on and trust Jesus.  The light (God’s word, like a lamp unto my feet) will show us the way.

Do you ever wonder why doesn’t everybody hunger for the light and truth? I think they do but don’t know it.  They have an empty space they are trying to fill with something, so many other things, the wrong things.  I’m sure we are all guilty of this, looking for happiness, fulfillment, peace, hope, all in places that will not satisfy for long.  God made us this way so that we would search for him.  Yet, we often get lost.  We don’t trust the real truth and can fall victim to the darkness and not the light.  Why do we seem to crave darkness when the light is so rich, fulfilling, life-changing, freeing, miraculous and beautiful?

Satan is very crafty and good what he does.  He gets into our heads and fills us with lies.  We are innocent to a point.  God has given us the gift of life, a life to live where choices are ours.  Unfortunately, bad choices happen as we fall prey to Satan.   We must stay strong and true, focused on our Maker and Savior.  We must allow God’s spirit within us to fight the battle and help us prevail over evil for there is where our hope is found.

Enjoy this song from Aaron Shust about hope.  Click here.

How can you shine in your circle of influence today to reveal the truth of Jesus so that others around you, lost in darkness, can see the light?   Ask God to show you these opportunities.

Let’s pray.  Lord, forgive me for my weakness and propensity to seek pleasure apart from your truth and light.  Help me discern these times and send rescue.  Thank you for the hope we have in you, knowing that you are there, ready and able.  Make me a light today to shine with you love. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.