Monday, August 31, 2009

Jeremiah 24 & 25 - Figs & Parameters

by Katrina

LINKS: Jeremiah 24 & Jeremiah 25

These two chapters are chronologically in reverse order. The events of chapter 25 happened in 605 B.C. at the time of the first deportation, while the events of chapter 24 occurred after the second wave of deportation of 598-597 B.C. In both chapters, following major deportations of the people of Judah, God is giving a message about the future of the people. There are words for those who were taken into exile, as well as for those who remained in the land.

Chapter 24 - Vision of the Figs

Much of Judah had been deported to Babylon, and those remaining thought themselves "special" in God's eyes. With this vision, God corrected their misconceptions.

The Lord showed Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs - one of very good figs and the other of very bad figs. The good figs were the people who were deported to Babylon. God promised to bring them back to the land and restore their relationship to Him. The bad figs were rotten and represented those who stayed in Judah. God would abandon them and send complete destruction. He would not restore a relationship with them.

Chapter 25 - Parameters of the Captivity

There are three distinct parameters God has placed on the captivity of His people.
  1. They would receive repeated warnings over many years before God would send them into captivity. (vs. 1-7).
  2. The captivity would last 70 years. (vs. 8-11).
  3. The captor nation (as well as other nations) would be punished. (vs. 12-38)

A relationship with God is dependent on our hearts. Let's be "good figs" and follow God with a whole heart.

Father, thank You for drawing my heart to You and softening it when it was hard with sin. You have provided me with a relationship with You. There is nothing more valuable! Teach me to serve You with my whole heart. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Psalm 119: 41-88 - God's Word is True

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 119: 41 – 88

I have linked the entire chapter to retain its poetic form.


There is no way for me to touch on everything that is powerful in this psalm. So I’ll focus on what has especially touched me this time.

Over and over the psalmist says that he delights in God’s word. He says that he trusts God’s law, that he loves God’s commandments, that the word gives him life, that God’s statutes are his songs, that he will keep God’s precepts with his whole heart, that God’s law is better to him than much money.

Why does he love God’s word so much?

Over and over again the psalmist points out the “rightness,” “truth,” and “faithfulness” of God’s commands, God’s principles, God’s word. He emphasizes that the word of God gives him understanding, as contrasted with the emptiness of the views of those around him.

v 28-29 – My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.

v 30 – I have chosen the way of truth

v 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way.

vv 42, 43 – … I trust in Your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I have hoped in Your ordinances.

v. 75 – I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right

v 86 - All Your commandments are faithful

(There are more in the rest of the psalm, but we’re not there yet!)

One point of this psalm is that God’s word, His commands, are true. “True” here means that they are grounded in reality, because they are based on the way things really are, and on very nature of God. The LORD commands righteousness because He loves righteousness. His word is good because He is good. The psalmist delights in God’s word because it provides solid reality for living; it gives firm footing. That’s why it’s a light – it shows us the way things really are. That’s why we can cleanse our way if we heed it. That is why the psalmist longs for God’s commands. The psalmist is convinced that God’s word has intrinsic validity because it reflects God, who IS reality.

Sometimes it is hard to do what God says. This psalm recognizes that. But if we come back to the truth of God’s word and where it leads us, I think we’ll be able to say with the psalmist:

v 45 And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.

Keeping God’s principles, loving His word, doesn’t keep us from hardship or affliction. We will, more than likely, experience both internal and external conflicts as believers. Those afflictions are part of God’s way of helping us see the truth of His word.

v 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

v 71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted;
That I may learn Your statutes.

v 75 I know, O LORD, that your judgments are right,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

I subscribe to “Breakpoint” by email and this came to my inbox this week. I think it speaks particularly well to the last part of our reading for today.


We are bombarded by views of life that don’t correspond to God’s Word, by values and perspectives that are not God’s. We are told to seek self-fulfillment, that power and prestige are important, that we should be “free” to do what we want. These are just a few that I’ve thought of as I write.

I hope you will take time to examine what you trust in and believe in the light of God’s Word. Does what you desire conform with God’s reality, with His word?


