Ezra 3:11-13 records the reaction of the people when they succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. God had allowed them to be deported to Babylon for 70 years to refine them and cause them to give up idolatry that had plagued them for generations. Their reaction is genuine and heartfelt. “ And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy, 13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” The weeping was joyous but also many lamented the glory of Temple Solomon had built that was gone.
These verses about their rejoicing over the temple’s foundation reminded me of the foundation we have in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith. 1 Peter 2:4-6 describes Jesus: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Our faith in Jesus places us in ‘God’s building’, His spiritual house, that has a firm foundation in Jesus. You cannot build a building without a firm foundation likewise, faith without Jesus at its base will crumble, fall and be meaningless.
Think about your foundation of faith today. Soon you will be rejoicing over your foundation, Jesus, and praising and singing thanks to Him!
Today’s Thanksgiving passages are from Psalm 9. David challenges us to consider our own praises. Do I give God thanks with my whole heart? Do I remind myself and others of how God has worked in my life?
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Do I see God as Just and Righteous? Do I let Him care for me, and seek shelter within His arms? Where am I putting my trust each day?
But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.
9 The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
As you meditate on these verses, consider your heart attitude. Is it one of praise and thankfulness for being who you are, where you are, right now? Are you open to God’s leading, appreciative of His care for you and desirous of pleasing Him with your life? Consider this– God allows things to happen or come into our life- people, events, circumstances to grow us and develop our character (even or especially the hard things). God uses all things in our lives for our good and His glory. Remember Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Let thanks and praises be on your lips and in your heart today! God is good and intends good for me and it will bring Him glory.
Sometimes we feel, rightly so, that the whole world is against us. There are so many complicated circumstances in our lives that it seems that no matter what, things cannot be made right. We are not alone on days like this. David felt that way as he was constantly pursued by Saul, who wanted to kill him, for over 10 years! I’m sure David felt overwhelmed and defeated. In Psalm 7 David states that the only true refuge he know is God himself. “Lord my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, (verse 1) He knows his enemies want to destroy him, see him defeated and broken, “or they will tear me apart like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.” (verse 2) David knows that God gets angry over injustice and is the righteous judge. He knows and trusts God to enact vengeance upon his enemies who stand against God. (verse 6,8) Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.” “Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.”
Opening his soul to God, David lays his hopes and fears before God. He concludes with verse 17. “I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High”. David knew his heart needed to have an attitude of praise and thanksgiving. The problems in life were large and his fears were real, but God alone has the answers and will provide. God knows the details of our lives and all the tough circumstances we face. Our hearts need to be bent towards thanksgiving not worry. Our hearts need to be focused on who God is. He is greater than anything we can ever face. State your concerns then leave them with God. Spend your time giving thanks to our Sovereign God who has all things within His loving control.
Make a conscious decision today to give thanks and be blessed for it.
Psalm 121 is known as a song of ascent. These were psalms thought to have been used in annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The city is on hills in Judea and the trip towards Jerusalem is always referred to as going ‘up to Jerusalem’. Journey with me this morning using Psalm 121 and get a new, higher view of God, as we continue our Lenten pilgrimage to the cross.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Have a blessed Sunday as you worship our Lord.
Suggestion: Read this psalm again sometime today and pause after verse 2 and thank God for His help in a situation you faced this last week. After verse 5 as you thank God for your protection this last week from any disasters that might have befallen you. After verse 8 for the future care and hope He provides now and for eternity.
The first few weeks of January I write about goals, motivation, change, etc. This morning God has laid on my heart the idea of rising up and going. That may sound weird, but where do you get your get up and go? What makes you want to get up in the morning and pursue your day? For the believer, it is partly motivated by their understanding that God has a purpose for each day. I love Lamentations 3:22-24 and here it is from the Message, which may bring new meaning to these verses for you, “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” Knowing that God’s love and mercy are new each morning gives us hope and the ability to start a new day.
Another motivation for the believer can be taken from Acts 3:6-8 when Peter healed the man that had been lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” Then look what happened in verse 8 “And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” How about you? Has Jesus healed you in mind, body or spirit? What is your life’s reaction to that healing? Are you leaping and walking and praising God in your life? Today is the day to begin!
Each day, each year are new opportunities for us to walk, talk and live praising God. Let’s determine today to live that way. Put a smile on your face and live like you mean it because you know that God loves you, has mercies ready for you and wants to hear your praise as you journey through this day.
Walk with Him towards a day of blessing,