In the spring of 2009, I had the opportunity to visit Capernaum. Capernaum is located on the shores of the freshwater Sea of Galilee. It was formerly a fishing village. Now, it is a ruin where you find the remains of a synagogue and several small homes that once housed the residents of the village.
People have the ability to change reality with a word, if they are willing. The greater their power, the greater the change they can render. All that is required is attention and action and then things that were not suddenly are, and things that are suddenly are no more.
Among people of faith, there is an old, well-worn saying that states God is never late but rarely early, leaving us to conclude that God is mostly right on time. We don’t always feel that way. When we believe God’s action is too long in coming, the Scriptures give us permission to tell God to replace his watch battery or ask for the hands of time to be reset.
Today is the beginning of Lent, a season of renewed commitment to God, to Jesus, and to the community called church. Together we proclaim that the Messiah has come, has died, is risen, and will come again. Our task is to order our lives accordingly, to respond, to answer the high calling we have in Christ (Philippians 3:14).
The Psalms cover a wide breadth of human emotion and experience with God. They include expressions of great celebration, immense sorrow, and deep frustration. Yet throughout the entire collection, hope is never lost completely. In every moment of the Psalmists’ lives, every moment of our lives, God’s “steadfast love” endures.
Psalm 119 is a long one (176 verses), so we are just reading a portion of it today. In it, we find a word about desiring God, God's ways, and God's word. This task, according to the Psalm, includes both positive and negative aspects.
This short Psalm is one of the most memorized and oft-quoted. It provides words of assurance to those who may be in turmoil or difficulty. In it, we find confirmation that the creator and ruler of the cosmos has personal concern for the lives of all people.
It is easy to forget that the religious background of the Israelites was polytheistic. While they followed God, the one true God, they also still thought in polytheistic ways. This Psalm recalls that understanding.
This is a prayer of repentance. It serves as a reminder of the consequences of sin and also of the great mercy of God. For those who follow God, sin is a great burden to bear, but it does not get the last word.
I often use this psalm in funeral messages. It serves as a reminder to those of us who remain when a loved one departs, that God is still our refuge in times of deep pain. The Psalmist is bold about this assertion. God is dependable, even when all seems lost
While these two Psalms are separate in our Bibles, it is likely they were unified at one time. Read together, they create one discourse using the same refrain in 42:5, 42:11, and 43:5. This is a writing of distress and longing. The Psalmist recalls times of celebration, of worship in the sanctuary, and longs for that time of security and peace again.
This Psalm begins with a recall of past deliverance. The Psalmist gives credit to God for pulling him out of the “pit.” With words of thanksgiving and praise, it is almost like the Psalmist is reminding himself of the ability and faithfulness of God.
This Psalm points to the danger of a self-centered faith. The writer offers two contrasting ways of living. In Verses 1-4 we see the ways of the “wicked.” It paints a picture of what may drive a person to sin. This person fails to have any respect for God, doing what is right, or wisdom.
The Psalmist begins with a shout of praise. God has drawn him up, healed him, and restored his life! It is a thanksgiving that pours from a soul experienced in anguish, pain and sorrow.
Psalm 23 is probably the best known Psalm, and one of the best known of all the scriptures. It is certainly one of my favorites. Why is it so popular?