Father, I thank You that Your word guides us in what is truly real and that we have firm footing when we believe and follow it! Help us to trust You. Help us to examine ourselves and see if we are relying on something other than You.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jeremiah 16 & 17

by Katrina

LINK: Jeremiah 16-17

God forbid Jeremiah to marry and have children, to mourn with the people, and to feast with the people, because the disaster is coming in Jeremiah's time. He will see it. The people will ask why God is going to judge them, and Jeremiah is to answer it's because of their forefathers have turned from God and to idols, they did not keep the law, and Jeremiah's generation was even worse in stubbornness against God. The calamity will be so great that it's end will amaze all the world.

God spoke more on the sins of Judah. Some scholars think that verses 5-11 is a poem that was already written earlier and included here because of its relevance to what God was saying in the first four verses.

Jeremiah spoke to God in verses 12-18. He recognized God's authority and begged to be delivered from the persecution he was suffering.

Verses 19-27 speak of honoring the Sabbath. Scholars aren't sure when this message was given to Judah. It would have been appropriate at any time during Jeremiah's ministry. (Remember the messages in this book are not recorded in chronological order.) The Sabbath was a key part of the Law and a major part of the Covenant. It was a day for the people to remember that God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. (Deut. 5:15).

There is much to reflect upon in these two chapters. Let's look at verses 7-10. I see a parallel contrast between the man who trusts in the Lord (vs 7-8) and the man who trusts his own heart (vs 9-10). Let's reflect on these verses today and examine our own hearts. In whom do we trust?

Lord, help us to learn to trust wholly in You. Our own hearts will lead us astray, but You plant us firmly in the ground where we can grow. You strengthen us for the hard times that come. And You cause us to bear fruit. Teach us not to trust our own hearts but to trust in You. Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jeremiah 15 - Right Relationship

by Katrina

LINK: Jeremiah 15

Chapter 14 ended with Jeremiah trying to intercede for the people. Chapter 15 opens with God's response to Jeremiah (vs. 1-9). Even if Moses and Samuel joined Jeremiah in his pleading, God would still refuse to relent! Judah would face destruction soon.

The conversation continues with Jeremiah's despondent cry, wishing he had never been born and complaining about being rejected by men (vs. 10). God reminds Jeremiah that He has good purposes for the events in Jeremiah's life, and He has things completely under control. But He will turn His wrath on Jeremiah if he doesn't repent of his attitude. Jeremiah was questioning God's ways and God won't tolerate it.

Jeremiah pleas for God to hear him and changes his attitude. He enjoys his relationship with the Lord and is glad for it. Yet he ends his plea with an accusation that God is being fickle (vs. 18).

God concludes the conversation (vs. 19-21) with a rebuke and a promise to Jeremiah. God invites Jeremiah to repent and be His spokesman. And once again, God promises to make him strong and to deliver him from the anger of the people.

When Jeremiah considered his relationship with the Lord, he said, "Your words were found and I ate them. And Your words became for me a joy and a delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts." Let's delight in God's word as well as in our relationship with Him.

Father, thank you for your love for me and your provision for me. You have made me your child. May I continue to learn to trust You as One who always knows what's best for me and will always give me strength to endure. May I cherish You and Your word always. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Psalm 119: 1-40 "The Holy Soul's Soliloquy Before an Open Bible"

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 119: 1-40

(I have linked the entire psalm so that you can read it in poetic form, all together, rather than verse by verse, in prose form.)


We have come to the longest Psalm in the collection, and indeed, the longest chapter in the Bible. Psalm 119 is a poetic meditation on God’s Word. It is composed of 22 stanzas (to correspond to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet), each eight verses long, and in Hebrew every other line of the stanza begins with the letter of the Hebrew alphabet that heads it. (Our translations make every two lines a verse, so that each verse would begin with the Hebrew letter that titles its stanza.) So in the first stanza, Aleph, every other line begins with that Hebrew letter (like our English letter A).

