435.) Psalms 9 and 10

December 31, 2010

9. psalm9,10 rose

Psalm 9

God’s Power and Justice

1I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

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Let us not be half-hearted in our praise to God!

Luke 1:46-48 (Contemporary English Version)

Mary said:

With all my heart

I praise the Lord,

and I am glad

because of God my Savior.

He cares for me,

his humble servant.

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3When my enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished before you.

4For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

5You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.

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Proverbs 10:7 (New International Version)

The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot.

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6The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins; their cities you have rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.

7But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment.

8He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity.

9. globe-

from the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ . . .
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

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9The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

10And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

To know God’s name(s) is to know who He is and what He does.  Here are three of God’s names:

Jehovah-Ropheka — The Lord our Healer

El-Shaddai — The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People

Jehovah-Jireh — The Lord our Provider

11Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion. Declare his deeds among the peoples.

12For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13Be gracious to me, O Lord. See what I suffer from those who hate me; you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,

14so that I may recount all your praises, and, in the gates of daughter Zion, rejoice in your deliverance.

Years ago, when I was a teacher in Izmir, Turkey, I saw a poster on the door of the US military chaplain’s office which I have never forgotten.  It said:

Let nothing so fill you with sorrow that you forget the joy of Christ risen!

Which is another way of saying, “I will rejoice in your deliverance.”

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15The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.

16The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah

17The wicked shall depart to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.

18For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

9. Hope is the Thing Art

(Read the Emily Dickinson poem in the poster above!)

Proverbs 23:18 (New International Version)

There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.

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Music:

“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” by the Cadet Sisters.

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19Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you.

20Put them in fear, O Lord; let the nations know that they are only human. Selah

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Resources:

9. Shawshank

The Shawshank Redemption is a story that speaks to many of the the themes the Psalmist has brought up in Psalm 9:  the suffering of the innocent, justice, judgment on the wicked, hope for those oppressed, a time of great loss followed by a new future.  Starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins and released in 1994, the movie follows two imprisoned men who learn to trust each other and choose life.  My favorite line — “Fear can hold you prisoner.  Hope can set you free.”

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Psalm 10

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

10. tree v 17-18

1Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

3For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.

4In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Psalm 53:1 (English Standard Version)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

5Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them.

6They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”

7Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.

8They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

"They are hungry lions hiding in the bushes . . ."

"They are hungry lions hiding in the bushes . . ."

9they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.

10They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might.

11They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.

13Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?

14But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan.

"You are the helper of the fatherless" -- children like these from Haiti.

15Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none.

16The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.

17O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear

18to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

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  • You shall not always be forgotten at the mercy-seat; so keep praying.
  • You shall not always be forgotten in the Word; so keep reading.
  • You shall not always be forgotten from the pulpit; so keep hearing.
  • You shall not always be forgotten at the Lord’s Table; so keep receiving.
  • You shall not always be forgotten in your service; so keep serving.
  • You expected to have peace in Jesus; in Him you will have it.
  • You expected to triumph over sin; in Him you will triumph.
  • You expected to get out of trouble; in Him you will be delivered.
  • You expected to grow strong in faith; in Him you will be strengthened.
  • You expected to have spiritual joys and experiences, in Him you will have them.

—David Guzik

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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 9:10.  http://www.james-2.com/Wallpaper1024/psalm9,10_1024.jpg
whole heart.    http://withmywholeheart.net/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/with_my_whole_heart_logo.49180139.JPG
globe.  http://www.geographicguide.com/pictures/maps/globe-africa-countries.jpg
Rejoice in the Lord always.    http://bereanbaskets.com/images/nap_cc669095.jpg
“Hope is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul / and sings the tune without the words / and never stops at all.” — from a poem by Emily Dickinson.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nrgBMsENTIg/SactQQ_vn_I/AAAAAAAABy8/KVmgyxErRZU/s400/Hope+is+the+Thing+Art.jpg
The Shawshank Redemption.  http://image.mcomet.com/iw/1994/0111161/2007_10_26_01_28_32_48437_0_4.jpg
lion.  http://image36.webshots.com/36/6/29/14/291462914stYmsH_fs.jpg
orphans in Haiti.   http://img2.allvoices.com/thumbs/event/609/480/47188704-orphans-haiti.jpg
tree.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2616/3884835950_7f256f455a.jpg

434.) Psalms 7 and 8

December 30, 2010

"Psalm 7"  by Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger (The Museum of Psalms, Jerusalem)

"Psalm 7" by Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger (The Museum of Psalms, Jerusalem)

Psalm 7   (NRSV)

Plea for Help against Persecutors

7-sing-praise

1O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,

2or like a lion they will tear me apart; they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.

