2063.) Amos 3

March 29, 2017

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Amos 3 (NIV)

Witnesses Summoned Against Israel

According to the first verse of chapter 1, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah over Judah (792–740 b.c.) and Jeroboam II over Israel (793–753). The main part of his ministry was probably carried out c. 760–750. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights. It was also a time of idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxurious living, immorality, corruption of judicial procedures and oppression of the poor. As a consequence, God would soon bring about the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722–721).

Israel at the time was politically secure and spiritually smug. About 40 years earlier, at the end of his ministry, Elisha had prophesied the resurgence of Israel’s power (2 Kings 13:17-19), and more recently Jonah had prophesied her restoration to a glory not known since the days of Solomon (2 Kings 14:25). The nation felt sure, therefore, that she was in God’s good graces. But prosperity increased Israel’s religious and moral corruption. God’s past punishments for unfaithfulness were forgotten, and his patience was at an end—which he sent Amos to announce.

–NIV Study Bible notes

1Hear this word, people of Israel, the word the LORD has spoken against you—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt:

The central act of redemption in the Old Testament was the Lord bringing the people of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. God frequently refers to himself as the one who rescued them, reminding them of his goodness towards them. Israel’s rejection of the Lord is all the more inexcusable because of God’s wonderful deliverance!

2 “You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins.”

3 Do two walk together
unless they have agreed to do so?

Here Amos asks several questions that have obvious answers — “Is the Pope Catholic?” kind of questions.

4 Does a lion roar in the thicket
when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den
when it has caught nothing?
5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground
when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground
if it has not caught anything?
6 When a trumpet sounds in a city,
do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city,
has not the LORD caused it?

7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared—
who will not fear?
The Sovereign LORD has spoken—
who can but prophesy?

Amos is saying he must prophesy once the Lord has spoken, just as people must feel fear when they hear a lion roar.

9 Proclaim to the fortresses of Ashdod
and to the fortresses of Egypt:
“Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria;
see the great unrest within her
and the oppression among her people.”

10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD,
“who store up in their fortresses
what they have plundered and looted.”

11 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“An enemy will overrun your land,
pull down your strongholds
and plunder your fortresses.”

This was fulfilled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel, less than 30 years after Amos made this prophecy. The bas-relief above shows King Tiglath Pileser II besieging a town.

12 This is what the LORD says:

“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
with only the head of a bed
and a piece of fabric from a couch.”

Exodus 22:10-13 says that if an animal dies in the care of another man – such as a shepherd – that the shepherd must make restitution to the owner of the animal, unless he can bring remains that demonstrate the animal was attacked by a predator. “Amos’ comparison, then, makes the sarcastic point that when invasion strikes Israel’s devastation will be so complete that all that will be rescued is proof of death in the form of scraps of furniture.” (Hubbard)

–David Guzik

13 “Hear this and testify against the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord, the LORD God Almighty.

14 “On the day I punish Israel for her sins,
I will destroy the altars of Bethel;
the horns of the altar will be cut off
and fall to the ground.
15 I will tear down the winter house
along with the summer house;
the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed
and the mansions will be demolished,”
declares the LORD.

After a little more than ten years as a subject state in the Assyrian Empire, Israel was completely conquered by Assyria and the people of Israel were taken from their land and scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire. The Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom disappeared; all their treasure was worthless to save them.

“They do not know how to do right,” the Lord says in verse 10, as they put their trust in their lovely possessions. The Israelites found out the hard way that “things” don’t last. But faith, hope, and love — these remain.

_________________________

Music:

I remember as a child hearing George Beverly Shea sing this song as my family watched Billy Graham Crusades on television. Shea was born in Canada in 1909, son of a Wesleyan Methodist preacher; he died at age 104.  HERE  is “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
sand castle.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/sand-castle1.jpg
duh.   https://rlv.zcache.com/duh_classic_round_sticker-rb178c50db7de49a7adbf51ee841f638b_v9waf_8byvr_324.jpg
roaring lion.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/roaringlion1.jpg
King Tiglath Pileser II.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/02/Tiglath-Pileser_II_-_1889_drawing.jpg/440px-Tiglath-Pileser_II_-_1889_drawing.jpg
map of Assyria.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/assyria-map.jpg

2062.) Amos 2

March 28, 2017

It is our only hope — that the Lord will bring us to face our sins so that we can confess them by name and ask for the forgiveness which we so desperately need and which Christ is so willing to give!

