Lenten Meditations Part 3

  1. Psalm 129

This psalm reminds us that those who fully follow the Lord will be misunderstood and even persecuted. Christians worldwide are persecuted more today than at any other time since the early days of the Christian Church. Yet we can testify that the Lord is good and faithful. Consider the great blessing of the Lord to us, and also the blessing we can be to others, even to those who persecute us.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 130

The mark of the pilgrim who is going to Jerusalem, and in our case to the New Jerusalem, is to fix our eyes on Jesus, not on the world. We wait for the Lord, and for His word to us. Our waiting is a positive longing for the Lord, because in Him alone is hope, steadfast love, and plentiful redemption.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 131

Sometimes in our pilgrimage towards the presence of God, we need times of silence, of stillness, of quiet waiting for Him alone. We turn to God who is both Father and Mother, and are satisfied in Him alone.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 132

The original pilgrims remembered that their forefathers had carried the ark of the covenant, which was the sign of His presence. They remembered God’s anointed servant who had valued God’s presence more than anything else. This is a psalm of one who puts first the will of God, above all else. We still pray this psalm today, asking God to clothe all His ministers, pastors, and others with salvation and with songs of joy. Remember: Through Jesus, we enter the dwelling place of God. We will be blessed with the gifts of eternal life.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 133

Here is the beautiful goal and promise of our pilgrimage! God desires that all who follow Him and count themselves as children of God to be truly united. We as pilgrims are now nearing our goal: dwelling in the glorious presence of God! We can do so only in unity, because this is God’s will. This is where we discover His blessings. Unity is like the anointing oil poured over Aaron, the first priest; God will pour out the anointing of His Holy Spirit on those who walk in unity. Unity is like the dew of Mt. Hermon, the dew of blessing that causes us to grow into maturity. God will command His blessings on those who walk in unity.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 134

The pilgrim arrives at her destination. When we arrive into the presence of the Lord, we are called to do two things: First, to bless God, and then to receive His blessing! We bless God by worshiping and obeying Him. The blessings that God gives to His worshipers include all the blessings of heaven itself! (Ephesians 1:3) As you continue to meditate on the Psalms, may God continue to bless you and enable you to bless the world.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

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Lenten Meditations Part 2

  1. Psalm 121

The pilgrim, surrounded by hills on the journey, is seeking for help. Help comes, not from the hills but from God Himself. We may have passed through a valley of suffering, but now we can lift up our eyes to the Lord; and He will answer.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 122

The psalmist arrives in Jerusalem; we who meditate arrive in the New Jerusalem! (The writer to Hebrews tells us that we already have arrived, spiritually, in the New Jerusalem! Hebrews 12:22-24) Consider some of the things we find there: fellowship, unity with others who worship God, the presence of God, peace with God.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 123

The pilgrim lifts up his eyes to the Lord, longing for Him alone and depending only on Him. He is the one who provides our needs and who shows us compassion. The psalmist prays for mercy.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 124

After the prayer for mercy, this psalm tells of the help and deliverance of the Lord. “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side,” what would have become of us in our distress? We all can ask this question. Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Perhaps you feel like a bird who has escaped the cage, or imprisonment.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 125

This is a psalm of trust in God. He is like the mountains surrounding Jerusalem (or Seattle, where we live); God surrounds us at all times, forever. God’s peace “overshadows” our troubles. How has God “overshadowed” your own troubles?

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 126

A psalm of restoration. Here is hope for new life, for the transformation of dried-up souls.

 

Meditate on verse 5. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 127

All of our work is important and fruitful if we realize that God is actually working through us as we labor and toil. This psalm leads us to trust God, and to be happy doing work – any kind of work – that is blessing people in some way. Consider the themes of sleeping in the arms of God, resting in His love and care, and trusting God to give us what we need to do His will in the world.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

 

  1. Psalm 128

The happiness of “fearing the Lord.” To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of God. This is a positive fear, and it means to walk in God’s ways. The fear of the Lord is to turn away from sin and evil, and turn our faces to the Lord, desiring to please Him. Another psalm tells us that God has special friendship with those who fear Him. It is the foundation of a happy life.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

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Lenten Meditations

Part One (of three)

I have found it helpful to meditate on the Psalms during the Lenten Season leading up to Resurrection Sunday. One way is to meditate on the “Psalms of Ascent” (Psalms 120-134, sung by pilgrims on their journey to Jerusalem. For Christians, this is the journey into the heart of God, what we could call “The Path to Glory.”