I came across this, by C.S. Lewis:

“As everyone knows, the Psalm specially devoted to the Law is 119, the longest in the whole collection. And everyone has probably noticed that from the literary or technical point of view, it is the most formal and elaborate of them all. The technique consists in taking a series of words which are all, for purposes of this poem, more or less synonyms (word, statutes, commandments, testimonies, etc.), and ringing the changes on them through each of its eight-verse sections – which themselves correspond to the letters of the alphabet. … In other words, this poem is not, and does not pretend to be, a sudden outpouring of the heart like, say, Psalm 18. It is a pattern, a thing done like embroidery, stitch by stitch, through long, quiet, hours for love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely, disciplined craftsmanship.” (C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, 58-59)

C.S. Lewis is not alone in noting the intricacy of the psalm. As I’ve read about Psalm 119 and meditated on it, it has become clear that it was devised in an intricately woven pattern. The form of the psalm fits the subject matter!


Just as the psalm is orderly and complex, so, too, is God’s Word. When I say complex, I don’t mean that it is necessarily hard to understand. What I mean is that it goes deep and has themes woven throughout. That is true of this psalm, too. It is fairly straightforward and easily understood, but the more I read it, the more gold threads I find, the more weaving of ideas.

In reading through the Bible this time, more slowly than I’ve done before, and taking time to meditate on it, I am understanding that God’s Word (His law, His commandments, His principles, His promises, His testimony) is designed as a whole piece. The Word is not a jumbled up, random collection of stories and perspectives of people from various times in Israel’s history – it is an intricately woven fabric with threads that run through it all. Carol, at the beginning of our trek through the Bible, asked us to look for the red thread – Jesus, the promised one – as we read. I have done that, and He is there, over and over again. There are other threads, too: God’s mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His provision, His judgment, and more… so much more. It is beautiful!

Psalm 119 was written by someone who reveled in the beauty of God’s Word. In fact, over and over again, he says that he delights in it, finds joy in it. The psalmist’s “‘delight’ is in those statutes (16); to study them is like finding treasure (14); they affect him like music, are his “songs” (54); they taste like honey (103); they are better than silver and gold (72). As one’s eyes are more and more opened, one sees more and more in them, and it excites wonder (18). This is not priggery nor even scrupulosity; it is the language of a man ravished by a moral beauty. If we cannot at all share his experience, we shall be the losers….” (C.S. Lewis, from Reflections on the Psalms, 59-60)


I hope you will take time to meditate on this psalm.

I read this in Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, which is a study source on the site where we link our Bible readings: “In Matthew Henry's ‘Account of the Life and Death of his father, Philip Henry,’ he says: ‘Once, pressing the study of the Scriptures, he advised us to take a verse of this Psalm [Psalm 119] every morning to meditate upon, and so go over the Psalm twice in the year; and that, saith he, will bring you to be in love with all the rest of the Scriptures.’ He often said, ‘All grace grows as love to the word of God grows.’

I think that’s good advice!

As you read this psalm, notice the ideas threaded through it. What is God’s Word good for? What is it compared to? What does meditation on God’s Word produce in the believer? What is contrasted with God’s Word?

We will be in this wonderful psalm for four weeks. I will keep a list of the ideas I see and focus on them as I write these entries. I hope you’ll add your thoughts!


I thank you, LORD, for this psalm and for how it reflects Your order and complexity, how it is a snapshot of Your entire Word. Please give me a hunger for Your word. Help me to delight in it, as this psalmist did. I want to trust You and obey You. You alone have the Words of life and You have given them to us. Help me to cling to them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jeremiah 8&9 - Boasting in the Right Thing

by Katrina

Jeremiah 8-9

In these chapters, God speaks of the apostasy of the people that justifies their punishment. They have the Law but have refused to obey it. They have rejected God's word. They are greedy. They have no shame for their abominable behavior. So their nation will fall. The people will perish. The land will be unproductive.

Jeremiah expresses his great sorrow for his people. He weeps over their evil lives, their dishonesty, and their refusal to know the Lord.

God describes the destruction of the land (9:10-11), and says that the people will be scattered among the surrounding nations. There will be much mourning. The day of judgment is coming soon.