Amos 2 (NIV)

 1 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Moab,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he burned to ashes
the bones of Edom’s king,
2 I will send fire on Moab
that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.
Moab will go down in great tumult
amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet.
3 I will destroy her ruler
and kill all her officials with him,”
says the LORD.

Moab was a southern neighbor to Judah, and the last of the six judgments Amos pronounces against the Gentile nations in this section. God promises judgment against Moab because of their cruelty to Edom and her king.

4 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Judah,
even for four, I will not relent.

Then Amos speaks against the southern Kingdom of Judah from which Israel had separated. The people of the northern Kingdom would have had no grumbles about this, because Judah had also been an enemy against them at times.

–Word of Life

Because they have rejected the law of the LORD
and have not kept his decrees,
because they have been led astray by false gods,
the gods their ancestors followed,
5 I will send fire on Judah
that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”

The people of Judah were given the wonderful gift of God’s word, the Law, the Commandments. When they turned away from the truth of God’s word, it is no surprise that they then embraced the lies of false gods. We do not have to look far to see the same exchange in our own world (our own lives?) today. Lord, sanctify me in your word, your truth.

Judgment on Israel

6This is what the LORD says:
 
“For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not relent.

It is only after all this, and after Amos had grabbed the attention of the people of the northern Kingdom, that he turned to pronouncing God’s judgement against Israel.

We may observe two things in this scenario. The first is how ready people are to see the sins in others, and approve the judgement of such sins, and fail to notice their own sins. To notice sin in others and see that sin punished makes us feel approval, but it is at the expense of being honest before God regarding our own sins.

The second is the wisdom of this approach in bringing Israel’s attention to God’s complaint against them. If Amos had simply gone to Israel and denounced their sin, Israel would have shut their ears and their minds before he even began to speak. By denouncing God’s judgement on the sins of Israel’s enemies first, Amos gained the close attention and approval of Israel to his words, and so gained attention to the words of God to Israel themselves. This shows that it is not wrong to seek to be wise in our approach to witness. We must gain people’s attention, for if we do not then our witness is vain.

–Word of Life

They sell the innocent for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor
as on the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
they drink wine taken as fines.

For Israel, the whole picture is almost overwhelming. Amos pictures a man committing sexual immorality with a temple prostitute — the same girl his son visited the day before — keeping warm with a garment extorted from the poor, toasting his success with wine bought with money dishonestly gained.

–David Guzik

9 “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them,
though they were tall as the cedars
and strong as the oaks.
I destroyed their fruit above
and their roots below.
10 I brought you up out of Egypt
and led you forty years in the wilderness
to give you the land of the Amorites.

11 “I also raised up prophets from among your children
and Nazirites from among your youths.
Is this not true, people of Israel?”
declares the LORD.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.

The vow of a Nazirite was a special vow of dedication unto the Lord, described in Numbers 6 and used to express a special desire to draw close to God and to separate from the comforts and pleasures of this world. Under the Nazirite vow a man would eat or drink nothing from the grape vine, would not cut his hair, and would not go near any dead carcass. Here the Lord condemns Israel because they did not receive this honor with gratitude and humility, but instead rejected and despised the Lord.

13 “Now then, I will crush you
as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
14 The swift will not escape,
the strong will not muster their strength,
and the warrior will not save his life.
15 The archer will not stand his ground,
the fleet-footed soldier will not get away,
and the horseman will not save his life.
16 Even the bravest warriors
will flee naked on that day,”
declares the LORD.

Any time justice is perverted: any time the rich receive preferential treatment, or the poor are oppressed; any time people cheat and manipulate and make money off of others in questionable ways, even if it is legal; any time people unfairly profit at the expense of the unfortunate — God sees from heaven and he promises to set it right.

_________________________

Music:

How easy to read these judgments and think they are meant for others, and forget to see my own sin —  selfishness and unkindness and arrogance and carelessness and on and on. That is why this song from the Oslo Gospel Choir is one of my favorites, because it reminds me of my constant need of the Lord’s grace!  I am “Never gonna lose my way” because “I trust in You.”  HERE.

I was doing fine so long,
thinking I was too strong,
and nothing in this world could shake me.

Everything was black or white,
either wrong or right,
condemning was so very easy.
But I’ve learned my lesson,
I see my my misery
and it’s my confession,
I’m pulling though,  it’s all because of grace I see

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m confident that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

When I used to feel so good,
doing what I should,
convinced that I knew all the answers.

Yes, I simply couldn’t see
it was all a mystery,
how people could be weak and faulty.