Psalms 120 – 134

Luke tells us that Jesus, when He knew that His time had come, “set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) He set His face towards total rejection and death on the cross. He was on a journey. It began in heaven, then to Bethlehem, then to Jerusalem and Golgotha’s cross, and continued on to glory in His resurrection and return to heaven.

 

Jesus told His disciples to begin in Jerusalem to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, and to go from there to all peoples and all nations. Today we also begin where we are and go wherever Jesus tells us to go, to proclaim His Gospel.

 

We Christians are on a pilgrimage, not to the old Jerusalem but to the New Jerusalem, into the presence of the Lord. Paul calls this the “Jerusalem from above.” (Galatians 4:25-26) The apostle John describes the New Jerusalem beautifully in Revelation chapter 21. This is the Jerusalem the prophet Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 65:17-25 (not the earthly Jerusalem but the New Jerusalem to come). Not everyone can make physical trips to holy places, but we can all enter the New Jerusalem spiritually; we can daily enter into the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of God. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 

Jesus endured the shame that we might live in joy.

Jesus took upon Himself death that we might receive unto ourselves life everlasting.

 

The Lenten season is a good time to begin our journey. We take the journey together with Jesus, and His Holy Spirit guides us. We go again to Golgotha, the cross, and to the resurrection of Jesus. As we journey we are ascending the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. (Isaiah 30:29) We are headed to the mountain of healing, forgiveness, renewal, restoration and to a new beginning.

 

The Psalms will be our guide for this journey. Psalms 120 – 134 are called “Psalms of Ascent;” the pilgrims sang them as they traveled to Jerusalem. Today these 15 psalms are a guide to us as we take a pilgrimage during the Lenten season (or any season), preparing for the joy of Jesus’ resurrection.

 

We can meditate each day on one of these psalms, beginning with Psalm 120 and ending with Psalm 134. The best way to meditate is first to read through each psalm to understand the meaning and emphasis of each psalm. Then we will take one verse from each psalm for our meditation.

 

Some things to remember about meditating on the Bible:

 

  1. Meditation is a journey with the Holy Spirit. You already have embarked on your spiritual pilgrimage!

 

  1. A good definition of meditation is: “When we open our Bible and ask God to open our eyes to behold wonderful things in His Word, the Holy Spirit takes the written Word, transforms it into the living Word, and plants it in our innermost being.

 

  1. I begin meditation by sitting before a verse, or even a single word, of the Scripture, and simply asking God if He has something He would like to say to me through this Word. I listen and receive whatever He wants to say to me.

 

  1. We do not need any other book, just the Bible. It would be good to keep a journal of what God says to us each day, or of our response of prayer to God based on what He says.

 

  1. As you meditate, do three things: OPEN yourself to God, FOCUS on each word of the verse, and allow the Holy Spirit to FILL you with that word. He will plant each word in your spirit; just as a seed that you plant in the soil takes root and produces fruit, so will each word that Spirit plants in you as you meditate take root and produce fruit in your life.

 

  1. You will see change coming into your life.

 

PSALMS OF ASCENT

 

  1. Psalm 120

We begin our pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem with Psalm 120. We begin where we are. The psalmist is in distress. He or she wants peace, but is surrounded by those who do not want peace. The one who begins this journey to go higher with God is surrounded by antagonism and people who oppose. She is seeking the peace of Jesus.

 

Choose one verse and meditate for about 5 or 10 minutes. Ask God to speak to you, and then listen and respond.

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DNA is God’s Book

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The discovery of DNA gives us understanding of what the psalmist calls “God’s Book.” The psalmist is not referring to the Bible as God’s Book, although the Bible is the book that reveals God to all humankind. Even though King David, who wrote Psalm 139, did not know the modern words “DNA,” that is what He was talking about.

