June 20, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 116-117

I have found that the most genuine and active type of love for the Lord is the type of love that comes out of an overflow of His mercy and grace. You see this in Psalm 116. The author has been delivered from death by the Lord. God had mercy on him and inclined His ear to him. He says I love you Lord BECAUSE of these things (v. 1). It’s not surprising that after this loving praise and thanksgiving that the author proclaims his obedience to the Lord (v. 15-19). Like true love comes from God’s grace and mercy, true sacrifice and service comes from that type of overflowing love.

Psalm 117 is a short but sweet Psalm. In fact, Isaac Watts wrote a hymn based off of it in 1719 and I thought we’d end with it from a beautiful version of it by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Ignore their heretical theology for a moment and just listen to the Biblical truths (that they really need to listen to) being sung from the classic hymn. Lyrics are below.

1 From all that dwell below the skies,
Let the Creator’s praise arise;
Let the Redeemer’s name be sung
Through ev’ry land by ev’ry tongue.

2 Eternal are Thy mercies Lord;
Eternal truth attends Thy Word;
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore
Till suns shall rise and set no more.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

June 19, 2018

Today you should read: Psalm 115

Psalm 115 is a psalm of praise to God.  All of us are worshipers of something: idols, ourselves, or God.  Only God is worthy of our worship and praise.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory… (v.1)

Idols today can be lots of things – material possessions, relationships, hobbies, – even our families.  In the author’s day this was true too – but often idols were pagan gods made of stone or wood.

He spends the bulk of this chapter reminding us what those idols really are:

  • They are made of physical materials by the hands of men (v.4)
  • The have mouths… but they can’t speak
  • They have eyes… but they can’t see
  • They have ears… but they cannot hear
  • They can’t smell, feel, walk, or make a sound

His point is clear – why would we trust in that?  Things that cannot help us?

What do you trust in?  I mean really trust in?  Are you trusting in things that cannot really help you?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.  Psalm 20:7

Work hard today to put your trust in Lord.  He’s the only One worthy of it.

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

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