Thursday, May 19, 2011


“But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3)

Psalm 22 is a fascinating psalm, written centuries before the events described in it took place. This is widely viewed as a “Messianic psalm,” describing prophetically what happened at the crucifixion.

In the midst of all this psalm portrays, there is a raw gemstone, a gold nugget that produces a glowing image in our minds: “But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.”

In your mind, see an image of a large gold throne, beautiful, shining, and very heavy. Such a throne requires a platform, a foundation capable of supporting it. The psalmist describes God as the One who is enthroned upon the praises of Israel. So, envision all the praises toward God from all of God’s people of all time, and see God exalted, high and lifted up, enthroned on all those praises simply because of who He is: the Holy Lord God, Creator of the universe.

Praising God is not just singing a song or praying a prayer or engaging in worship. It is certainly all of that, but it’s far more. Praise is also the living of a life committed to Him. Praise is relating positively to God in faith and trust regardless of circumstances. Praise embodies love toward God and trust in Him. Praise is the life of the redeemed, the very expression of what it means to be redeemed. And our God is worthy of all this praise because He is holy.

“Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer! Strength and honor unto the Lord belong.” We praise Him just because of who He is. We enthrone Him in our hearts through our praise.

Lord, We praise You today, and we praise that our praise may be acceptable to You.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Greatest

“And He told them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me. For whoever is least among you – this one is great.” (Luke 9:48)

An argument erupted among the disciples of Jesus. He had told them He was going to be betrayed. They didn’t get it, but they did perceive that they would soon be going up to Jerusalem where Jesus at last would make the big announcement: the Messiah had arrived! For them, this meant that the kingdom was about to be established, and they would soon move into a ruling role. That being the case, they needed to figure out who was going to be the leader, who was going to be in charge, who would sit at Jesus’ right and left. So the argument erupted as to who would be the greatest.

Imagine some of the possible assertions that could have been made. Peter: “Well, I’m the biggest and the strongest, and I don’t mind speaking my mind.” Andrew: “Well, I’m the one who told you about Him to begin with!” James: “I’ve got what it takes to make snap decisions.” John: “Maybe, but I’m closer to Him, and I understand His heart.” Thomas: “We’re all going to die, you know, soon as we set foot in Jerusalem.” Judas: “You’re all stupid. I’m the only one who has any management sense at all. I’m the smartest of the lot.”

Enough. Jesus had a child stand in their midst. Then He pointed his disciples to some characteristics of great leaders. Great leaders do not focus on “me first” but on serving the needs of the kingdom and the needs of even the least of those in the kingdom. Great leaders are willing to take the least position if that is what is needed to advance the kingdom of God. Servanthood and humility are the modes of greatness.

Lord, Help us today to practice servanthood and humility, not to be great, but simply to join You in Your work. Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Practice of the Presence

“You hide them in the protection of Your presence.” (Psalm 31:20)

The presence of the Lord is like a refuge, a place of peace and safety and strength for those who are in a place of vulnerability in life. David was in such a place in his life, described in Psalm 31. While we do not know the exact predicament, he tells us that his life was in danger, which was true on numerous occasions for him. Through them all he trusted the Lord and went to Him for refuge. He declared in faith and by experience that for those who revere the Lord, the Lord is a refuge, and the very presence of the Almighty is their protection.

When a child is feeling threatened by other more aggressive children, the present of a parent brings a sense of relief, safety, and protection. A bear cub separated from its mother is an easy target for predators, but bring mama bear on the scene and her presence changes everything.

We can face each day with genuine peace because of the presence of the Lord. We thus need to “practice the presence” of the Lord daily. We need to do so in the full assurance that whatever a day may bring, it will be all right because of the presence of the Spirit of the sovereign Lord with us and in us.

Lord, We thank You for Your constant presence in us through Your Spirit who dwells within us. We thank You for the protection of Your presence. Amen.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jesus On Praying

“He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1)

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Evidently, they saw something in the way He prayed, or something in the impact of His praying, that appealed to them, and they wanted it. Jesus responded in three ways.

First, He gave them an outline to help them know how to pray. We call this “the Lord’s prayer,” though more accurately it should be described as “the disciples’ prayer.” It was never meant to be something to recite by rote memory as a complete prayer, though it is certainly a complete prayer. Rather, it amounted to some “hooks” on which to hang our prayer thoughts.

Second, through the use of an example Jesus showed them that they must be consistent and persistent in their praying. He taught them to keep on asking, to keep on searching, and to keep on knocking. He seemed to be telling them that persistent prayer has an impact.

Third, through the use of another metaphor, Jesus wanted them to grow in their understanding of the nature of God. He wanted them to see that our God is a loving Father who gives good gifts to His children. As part of this thought, He encouraged them especially to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit.

Now, fast forward: It is now post-crucifixion, post-resurrection, and post-Pentecost. Peter and John had been arrested for the first time and reprimanded by the Sanhedrin for their preaching of Christ. This was precipitated by a healing that Peter performed on the temple steps. After their release they returned to the church, where all assembled and praised God. They did not pray that the persecution would stop or that they would be save. In the context of their praise, they prayed for boldness to preach, that God would perform signs and wonders of healing. The place was shaken, and they were all then filled with the Spirit. They then preached the message with boldness.

Sounds like the apostles got it, after Pentecost at least.

So, do we? Do we pray about the right things? Maybe we should keep our praying focused on being filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can carry out the work of God, regardless of any situation we may face.

Lord, Help us to understand how to pray, and help us then to pray. Amen.