3O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,

4if I have repaid my ally with harm or plundered my foe without cause,

5then let the enemy pursue and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. Selah

David is not claiming to be perfect, but that he is innocent of the charges his enemies have made against him.

6Rise up, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.

7Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you, and over it take your seat on high.

8The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.

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Psalm 139:23-24 (New International Version)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

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9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God.

10God is my shield, who saves the upright in heart.

11God is a righteous judge,

"The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is a judge." -- Psalm 50:6

"The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is a judge." -- Psalm 50:6

and a God who has indignation every day.

12If one does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow;

13he has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

14See how they conceive evil, and are pregnant with mischief, and bring forth lies.

15They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into the hole that they have made.

16Their mischief returns upon their own heads, and on their own heads their violence descends.

My mother used to say, “What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own.”

17I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 8

"Psalm 8 -- Man in the Universe"  by Irv David, 2000.

"Psalm 8 -- Man in the Universe" by Irv Davis, 2000.

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

1O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

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1 Timothy 6:15-16 (New International Version)

. . . to the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever.   Amen.

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2Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

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a note to “the enemy and the avenger”:

“Aha! Aha! O adversary! To be overcome by behemoth or leviathan might make thee angry; but to be smitten out of infants’ mouths causes thee to bite the dust in utter dishonor. Thou art sore broken, now that ‘out of the mouth of babes and sucklings’ thou art put to shame.”

—C. H. Spurgeon

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Music:

“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise . . .”  –Psalm 8:2 (NIV)
“The Lord’s Prayer”  sung by two-year-old Zoei Toh. !

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3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

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Science lesson:

Let’s consider, for 2 minutes, the heavens, our amazing universe.

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4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

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1 John 3:1 (New International Version)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

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5Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

8_4-5-crown

6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

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Music:

A peaceful presentation of Psalm 8.

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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:
Berger.  http://www.museumofpsalms.com/pics/database/art/64_main_pic.jpg
I will sing praise.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2126/2087657653_a254ea45c9.jpg
judge and gavel.   http://weblogs.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/gavel.jpg
Davis.    http://z.about.com/d/judaism/1/0/V/4/psalm8_july.gif
crown.  http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Psalm8_4-5.jpg

433.) Psalms 5 and 6

December 29, 2010

5-psalm5-3

Psalm 5   (NRSV)

Trust in God for Deliverance from Enemies

1Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.

2Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

3O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.

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“In the morning”

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.
— Mark 1:35

“I plead my case”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
— Philippians 4:6

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4For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.

5The boastful will not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

6You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

7But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house, I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.

This is David’s confidence — not his own righteousness, but God’s “steadfast love” and mercy.

8Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Geese flying straight, photographed on the South Platte River Valley by Marek Uliasz.

Geese flying straight, photographed on the South Platte River Valley by Marek Uliasz.

9For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction; their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.

10Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

11But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.

12For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favor as with a shield.

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Luther’s shield

When Martin Luther was on his way to face a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church to answer for what they said were his heretical teachings, one of the Cardinal’s servants taunted him saying, “Where will you find shelter if your patron, the Elector of Saxony, should desert you?”  Luther answered, “Under the shelter of heaven.”

Ephesians 6:16   (NRSV)

Take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Titus 3:5 (English Standard Version)

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.

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Music:

“Give Ear Unto My Words, O Lord”  a piano hymn based on Psalm 5, words by Dwight Armstrong.

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Psalm 6

6-verse-9

Prayer for Recovery from Grave Illness

1O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.

2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.

3My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?

4Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.

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“Deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. . .”

Luke 13:10-13 (The Message)

He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.

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5For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?

6I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.

The Lord understands the meaning of our tears, when our words fail.

7My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.

8Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

9The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer.

