Devotions on Psalm 146:1-10
June 29 – July 5, 2015
Monday, June 29, 2015
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord O my Soul” (Psalm 146:1)!
Antonio was experiencing a great amount of stress at work. Organizational charts were changing in order to be more efficient with lower costs. There was increased pressure to produce and Antonio was behind on his numbers. Antonio also found himself in the middle of an office conflict. His days were not easy and Antonio did not want to do a lot when he went home.
Hugs and kisses from his wife and three children were given to Antonio as he arrived home. He was then told that he should hurry up and change his clothes so that he and his family could go over to a neighbor’s house and celebrate her birthday. Antonio didn’t want to attend the party, but he dutifully changed his clothes. At the neighbor’s home he joined in the celebrations, but his heart wasn’t in it. It took a long time before the party began to change Antonio and lighten his heart. Eventually, though, Antonio was able to truly join in the celebration.
There are times in our lives when the trials and tribulations we endure suck the praise out of us. We don’t want to praise, and many of us don’t. When we read the Psalmist’s command to praise the Lord, we might utter a grudging “Thank you, Jesus,” or half-heartedly sing a praise song. Going through the motions of praise, though, can, in a sense prime the pump of praise. Eventually our soul–the core of our being–can join in the praise we mouth.
If we wait, and we don’t begin to praise the Lord praise will never be will an important expression of our faith. Praise–even half-hearted praise–is the path toward praising God with our whole being. Praise the Lord!
Almighty God, you truly are worthy of our praise. Accept our praise even when it is half-hearted and move within us so that eventually our souls can praise you. Amen.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
“I will praise the Lord as long as I live” (Psalm 146:2).
A few days ago it was 110 degrees in Phoenix. It was hot … darn hot! The heat made people miserable. They had to drink lots of water–what an inconvenience. The sun would fry them like ants under a magnifying glass if they didn’t put on sunscreen. The heat caused the air conditioners to work over time and the electric bills skyrocketed. Life in Phoenix was really crappy.
At the same time, the people of Phoenix did not need to fight the tornadoes and flood waters as some people in the United States had to do. Most of the people in Phoenix had clean, cold water to drink. The electric bills might be high, but most of the people were able to enjoy air-conditioned homes and offices. It was hot … darn hot, but many people enjoyed frolicking in their pools a few with a margarita or cold beer in their hands. Life wasn’t perfect, but life was good.
It is so easy to complain. Yet, while we are complaining, we can look around and see so many things for which to be thankful and give praise to the Lord. Complaining doesn’t accomplish anything. Praising lifts our hearts and honors God.
Precious Lord, you are fantastic and we praise you. Alleluia! Amen.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
“Do not put your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3).
Some instructions are easy like, “Open, this end,” or “In emergency break glass.” One would think that, “Do not put your trust in princes,” would fit into the category of easy to follow. Yet, how we struggle.
Time and time again, we place our trust in things that fail us–401k’s that lose their value, so called “friends” who spread rumors about us and Christian congregations that are all too human. Time and time again the Lord has acted faithfully in our lives. We have received our daily bread, we have been given faith and new life, and nothing has been able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
“Don’t put your trust in princes,” should be an easy to follow instruction. It is not. To follow this instruction takes a life of living in God’s love and grace–of placing our trust in a trustworthy Lord and confessing and repenting when we don’t. In our fickle, fragile lives of faith, the Lord never shakes God’s head and says, “I told you so,” but rather God opens God’s arms wide and says, “Give me a hug, you can trust me.”
Steadfast God of love, forgive us when we yield to the temptation placing our trust in princes rather than you. Help us to trust in you alone. Amen.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
“Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God” (Psalm 146:5).
Everyone wants to be happy. It is interesting, though, where we look for happiness. Some look for happiness in the accumulation of wealth and the bobbles of life. Lovie Howell on “Gilligan’s Island” once said, “Whoever said that ‘money can’t buy happiness’ doesn’t know where to shop.” Others seek happiness in adventure–doing dangerous activities or traveling to exotic destinations. Still others seek happiness in family and friends–relationships.
The Psalmist doesn’t necessarily argue that those things can’t provide you with a level of happiness. At the same time he proclaims that the greatest happiness is to journey through life in a relationship with our Creator. Riches may come or they may not, but with God providing for our needs we will still be happy. Our lives may be adventurous or they may be boring, but embraced by God’s love and grace we can still be happy. We may surround ourselves with family and friends, or be alone, yet being “in Christ” we can live lives full of happiness. The richness of happiness doesn’t come from things on the outside, but it is a gift from the inside.
God of Joy, thank you for your gift of happiness and for the promise that we can always be happy journeying through life with you.
Friday, July 3, 2015
“Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the needy” (Psalm 146:7).
We talk a lot about seeking justice and loving mercy. Over and over again in the scriptures we read how God is a God of justice who brings down the mighty and lifts up the lowly. We also read how God cares about the poor and moves to meet their needs. In our walk with God we have also learned that usually God uses the people of God to accomplish God’s will.
So rather than read about justice and God’s concern for the needy, and rather than confine our efforts to praying, what are some things that we can do to seek justice and provide for the needy? Well, we can:
• Drink Fair Trade Coffee–with a little extra expense on our part coffee growers can receive a fair price for their coffee.
• Purchase items that we need from companies with a”Buy one, give one” program
• Write our elected officials about a justice concern or a need that we see should be addressed.
This is meant to get our minds thinking of possibilities. What do you think you can do? Don’t just think it, do it!
Creator God, you have given us hands and feet for a reason. Empower us to use them in service to others and to honor you. Amen.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
“The Lord sets the prisoners free” (Psalm 146:7c).
Today the people of the United States celebrate our freedom. We will gather together with family and friends and enjoy BBQ’s and picnics. We’ll watch parades, wave flags and enjoy fireworks. We’ll have a great day of celebrating. Are there other ways, though, to celebrate both our freedom and that the Lord, through the cross of Christ, has set all the prisoners free.
Perhaps we can celebrate first by praying for those who do not enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy. There are people in war torn areas of the world who are chained by fear, and others who are imprisoned by hunger. Young people are imprisoned in the sex trade and workers locked in sweat shops.
We can celebrate our freedom by confessing areas where we are held captive by: fear, self-centeredness, prejudice and racism, to name a few. After our time of confession we can pray for others who are similarly bound.
Next year may even more people know the truth that God has set the prisoners free and be able to celebrate their freedom.
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of freedom. Enable us to live in that freedom and to work so others may experience that freedom also. Amen.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
“The Lord watches over the stranger; he upholds the orphan and the widow (Psalm 146:9).
Strangers are people who have been separated from the communities of support. They feel vulnerable and are often fearful and anxious. In ancient times widows had no means to support themselves and their families. They could only depend on the kindness of others in order to survive. Orphans were in a similar predicament.
We are surrounded by people in need–people who need our help. Oftentimes we become so preoccupied with our own wants, desires and needs, that we are blind to the needs of others. The Psalmist reminds his readers–including us–of how God values those who are in need and implies that God wants people of faith to have a similar concern.
Look around. Who is a stranger whom God is watching over? Perhaps we can be human “angels of mercy” to that person. Who are the orphans and the widows–the poor, neglected, disenfranchised and forgotten. Do you think that God might be giving us an opportunity to minister to their needs?
While we give thanks for God watching over us, we can also look around and see whom God might be calling us to watch over and uphold.
God of love and grace, we thank you for your care. Open our eyes that we may see those for whom you also care and use us to accomplish your will whatever that may be. Amen.