But I’m getting wiser,
yes, I see my misery,
and it’s so much nicer,
I’m pulling through,
it’s all because the grace I see.

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m glad to know that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m confident that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

I trust in You!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Be sure your sins . . .   http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5014/5508892182_a3f0e4497f_z.jpg
John 17:17.  http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/john-1717_1995_1280x1024.jpg
sin.    http://deepenyourfaith.in/amdg/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/sin-672×372.png?52a695
Vengeance is mine.   http://i.quoteaddicts.com/media/quotes/84/4155320-vengeance-is-mine-i-will-repay-says-the-lord.jpg

2061.) Amos 1

March 27, 2017

Amos accuses Israel of false religion—“having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). In the midst of the religious rituals, idolatry and social injustice thrived.

Amos 1 (NIV)

Back to the Old Testament narrative!

“Amos was from Tekoa, a small town in Judah about 6 miles south of Bethlehem and 11 miles from Jerusalem. He was not a man of the court like Isaiah, or a member of a priestly family like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He earned his living from the flock and the sycamore-fig grove. Whether he owned the flocks and groves or only worked as a hired hand is not known. His skill with words and the strikingly broad range of his general knowledge of history and the world preclude his being an ignorant peasant. Though his home was in Judah, he was sent to announce God’s judgment on the northern kingdom (Israel). He probably ministered for the most part at Bethel, Israel’s main religious sanctuary, where the upper echelons of the northern kingdom worshiped.

“The book brings his prophecies together in a carefully organized form intended to be read as a unit. It offers few, if any, clues as to the chronological order of his spoken messages—he may have repeated them on many occasions to reach everyone who came to worship. The book is ultimately addressed to all Israel (hence the references to Judah and Jerusalem).”

–NIV Study Bible notes

 1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

2 He said:

“The LORD roars from Zion
and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up,
and the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

What we see in these verses (Amos 1:3 – 2:16) is a progression. Amos commences with prophetic words against the various enemies of Israel. These nations had afflicted Israel over the years, and done many evil things against Israel. They deserved the wrath of God against them, and this would be a thought very much in the minds of the people of the northern kingdom, called Israel. As Israel heard Amos pronouncing judgement on their enemies they would be full of approval, and so give close attention to what Amos was saying, and Amos would go up in their estimation to a marked degree. They hated their enemies who had afflicted them, and so they would be delighted to hear that God was going to judge them severely, and reduce and even remove their ability to do harm to Israel.

–Word of Life

3This is what the LORD says:   

“For three sins of Damascus,
even for four, I will not relent.

“For three sins . . . even for four” does not mean the total number of the sins. It is the “formula” Amos uses to introduce God’s displeasure and coming judgment. The idea is sin upon sin upon sin. 

Because she threshed Gilead
with sledges having iron teeth,
4 I will send fire on the house of Hazael
that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.
5 I will break down the gate of Damascus;
I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven
and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.
The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,”
says the LORD.

Damascus: the Roman Jupiter temple

Damascus, the capitol of Syria, has destroyed the Israelite area of Gilead so completely it is as if the land itself had been threshed.

6 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Gaza,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she took captive whole communities
and sold them to Edom,
7 I will send fire on the walls of Gaza
that will consume her fortresses.
8 I will destroy the king of Ashdod
and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon.
I will turn my hand against Ekron,
till the last of the Philistines are dead,”
says the Sovereign LORD.

pain in Gaza today

“The condemnation here is not against slavery in and of itself, just as the previous oracle was not against war in and of itself. The crime is not that soldiers were enslaved after being taken in battle, which was the standard practice, but that the Philistines used their temporary supremacy to enslave whole populations — soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, young and old — for commercial profit. Gaza did not even need the slaves. She merely sold them to Edom for more money.”

–James Montgomery Boice

9 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Tyre,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom,
disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,
10 I will send fire on the walls of Tyre
that will consume her fortresses.”

ruins of ancient Tyre

God promises to burn the walls of Tyre, a city in Lebanon. City walls were defensive; burned walls indicated defeat.

11 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Edom,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he pursued his brother with a sword
and slaughtered the women of the land,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked,
12 I will send fire on Teman
that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

The people of Edom were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. God condemns the Edomites for their anger against their own brother.

13 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Ammon,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead
in order to extend his borders,
14 I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah
that will consume her fortresses
amid war cries on the day of battle,
amid violent winds on a stormy day.
15 Her king will go into exile,
he and his officials together,”
says the LORD.

