The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. Psalm 145:9
Psalm 145 is known as a hymn of praise written by David. It is known as an acrostic poem because each verse in order begins with a letter of the 22-letter Hebrew alphabet, except for the letter “nun” because the word “fallen” begins with the letter “nun.” This is probably lost on most of us since we are not Hebrew poets, but it demonstrates the level of thought that went into the Psalms.
Verse nine stresses God’s love for us, all of which is the central theme of our Christian faith.
I doubt Luther had Wikipedia to help him figure it all out, but he seems to have hit the nail on the heard. Our faith as Christians is summarized in this one Psalm.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you for your love and compassion to us, even though we are not worthy and have done nothing to deserve it. Amen.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
We are all human. Meaning, we make mistakes and do and say things we shouldn’t. We at times allow our emotions to get the best of us. We make decisions out of anger or sadness. We judge before we really know. We think we are always right. But then we are reminded how we should be towards others, how we should be treating each other. Loving one another, supporting and uplifting one another. Working together to help all.
Overall, we cannot fully accomplish any of these things without God. We can come to God at any time of the day or night, and ask for forgiveness, express our love, and thankfulness for God and his love and mercy for us.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to remember your never-ending forgiveness for us and your willingness to love and protect us and help us become better versions of you. In your name we pray, Amen.
Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
About a week before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus dined with Mary, Martha and Lazarus (and Simon). While Martha was busy preparing the meal, Mary was moved to sit at Jesus’ feet and wash his feet with expensive perfume. Judas, who would betray Jesus in less than a week, complained that Mary should have used her money more wisely – rather than wasting expensive nard perfume oil, sell the oil and give the money to the poor. Jesus knew that what Mary had done was from a place of pure love and dismissed what Judas had said.
Have you ever given a gift that you knew was “too much” or “extravagant”? Have you ever just given out of the kindness of your heart with no thoughts to your financials? My husband will tell you that I love to give and receive gifts. Gifts are my favorite. It’s a little-known fact. I see things all the time that remind me of a friend, a loved one, my kids. I have learned to show restraint but every once in a while, I’m moved to just throw caution (and money) to the wind and make that purchase. There is a feeling that comes with the purchase of a thoughtful gift. A sense of internal joy. I admit that this is a feeling that I love.
I imagine that is what Mary must have felt on that day 2000 years ago. Picture it yourself – loving Jesus with all of your heart and soul. He brought your beloved brother back from the dead, after all. He loved your father, who was a leper. Mary’s love of Jesus was pure. Now, picture that you are seated at the feet of Jesus and want to honor him, give him a gift. What is a gift that you could possibly give him (A KING) that would feel even close to grand enough? Meaningful enough? I picture Mary remembering the nard and being moved to make this generous and extravagant gesture. That perfume was said to have cost as much as a year’s wages. Let that settle for a minute. A full year’s wages. That number is different for you and me but imagine giving a gift that was worth your whole salary.
Mary’s gift was extravagant. But she was MOVED to honor Jesus in that way. Let’s all try to be a little more like Mary. A little more extravagant in our giving, our generosity, our love for Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Lord, move us to make sacrifices in the name of your son. Move us to be generous with our giving. Move us to make gestures that show we are followers of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. Philippians 3:7
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul carefully points out that any man’s human accomplishments, even in the area of religion, carry no value when compared to the greatness of knowing and following Jesus. Paul is most likely speaking of his own accomplishments, which were numerous and impressive. He wants people to recognize that past gains do not compare to a present relationship and experience with Jesus Christ. While there can be a certain value in looking back and learning from our past, we cannot dwell on any triumphs that we may have enjoyed. Instead, we should see the value in being able to recognize that God has done wonderful things throughout time and He continues to want to do them in our present and future lives.
Lent seems to be as good a time as any to reflect upon the past gifts and gains that we have had in our lives. But, perhaps it is an even better time to inventory how our personal gains can compare to the greatness that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may each of his recognize the mediocrity of our own gains. Please help us to know that when we have a fellowship with Jesus, we have all the greatness that we need. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:5
This is a verse that is particularly well-suited to what I do for a living. My days, seasons, and years are intimately tied up in the cycle of planting and harvesting. Since we farm ourselves and I also sell various kinds of crop seeds to farmers in our area, I see the challenges of sowing every year. Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. We can’t get into the fields to plant on time or the weather doesn’t cooperate at the time of seed germination. The price of the commodity doesn’t look good in the current markets. Seldom is there is a year when there isn’t some heartache or fretting regarding the prospects for that year’s crops.
But by the time of harvest, there always seems to be something for which to be thankful. Sometimes it’s as backward as being grateful that a difficult crop year has come to a conclusion! But more often it is the profound and humbling realization that God has once again blessed us with unimaginable bounty from His miraculous creation. We sit and sigh with a bit of weariness, and then we say prayers of thanks with great joy. Because He has blessed us and given us a reason to shout thanks and praise in yet another cycle of the years.
Prayer: Dear Father, help us to always remember that You bless us in every season and every endeavor. Remind us to offer our thanks and praise for the gifts You give us with great shouts of joy! Amen.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
I looked up this verse in the Life Application Bible. It gives explanations and life lessons on specific verses and also gives cross-references from other books of the Bible that support this verse. I was directed to Deuteronomy 8:15 and 2 Corinthians 5:17.
In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the people not to forget that God brought them safely through the wilderness after they fled Egypt, and even gave them water from a rock. Like many of us, they would forget the miracles God did for them, including the parting of the Red Sea, and they would return to their past sins, ignoring God’s law.
When the Israelites were eventually conquered and exiled to Babylon, they again cried out to God to rescue them and God heard them and delivered them. We tend to forget all that God has done for us in the past, caring for us and delivering us. But when we are in trouble again, we cry out to Him again. Maybe if we remembered to be grateful for all our blessings we wouldn’t fall back so much into sinful ways.
I was also referred to 2 Corinthians 5:17. Paul says that when someone becomes a Christian, they become a brand new person inside. A new life has begun. Deliverance from Egypt and Babylon were miracles but they were nothing compared to the final deliverance of mankind that God gave to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died for our sins. Jesus brought us a New Covenant- we are no longer slaves to sin and the old system of laws that we can never keep perfectly. That was the greatest miracle that God ever did. We were made new.
Prayer: Father God, let us never forget the deliverance you gave to us through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Make us grateful for your gifts to us. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.