A Harvest of Joy

Bible:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126 ESV

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. John 20:11-18 ESV

Reflection:

Oliver Twist was an orphan whose mother died shortly after he was born. He lived the first nine years of his life in an orphanage, where he and the other boys didn’t get enough to eat, and then he was transferred to a workhouse where he had to work very hard and also wasn’t given enough food or clothes. Later he ran away to London and fell in with a gang of rough, violent pickpockets. Oliver had some very hard times in his young life, but in the end things turned out well for him. He was adopted by a wealthy and kind family and went to live with them in the countryside.

Oliver Twist is only a story, but the way he came through his troubles is a little like the way the Jewish people came through their troubles to a happy and good future. Their land had been invaded and their capital city and temple destroyed, and they had been taken into exile. After many years of living in a foreign country they were finally allowed to return to their ruined home. When more years had gone by they were able to finish rebuilding their temple. When they had finished their building project, the people were very happy.

Psalm 126 might have been written around this time, or it might have been earlier, when the exiles first came home. It talks about a joy so incredible it felt like a dream, the happiness the people felt when the Lord restored his people and blessed them with good things. God gave them laughter and shouts of joy, and they felt as if their tears had been like seeds planted in the ground, that grew up into a harvest of joy that they carried home with them. They said, “The Lord has done great things for us.”

God brings his people through troubles and hard times and blesses us with joy, but it’s not our going through the hard times that brings us God’s blessings. All of the good things that the Lord gives us are gifts of grace and mercy. Because of our sins, we don’t deserve the good things God gives us, but he sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay for our sins. When Jesus died, it seemed as if all hope was gone, and his followers cried tears of sadness and pain, but on the first Easter morning Jesus came out of the grave and turned their tears into joy. In Jesus, God has done great things for us, and we are glad!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us our Savior, Jesus, who turns our tears of sorrow into joy. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Dickens, Charles Oliver Twist London: Chapman and Hall, 1838.

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By the Waters of Babylon

Bible:

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! Psalm 137:1-6 ESV

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a song about a young man from Nova Scotia who has been called off to war. He is very sad to leave his home, and all his friends, and his aged parents. He thinks about the sweetheart he has to leave behind, and the graves of his three brothers. He says that he has no rest as he is tossed on the dark sea, thinking about his homeland. The chorus of the song is:

Farewell to Nova Scotia, you seabound coast
Let your mountains dark and dreary be
For when I am far away on the brimy ocean tossed
Will you ever heave a sigh or a wish for me?

It can be very sad to be forced to be far away from home and to miss the people and the places you love. The psalm we read talks about the exiles from Jerusalem living in Babylon and weeping for their home. The Babylonians were demanding that they sing a song from their own country, and they didn’t want to, because it would make them feel heartbroken. Instead, they hung up their lyres on the willow trees by the water and cried. They didn’t want to forget Jerusalem or to let themselves be happy in a foreign land. Their temple had been destroyed, and God felt very far away from them.

God’s people felt as if they had lost the Lord when they lost Jerusalem and the temple. They couldn’t see beyond their earthly homeland to the homeland God has prepared for all his people everywhere. Many years before, Abraham had left his homeland to go to the promised land, but in faith he knew that the land the Lord had promised to his descendants was only a picture of the better country in heaven. Abraham saw this country by faith, and through Jesus we share the same faith and the same promise from God. Jesus came to be near his people and to open heaven to everyone in the world who believes in him. He died for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he is with us every day. We know that, even though we are far from our heavenly home now, we will someday live there with our Lord forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us every day and for the promise of our heavenly home. Amen.

Source:

http://www.darachweb.net/SongLyrics/FarewellToNovaScotia.html

For Your Name’s Sake

Bible:

Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
for we are brought very low.
Help us, O God of our salvation,
for the glory of your name;
deliver us, and atone for our sins,
for your name’s sake!
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
be known among the nations before our eyes!

Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
from generation to generation we will recount your praise. Psalm 79:8-13 ESV

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the Lord. Psalm 102:19-22 ESV

Reflection:

The knight Owain was traveling one day when he heard some pitiful moans coming from a cave. He went to the mouth of the cave and called inside to find out who was in trouble, and he heard the voice of a woman inside. She told him that a knight from King Arthur’s court had married the countess of her country, but had left her and gone back to King Arthur. Everyone at court had said that this knight was a bad person who would never come back except for Luned, the woman in prison. She was a serving maid to the countess of that country, and she believed that the knight would return. The people of the court were angry, and they threw Luned into prison, They were going to put her to death if the knight she believed in didn’t come to rescue her. The knight who had gone back to King Arthur’s court was Owain himself. He did battle with all the men of court who were going to put Luned to death. His honor as a knight depended on his rescuing the woman in distress, especially since she had been imprisoned and was going to be put to death because she believed in him.