In yesterday's reading we saw how proud the people were because they had the temple, and how they thought that they were protected from harm because of the temple. But in today's chapters, God made it very clear that destruction was coming along with a great deal of weeping and mourning. The nation as they knew it would be completely destroyed. The final four verses of chapter nine (9:23-26) provide a good summary of what God has been trying to tell them. Let's zoom in on verse 24:

but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord.

We might be proud of ourselves for our status in life, our wealth, our knowledge, our education, our strength, etc., but God says that none of those things are worth boasting about. What is really of value is our relationship with God -- knowing Him. Wow! What an awesome privilege it is to have a real relationship with the living God -- the one who loves us and is always just and righteous! Through Jesus, we are able to have that intimacy with God. Let's thank God today for that relationship!

Father, thank you for making me your child! Thank you for loving me and providing the sacrifice that I needed to take care of my problem with sin so that I could enter into your presence. Thank you for making yourself known to me and for allowing me to have a relationship with you. May I continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of you all the rest of my life! Amen.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jeremiah 7 - Religion vs. Obedience

by Katrina

Jeremiah 7

The people trusted in the temple itself rather than the God of the temple. They thought they were secure because they "worshiped" at the temple, and surely God wouldn't destroy His own temple. Since God had delivered them from Sennacherib's army almost 100 years before (2 Kings 18-19), the people thought that Jerusalem, as the site of the temple, was invincible.

But from God's perspective, they were corrupting the temple. They included other gods in the temple, polluting it. Their sacrifices and religious activities were just that - outward activities. Their actions were not true worship because their hearts were not turned toward Him.

So, God told Jeremiah to tell the people of the coming destruction. And God told him that they would refuse to listen. Jeremiah should not intercede for them, because they are disobedient, and have been disobedient ever since God brought them out of Egypt. God has sent messengers repeatedly, but rather than listening, the people have hardened their hearts toward God.

God clearly hates it when we put religion above obedience to Him. Do you remember when Saul offered a sacrifice to God (1 Samuel 13) and was condemned for disobedience? And the Pharisees were condemned by Jesus for their outward religious acts but sinful hearts (Matthew 23:27-28). God said, "For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you'" (vs. 22-23). Ultimately, what God is after is obedience, just simple obedience.

Obedience is simple, but it isn't always easy! We can get very stubborn, just like Israel and Judah did. And we can justify our disobedience quite well by focusing on our own outward religious behavior rather than the condition of our hearts.

But what God requires is humility and obedience. Let's take some time today to examine ourselves before God. Ask Him to reveal to you any areas of your life where you may be banking on your outward performance and what you give to God, rather than living in humble obedience to Him. Confess your sin to Him, and He will forgive you.

Lord, you do not delight in our sacrifices if our hearts are not pure before you. Sometimes it's easier for us to do the outward actions and pretend that everything's okay. But what you really want from us is humble obedience from the heart. Show me today if there is anything I need to bring to you and confess my disobedience. Cleanse my heart and teach me your ways and obedience to you. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Psalm 118 - Rejoicing TODAY in God's Mercy

by Becky

This is the last of the Psalms of the great Hallel, which the Jews sang at the end of the Passover.

Psalm 118


This was Martin Luther’s favorite psalm!

“This is my Psalm, my chosen Psalm. I love them all; I love all holy Scripture, which is my consolation and my life. But this Psalm is nearest my heart, and I have a peculiar right to call it mine. It has saved me from many a pressing danger, from which nor emperor, nor kings, nor sages, nor saints, could have saved me. It is my friend; dearer to me than all the honours and power of the earth... But it may be objected, that this Psalm is common to all; no one has a right to call it his own. Yes; but Christ is also common to all, and yet Christ is mine. I am not jealous of my property; I would divide it with the whole world... And would to God that all men would claim the Psalm as especially theirs! It would be the most touching quarrel, the most agreeable to God -- a quarrel of union and perfect charity.” Luther. From his Dedication of his Translation of Psalm 118 to the Abbot Frederick of Nuremberg.

Notice the repetition of sentences:

His mercy endures forever! (This phrase begins and ends the psalm.)

