Sunday, January 29, 2017

Psalm 148: Universal Praise Belongs to God!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the UMI lessons from the book of Psalms this first month of 2017!  We looked at Psalms 33, 96, 65, 104, and now 148. 
The author of Psalm 148 is unknown, but he certainly had a passion for praise and worship.  Psalm 148 has been called the psalm of universal praise.  Nothing in heaven or on earth has been left out of this praise psalm, not anything above, the stars, moons, planets, heavenly angels and hosts; not anything on earth, the smallest and largest of animals, not the fruitful trees of every kind;  not the kings, princes, judges, and rulers of the world; not even the President of the United States.   Everything and everybody must praise the Lord!
There are two calls to praise, each ending with a cause for praise.  First, there is a call to the heavenly beings and heavenly bodies to praise the Lord (vv1-4). Because of his creative power, he commanded and they were created; he established them forever and ever (vv5-6). I tried to image the waters above the heavens (v4), and the stars, galaxies and solar systems in farthest reaches, in the vastness of outer space. I could not.  However, even there let the heavenly bodies and worlds never to be seen by human eyes, let every-thing praise the Lord! 

The second call is to the earthly beings, all creatures, and substances (vv7-12) because, God's name alone is to be exalted above the earth and heaven, and because of the strength (horn) of his people who praise Him. The psalmist began with the heights of the heavens, but here descends to the depths of the ocean. The creatures there were created by God, as well as the beasts, cattle, and creeping things, all are capable of praising Him.  The greatness of any ruler on earth is outmatched by the glory of the Lord. No matter their age or gender, every person is called to praise the Lord.  This means we must teach our babies early to love and fear the Lord, and sing praises to him.  We must come along side our senior saints in the churches, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities, and help and encourage them to worship God to be best of their abilities. Let them all, great and small, praise the LORD.   "For this name is very great, His glory towers over the earth and the heaven (v.13)."
The psalm ends as it begins with, Praise ye the Lord!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Song of A Soul Satisfied

By: Min. Angela Lee Price
Psalm 104 is a song of a soul satisfied. If you want to know what it means to be truly satisfied, I suggest you turn here.  Although it does not list an author, many scholars attribute this psalm to David.  David found his soul's search satisfied in God.  The Hebrew word for "satisfied" is a key term in this psalm.  The earth is satisfied (v. 13), the trees are satisfied ("flourish," v. 16), and all of the earth's inhabitants are satisfied (v. 16 &; v. 28).  The word "satisfied" means that a need, desire, or expectation has been met by something or someone.  It also means to be fulfilled or to be free of doubt or question.
In the late '60s, the Rolling Stones recorded a popular secular song called, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction."  Otis Redding and others artists recorded it as well. 
The song was about a man who tried, and tried everything to "get gurly action." He listened to the radio, watched television, flew around the world, but he just could not get what he was searching for.  What he found was a man providing "useless information" on the radio, and people in their addiction, a cigarette smoker on the television who didn't smoke his brand of cigarette, and a woman in another country who told him to come back next week because she was on a "losing streak."   The song is a classic.  It perfectly captured the human longing to be fulfilled. 

In the quest for satisfaction, people will try anything and search everywhere.  They turn to pundits and so-called experts. They turn to sex, drugs, alcohol, social media, gambling, and the club scene.   Advertisers sell products with the statement, "Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back."   Searching for satisfaction, however, many have fallen victim to the tricks, the schemes, the wiles of the enemy. Many have ended up strung out and addicted to drugs, divorced or estranged from their loved ones, bankrupt, and deep in debt while trying to fill that God-shaped place in their souls that only God can fill.


The human experience is a spiritual search to get our questions about life and why we are here answered.  Paraphrasing Helen Keller, many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true soul satisfaction.  It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to God.  A soul satisfied envisions God in everything (vv. 1-4), relies on God (vv. 5-18), seeks God (vv 19-26), receives the Spirit of God (VV. 27-32), and meditates on God (VV 33-35).    If you have tried, and tried, and tried, but you just can't get no satisfaction, then try Jesus. God sent His only Son Jesus to died for your sins that you might have life abundantly (John 3:16 & John 10:10).  Jesus saves!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Celebrating Black History: What Real Hope Looks Like

Today, hope is under attack like never before -- terrorist attacks, violence increasing in our city streets, joblessness, with healthcare under seize  life-threatening illnesses are increasing, abuse, addictions and increase threats to our democracy.  We live in desperate and perilous times, filled with stresses and daunting challenges. Where is hope?
Have you ever wondered what hope looks like? The literary works by and about courageous people of color who overcame tremendous odds to trail blaze a brighter path forward for African Americans and for our nation is what real hope looks like.  The pages of Scripture give us hope, and point us to the source of our hope, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hope looks like Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower; Cane Hope Felder, Stoney the Road We Trod, Alex Hailey, Roots; Cornel West, Hope on a Tightrope.  Hope looks like Renita Weems, Listening for God; Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God; Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Journey to the Well. Hope looks like Langston Hughes, "Mother to Son" because life ain't been no crystal stair.  Hope looks like The Color Purple, Alice Walker; the color black, A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone; The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. DuBois.  Hope looks like Toni Morrison, Playing the Piano in the Dark, Harriet Tubman famously trudging through the dark conducting the Underground Railroad, and Maya Angelou daring to declare, And Still I Rise!  Our first African American president Barack Obama entered office with The Audacity of Hope, and left  with the "Reality of Hope".  The courage of our past gives us hope for the future!

There is often confusion about what hope looks like.  That is because hope, like faith and love, looks different in different situations.  Because real hope relies on the goodness and faithfulness of God, it has many faces to respond fully to the different experiences of life. One such face that peers back from the past is that of Jarena Lee (1783-1850), a preaching phenon not denied in her day, delayed yes, but not denied.  She traveled 2,325 miles and preached 178 sermons in one year as part of her crusade as a traveling minister.  Richard Allen of the AME Church had previously rejected Lee as a preacher, but he later changed his mind, believing she was indeed called to preach by God.  Lee faced many difficulties as an African American woman.  Nevertheless, she inspired thousands through her preaching and published autobiography. 
 
As believers we have one hope of our calling.  With hope, followers of Jesus Christ can confidently engage the world despite the obstacles they many face.   The Bible teaches us that we have a saving, living, secure, joyful, good, blessed, courageous, purifying and glorious hope!
  1. One Hope.  Ephesians 4:3-6 states, "Make very effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all, and through all and in you all."
  2. A saving hope.  Regarding our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our bodies, Romans 8:24 states, "for in this hope we were saved."
  3. A living hope.  1 Peter 1:3 states, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...."
  4. secure hope.  Hebrews 6:18 states,  "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." 
  5. A joyful hopeRomans 5:3 states, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom he has given us."  Romans 12:12 states, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."
  6. A good hope. 2 Thessalonians 2:16 states,  "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word."
  7. A blessed hope.  Titus 2:11-14 states, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" 
  8. A courageous hope.  Hebrews 3:6 states,  "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house.  And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast."  2 Corinthians 3:12 states, " Having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech."
  9. A purifying hope.  1 John 2-3 states, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure."
  10. A glorious hope.  Colossians 1:27 states, "To them (the saints) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
The Bible tells us we ought to abound in hope because believers have been given the Spirit of God and the powerful hope that comes from Jesus.  We possess hope because we know that God is the source and reason for our hope.  Jesus died on the cross while we were dead in our sins, and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us!  The Spirit of the true and living God operating in our lives is what hope looks like. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Jesus saves!



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Psalm 65: Praise waiteh For Thee

I thought I would share the lyrics to one of my favorite Richard Smallwood songs, "My Everything (Praise Waiteth)." This song is based on Psalm 65, the lesson this week in the UMI Commentary.  This song of David is a song of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest received after a drought was averted.  I have been writing about vows here at the start of the new year. Psalm 65 opens with a vow (resolution or promise) to praise Yahweh for hearing and answering the prayers of the people of Israel.   "Praised waiteth for Thee..." in the KJ in verse 1 is translated in the NLT, "What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion.  We will fulfill our vows to you for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. (Vv1-2).

Oh, what praise still awaits God in 2017 from his people because He is faithful to his promises.  This is potential praise.  Potential praise is energy waiting to happen.  We turn potential praise to active praise through focus.  I don't know about you, but I owe God back praise!  If he doesn't do another thing for me, He has already done enough for me to praise him the rest of my life.  There is praise within all our spirits that awaits its intended Recipient,  Yahweh, the true and living God.  We must focus.  When we focus on the acts of God, the blessings of God, and a future with God, potential praise is activated.   

Let us praise the Lord this MLK Holiday weekend,  and keep our promises to worship and obey him.  He has brought us a mighty, mighty long way!  He has heard and answered our ancestors.  In spite of bigotry, racism, and hatred, He has blessed us, as a people, and as a nation in so many ways!  Hallelujah!   Jesus saves!



Oh Lord, Your My Everything
Praise Wait-Eth For Thee My King
Oh-Oh, Thou Who Hear-Eth Everthing
Oh Lord, Your My Ev-Ry-Thing
Repeat As Directed
You-Are My Light
That Shines-In The Midst Of Darkness
You-Are My Help
Your're There-In Times Of Trouble- [Modulaton]
Where-Would-I Be
If Not But For Your Mercy
Oh Lord, Your're My Ev-Erything
[Repeat As Directed]
Praise Wait-Eth For Thee
My Everything

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Here Are New Year's Resolutions Worth Keeping

"v20 It will be a sign and a witness that the Lord of Heaven's Armies is worshipped in Egypt. When the people cry to the Lord for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them. v 21 The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the Lord and give sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the Lord and will keep it." Isaiah 19:20-21 NLT

Each year, we start the year making resolutions of every kind, some worth keeping and some frivolous and not worth keeping. In recent months, the word "Challenge" has been used to describe vows, pledges, and resolutions to keep our promises.  Anytime, however, we vow to know and obey the will of God, then there is a resolution worth keeping.
In this passage, Isaiah speaks of the time when Egypt, of all places, would know the Lord, and worship Him - Not only would they worship the Lord, they would make a vow to Him and keep it.  One of the cities in Egypt, Heliopolis, worshipped the sun god.   That the worship of Yahweh would be taken up was the sign of a radical transformation. First, note the reason for them making and keeping this vow (v20). They are being oppressed, but because God is full of grace and mercy, he sends a deliverer, a savior to rescue them. The savior is believed to be a reference to a future millennial reign of Jesus Christ.  Every Christian is a recipient of God's grace and mercy.  At some point we were, like Egypt, separated from God.  But somebody prayed for us and the Lord answered.   We underwent a radical transformation.  Jesus saved, delivered, and set us free. Therefore, when we make vows to God, we ought to keep them.  If nobody else around us lives for God, we ought to live for him.

Here are some vows (resolutions) concerning our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Bible and the church that are worth keeping.  We should better understand our relationship with Jesus Christ, better understand the Bible, and the church.

First, we should strive to better understand three things about our relationship with Jesus Christ.   Jesus is only way to  salvation (Acts 4:12 & John 14:6); Christ was sinless and therefore my example (1 Peter 2:21-22); and I am not my own but belong to Christ (1 Cor 6:19-20).

Secondly, we should strive to better understand these three things about the Bible.  It as the inspired Word of God (2 Tim 3:16);  It is my light and guide (Ps 119:105);  and One day I will be judged by the Gospel (Romans 16 & I Cor 3:13-15).

Finally, we should strive to remember three things about the church. It was purchased with the precious blood of Christ, and ought to be respected (Eph 5:25 & Acts 20:28);  The church is a divine institution and ought to be honored (Matt. 16:18). Jesus instituted the church. He protects the church. He is the head of the church. Lastly, It is my duty to be loyal to the church by attending regularly (Heb. 10:25) and keeping my membership in good standing.

Going to the gym, watching what we eat, and getting more sleep are all fine and dandy resolutions, but these spiritual resolutions far outweigh those and will greatly bless our lives. They are worth keeping and worth fighting for.  Make it a goal to pray every day, and read the Bible every day, and attend church regularly. There is an app for that!  Oh, yeah, and there is an online church app, too! Each day in 2017 seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (Matt. 6:33). We hope that you will participate with Jesus Saves Ministries this year and spread the word about our online group and community projects and initiatives.  Let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus.  Amen.  Will you accept the challenge? Jesus saves!


Sunday, January 08, 2017

The No Junk Food Challenge

As I eat a chocolate peppermint candy cane, I say this is good.  No, not the candy cane, although it is good, too. I am referring to this No Junk Food Challenge. After all of the holiday food, to go on a junk free cleanse is a great idea.  It will allow you to bring your body back to a level of "equilibrium. " 
However, if you are preparing to fast, as many are doing at the beginning of year, there needs to be more.   I would add prayer, Bible reading/study, worship and fellowship with like-minded brothers and sisters in the Christian faith.  While denying yourself junk food for 21 days, do not deny yourself intimacy with God...Increase it for 21 days!
Your goal as a believer should not be to simply say  that you did this or that for 21 days. No.  Any non-believer, or person of another faith can do that. Any fitness enthusiast can do that. Your goal should be to deny yourself or fast at the beginning of the year in order to draw closer to God and increase your walk with Him throughout the year; praying to be on his agenda, praying for direction and guidance in handling your personal and business affairs, praying and reading the Word of God, and seeking wise, godly counsel for knowledge,  wisdom, and understanding for the journey!   Amen.

What New Song Are You Singing in 2017?

In a few short days, like it or not, the 45th president of the United States will be sworn into office.  The inauguration will include pomp and pageantry,  parades and songs of praise, no doubt.  Already there are those singing new songs of praise for the president-elect.  While some are praising, others have been and will be peacefully singing songs of protests on January 20th, Inaugration Day.   What new song are you singing?

This weekend's Precepts for Living Bible lesson in Psalm 96:1-13 has me singing a song of praise to the true and living God!  It is so important to meditate on Psalm 96 because it serves as a reminder that no matter who is president, no matter your party affiliation,  God is still on the throne!  He alone is Sovereign and worthy of all praise, honor, and glory! 

Psalm 96 is a song of praise, but specifically,  an enthronment psalm that celebrates God's divine kingship over all the earth.  The Lord reigns!  He established the world.  He is Creator, Sustainer, and Vindicator of the world!  As believers,  our new song should contain blessings, daily testimonies of God's salvation, and recollections of His glory and wonders (vv 2-3).    In fact, our entire lives should be one continuous new song of worship and praise to the One true God who sits high and looks low. We should not be so self-centered that we neglect and forget the One who can handle our problems.  We should not be so heavenly minded either that we are no earthy good.  We should praise God for his perfect justice, be aware of earthly injustice and speak out against it.  Let us sing a new song to God who reigns and is coming back again!  No matter who is in the White House, God is on the throne!  Amen!  Jesus saves!

"Sing a new song to the Lord ! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord ! Sing to the Lord ; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves."
Psalms 96:1‭-‬2 NLT

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