In this psalm we find a psalmist that is preaching to himself.
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!…. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God”
We find a psalmist that is resolving to fix his gaze upon God.
“I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
And he is giving fuel to his sermon and resolve by actively remembering all that God has done.
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless”
If we look closely we will see that this practice of preaching to self is one that reoccurs throughout the psalter, and it is my prayer that it is a practice that would reoccur in our lives as well. So today, on this Memorial Day, as we reflect on all the brave men and women who have fought to afford us the freedom that we so greatly appreciate, let us not neglect to also reflect on what Jesus has done. Let us fix our gaze upon Him, understanding that it is He alone that affords us our ultimate freedom. And let us rest in His sovereignty, continuing to place our final hope in HIm.
As I was reading through today’s passage in Colossians, I couldn’t help but be reminded of an an excerpt from Jared Wilson’s exceptional book “Gospel Wakefulness”. I share it with you now, hoping that it might prove to be food for thought as you meditate on Colossians 3:18 -4:18 yourself.
“Gospel wakefulness is not truly experienced if it does not open our hearts to others. A completely inward wakefulness is false wakefulness. While what Christ has done is the grounds of the gospel’s content, what Christ commands is the reference for the gospel’s implications, and from his own mouth we know that the greatest commandment is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27)
The gospel wakened church resolves to live for those outside it’s walls, to give herself away in love and on mission…… When awe of Jesus captures a church, her people become missionaries to their own communities and contexts, making this vow ‘Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.’ And there is no greater good than Christ, no firmer foundation than him.”
~ Jared Wilson ~
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. – Psalm 125:2 (ESV)
What a statement to hold on to! As followers of Jesus we are God’s people. Thus, what a difference it will make if we only live in light of this statement. As you embark on this week dwell on this statement and rest in the sovereignty of the Lord our God. For as Paul says so well: “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)
In Psalm 119 we find the psalmist expressing a overwhelmingly adamant desire to be tied to God’s word God’s Word in every way possible. He wants to be engulfed by it. He wants to be enraptured by it. He wants to be consumed by it. He wants to be defined by it. He never wants to stray from it. Why? Because, he finds ALL hope, worth, and joy in it. My prayer today is that we might all approach God’s Word with such inexorable zeal and intention!
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? – Galatians 3:1-2 (ESV)
Do you base your standing before God on works or on faith? We must always remember that we are saved by faith, and we persevere by faith as well. At no time is our status before God ever based on our own abilities. If it were, we would have no hope at all. That is not to say that we are not participants in our continued sanctification. As Paul told the Romans, we should not continue to sin that grace might abound. However, the source of our sanctification and the strength by which we persevere is always dependent on the strength of God. With this in mind we should make it our task to fix our gaze on the power, splendor, mercy, and grace of God. We must rest in the finished work of His Son. And, we must find our delight in His ways.
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. – Psalm 105:1-4 (ESV)
Does this describe you? Are you thankful for grace? Are you overflowing with an adoration that spills over on to those around you? Are you dwelling in his presence? Are you continually seeking His face? This is what God desires most from us. He desires not that we follow solemnly, but that our lives be filled with a holy joy. A joy that can’t be contained. A joy that is so great that we simply must share it with those around us. A joy that is completely centered on the blazing brightness and splenodor of Christ Jesus our Lord. He wants to be our everything! Yet, so often this is not where we live and the psalmist understands that. That is why he follows this soliloquy, if you will, with a crucial piece of advice.
Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered – Psalm 105:4 (ESV)
In other words, if you’ll allow me to be poetic for a moment: Stare intently into the heart of the Son. Reminding yourself daily of all the wonders that He’s done. Reminding yourself daily of all He’s done in your life. Reminding yourself daily how He’s brought you through strife. And, meditating continually on the stories the Bible’s told, of how He worked in the lives of the saints of old. – For when we reflect daily on what He has done, we will find that it becomes a kindling of sorts for that holy fire that He desires that we have. So as you embark on this new week, I pray that you would resolve to dwell on all that He is and all that He’s done. And, I pray that you would have have a holy joy that overflows for the fame of His name.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (ESV)
As you read through 1 Corinthians 15 today please do not miss the fact that Paul is reminding believers of the Gospel. Why do I point that out? Because, the Gospel is of critical importance for all, for those who have believed as well as those that have not. It is NOT merely a building block from which we progress. It is the hope in which we stand. It is the power by which we grow. Thus, the Gospel is something that we should continue to remind ourselves of every day of our lives. So as you embark on this new week I encourage you to find ways to remind yourself of the Gospel. Find ways to dwell on the Gospel, for as Paul has already told the Corinthians while “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing… to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV) In closing I leave you with one additional thought to dwell on this week. It’s a quote by C.J. Mahaney and is easily one of my favorite quotes ever.
“Never be content with your current grasp of the gospel. The gospel is life- permeating world-altering, universe-changing truth. It has more facets than a diamond. It’s depths man will never exhaust.” – C.J. Mahaney (The Cross Centered Life)