They surrounded me.

It is better to trust in the Lord, than ­__________ . (How would you fill in that blank?)

The right hand of the LORD does valiantly!

In the name of the LORD I will destroy them.

There is no question that this psalm foreshadows Jesus!

The LORD is my strength and song,

And He has become my salvation. …

Open to me the gates of righteousness;

I will go through them,

And I will praise the LORD.

This is the gate of the LORD,

Through which the righteous shall enter.

I will praise You,

For You have answered me,

And have become my salvation.

Jesus quoted these verses about Himself in Mark 12:10, 11, and Peter quotes them about Jesus in Acts 4: 10 – 12 and 1 Peter 2:4 - 10:

The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone.

This was the LORD's doing;

It is marvelous in our eyes.


“The praise of God could not be expressed in fewer words than these, ‘For he is good.’ I see not what can be more solemn than this brevity, since goodness is so peculiarly the quality of God, that the Son of God himself when addressed by some one as "Good Master," by one, namely, who beholding his flesh, and comprehending not the fulness of his divine nature, considered him as man only, replied, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.’ And what is this but to say, If you wish to call me good, recognize me as God?” ~ Augustine ~

Jesus is the fulfillment of this psalm, no question!


Reread this psalm and note all that Jesus fulfills and does for us.

What “enemies” do you have? Who is your confidence in? Are you trusting in Jesus’ mercy and goodness and strength?


Father, we see Jesus in this psalm. Our confidence is in You. We praise Your for this day, LORD, in which we can celebrate Your mercy and goodness to us. You have made it and You are in charge of it! We rejoice in it because it is Your gift.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeremiah 2- Rejection

by Katrina

Jeremiah 2

Jeremiah's first message begins in chapter two. He paints a vivid picture of how God has provided for the people, yet they have rejected Him.
  • First he likens them to an unfaithful wife (vs 1-8).
  • Then he shows how they have given up the fountain of living water for broken cisterns (vs 9-13).
  • The next picture is that the people whom God freed from slavery in Egypt are putting themselves in bondage again because of their idolatry (vs. 14-19).
  • In verse 20, he tells them they are stubborn!
  • The next image is of a vine. God planted them as a choice and productive vine, but they have degenerated into something that can't produce fruit (vs. 21).
  • They have defiled themselves and can't get themselves clean. They run wild like an animal in heat and have no hope of salvation (vs 22-25).
  • They were caught like a thief. They turned their backs on God and worshiped idols when life was going well, and called to God to rescue them when they were in trouble (vs 26-28).
  • They have become like children who refuse to listen to their father's correction (vs 29-35).
  • Just as they had looked to Egypt for help and were disappointed, so will they be disappointed by trusting in Assyria (vs 36-37).

God gave Israel all kinds of blessings. Yet, they spurned those blessings and rejected the God who gave them. Now they would suffer the consequences of their actions.

Likewise, God gives us good. We have the choice of whether to enjoy his blessings or reject them and face the consequences of that choice - his continued blessing or his wrath. I think I'll choose God's blessing! He has made me his child, it is my blessing to obey him, receive discipline from him, receive his love, receive his mercy, receive the joy he gives, receive his grace, receive his righteousness, the list goes on and on . . .

Lord, like you provided life for Israel, you have provided spiritual life for me. Thank you for choosing to bless me. May I receive your many blessings with humility and grace, so you can do your work in me. In Jesus's name, amen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jeremiah 1 - Call & Commission

by Katrina

Jeremiah 1

Welcome to the book of Jeremiah!

The prophet Jeremiah was one of God's messengers to the people of Judah -- another messenger that they would refuse to listen to. And when they really disliked his message, they would abuse the prophet. He is known as the "weeping prophet" because he wept for his people. He wrote out his poems of mourning in what we call the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah truly had a heart for God as well as for his people. And seeing the people sin against their God, as well as seeing the coming disaster, broke his heart.