Psalm 139 reveals our identity. In Psalm 139:13-18, the psalmist tells us 3 profound things about our lives: First, God alone is the source of each person’s life. Parents are of course instrumental, but it is God alone who gives life. (verse 13) Second, God created each of the 7.6 billion persons in the world as a unique being, unlike any other person. (“I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” (verse 14) Third, God’s thoughts of me are so vast that no book could contain them all. His plan for each life is great, good and perfect. (verses 17-18)

God is the Author of our biological code. DNA is the biological code for every facet of our spiritual, psychological and physical self; it includes the design of our face, our body, hair, limbs, as well as the personality traits with which we are born. The psalmist says, “In Your Book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them!” (verse 16) DNA is the book God has written for each person, each star in the heavens, every tree and every animal. He even gives a name to  every star in the heavens! (Isaiah 40:25-26)

It is time that the artificial war between Christianity and science is called off. Christianity is not incompatible with science; in fact, some of the greatest scientists in history have been, and still are today, men and women of great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Growing through the Church Year

All of us want to grow during this new year. Children want to grow older physically; the elderly want to grow younger in spirit. But all of us want to grow spiritually, with increasing joy in the Lord and commitment to doing His will.

I am enclosing a file on The Church Year. Most Protestants have no idea what this is, but the Church Year, often spoken of as the “Church Calendar,” describes the pattern of growth into Christian maturity. Beginning with Advent, it leads us to expect the Lord of all nations to come to earth as the baby in Bethlehem. Each event leads us in our growth.

The file is in both English and Korean, and I hope it doesn’t confuse some of you. But if you will follow it during this year, you will see that now we are in the time of Epiphany, or the manifestation of Jesus to the world by the Wise Men. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, or to share your own ideas and understanding that will help us all to grow more. Also, if you cannot open the file, please let me know and I will send it to you in another form.

May God bless you during this New Year, and keep you safe in His everlasting Arms, and cause His face to shine upon you, that you may walk in His grace and in His peace.

Church Year

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The “Rock of Meeting”

The Meeting Place

Ellen and I were traveling in Norway with friends when we came upon this restful rock. Our Shepherd met us there and restored our souls. So we called it the “Rock of Meeting.” We wanted to take it with us, but instead were satisfied with a photo reminder. We know that Jesus is our Rock! He is always with us, but we need a “meeting place” to meet Him and enter the presence of the One who is “always before me.” (Acts 2:25) The psalmist confessed, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) Sometimes a simple discovery of a beautiful site of nature allows us to see the Lord who is always before us. I am a man of the Word, but God has also created many beautiful places, many beautiful works of art and music, and beautiful people who enable me to meet Him.

Not being able to go back and revisit this “Rock of Meeting,” I sometimes carry my own small “rock of meeting” with me when I travel. It looks like this:

Rock

As we enter this new year of our Lord, 2018, the most important thing we can do is to meet Him daily. By living in His presence and having an ongoing conversation with the Lord, we will be able to see and believe the new things that the Lord will do in this new year. Let us go to the Rock together; let us ask the Holy Spirit to lead us into the presence of the Lord, who is our Rock. (Psalm18:1-3) This new year will be a year of new beginnings.

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Flowers of Tomorrow in Seeds Planted Today

FullSizeRender-4.jpgA miracle is contained in every seed. When we plant them they produce life, resulting in food for the hungry and beauty in place of ashes. A Christian organization sent tens of thousands of packets of seeds to an African nation that did not welcome a Christian presence. They were wonderful, high quality seeds that would grow well in African soil and feed many people, but the government of that nation refused the seeds because they bore a Christian mark. The officials removed all the Christian markings from the packages and only then accepted the seeds. The result? Life entered that nation! The form, or expression of faith, could not enter the country, but the essence entered. Life entered that nation in the form of seeds. Nothing but a tiny seed without a label, but life for hungry people! Flowers, food, sustenance of tomorrow are in seeds planted today.

Recently I read story that a famous university in New England is trying to remove the seeds of Christianity that were sown as the university was founded. I suspect that this news is not entirely accurate, because many Christians are there at this present time, both students and faculty. The story contains some truth, because most of our famous American universities that were established originally on strong Christian principles have become totally secularized, and many of them even oppose any form of Christian influence on campus.

But that is to be expected in the world. What is not expected and is often overlooked is the more important fact that the seeds that were sown so many years ago have germinated and born great fruit. The seeds gave rise to the Student Volunteer Movement that began in 1886 and blossomed into the flowering of 100,000 young people committing their entire lives to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in nations throughout the world. Multitudes have been blessed because of the seeds sown by our predecessors. And new seeds are being planted in those universities today.

God has planted the seeds of life in those who welcome and receive Him. You yourself are a bearer of life. We have neglected the silent witness of the Gospel. In times of increasing anti-Christian sentiment, we must continue to plant seeds, seeds that will feed hungry bodies and nourish hungry souls.

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