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Reason for Hallelujah!

Hallelujah5

Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? Who can declare all His praise? (Psalm 106:1-2)

 

In the Name of Jesus…

Hallelujah! This is the word that means, “Praise the Lord.” The psalmist in this section begins this way. And he continues, by also giving the reason, to give thanks…Because the Lord, Yahweh (also pronounced Jehovah), is good.

How is the Lord good? “His mercy endures forever.” This means that as long as God’s mercy is, He is good. And God’s mercy is forever! Therefore, God is good-forever!

As the psalmist praises and give thanks for the Lord’s goodness, for His enduring mercy (in Christ, i.e. Matthew 9:13), so do His people, for His people know themselves to be sinners and seek His grace and forgiveness in Christ. They give thanks to the Lord, not because they merit the things that they have or have somehow been blessed more than others, but because all they have is gift from the gracious God Himself. They know Him to be good on account of the Word He declares, the forgiveness He gives, His Son, Jesus, whom He sent.

God’s people find comfort, not in the things of this life, but in the Giver of the things of this life, who, above all else, offered Himself in death on the cross (Mark 10:45). To Him alone they give thanks, “for His mercy endures forever.” Amen.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Giver of all good gifts, thank you for providing for all of our needs of body and soul and for giving us what we don’t deserve, and for not giving us what we do deserve. Forgive us for our selfishness and for taking you for granted, as well for our misuse of your blessings. Give us grateful hearts and help us to live according to your Word, trusting in Your Son, who on the cross gave Himself for our salvation, and open our mouths that, with the Psalmist, we utter Your mighty acts and declare Your praise. Amen.

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Reason to Give Thanks

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Psalm 30:11-12, NKJ

In the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

The writer of Ecclesiastes, in the third chapter, begins by writing, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  In the same chapter, speaking of the times, he says that there is, “A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).

The Psalmist spoke of such a time.  He had mourned.  He had grieved in sackcloth.  Yet his grief was turned to gladness.  His mourning was turned into dancing.

These things did not become so because of or on account of the Psalmist.  He doesn’t say, “I have turned” or “I have put off.”  No!  He says, “You,” meaning the Lord his God.   The Lord his God had turned for him his mourning into dancing.  The Lord his God had put off his sackcloth and had clothed him with gladness.

This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).

The Lord had heard the prayers and petitions of His servant for mercy and help (Psalm 30:10).  And the Lord answered him.

The Psalmist David implored of the Lord with confidence, not doubting (see James 1:5-8).  He didn’t pray by saying, “Lord, if you’re there, hear.”  He didn’t say, “Lord, if you can help, please do.”  Rather, David prayed with a confidence that trusted in the God who is faithful to His promises and steadfast to His Word.

God had given David such confidence.  And God gives such confidence to you, for in Jesus, you have nothing but the certainty of God’s mercy towards you.  Now you have peace with God (Romans 5:1).  And having this peace with God through Jesus Christ means that you also have reason for continually Him giving thanks and praise and for singing in your heart to the Lord.

Though your circumstances remain the same or not, the Lord is ever faithful to His Word.  The change from having bitterness in the heart to giving endless thanks to the Lord is not dependent on circumstances, but a changed heart, a heart changed by God, by means of His Holy Word.  And by means of God’s Word, even the Word made flesh (John 1:14), you always have reason to rejoice and give thanks, even through times of grieving and mourning.  Times of joy and dancing will come, but not at your time—in the Lord’s.  Amen.

Prayer: Lord God, keep me confident of your promises and nothing but sure of Your faithfulness to Your Holy Word.  Help me to bear my crosses while waiting only on you and trusting solely in Your Word, praying, “Thy will be done.”  Amen.

Stubbornness and Idolatry

Then Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.

1 Samuel 15:22-23

 

Through Samuel the prophet, God had told King Saul to “utterly destroy” (v3) the Amalekites for what they had previously done to Israel, their men, their women, their animals, everything. But instead of doing what the Lord had said, King Saul “spared the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to destroy them” (v9).