Jeremiah was called by God around the age of 20, during the reign of the good king Josiah, in the year 627 B.C. He continued preaching through the following five kings -- Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, and Gedaliah -- and beyond the fall of Judah to Nebuchadnezzer in 586 B.C. For more than 40 years, Jeremiah faithfully proclaimed God's message to Judah, even in the face of opposition. During Zedekiah's reign, Jeremiah was imprisoned, and in 586 when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, Jeremiah was freed. He was given the choice of going to Babylon or remaining in Jerusalem at that time. He chose Jerusalem. However, he was soon abducted by Jews fleeing to Egypt and taken there to escape Nebuchadnezzar. In Egypt, Jeremiah prophesied a few more years before he died there.

At the time when Jeremiah began preaching, the major power of the world was Assyria (to the east). But God's prophets kept predicting destruction from the north, which would be Babylon. This is one of the reasons people chose not to believe the prophets. Babylon wasn't powerful yet when God predicted that Judah would be overthrown by Babylon. The idea that little Babylon would be a threat to anyone was ludicrous to them. So they laughed at the prophets.

As you read this book, it is helpful to know that these prophesies are not arranged in chronological order. Each prophesy begins with a statement that "the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah" or "thus says the Lord," something along those lines. The historical time is indicated by naming the current king at the time of the prophecy.

With that said, chapters 1-6 did occur at the beginning of Jeremiah's ministry.

Chapter one is the call and commission of Jeremiah for God's service as a prophet. Jeremiah was reluctant, but God demonstrated to Jeremiah who He was and that Jeremiah must go where God sends him and say what God tells him to say.

God gave Jeremiah three promises to prepare him. The first two were in the form of visions
  • vision of the almond tree - In Hebrew the word for "almond tree" and the word for "watch" are very similar to each other. God used this play on words to show Jeremiah that He will always watch over His word and fulfill it.
  • vision of the boiling pot - The boiling water represented the wrath of God about to be released. It was facing away from the north to indicate that God would bring His wrath from the north in the form of Babylon.
  • The third promise was that God would make Jeremiah strong, and even though he would face opposition, he would not be overcome by it. God promised that He Himself would be with him to deliver him.

The Lord called Jeremiah and entrusted him with a message for His people. God put His own words in Jeremiah's mouth and told him what to say. God told Jeremiah that he would face opposition, but He also promised to give His own strength to Jeremiah to overcome that opposition.

This is all very similar to our own commission from God. As believers, we are each entrusted with a message from God to the nations. God has given us His own words. Jesus has all the authority in the world and tells us, based on that, to go make disciples. Jesus warned that we would face opposition just as He did. And Jesus promised to be with us always and to the end.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)
Personally, I know that I need to draw more strength from the Lord and be more bold in proclaiming His message. How about you?

Lord, you have given us the message of reconciliation, not so we can keep it to ourselves, but so we can spread that message around the world. Give us your strength to live in obedience to your command. Thank you for your promise that you will be with us always and forever. We need not be afraid. Teach us to be like Jeremiah, who obeyed you even in the face of opposition, overcoming the fear of man with the fear of the Lord. Thank you for providing this great message of salvation! May we live our lives worthy of this great calling. In the name of Jesus, and only by his shed blood, amen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Psalms 116 & 117 - Live a Love Song to Jesus!

by Becky

These two psalms continue the Hallel, psalms sung at Passover.

LINK: Psalm 116 and Psalm 117

Psalm 116


This psalm can be read and understood in an intensely personal way, but as part of the Hallel, it probably was also understood by the Jews in a corporate way – the deliverance by God of His people from captivity.


Psalm 116 is a love psalm. It begins with an expression of love to God. Why? Because God hears and responds to my need. That is His expression of love.

This psalm is full of metaphors. The psalmist communicates just how close he came to death: he was surrounded by it; it was like he was tied by ropes to death and it pulled him towards it. The psalmist was troubled and helpless. UNTIL… he called God. And God heard and rescued him and gave him a soul at rest.

What is the psalmist’s reponse to this deliverance? What is MY response?

