It Is So Right

Psalm 122:1 (ESV) ~ I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”


Oh God, it is so right and salutary. It is indeed our joy and privilege to give you thanks and praise at all times and in all places – in every moment and with every breath. You are worthy. You are so worthy for You have given us a King to reign over us that we may never fear anything or anyone. You have given us a Savior who has saved our very souls. You have given us a Shepherd to feed and nourish us. You have given us a place at Your Banquet Feast – a place of honor – so we may longingly and lovingly perpetually gaze our eyes upon You. Yes, oh God, yes, it is right and our joy to worship You. And so, we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.

The Pillar of Cloud Has Lifted

On Sunday, December 8, the congregation that I serve – Living Word Lutheran Church – held it’s final worship service in a space that we have rented for nearly 10 year. On Sunday, December 15, we begin a new chapter of worship and ministry in our newly purchased building. It was a bitter sweet day for us but we are excited to see what God is going to do through us. And so, as we closed worship on Sunday, I led the congregation in the following prayer/blessing/benediction that I wrote for the occasion. To God be the glory!


Psalm 122:1 (ESV) ~ I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

For nearly 10 years, Living Word has been echoing that sentiment – joyfully coming into this building to worship God our Father through Christ Jesus our Lord. This has been our house of the Lord – our place of worship. Joyfully we came here to hear the Word of God. Among other things: baptisms were done to the glory of God, men and women were joined together in marriage, people confirmed their faith, families and friends mourned – with hope – the death of loved ones. We enjoyed meals together, watched our children present the Christmas story, we met together to discuss and debate issues but always with respect and we gifted the community with the Living Last Supper a number of times. So many memories with much laughter and tears. This place has meant a lot to so many people. And even though we are excited to begin this next chapter of our lives in Graham, we sadly say goodbye to nearly 10 years together in this house of the Lord. We’ve been glad to enter here, but now we are glad to enter a new house next week. Please join me as we pray and bless this place:

Holy and awesome God, ten years ago, this congregation embarked on an unknown adventure of faith. Faithful men and women followed You into a brand-new mission field. Very quickly You gifted this congregation with this place to worship. For that we thank and praise You. Now You have said it is time to move and thus we follow You boldly and faithfully. Whatever congregation moves in here next; may You bless them mightily as You have blessed us. Bless their pastors and leaders. Bless their ministry. Oh God, we give You thanks for the many Meridian Habitat staff people that have hosted us over the years. Bless the staff that work here as they serve as hosts to others. Thank You for the opportunity to get to know them. And now, oh God, I ask that Your Spirit continue to move in this place as it has moved among us for 10 years. Yes, this is a secular building and location, but it has been holy ground for us. Thank You, God, for the memories here and the memories yet to be formed in Graham. And now, as the pillar of cloud lifts from this holy place this day, we pack up and follow You. Bless our journey, as You have done for 10 years, that You and You alone are glorified. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior we pray, Amen.

And now, for the final time in this place, receive this Benediction:

As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Why I Praise the Lord

[Inspired by studying Psalm 98]

Why do I praise the Lord?
Oh let me, oh let me count the ways.
He is the King of glory,
The maker of my days.
He won salvation for me,
That I may dwell with thee.
He won salvation for me,
And now I am ever free.
I praise him for his awesome grace,
Through which someday I’ll see His face.
I praise him for his awesome grace,
And it’s Him I will always embrace.
He never leaves me stranded.
He never abandons me.
He never turns His back.
His Spirit is my guarantee.
He shows me His glory in Jesus my Lord.
He shows me His glory and He is adored.
He shows me his glory,
Oh wow! Oh wow!
He shows me His glory in His great story.
So why do I praise the Lord?
There are many reasons to list.
The quantity does not deter me,
For I love to reminisce.
So why do you praise the Lord?
Oh please, oh please tell me.
Proclaim to me His mighty works.
So in Him I’ll have more glee.

Confident Praying

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord , faithful God. [Psalms 31:3‭-‬5 ESV]


Just think on those verses for a moment. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

[Pondering]

…and now consider this: Into your hand I commit my spirit are words that Jesus prayed while on the cross – right before he breathed his last breath (Luke 23:46). With his dying breath he was praying the Word of God. No doubt, the rest of this Psalm was on his heart as he was dying:

~ You are my rock and fortress.
~ For Your name’s sake You, oh Father, lead me and guide me.
~ You are my deliverer – taking me out of their net.
~ You are my refuge.
~ My life is Yours for You have redeemed me.
~ Father, You are faithful.

