June 18, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 114

My wife loves birthdays. Growing up, her family really made a big deal about birthdays. So much so that her dad invented the Birthday Beagle as a symbolic character of the season (and they had beagles growing up). This is a tradition we’ve carried on that at some point during the birthday, the doorbell would ring and a small present would be waiting outside with a note signed from the Birthday Beagle—it’s a paw print because fictional dogs can’t write.

To the nation of Israel, God’s deliverance of the exodus from Egypt was like a birthday for the whole nation. This birthday was (supposed to be) celebrated every year with the celebration of Passover. Psalm 114 (along with 113) was recited or sung every year before the Passover meal in remembrance of God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt.

Psalm 114 describes the events of the Exodus in extremely poetic language. It is important to note that in Genesis 32:28, God renamed Jacob to Israel. Thus, verse 1 is speaking of “Israel” as the nation that came out of Egypt (i.e. the exodus), who are the same as the descendants of “Jacob.” Verse 2 on the other hand, is not speaking of the people necessarily, but the land that they inhabited (the Promised Land). Unfortunately, this Land (and nation) had become divided into the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah. It is likely, however, that the psalmist is simply referring to God’s abiding presence and rule of the nation as a whole through referring to its parts (this figure of speech is known as a merism and is common in Hebrew poetry).

To give insight into some of the poetry of verses 3–6, God divided the waters first, with the Red Sea when Israel left Egypt, and second, when Israel entered the Promised Land crossing the Jordan River. Likewise, after the Exodus when the nation of Israel was at Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments, God descended and the mountain quaked (Exodus 19:18).

Verse 7 is interesting. What is a proper response to God’s mighty acts of power with which He rescued a nation? Fearing the Lord, in the Old Testament, was usually synonymous with salvation, thus after reading of God’s actions, he calls us to “tremble.” Not only should we tremble, but we should tremble before the Lord. “Lord” here is the word adon, which we often transliterate “Adoni.”

Although “Adoni” may refer to God, it is also a word used of a nobleman or someone of a high earthly status. All that to say, it could be generic. However, if there were any confusion, the psalmist let’s us know, this “lord” is not just any lord, it is “the Lord, the God of Jacob.” And not only is He a God who delivers, but He is a God who provides. He can turn a rock in the desert into water (Numbers 20:11).

Is there a time in your calendar to remember what the Lord has done? When you praise Him for your rescue and His provision? The amazing thing is, after Christ, our hearts are God’s “sanctuary” and our lives are “His dominion.” How does that strike you today? Are you worshipping God as someone of status or are you worshipping Him for who He really is, the God of Jacob, a deliverer, a provider, a mighty rescuer, to whom belongs all glory and honor forever and ever.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

June 16, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 112-113

Praise the Lord!

Both of our psalms for today begin with this phrase. Did you notice the rest of each of the psalms?

In our first psalm, the focus is on the righteous – those “who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands” (V.1) It then goes on to describe different characteristics of the one who fears the Lord and obeys him. Psalm 112 describes a person who is a good parent (v.2), a good steward of their resources (v. 3-5), and a good witness (v.4).

I like how the ESV explains the righteous person:

“For the righteous will never be moved…his heart is firm, trusting the Lord.” – Psalm 112:6-7

Those who are righteous trust the Lord to protect them and provide for them. Why can the righteous person trust the Lord? Because there is no one like Him!

In our second psalm, the focus is on the superiority of God! None are like Him! That is why the Psalmist rhetorically asks, “Who is like the Lord our God…?” (v.5, ESV).

We can trust the Lord “to care for” us (Psalm 112:7) because He is “high above the nations” (v.4) and “lifts the poor from the dust” (v.7).

Two themes stick out to me from our reading today:

  1. Trusting in God
  2. Obeying His commands

Those who obey the Lord are “joyful” (Psalm 112:1) and “trust the Lord to care for them” (Psalm 112:7).

Think about the words of this hymn that I sang quite a bit growing up:

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

There’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. When we are happy in Jesus, we can joyfully say, “Praise the Lord!”

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

June 15, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 111

“Great are the works of the Lord!” I love that proclamation found in verse two. It helps set the tone for our day. It reminds us that God has done and is doing so much for us. Here are a few things I love about this psalm:

  1. It is very personal. “I will give thanks with my whole heart” is the opening statement. The “why” to that statement is answered throughout the psalm.
  2. It is very corporate. There are many references to “His people” and “the congregation.” Yes, our faith is personal. But it is also corporate. We gather with others to celebrate God’s goodness and to seek His face. Great reminder.
  3. It delights in several different facets of God’s character. In this brief song, we find highlights about God’s faithfulness, love, uprightness, power, splendor, and majesty. When you’re unsure of what to praise God for, open to Psalm 111.
  4. It foreshadows salvation in Christ. Verse 9 says, “He sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever. Holy and awesome is His name!” These words were true for the people of Israel in a temporary sense (exodus, various deliverances), but its fullest meaning is found in the gospel.

The psalm closes with a well-known verse about the fear of the Lord and how it brings about wisdom. That said, here’s the question I’d like for us to discuss in the comments section today: What are some practical ways that you practice the fear of the Lord (verse 10) in your life?

 

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

June 14, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 110

Anyone else get caught off guard reading the very first verse of Psalm 110 wondering how the Lord is talking to the Lord? And yes, if you’re thinking it’s because that the future King that is referenced in the rest of this royal psalm written by David is referring to King Jesus, you are correct. In fact, the idea that Jesus is the Messianic king seated at “God’s right hand” as mentioned in verse 1 is also found in at least 13 other times in the New Testament (Acts 2:32–351 Cor. 15:25Eph. 1:20Col. 3:1Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:21 Pet. 3:22; cf. Matt. 26:64,  1 Cor. 15:25 and Eph. 1:20).

Besides the messianic references in this Psalm, the other thing that sticks out to me is the fact that our King does not change his mind. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind,“You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

I think this stuck out to me because I’ve recognized more often than not how often human leaders can change their mind. Whether it’s in government, ministry or a job. I’m not even saying that’s necessarily a bad thing because sometimes it’s best and biblical for those people in authority to flip-flop if it aligns more with the Bible or something. But there’s still a bit of unease and a lack of trust knowing how often we can change our minds as limited, sinful humans. But that’s not the case with the One who is in ultimate authority over us. All sovereign, all knowing, all understanding King Jesus is not a flip flopper and we can trust that type of faithfulness because He is also a good King.

Comment below with what stuck out to you in this royal psalm.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor