Prayer, praise and pie

Notwithstanding the raging Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving. According to the Thanksgiving story, the roots for this holiday stretch back to 1621 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth shared a feast with the Wampanoag people.

While many today view Thanksgiving primarily as a time for family, feasting and the shopping floodgates swinging open, Christians will often seize upon this day as an opportunity to focus upward. Prayers of thanksgiving and praise for God’s loving kindness will ascend before enjoying turkey and pie.

Considering this year’s difficulties and what might yet lie ahead, perhaps Psalm 34 can serve as a template for this year’s Thanksgiving. It calls us to remember as well as look forward. Continue reading “Prayer, praise and pie”

Exalting God together

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3, ESV).

The fundamental motives for evangelism and missionary activity are frequently identified as love for the lost and zeal to spread the good news of salvation. Somewhat less obvious today, but prominent in the New Testament, is the goal of exalting God in an unbelieving world.

Jesus spoke repeatedly about his earthly purpose, which was at least in large part to “glorify God” (John 17:1, 4). He taught his followers to live so that “others … may see your good works and give glory (i.e. praise) to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). One significant result of God’s plan to save mankind from sin was to demonstrate his glory both to all creation and to all the spiritual realm: Continue reading “Exalting God together”

Doctor treats patient in hospital bed.

See what makes me tick, God

Men are notorious for avoiding doctors and dentists. (Most certainly, it’s a generalization.) They often wait until the problem is unavoidable or the pain is unbearable. They hate anyone prodding or poking at them.

Most people, both men and women, dislike revealing inner thoughts. Some few wear their feelings on the sleeves and tell their life stories to anyone who will listen, but they are avoided by the majority.

Even more, most people avoid even thinking about God knowing their every thought and impulse. They certainly would not offer up David’s prayer of invitation. Continue reading “See what makes me tick, God”

Make no mistake about it

I think I know what I need. That’s my first mistake. Then I work my fingers to the bone going after what I’m sure I need. That’s my second mistake. After that, the mistakes just keep multiplying.

David acted crazy before the Philistine chief Abimelech because he thought that was the solution to his danger (1 Samuel 21:10-15). It was a crazy strategy for what he thought he needed. Supposedly, it got him out of hot water. But did it? Continue reading “Make no mistake about it”

The Lord’s treasures

“The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the Lord; ‘O Lord, I implore you, deliver my soul!’ Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me. … For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. … Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:3-6, 8, 15 NKJV).

As I visited a family suffering from the death of a newborn child, I wrestled once again with this passage, especially with the oft-quoted verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Continue reading “The Lord’s treasures”

Out of the depths!

“Out of the depths I call you, O Lord!” (Psalm 130:1)

Do you remember when the unfortunate Nebuchadnezzar was struck with madness, becoming like a beast of the field? The king recalls at the end of his ordeal: “At the end of the days I … lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me” (Daniel 4:34). It has been said that of all the creatures on earth, only humans can look up. Even in the depths of despair or sin, we can if we choose, look up to heaven. Continue reading “Out of the depths!”