In this psalm, the psalmist continued to beg for God to help his people after Jerusalem had been destroyed and almost all the people had been taken into exile. He asked God not to remember their sins, but instead to forgive them, and to have pity on the terrible trouble they were having. Some people were groaning in the prison of exile in Babylon, condemned to die there, and this psalm asked the Lord to hear their groans. God’s people didn’t deserve his help, because they had rebelled against him and turned away from his way, but the psalmist asked the Lord to rescue his people for the sake of his name. These were God’s own people, and if he didn’t help and rescue them, other nations would look at them and think that their God wasn’t there, or that he was too weak to help them. This psalm asks for God’s help and forgiveness, not because the people were good, but rather so that the Lord could defend his own honor.

We also were imprisoned by sin and death, and we didn’t deserve for God to come to us and rescue us. We had turned away from the Lord and gone our own way, and he might had left us in our hopeless situation. But God had pity on us and sent Jesus to rescue us. Jesus died on the cross and rose again to defeat sin and death for us. He didn’t only do that to defend his honor by rescuing the people he had made, but he also did it because he loves us. God’s love for us gives us the forgiveness of our sins every day, and makes us his people, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for having pity on us and sending Jesus to rescue us. Please forgive us our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.bartleby.com/182/204.html

Will You be Angry Forever?

Bible:

O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.

How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation. Psalm 79:1-7 ESV

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about King Lear, who once asked his three daughters how much they loved him. He was going to divide his kingdom between his daughters, and he decided to give the largest share to the daughter who told him she loved him the most. His older two daughters were able to give flowery, flattering speeches about how much they loved their father, and that pleased the king very much. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, couldn’t express her love in words, and she struggled to say that to her father. King Lear became very angry with her. He decided not to give her a share of his kingdom at all, and went on for a long time being angry with and not forgiving his youngest daughter.

When God’s judgment fell on Jerusalem, the people knew that he was very angry with them. In this psalm, the psalmist poured out everything that had happened. He told how the temple had been defiled and the city destroyed. He talked about all the people who had died, so many that there was no one to bury them. In his despair he called out to God, “How long?” He wondered if God would be angry with them forever and never forgive their sins. He wondered if they were still God’s people and if God would punish their enemies who had caused them so much pain.

We might sometimes feel the weight of our sins, and know that we deserve God’s anger and punishment, and we worry that God will be angry with us forever. But God sent Jesus to be our Savior, and he took all the punishment for our sins when he died on the cross. Because of what Jesus did, we don’t ever have to worry about God’s anger. He loves us and forgives our sins every day. Because of Jesus, we have a loving Heavenly Father who will always call us his children, until the day he brings us to his heavenly kingdom to live forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the love and forgiveness you’ve given us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Shakespeare, William King Lear

Music for Praise

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! Psalm 150 ESV

Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed. Revelation 15:3b-4 ESV

Reflection:

What kinds of instruments did people play in Bible times? This psalm mentions a number of them. It mentions trumpets, and there were two kinds of trumpets. One was made out of a ram’s horn, and it was used to call people to worship or soldiers to battle. There was also a trumpet made of brass or silver, and this was also used for worship and in battle. The lute usually had about five strings that were strummed, and it was small enough to carry. A harp was bigger and had 10 or 12 strings, and was shaped like a jar or bottle. A tambourine was actually more like a hand drum, and clay figures often show women playing a tambourine. Clay figures also show people playing pipes, which were double-piped flutes with holes to cover to make different notes. Cymbals were made out of copper or bronze, and gave a very loud, ringing sound.

Psalm 150 calls on people to use all kinds of instruments to praise God. Music is a wonderful gift of God for us, and we can use music to worship and praise God. What kinds of instruments do we use today? We use organs and pianos and guitars and drums and flutes and many, many others. God is honored when we give him our best music and use our voices to tell about how great and wonderful he is. God’s angels praise God in the highest heavens, God’s people Israel praised him in his sanctuary, we praise him in our churches, and we can also sing and make music and praise God anywhere.

The most important part about praising God is to know why we praise him. The Bible says we should praise God for his mighty and amazing deeds. God gives us everything we are and have, and even more, when we turned away from him in sin he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. Jesus rose again from the dead and defeated sin and death and all the forces of evil, and this is the most mighty and amazing deed of all. Jesus died for us and for all people everywhere, and people from all nations come to God through Jesus to thank and praise him for everything he has done. Everything that has breath has reason to praise the Lord now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for how wonderful you are and for everything you’ve done for us, and especially for Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

The Lutheran Study Bible St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009, p. 993.

