The fact that we have a hymnbook in the center of our scriptures has always impressed me. That placement makes sense to me as a pastor. Poll any random sample of people leaving the sanctuary on Sunday morning. Most won’t remember the Bible verses that were read or have the first idea of what the sermon topic was. But they will tell you every hymn that was sung—and offer a strong opinion about them!
We seem wired for music, and the Christian faith places it at the center of its worship life. The Psalms capture the various moods, convictions, hopes, and dreams (both realized and dashed) of the people of Israel in the form of song. Put into writing for the first time in the Babylonian exile, these songs helped preserve the faith of the Israelite people and gave them strength in the midst of the most trying of circumstances. Like any hymnbook, some songs are not well known, but others have been written into our very souls.
Psalm 145 may not be one that we know by heart, but it begins an important section of this hymnbook that is dedicated to the praise and adoration of God. The psalmists acknowledge that we may have our laments and complaints. But in the end, God is our creator. Therefore, the worship and praise of God must be at the center of our lives.
How do we do that? Perhaps the last verse of Psalm 145 gives us a good place to start. We don’t have to have all the answers. We don’t have to be particularly talented. However, our mouths can speak the praise of the Lord. We can sing God’s praises. It may not seem like much, but those kinds of songs have a way of catching on. It’s the kind of song that can change the world!
Lord of life, may I sing your praises and encourage others to take up the song. Amen.
The rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple became a test of God’s promise. The prophetic word of Haggai insists on courage and labor, reminding the people that God’s Spirit is already present among them and points toward the future. In Second Thessalonians, some Christians have grown extremely agitated by claims that the “day of the Lord” has already come. The passage recalls what Jesus and God have already accomplished and insists that God’s future may also be trusted. Jesus’ response to the Sadducees confutes them, not merely by its cleverness (their question also is clever) but by its truth. The eschatological future cannot be understood simply as an extension of the present, except in one profound sense: God is Lord both of the present and of the future. This profound truth demands the praise to which Psalm 145 calls all creatures.
• Read Haggai 1:15b–2:9. The people return home from exile—but home has changed. When have you returned “home” to a different setting than the one you left? How did you feel the changes?
• Read Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21. How fully do you participate in worship? In what areas are you more reserved?
• Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17. The phrase “shaken in mind” may be better translated as “shaken out of mind,” implying great distress. What basics and foundation do you return to when you are “shaken out of mind”?
• Read Luke 20:27-38. The Sadducees miss the core of who Jesus is. When has an “old” religious mind-set blocked your ability to see and hear a “new thing”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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