Gilead suffered not only at the hands of the Syrians, but also from the Ammonites.

_________________________

Music:

God is a worthy judge.  HERE  is “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”  arranged for brass and played by the Foundation Brass of Bob Jones University.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Amos, by Dore.   http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Amos-Chapter-1-The-Prophet-Amos.jpg
dice.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/6f6c7-1960s-lucky-7-green-dice-showing-number-4-four-and-3-three-symbolic-winner.jpg
Damscus:  Roman temple ruins.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/The_Jupiter_temple_in_Damascus.jpg
Gaza.   http://i3.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article3880905.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Gaza-Strip.jpg
Tyre.    http://bdeb2a7f1a2924562fd9-1032c9ed9eee47cac88a7222b79896b8.r88.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/r/0e952269_ruins-of-ancient-tyre.jpg
Jacob and Esau.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c2/1f/48/c21f48618a5ed7299bff221ba0dce753.jpg
balm in Gilead.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/76/c6/ca/76c6cad8bf21456c2f51ccd4dfd3eda3.jpg

2060.) Proverbs 12

March 24, 2017

Proverbs 12 (The Message)

If You Love Learning

1 If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it—
how shortsighted to refuse correction!

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.

Victor Hugo
French novelist, statesman, human rights activist
(1802 – 1885)

2 A good person basks in the delight of God,
and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.

3 You can’t find firm footing in a swamp,
but life rooted in God stands firm.

4 A hearty wife invigorates her husband,
but a frigid woman is cancer in the bones.

happy couple:  a wife with a good heart and a husband who loves her!

Eve was not taken from Adam’s head, because she was not intended to be his ruler . . . nor from his feet either, because she was not intended to be his slave . . . but from his side, precisely, because she was intended to be his companion.

5 The thinking of principled people makes for justice;
the plots of degenerates corrupt.

6 The words of the wicked kill;
the speech of the upright saves.

7 Wicked people fall to pieces—there’s nothing to them;
the homes of good people hold together.

2 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

8 A person who talks sense is honored;
airheads are held in contempt.

9 Better to be ordinary and work for a living
than act important and starve in the process.

10 Good people are good to their animals;
the “good-hearted” bad people kick and abuse them.

Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth.

–St. Francis

11 The one who stays on the job has food on the table;
the witless chase whims and fancies.

12 What the wicked construct finally falls into ruin,
while the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.

Wise People Take Advice

13 The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.

14 Well-spoken words bring satisfaction;
well-done work has its own reward.

Tulips in a couple of the one thousand acres of Longwood Gardens, PA.

Kind hearts are the garden,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet (1807 – 1882)

15 Fools are headstrong and do what they like;
wise people take advice.

16 Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly;
the prudent quietly shrug off insults.

Choose NOT to be offended. I was taught this some years ago by my friend Ross, and I love the idea that I can make a choice that will benefit me and honor God!

17 Truthful witness by a good person clears the air,
but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit.

18 Rash language cuts and maims,
but there is healing in the words of the wise.

Healing Words

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.
— Henri Nouwen

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.
— Willa Cather

You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
— C.S. Lewis

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
— Philippians 4:8  (KJV)

19 Truth lasts;
lies are here today, gone tomorrow.

20 Evil scheming distorts the schemer;
peace-planning brings joy to the planner.

21 No evil can overwhelm a good person,
but the wicked have their hands full of it.

22 God can’t stomach liars;
he loves the company of those who keep their word.

23 Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge;
talkative fools broadcast their silliness.

24 The diligent find freedom in their work;
the lazy are oppressed by work.

It is possible to fail in many ways. . . while to succeed is possible only in one way.

Aristotle
Greek critic, philosopher, physicist, zoologist
(384-322 BC)

25 Worry weighs us down;
a cheerful word picks us up.

26 A good person survives misfortune,
but a wicked life invites disaster.

27 A lazy life is an empty life,
but “early to rise” gets the job done.

Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin
author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor, diplomat
(1706-1790)

28 Good men and women travel right into life;
sin’s detours take you straight to hell.

_________________________

Music:

The Gandhi quote at the top of the page has really stayed with me, perhaps because I have had a couple deaths in my circle of friends recently: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”

HERE  Tim McGraw sings some of the same thoughts in his “Live Like You Were Dying,” a song which won the County Music Song of the Year for 2004.