All God’s Creatures

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!

Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 148 ESV

“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever heard the song, “All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir”? It talks about the sounds different animals make–the bullfrog that  croaks, the hippopotamus that moans and groans, and the cow that says, “Moo!” It talks about honey bees and dogs and cats and donkeys and crickets and all kinds of animals. Each animal makes its own kind of sound, and all the sounds fit together just the way they should. It’s a happy song about all the animals God made and how they all have their place in God’s world.

Psalm 148 is like that, but it doesn’t only talk about animals. It talks about everything God made. It starts with the angels, then it talks about the sun, moon, and stars. It talks about clouds and sky and sea creatures and hills and mountains. It talks about fire and hail and snow and mist. It talks about trees and animals, bugs and birds. Then it talks about people, all kinds of people. It especially talks about rulers in the world. They especially need to remember that they belong to God.  People are God’s creations, just like angels and fire and bugs. We are all made by God, and this psalm calls on all of us to praise God. God made us to praise him and to enjoy our place in his creation.

People have a special place in God’s creation. God created us in his image and put us in charge of his world and told us to take care of the world and the animals and plants and fish and bugs. But then we fell into sin, and the whole creation was hurt by our sin. God promised to send a Savior who would bring us back to him again, and that Savior was Jesus. Jesus died and rose again to defeat sin and death and to make us God’s children. All creation is waiting for the day when God will make everything new and good again in a new world where everything will love and praise God the way he intended.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for making us and for sending Jesus to bring us back to you. Help us to praise you now and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://bussongs.com/songs/gods-creatures-place-choir.php

The Lord of Winter

Bible:

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 147:12-20 ESV

God thunders wondrously with his voice;
he does great things that we cannot comprehend.
For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.
He seals up the hand of every man,
that all men whom he made may know it.
Then the beasts go into their lairs,
and remain in their dens.
From its chamber comes the whirlwind,
and cold from the scattering winds.
By the breath of God ice is given,
and the broad waters are frozen fast.
He loads the thick cloud with moisture;
the clouds scatter his lightning.
They turn around and around by his guidance,
to accomplish all that he commands them
on the face of the habitable world.
Whether for correction or for his land
or for love, he causes it to happen. Job 37:5-13 ESV

Reflection:

Winter is the coldest season of the year. In some parts of the world winter brings snow and ice and storms. There are fewer hours of daylight and the darkness of night is long. Winter happens because the earth is tipped on its axis. The part of the world that is tipped away from the sun has winter, and the other part has summer at the same time. So, in Australia people have winter in July, and summer in January! During the winter, some animals like bears, ground squirrels, and hedgehogs hibernate. Their body temperatures drop and they sleep soundly. Plants stop growing and also sleep. Bulbs rest underground, trees have lost their leaves, and even evergreen trees rest from growing.

Psalm 147 talks about winter being under God’s control. He works even in times of cold and darkness and death. He gives the harvest so that people have food to eat during the winter. We can see God’s power and majesty in the ice and the storms and the wind. We see beauty in the snow and the ice crystals. Plants and animals rest and sleep during the winter, but God is still active and at work.

This psalm also talks about how God gave his law to his people Israel. They were blessed more than any other people to know his law. God sent his law into the darkness and death that sin had brought to the world. The law showed the people how to walk with God, but it also showed how they had turned away and had not followed his law. God’s word promised a Savior to the people of Israel and to the whole world. Jesus came into our world of death and sin and gave his life for us on the cross. Because of Jesus, we now live in the light and warmth of God’s love and forgiveness. We can know the love of God in the dark times of our lives, and be sure that we will live in his heavenly kingdom of light forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being our God even in the times of darkness and death, and for sending Jesus to give us new life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

God Knows and Cares

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love. Psalm 147:1-11 ESV

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

Reflection:

How many stars are there in the universe? Astronomers can only tell us about the universe that we can see, and we don’t know how many stars might be beyond what we’re able to find with our telescopes. But a good guess might be that there are one thousand billion billion stars in the universe. That’s a lot of stars! We couldn’t possibly count them all, but God knows exactly how many stars there are. He even has a name for each one. We have names for some of the stars we can see, such as Sirius and Regulus and Procyon. We mostly name groups of stars, like the Big Dipper or Orion the Hunter. But God knows each individual star by name. That’s pretty amazing!