Saul had done these things, in clear opposition to what the Lord had said, with what he (and we) would have thought to be the best of intentions, “to sacrifice to the Lord” (v15).  The problem was this, that King Saul did not follow the Word of the Lord, but “did his own thing” and what he thought was right.  As a result, God rejected Saul as king (1 Samuel 15).

In not obeying God’s Word and going “his own way,” Saul committed the sin of idolatry.  Even though he thought that he was doing right, he was greatly in the wrong, even going against God, for he acted in defiance of God by putting his own thoughts and ways above the One who gives all things.

As it was with Saul, the sin of idolatry is inherent in each of us.  Stubbornness is this way.  We have God’s Word, and yet, we act and do according to our own will and desire, even considering that “going our own way” is in keeping with God’s commandments.  God says one thing, and yet, we think we know better and do something else, all the while convincing ourselves that we’re “doing the right thing.”  Thus, like Saul, we defiantly disobey the Lord, forsake His Word, and delude ourselves into believing that we are in the right, though God has given another Word.  This is nothing less than a rejection of the Word of the Lord.

The child of God does not remain in this delusion, convincing himself that he is in the right when God speaks differently.  Rather, the child of God lives continually in the state of repentance, sorrowing and grieving because of his idolatrous heart.  The child of God hears the Words of the Lord and seeks mercy and forgiveness for his stubbornness.  He wants to be rid of his sin, for he sees it for what it is, Coram Deo, before God.  He sees himself for what he is before God—nothing but a sinner.

And yet, it is sinners that God saves!  It is sinners that God forgives.  It is sinners for whom Christ died (John 3:16; Luke 15; Acts 13:38; Romans 4:7; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:9; 2:12).

Your sin of idolatry God forgives, for Jesus Christ not only committed no sin, no iniquity, and no idolatry (1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  This Jesus, on the cross, shed His blood which covers all your idolatries, all your iniquities, all your sins.  These are no longer yours to bear, for Christ has born them all.  And in exchange for these, Christ gives to you His righteousness, His sinlessness, and His perfect love to the Father.

In Christ, you are born anew, born of God, given new life, good in God’s sight.  Instead of listening to your own voice and the words of sinful man, being born anew, you hear Christ and His words and “deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24).  As a child of God, you want to hear God’s servant, who preaches Christ to you.  You want to join with other Christians at the Lord’s Table who confess the same faith and are united in the one true doctrine according to Holy Scripture, the living Word of God.  And you forgive others their sins against you, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.  And so you do, by God’s grace!  Amen.

 

Quote

“American Protestantism and fundamentalism have, in large measure, adopted the U.S. consumer and marketing perspective; thus all different types of churches are marketing Jesus to particular segments of the community.  Individually, we are lords of our lives.  No community or family can tell me what my personal faith should be.  I can define it myself, then find a church to give me what I think I need.” (Harrison, Christ Have Mercy, 115)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, giver of all good things, grant that I not deny Your most Holy and precious Word for my sake, because I want to do my own thing and go my own way.  Keep me in the faith that I not deny you.  Lead me not into the temptation of trying to define faith or the church my way that I forsake Your life giving Word for what I think that I need.  Rather, keep me steadfast in only Your Word, for only in that is their true and everlasting life, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Amen.

 


Prayer

I’ve been praying for something for quite some time now, but it doesn’t seem that God hears me. How do I know when to stop praying?

2004 ATP.Prayer.pdf

Lk15.1-10, Pentecost 16, 2010C.pdf

“In such jeopardy our only consolation is that we have a Shepherd, our dear Lord Jesus Christ, who accepts us and seeks us out, not to punish us for our sins and throw us into hell, but rather finds us, places us on his shoulder and rejoices to carry us home to safety from the world, where we have pasture and where every prospect pleases.  You know how such a search takes place, namely, that he permits his Word to ring out plainly, from which we learn how heinous and burdensome our sins is which would throw us into eternal damnation.  But God, in his fatherly love, was a compassionate toward us disobedient children and through his Son provided counsel and aid in our misery.  It behooves us then to accept this gift with thanksgiving, believe in Christ, repent, and be converted to God.” (Luther)

Lk15.1-10, Pentecost 16, 2010C.pdf

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