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“The Lord accepts my prayer”

We are certain that God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him.  And if we know that God listens when we pray, we are sure that our prayers have already been answered.
— 1 John 5: 14-15 (Contemporary English Version)

When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed.  They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
— Matthew 14:35-36 (New Living Translation)

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10All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

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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 5: 3.   http://www.heartlight.org/blogpics/psalm5-3.jpg
Uliasz.   http://photokayaker.fit2paddle.com/C2079147609/E20070225215203/index.html
Psalm 6: 9.   http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps06-09v.jpg
bent over woman.    http://parisparfait.typepad.com/paris_parfait/images/2007/08/31/beggarwoman.jpg

432.) Psalms 3 and 4

December 28, 2010

Psalm 3

Trust in God under Adversity

This is the first Psalm with a title: “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.”  The events are recorded in 2 Samuel 15-18, but, as David Guzik says, “the heart is recorded in this Psalm.”

1O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;

2many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.” Selah

3But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.

4I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.

Sleep is such a blessing.  When we are dead to the world, snoring away — our lungs are breathing, our livers are cleansing, our digestive tract is working, our brain is messaging, our blood is flowing:  it is the Lord sustaining us!

6I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

7Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.

Romans 8:31 (English Standard Version)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

8Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people! Selah

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Music:

“Mighty to Save,”Hillsong.

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Psalm 4

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

1Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

2How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah

3But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

4When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah

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“Do not sin”

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

–James 1:19 (New International Version)

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5Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

6There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”

Numbers 6:24-26 (English Standard Version)

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.

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7You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.

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Reflection:

“The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
–Romans 14:17

What feeds your heart?

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8I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

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“lie down and sleep in peace”

Jesus said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.”

— Matthew 11:28 (Contemporary English Version)

4-baby-sleeping-bw_________________________

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:
trust stone.  http://khushi.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/trust.jpg
Aaron’s benediction.     http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/bible/bible-43.jpg
baby sleeping.  http://www.babyphotospictures.com/thumb/baby-sleeping-black-and-white.jpg

431.) Psalms 1 and 2

December 27, 2010

Psalm 1

The Two Ways

1twopaths

1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

I prefer the more straightforward verbs, “walk, stand, sit,” as in the old King James and the new NIV.

2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

Luther said that he could not live in paradise without the word of God, but he could live well enough in hell with it.

3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

The Scriptures say that God is the source of all truth.  If we turn away from truth, we will end in illusion or delusion because only truth is reality.  When we walk away from truth, we lose reality and are destroyed by delusion.

I was in my sixties before I ever wondered where the word true comes from.  I pulled down my dictionary and found that the word true comes from an old Indo-European word for tree.  I was intrigued by the idea that the word truth comes from the word for tree.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make perfect sense.  Trees do not move.  We can count on them to be there every morning when we wake up.  Truth is the same way.  We can count on it.  It will not deceive us.  It will not give us one face today and another tomorrow.  The best news of all is that Jesus Christ is true.  He is absolutely, totally reliable and faithful.  And when our lives are ordered by Him, we stay in reality, and we walk in truth.

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4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

At least four times in the Book of Acts, Christianity is called the Way.

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Music:

Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” put to music for orchestra and voices by Randall Thompson.

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Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed

2-mt-zion-bw

1Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed,

“The anointed” refers to the ideal future Davidic king, the Messiah.

saying,

3“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

4He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.

Diocletian

Through the centuries many have opposed God and His Kingdom in Jesus Christ. Each one of these opponents shall be frustrated and crushed.

A famous example of an opponent of Christianity was the Roman Emperor Diocletian (A.D. 245-313). He was such a determined enemy of Christians that he persecuted the church mercilessly, and fancied that he had defeated Christianity. He struck a medal with this inscription: “The name of Christianity being extinguished.”

Diocletian also set up two monuments on the frontier of his empire with these inscriptions:

 

–Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin

 

–Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods

Diocletian is dead and gone, a footnote on the pages of history. The fame and glory of Jesus Christ is spread over all the earth. The Lord shall hold them in derision.

—David Guzik

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5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

Zion is often a synonym for Jerusalem.  Zion and the Davidic kingship are often united in the Bible.

7I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.

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Acts 13:26-33 (New Living Translation)

“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us!  The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath.  They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.

“When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead!  And over a period of many days he appeared to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people of Israel.

“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors,  and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus:

‘You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.’”

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8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling

12kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.

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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:
two roads.  http://www.pajohnsonmediation.com/db3/00211/pajohnsonmediation.com/_uimages/Twopaths.gif
weeping willow tree.    http://www.free-picture-graphic.org.uk/images/weeping-willow-tree.jpg
Mount Zion photograph.     http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/564693.jpg
Diocletian.    http://timothyministries.org/images/Diocletian.jpg

430.) Christmas Eve

December 24, 2010

Bethlehem, looking east

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To all of my readers —

I wish you a most blessed Christmas, with the hope that our DWELLING together in the truth of the Word of God is transforming us all, day by day, more and more, into the likeness of this Child.  We rejoice that Christ was born in Bethlehem today to bring us salvation and peace!