1. A life lived for God, not for self or other people. (“I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.” v. 9)
2. A drink from the cup of salvation offered by the LORD. Three times the psalmist calls on the Name of the LORD! (vv. 4, 13, 17) Both of these actions take humility, a recognition of my own inability to rescue myself. Do I trust God to rescue me?
3. A commitment to do what has been promised. The psalmist does what he said he will do and he does it publicly. (vv. 14, 18 ) That may involve sacrifice and humility on my part..
4. A recognition of servanthood (v. 16) I do not belong to myself. I was bought with a price.
5. An offering of a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God! (v 17) Sometimes thanksgiving is a joyful response and doesn’t feel like a sacrifice and sometimes thanksgiving comes in the midst of difficulties and it feels like a sacrifice to offer thanksgiving to the LORD.

Psalm 117

This short psalm, the shortest chapter in the Bible, invites ALL peoples to praise God. How cool that the Jews sing this at Passover, when the they celebrate God’s delivering them from Egypt. The Passover itself foreshadows the deliverance of all people who believe and trust in Jesus’ death. This psalm recognizes that.

Why praise God? Two BIG reasons:

His lovingkindness

His everlasting truth

Think about it. What would a god be like who who was loving and kind, but not truthful? Or vice versa, a god who spoke truth without loving us? How praiseworthy would a god be who was only true for a certain culture or time?

God coming in the flesh (Jesus), dying, and rising again for those who place their trust in Him satisfies both aspects of God’s nature. Jesus is the expression of God’s lovingkindness and His everlasting truth.

Each word in this short psalm is important. Don’t gloss over it!


What is your response to God’s expression of love? Do you believe Him? True belief and trust result in action.


I love you, Lord, because You heard my heart’s cry and You rescued me. I am Yours. I want to live so that it’s obvious I have been rescued by You. I praise You!

Praise the LORD, all nations; Laud Him, all peoples!
For His lovingkindness is great toward us,
And the truth of the LORD is everlasting.
Praise the LORD!


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Micah 7 - Woe, Wait, Rejoice

by Katrina

Micah 7

Micah cries out with woe about the great sinfulness of the people. He can't find a righteous person anywhere in the land of Judah! But he personally will watch and pray and trust only in the Lord. Although Micah knows that judgment is coming for his people, he also looks to the future when God will restore Israel and fulfill all that He has promised to His chosen people.

The last three verses of Micah (along with the book of Jonah) are read in the synagogue on the Day of Atonement each year. An orthodox Jew goes to a running stream or river and symbolically empties his sins out of his pockets and into the water while reciting these three verses.

While this is a vivid image of casting our sins into the depths of the sea, we know that this is not the means by which God removes our sin. He does it through the blood of Jesus. Because Jesus bore our sins for us and was punished for them, God can pass over our sins.

Reflect on verses 18-20 today. (You might enjoy reading it in several different translations.) Rejoice and praise and worship God for the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus!

There is no other God like You, Lord! You are the only one who has made provision for the forgiveness of sins. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that takes away our sins and makes us Your children. You are a God who delights in unchanging love for Your children. Thank You for Your forgiveness and never-changing love toward me! Because of Jesus, amen.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Micah 6 - Just Do It!

by Katrina

Micah 6

Chapters 6 & 7 contain Micah's third message to Judah.

Chapter six is one of those chapters that gives us a glimpse into God's heart. He sets up a courtroom scene and then says to His people (Katrina's paraphrase), "What have I done to deserve the treatment you give me? I have done good to you and have shown you mercy. I have revealed Myself to you. Yet you ignore Me and disobey Me. Why?"

Judah's response - "How about if we patch things up with a few sacrifices and get on with life?"

But the Lord is not interested in sacrifices that are meaningless ritual. What He really wants them to do is repent from the heart and change their ways as a reflection of that change. God is not impressed with outward actions that we use to attempt to cover our sin.

So the conversation continues with God spelling out for them one more time what their sins are and how they will be judged for them. God sums up this indictment with the statement that they have degenerated to the very low level of Omri and Ahab.

Micah 6:8 is an often quoted verse from this book. "He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

When the people of Judah thought they might appease God by throwing a few sacrifices His way, God made it clear that that's not what He was after. He was after changed hearts. This was not something new that they'd never heard before. God had been saying it for centuries. Humble yourselves and repent!! Then you must treat others with justice and kindness.

