In today’s short Psalm we read of the Lord’s great love for us, which reminds us of His worthiness of our praise. In Psalm 117:2 it says, For great is His love towards us, and faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord. Let this Psalm be a reminder to us all that God’s love and gift of salvation is for all people. Regardless of who they are, if they believe in Him and accept the gift of salvation, then they can be in the presence of the King for all eternity.
Today’s Psalm was written as a praise to God after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon. Whether we have lived lives of hardship or relatively easy lives, God deserves our praise. In Psalm 107:32 it says, Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. God’s great love for us should give us all the reason we need to praise and worship Him openly and freely for all the world to see. Thankfulness should never be far from our lips if we know we have been saved by Him.
Because east and west can never meet, this is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness of our sin. In Psalm 103:12 David says, As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Living according to past transgressions is unproductive and fixes nothing. In addition, God’s forgiveness of us is a model for how we are to forgive others. If we are truly believers and followers of God, we must forgive others as He has forgiven us.
Today is Good Friday and I always wondered why we refer to this day as “Good” since it was the day Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. While historians debate many things about our faith, there are three things all historians agree on: 1) Jesus Christ really existed; 2) Jesus Christ was baptized; and 3) Jesus Christ was crucified. Christ’s crucifixion was an agonizing and torturous death. Matthew 27:50 says, And when Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. This was a brutal death and His suffering is hard to imagine. But when we take time to think through what Christ’s crucifixion represents and the transformation it has caused to the course of each of our lives, we realize it really was a “Good” day. Today reminds us that Jesus took on the sin of the world and died because of it. And more importantly, it is “Good” because Sunday is coming.
Israel’s holidays are reminders of God’s miracles in delivering the people from evil. Asaph used Psalm 81 to remind the people of God’s deliverance in the exodus from Egypt. In Psalm 81:1 he calls out the people to praise God, Sing for joy to God our Strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Our Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter) should be reminders to us of the hope we have in God and His ultimate deliverance of us through salvation. Let us not forget the true meaning behind why we celebrate and why God is worthy of our praise.
Three times the writer repeats his call to God in Psalm 80:3,7,19, Restore us, O God; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. Restoration into relationship with God is a continuous process. While grace was granted to us all through Christ, fellowship with Him requires effort to building a strong relationship with God. To many people salvation only serves the purpose of eternal life, but God’s ultimate purpose of Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation was to give us a way to a personal relationship with Him. If we miss this, we are missing out on a life of purpose.
In the Old Testament, God would often bring wrath and judgement on an entire nation because of the sins of the people within that nation. In Psalm 79:6 Asaph pleaded with God to bring judgement on the kingdoms that refused to acknowledge God’s authority, Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the kingdoms that do not call on your name. It is interesting to see that Asaph was ultimately praying for the foreign nation’s submission to God and not for necessarily for conquest. May we be as obedient in our prayers for those who do not believe the same as us. May we pray for their relationship with God and may God use those around us, including our enemies, to bring us and them to a righteous knowledge and relationship with God.
God is able to forgive a multitude of sins. There is no sin or amount of sinning that God cannot forgive. In Psalm 65:3 David recognized this, When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Forgiveness of sins is available to all. We were redeemed by the blood of Christ. We simply have to believe and accept the love of God through Jesus Christ His son.
We are all aware of our sinful nature. Some people choose to ignore it or blame their environment or circumstances, and some look for grace, mercy, and a changed heart. In Psalm 51:10 David says, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Let David be our example of looking to God for a changed heart and a desire for righteousness through a relationship with Him.
On this day when we normally reflect on the week we left behind and focus on the one ahead, let us remember the true meaning of Christmas; the birth or our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. May we remember we are part of a bigger plan and will of God.
Merry Christmas to you and those you love!