What a powerful prayer to be prayed at that time. A prayer of faith, for Jesus knows the Father like no one else. Jesus knew what was coming and thus he endured the cross FOR YOU. Jesus knew his Father was and is faithful. Jesus knew God’s plan would be fulfilled. Jesus knew God would be glorified. Knowing all of this, Jesus prayed with confidence – praying for your salvation – and with his dying breath.

And now, we sit here on this side of the cross looking back. Looking back to see Jesus’ incredible love for you and for me. He died for our sins and rose from the grave that we could have the hope of the resurrection. He committed his life to God and His plan of redemption so we could be saved. What an awesome God we have. Knowing this and knowing that God wants to hear from us, it behooves us to commune with Him.

But maybe you are feeling dry in your prayer life or just need something different. Try praying the Psalms like Jesus did. Pray Psalm 31, for example, and let the Holy Spirit carry you on a wave of joy – splashing you with the love of God. Start with verse one and then meditate – praying what comes to mind, and then move on to the next verse and so on – taking your time. It is like you are carrying on a conversation with God. He speaks to you through His Word and you pray back to him. And then God speaks and then you. What a fun scene. A child and daddy communing together in intimate joy.

If you run out of time, that’s alright. Just pick up where you leave off next time. Pray, pray and pray some more. Pray with confidence – in faith – and through your dying breath, knowing:
~ God is your rock and fortress.
~ For His name’s sake, God will lead and guide you.
~ God is your deliverer – taking you out of the nets set for you.
~ God is your refuge.
~ Your life is His for God has redeemed you through Jesus Christ.
~ Your Father is faithful.

Jesus prayed this with complete confidence and thus, through faith, you can and should as well. God wants you to. Give thanks and praise and worship to God – committing your life to Him. Pray confidently, as Jesus did. Take refuge in God and chat with your heavenly daddy. He’s waiting for you.

So, are you ready? Okay then, let’s pray…

Befitting

Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly. [Psalm 149:1 ESV]

Studying Psalm 149 with my midweek Bible study crew inspired me to write the following poem.


Praise is indeed befitting You.
You are awesome, indeed that’s true.
Your great power has broken through.
To make my heart completely new.

Praise is indeed befitting You.
Lead me now that I may review.
Jesus died – my days won’t be few.
Jesus lives – I am made holy new.

Praise is indeed befitting You.
Something that I can’t overdo.
My praise now is just a preview.
Your praise will not discontinue.

Level Ground

My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord .
Psalms 26:12 ESV

You have placed me on level ground, oh God, through Christ Jesus my Lord.
You have placed me on the firm foundation of Your Word.
You have given me hope beyond this life.
You have placed me upon the Rock.
And i give You thanks and praise – in the assembly and through my life.
Oh God, I honor and worship You,
On level ground.
This world proclaims a message that sits precariously on shaky ground.
It’s hope is false and death-ridden.
But You are my God and You alone, for through You i am on level ground.
With You,
I never feel like I’m running up hill.
I never feel like I’m spinning my wheels.
I never feel like I’m running into dead ends.
For with You i am on level ground.
And so I will praise You in the great assembly and I will praise You with my every breath.
I will praise You with my brothers and sisters, and I will praise You in the midst of the world.
Thank you for placing me on level ground through faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you for saving me.
Thank you for holding my life.
Oh God I praise You –
On level ground.
Amen!

Teach Me

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
[Psalms 119:66 ESV]

Good judgment is in short supply, oh God, and i’m not pointing fingers. Good judgment is in short supply with me concerning Your Law.
Teach me.
Help me.
Show me.
Your Law is good, right and pure.
Your Law is perfect, enduring and sure.
I know this but i need good judgment that i may follow Your Laws rightly.
I need good judgment that i may glorify You more fully.
Teach me to know Your Law more deeply, oh God.
I give You thanks that You have given me knowledge of You through Jesus Christ.
I give You thanks that You have given me Your Holy Spirit.
I give You thanks that You have saved me.
Thus,
i want to know Your Law better and have better judgment that my obedience in this world would glorify You.
You deserve that, so help me.
Teach me, oh God, teach me.
Give me good judgment for i believe in Your commandments.