Although the concept is simple, humility does not come easily to us as humans. It would be easier if we could appease God with sacrifices and be done with it. But that really is a very shallow approach to God. And God won't settle for shallow sacrifices. He wants our hearts!

Verse eight reminds me of the Nike slogan, "Just do it!" We know what God wants us to do, because He tells us. But we have to humble ourselves and "just do it!" Sometimes God nudges me to do something and I resist. Eventually, I either obey Him or harden my heart toward Him. In the end, I always find out it would have been better to obey in the first place! How about you? Is there anything God has been whispering to your heart for you to do? Just do it!

Thank you, Father, for revealing yourself to us through your word and your Holy Spirit. You invite us to walk humbly with you, and you teach us your ways. Keep our hearts soft toward you to hear your voice and obey you. For your glory, amen.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Psalms 114 & 115 - Who Do You Worship?

by Becky

LINK: Psalm 114


The Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and journey to Canaan is recounted succinctly and powerfully in this psalm. Both the brevity and power spring from the figurative language which gives life to inanimate objects and addresses water and mountains as if they are human. All of this works together to show God’s great power.

This psalm continues the series of the Hallel, psalms that were sung at Passover.


What an amazing poem!

Look at the personification. We see the sea fleeing in defeat, the Jordan River retreating. Both are personified and they are characterized by fear. Fear of whom? Fear of the mighty God who dwells with His people Israel.

The mighty mountains and hills are pictured as rams and lambs who leap and run in joy and alarm in the presence of the LORD.

In verses 5 – 6, the sea, the Jordan river, the mountains and hills are all asked what ails them. They are addressed in the form of an apostrophe – a poetic device in which something that isn’t human is addressed as if it is.

All of these similes and personification bring to life the truth that God rules the natural world – even those parts that are not living – the mountains and bodies of water.

The psalm ends in power. The rocks obey God. He turns what is solid and hard into something soft and flowing.

I should fall down in worship before our God. The One who has the power to move mountains and make rivers retreat and change rock into a fountain surely has the power to change me!

LINK: Psalm 115


This is the third psalm in the Hallel, psalms sung at Passover.


There is so much to meditate on in this psalm. I am only going to focus on three things.

1. Psalm 115 opens with a statement of purpose. It closes with a statement of intent. We exist entirely for God’s glory, not our own. How often do I ask for joint glory? I want God to look good, to receive praise, but while He’s doing that, can’t He help me get some applause, too? So this first verse (and the whole psalm in the light of the first verse) cautions me to look to my motives – for whom to I exist?

2. We become like what we worship. Verses 4 – 8 make it clear that those who trust in idols made by human hands become like them. Their idols don’t see or hear or walk or talk – neither will those who worship them. I think the implication here is that those who worship idols become insensitive to spiritual truths. They lose the ability to “see,” to “hear,” to “smell.” What is obvious becomes hidden. Lest we become too puffed up, because after all we don’t worship statues of gold and silver anymore, people today do worship things made by men. Today people worship comfort, financial security, material goods, entertainment, success. All of those are “made” by men. Psalm 112 points out that God’s people reflect Him in their character. Those who fear Him will be like Him. So I’m asking myself today who I worship. Who do you trust? You will beome like the thing you trust. I would rather become like God – reflect Him.

3. One line is repeated three times in this psalm, “He is their help and shield.” How reassuring! We don’t have a helpless, uncaring, unseeing God. We have one who hears and helps and shields. I am glad I belong to Him!


Who or what do you worship? Meditate on these two psalms. Psalm 114 vividly expresses the power of God. Psalm 115 points out that we exist for God’s glory. It goes on to say that we will become like what we worship. Take some time to reflect on your priorities. Do you live for God’s praise or do you want a share of that praise for yourself?


Every time I read the Psalms, Father, I am reminded of Your greatness and my focus gets realigned. Thank you for that. Help me to live for You – help me not to slide into the slime of wanting a share of the glory that should go to You. I want to worship You and You alone.