_________________________

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
Gandhi quote.   https://chrisdelacruzofficial.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/live-as-if-you-were-to-die-tomorrow-learn-as-if-you-were-to-live-forever-mahatma-gandhi.jpg
school-apple.    http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/apple-school.jpg
dear friends Sonja and Johan Hinderlie.    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_wwHflP16Wm8/SlgCGi-f0OI/AAAAAAAAES8/EOHXusOYupU/s288/100_4460.jpg
St. Francis with the animals.   https://www.avemariapress.com/dynamicmedia/files/6d06008f1b02bbed0179a06cceb475f0/stfrancis.jpg
Longwood Gardens.    http://www.appraisaltrend.com/xSites/Appraisers/AppraisalTrendLLC/Content/UploadedFiles/LongwoodGardens.jpg
Attitude quote.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/e112e-17f9dc4d7329c7e3037d8beb43519eb7.jpg
bouquet of flowers.  http://myfsn-ars.flowershopnetwork.com/images/flowerdatabase/alstromeria-lilies-and-roses-everyday.365.jpg 
Work hard.    http://www.motivationpark.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Work-hard-and-become-a-leader.jpg
Ben Franklin.    http://stevenblair.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/ben-franklin-2.jpg

2059.) Psalm 99

March 23, 2017

Psalm 99   (NRSV)

Praise to God for His Holiness

1The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

2The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.

3Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!

Psalm 138:2 (ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple
   and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
   for you have exalted above all things
   your name and your word.

4Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

5Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!

The fundamental idea behind the Hebrew word qadosh which occurs three times in this psalm (verses 3,5,9) is apart or separate. A place where the Lord once appeared may be called “holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Or a place where God is especially present may be described as a “holy temple” (Psalm 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20). In modern Israel to this day, a place of special significance is called a maqom qadosh or “holy place.”

Thus to say that God is holy is to stress the otherness or separateness of God. Isaiah saw the Lord and heard the angels singing “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). The twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth liked to speak of God as “wholly other.”

Yet, according to the Bible, the Lord has not cut off contact with humans but is active among them. Hosea put it this way, “I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst” (Hosea 11:9). The fourth Gospel speaks the same way, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).

–James Limburg (Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota)

6Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.

7He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.

8O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

9Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

“This psalm rather remarkably draws together the key elements of Israel’s faith tradition. God’s enthronement makes holy presence accessible and makes righteous will more urgent.  Neither emphasis can be minimized without distorting who this ruling one is.”

–Walter Brueggemann

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Holy, Holy” by Tim Hughes.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 99:9.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/85/34/0c/85340cec6adbc923076fae7957308e6f.jpg
O praise His Name.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/LqBpifDpNKc/maxresdefault.jpg
Holy holy holy.   http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/ecards/church-family/holy-is-the-lord-1-550×320.jpg

2058.) Psalm 19

March 22, 2017

19. outer space

Psalm 19   (NRSV)

God’s Glory in Creation

Welcome, Springtime!

“The creation is quite like a spacious and splendid house, provided and filled with the most exquisite and the most abundant furnishings.  Everything in it tells us of God.”

— John Calvin (1509-1564)

1The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Genesis 1:1 (KJV)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

_________________________

19. earth_rotation

“How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory!
How plainly it shows what he has done!”
— Psalm 19:1, Today’s English Version

“At this latitude, I’m spinning 836 miles an hour round the earth’s axis; . . . In orbit around the sun I’m moving 64,800 miles an hour.  The solar system as a whole, like a merry-go-round unhinged, spins, bobs, and blinks at the speed of 43,000 miles an hour along a course set east of Hercules.  Someone has piped, and we are dancing a tarantella until the sweat pours . . . I close my eyes and I see stars, deep stars giving way to deeper stars, deeper stars bowing to deepest stars at the crown of an infinite cone.”

–Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

2Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

3There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

4yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

5which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

6Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hid from its heat.

19. SunMoonStars

a poem by Joseph Addison, published in 1712

The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display;
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand.
=============================
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth:
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll
and spread the truth from pole to pole.
=============================
What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball?
What though no real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found?
In reason’s ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice;
for ever singing as they shine,
“The Hand that made us is divine.”

God’s Glory in the Law

7The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;

8the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;

9the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

Psalm 119:103 (NIV)

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

11Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

12But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.

13Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

Let the meditation of my heart be acceptable.

Some of us need to realize that we possess hurtful patterns of behavior that are deeply seared upon our souls and our psyches. Have you ever been guilty of using a person for your own ends without even knowing it? Have you ever taken advantage of people without realizing you were hurting them? Have you watched while people in powerful positions crushed those underneath them? Have you seen parents manipulate children and vice versa? Many times we act in our own self-interest without being aware that we are doing so.