Psalm 147 talks about God knowing and caring for all of his creation. It says that he numbers and names the stars, covers the sky with clouds and brings the rain to earth, makes grass grow on the hills, and makes sure the animals have food. He cares especially for his human creation. He brings outcasts back home and heals people with broken hearts. Jesus says that our Heavenly Father knows when a sparrow falls down dead, and that God cares for us even more. He knows everything about us, even how many hairs are on our head! The Lord isn’t impressed by people who are strong and powerful, but he is ready to help people who respect and honor him instead of themselves.

God’s power is amazing and his loving care is more than we could ever hope to understand. When we were outcast from God’s presence because of our sin, he didn’t leave us alone. He sent Jesus to save us and bring us back to him. Jesus died for us so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be God’s people. Because of Jesus we have God’s love and care through all our life, and a heavenly home with him after our life on earth is over.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the loving care you give your whole creation, and for the love you show us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://helios.gsfc.nasa.gov/qa_star.html#howmany

Who You Can Trust

Bible:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord! Psalm 146 ESV

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Many seek the face of a ruler,
but it is from the Lord that a man gets justice. Proverbs 29:25-26 ESV

Reflection:

In 1961 John F. Kennedy became the President of the United States. He was young and handsome and very popular. It was a time of hope and optimism for the United States, and many exciting things were happening. The economy was expanding and doing very well, so that many Americans felt comfortable and rich and there were plans to help the people who were poor. The civil rights movement gave hope that black people would have the rights they deserved in society, and some new laws were passed to protect these rights. The Peace Corps was started and gave young people a chance to help and serve in developing nations in the world. There was even talk of sending a man to the moon! But two years later a terrible thing happened. President Kennedy was shot to death while he was riding in a parade. He couldn’t do anything more for the American people, and anyone who had hoped for the great things he would do had to put their hopes somewhere else.

Psalm 146 warns us not to put our trust in the rulers of the world. Some rulers are blessings from God and do good things, but they are human beings. They make mistakes, and they won’t live forever. Their hopes and plans often die with them. Some rulers do bad things, and people might suffer because of what they do. People worry and are afraid of having a bad ruler. But this psalm reminds us that God is in control. It is foolish and wrong to trust a ruler to make everything right, or to be afraid that any ruler will make life too terrible to handle. It’s the Lord who brings justice and feeds hungry people, who watches over the poor and helps the prisoners. The Lord is the king of the world, and he watches over and takes care of his people no matter what.

God often does good things through the governments of the world, but there’s one thing no government and no ruler could ever do. No ruler is good enough or powerful enough to save people from their sins. Only God can do that. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior. The rulers of Jesus’ time put Jesus on the cross even though he wasn’t guilty of any crime. But God was working through this terrible injustice. Jesus died on the cross, but his plan to save us didn’t die with him. His death paid the penalty for our sins, and he rose again and conquered death for good. Jesus gives us salvation and peace with God, something no ruler in this world could ever give.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior and our wonderful king. Amen.

Source:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/johnfkennedy

Helping the Helpless

Bible:

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.
The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:10-21 ESV

For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy. Psalm 72:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

In the middle ages in Europe, knights were expected to live up to a code of chivalry. To be a true knight meant more than just being powerful and winning battles and killing enemies. Chivalry included protecting the weak and defenseless, helping widows and orphans, and respecting women. Knights who helped and protected people that needed their help were considered the best knights. Many stories and songs were made about powerful knights who used their strength and skill to help the weak. We still like to hear stories about King Arthur and his knights. If someone asked one of King Arthur’s knights for help, the knight would have considered it an honor and an obligation to give it. Chivalry was what made them great.

Psalm 145 talks about how great and wonderful God is, and the glory and power of his kingdom. God’s people love to tell stories about the things the Lord has done, and pass the stories on to their children. God is great not only because of his power and majesty, but especially because of the way he loves to help the poor and needy. The psalm says that God holds people up who are falling and raises up people bowed down with trouble. He satisfies hungry people and animals with food. He is close to people who are in trouble and call to him for help, and he saves them from their trouble. God shows how great he is by helping people who are weak and needy.

We were all in terrible trouble because of our sin. We were separated from God and under the power of evil and death. We couldn’t do anything to help or save ourselves, but God didn’t turn away from us. Instead he showed wonderful kindness to us by coming to us in Jesus to rescue us from sin and death. Jesus died on the cross and rose again, and because of him we are saved from the power of evil and have life with God. Jesus shows us his greatness by loving us and saving us and making us his people now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and the forgiveness that you won for us on the cross. Amen.