Sunday Devotional: Psalm 147

“Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing to our God,
for praise is pleasant and lovely.

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;
He gathers Israel’s exiled people.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars;
He gives names to all of them.
Our Lord is great, vast in power;
His understanding is infinite.
The Lord helps the afflicted
but brings the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
play the lyre to our God,
who covers the sky with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
and causes grass to grow on the hills.
He provides the animals with their food,
and the young ravens, what they cry for.

He is not impressed by the strength of a horse;
He does not value the power of a man.
The Lord values those who fear Him,
those who put their hope in His faithful love.

Exalt the Lord, Jerusalem;
praise your God, Zion!
For He strengthens the bars of your gates
and blesses your children within you.
He endows your territory with prosperity;
He satisfies you with the finest wheat.

He sends His command throughout the earth;
His word runs swiftly.
He spreads snow like wool;
He scatters frost like ashes;
He throws His hailstones like crumbs.
Who can withstand His cold?
He sends His word and melts them;
He unleashes His winds, and the waters flow.

He declares His word to Jacob,
His statutes and judgments to Israel.
He has not done this for any nation;
they do not know His judgments.
Hallelujah!” (Psalm 147)

In times of discouragement and suffering it’s important to remember a psalm like this one.  It reminds us again of who God is and what He has done/is doing.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He is abundant in strength.  He brings peace where peace is needed.  He takes care of those who are His.

We have so much to be thankful for even in the midst of trials and tribulations.  This week let us be reminded of this so that we can share with others the hope that we have.

 

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Sunday Devotional: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)

Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church and in these verses here is finishing up the letter.  Like most of his letters to the various churches he helped to plant, he would finish his letters by encouraging and exhorting them to continue to do good and to follow Jesus.  Here is no exception.  Paul gave some practical applications to what he had shared with them throughout the letter and encouraged them to keep on being faithful.

He wanted the believers to encourage and give recognition to those who were leading them, their pastors and elders.  It is a tough job to minister and tend the flock and Paul wanted the people to acknowledge that and care for those in charge.  He wanted the believers to be at peace and to be agents of that to the world.  He wanted them to exhort, to comfort, to help, to be patient, and to pursue good.

We live very much in a time where it seems the discouraged aren’t being comforted, that the weak aren’t being helped, that there is no patience with people, that evil is being repaid with evil.  That should not be so with followers of Jesus.  We are called to love one another,especially fellow Christians.  We are called to be the light of the world, to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.  We are to be different in a way that stands out and points people to Jesus.

It is hard sometimes…a lot of the times to keep pursuing what is good.  It is hard when there is discouragement everywhere.  When God is mocked or hated and His people despised.  However, we are called to be faithful in continuing to do good, to seek justice and mercy, to show grace to one another, to love one another, to call out sin and to repent.  Let us keep doing just that.  Let us lean on Christ and keep pursuing good and being faithful to the calling that God has for us.

 

Sunday Devotional: Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

A couple of years ago, I used this verse for a Sunday Devotional.  I was reminded of this verse again recently and how it is very much still applicable today.

Paul wrote these words finishing up a letter to a group of believers that he cared for very deeply.  He helped to plant the church in Philippi wanted to see and hear that the believers there were growing in their faith.  He wanted them to keep pursuing Christ and to continue the work there.

We as believers have that same calling.  We are to keep pursing Christ and continue the work of sharing the Gospel.  And as we do that, we are to engage life with the filter that this verse   We live in a time when we are bombarded on all sides from things that are not the things in these verses.  We must strive to separate out these things to find the things that are true, that are just, that are pure, that are worthy of praise.

This week, let us make sure that we take time to reflect on those things that honor God, those things that point us to Him.  Let us think on those things so that we can be focused on what it is He has for us to do.

Sunday Devotional: 2 Corinthians 13:11-12

“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.  Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.”  (2 Corinthians 13:11-12)

Paul in his letters to the various churches he helped to plant and support always loved to finish them with encouragement and love.  Here in one of his letters to the church in Corinth it is again this kind of word that he wanted to send to the congregation.

Paul loved the people in Corinth and wanted to make sure that they were growing in their faith.  He wanted them to be encouraged to keep going in their faith.  He wanted them to be at peace with one another and he wanted them to be in fellowship with God and each other.

The same should be for us as well.  We should be striving to love God and love one another more.  We should be striving to become more mature in our faith and our walk with God.  We should be encouraging one another.  We should be striving for peace and unity at a time with divisiveness is very apparent.

This week, let us encourage one another like Paul encouraged the Corinthians.  Let us be about rejoicing about the hope we have in Jesus Christ.  Let us love God and one another more and more.  And let us be about sharing peace that comes through Jesus Christ.

Sunday Devotional: Psalm 126

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.”

The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home.  Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them.  When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them.  They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”

We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears.  There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt.  But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”.  God will deliver us through to the other side.  And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.”  This week let us encourage one another with these words.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.

Sunday Devotional: John 12:20-22

 “Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival.  So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.”  (John 12:20-22)

These verses in the book of John take place right after the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the week leading up to his death.  People from all around were coming into Jerusalem.  This included some Greeks which these verses mention.  These Greeks had heard all about Jesus and the works He had done.  And they wanted to see Jesus.

They went to Philip, one of Jesus’ disciples and asked Him.  Then He told Andrew (maybe in excitement, maybe in bewilderment that Greeks wanted to see Jesus) and then the two of them went to tell Jesus.

There are some people today that hear about Jesus and come to us.  They want to know about Jesus.  This should bring us joy and encourage us to point them to Jesus.  There are times when we are going out to fulfill the Great Commission that people will come to us.  They will find out that we are followers of Jesus and like Philip ask us “We want to see Jesus.”

This week, let us as we go point people to Jesus and hopefully we have an encounter like Philip and Andrew had where they come to us wanting to see and know Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Ephesians 2:11-18

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—  remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,  and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” (Ephesians 2:11-18)

Paul, in this letter to the church in Ephesus, like many of his letters to various churches wanted to encourage and exhort his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Here he wanted to remind them of what brings us all together and that’s Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.  At one time the Gentiles (non Jews or the “uncircumcision”) were far away from God and the promises that God gives to His people.  There was no hope.  However because of Jesus Christ and what He has done, He made a way not just the Jews but the Gentiles as well.

Because of Jesus Christ, we can not only be reconciled to the Father but we can be reconciled with one another as well.  Jesus brings peace to those who were “far off” and to those who were “near”.  All have the opportunity to be reconciled and to be at peace.

This week, let us be reminded of this great news.  We are not left without hope.  We have hope in Jesus Christ.  We are not left without peace.  We have peace through Jesus Christ.  And we get to share that message with the world to everyone.