With love in Jesus’ Name,

Rebecca Mitchell

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Micah 5:2 (Contemporary English Version)

2Bethlehem Ephrath,

you are one of the smallest towns

in the nation of Judah.

But the LORD will choose

one of your people

to rule the nation–

someone whose family

goes back to ancient times.

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Music:

“Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem,” sung by Shawn McDonald with photos of the present-day town of Bethlehem.  You cannot miss the 25-ft. high, barbed-wire topped Wall of Separation.  Pray today for the people who live in Bethlehem, that they may know peace — “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!”

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Luke 2:1-7

(Contemporary English Version)

The Birth of Jesus

"The Numbering at Bethlehem" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566. (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)

1About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. 2These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. 4So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.

"The Nativity" by Scottish painter William Bell Scott, 1872 (National Galleries of Scotland)

5Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6and while they were there, 7she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.

from “Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
by John Milton

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven’s eternal King,
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring,
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.

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And one last present to make you smile
on this wonderful day —
click here to share “A Digital Story of the Nativity!”

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Next week we will be revisiting Psalms 1 – 10.

And beginning in January, with power and might:
the Acts of the Apostles (and of the Holy Spirit)!

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Images courtesy of:
Bethlehem.    http://christmas.justinreeve.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/k1.JPG
Bruegel.     http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bruegel/bruegel105.html
Scott.    http://www.nationalgalleries.org/index.php/collection/online_az/4:322/results/0/5655/
Mary holding baby Jesus.    http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/MaryWithBaby.jpg
Christmas present.    http://christmasshoppingideas.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/christmas-present-300×300.jpg

429.) Psalm 56

December 23, 2010

Psalm 56:4 — In God I trust; I will not be afraid.

Psalm 56 (Contemporary English Version)

(For the music leader.  To the tune “A Silent Dove in the Distance.”  A special psalm by David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.)

A Prayer of Trust in God

1Have pity, God Most High!

I love that many psalms begin with an imperative, commanding God to do something:  Have mercy on me!

My enemies chase me all day.

2Many of them are pursuing

and attacking me,

3but even when I am afraid,

I keep on trusting you.

4I praise your promises!

I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

5Enemies spend the whole day

finding fault with me;

all they think about

is how to do me harm.

6They attack from ambush,

watching my every step

and hoping to kill me.

7They won’t get away with these crimes, God,

because when you get angry,

you destroy people.

8You have kept record

of my days of wandering.

You have stored my tears

in your bottle

and counted each of them.

Lake Pepin, a narrow 12-mile-long section of the Mississippi River, is bounded by forests and craggy bluffs. When Father Louis Hennepin discovered the lake in 1680, he called it “Lac de Pleurs” (Lake of Tears) after observing some Sioux weeping near the lake over the death of a chief’s son.

I have a friend who is sure she will live next to a lake in heaven, a lake made of the tears she has cried here on earth and the Lord has collected for her!

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9When I pray, LORD God,

my enemies will retreat,

because I know for certain

that you are with me.

Romans 8:31 (New International Version, ©2010)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

10I praise your promises!

11I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

12I will keep my promises

to you, my God,

and bring you gifts.

13You protected me from death

and kept me from stumbling,

so that I would please you

and follow the light

that leads to life.

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Music:

The NIV has the last clause as “that I may walk before God in the light of life.” One definition of marching is “to walk steadily forward in step with others.” Put them together and that seems to be not a bad way to envision the Church!

“Siyahamba” is a South African hymn.  The title means we are walking or we are marching in the Zulu language. Sung here by the Rondo Histriea from Pula, Croatia.

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Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
mountain and verse.    http://www.christianmingler.com/wp-content/uploads/Psalm564a.jpg
bird and “When I am afraid . . . ”   http://www.billpech.com/917psalm563_800300.jpg
tears in a bottle.    http://helpforisrael.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/tears.jpg
Lake Pepin.    http://media.rd.com/rd/images/rdc/books/most-scenic-drives-in-america/central-states-great-river-road-04-ss.jpg
saguaro cactus.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps56-13.jpg