The psalmist wrote about this long before any psychology class was taught or any theory of counselling was developed. If you begin to let God’s Spirit have his way in your life, you will find that he reveals to you your patterns of behavior and coping mechanisms that are sinful and harmful to other persons. We can pray along with the psalmist, “Lord, there are hidden sins in me that I don’t even know about. What do I do about them?” The psalmist prayed that God would hold him innocent until he became aware of his presumptuous sins and could fix them. He asked God to keep him from these sins committed in ignorance. Then he could sincerely pray the last verse of the psalm:

14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Psalm 19” by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739).  Played on the great organ at St. Bavo Cathedral in Holland by organist Diane Bish.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
outer space.  https://fewox.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/wpid-psalms-19vs1_10241.jpg
earth’s rotation.   http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/images/earth_rotation.jpg
sun, moon, stars.   http://i203.photobucket.com/albums/aa180/Golden3000_photo/Eons%20Uploads/SunMoonStars.jpg
honeycomb.  http://www.englishhoneyonline.co.uk/images/uploads/LittleoverApiaries_honeycomb.JPG
Let the words of my mouth.   https://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/let-the-words-of-my-mouth-and-the-meditation-of-my-heart-be-acceptable-in-your-sight-o-lord-psalm-19-14.png

2057.) Psalm 103

March 21, 2017

Psalm 103  (NIV)

Of David.

There is hardly any place in Scripture that conveys such passion and exuberance for God as Psalm 103!

Psalm 103 is exceedingly regular in its structure and composition; beautiful in its language and conceptions; adapted to all times and ages; suited to express the feelings of gratitude to God for deliverance from trouble, and for the manifestation of his mercy; suited to elevate the soul, and to fill it with cheerful views.

–Albert Barnes

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

God says that He has separated my sins from me as far as the east is from the west.  God gives us a beautiful illustration of his long lasting forgiveness in this verse.  One day I was sitting at my desk contemplating these verses.  I wondered why God said that He had separated our sins from us as far as the east is from the west.  I know that He was careful to choose words that paint a clear picture for us, so I wondered why He chose that direction instead of saying that our separation from sin is as far as the north is from the south.

As I thought about that I realized that I could begin traveling from my office and drive south to the South Pole, then begin driving north till I reached the North Pole, then travel south again to my starting point.  However, I could also travel around the world millions of time going east, reaching my starting point over and over without ever driving in any direction but east.  It hit me like a lightening bolt.  Though there is a South Pole and a North Pole, there is no East Pole and no West Pole. 

There is no place at which east meets west.  And suddenly that verse took on a whole new meaning for me.  If God had chosen the words “north from south” then that would mean that there would be some eventual point at which I would meet up with my sins again.  But by carefully choosing the words “east from west” God was showing me that there will never be a point in the future where I will meet my sins again.

I won’t face my sins again; not in this life and not in the life to come.  After fully realizing that fact through an understanding of this verse, everything began to make sense.  God’s forgiveness is truly forever.  And He cared enough about my sense of security that He painted a picture in His creation that will forever assure me of that fact.

–Tim and Debbie Childers

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Psalm 103:14 — He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.

Job 23:10 — He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Perhaps those words, He knoweth, are meant for you today because God has allowed you some special trial of faith.  The love of God is very brave.  He does not hold trial off lest we should be overwhelmed.  He lets it come and then gloriously strengthens us to meet it.  And at the end, I shall come forth as gold.

15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.


17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children —
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

_________________________

I do believe this is my most favorite hymn!  It is based on Psalm 103.

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation”

Text: Joachim Neander, 1680
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

_________________________

Music:

Matt Redman has another song based on Psalm 103 —  HERE  is “Ten Thousand Reasons.”

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New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
Bless the Lord oh my soul.    http://www.religionquotes.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/psalm-103.png
“He made known his ways”  by Tim Botts.   http://www.eyekons.com/img/Calvin/Tim-Botts_Psalm-103_APD.jpg
east – west.   http://www.hotel-r.net/im/hotel/ba/east-west-24.jpg
“He knoweth our frame”   http://adustyframe.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/frame2.jpg
dandelion seed.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/98/cf/99/98cf9940813240fdafab3997c456d110.jpg
“The Lord has established his throne”   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/psalm103-19.jpg
Praise the Lord.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/praise_the_lord255b1255d.jpg