‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the House of the Lord”’ (Psalm 122:2).
Why, Lord, do we go to Your House? We go ‘to give thanks to the Name of the Lord’ (Psalm 122:4). We seek Your mercy for our past sins: ‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!’ (Psalm 123:3). We seek Your help for our future temptations: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord…’ (Psalm 124:8). We receive mercy and help from You, Lord. Help us to worship You: ‘Blessed be the Lord’ (Psalm 124:6). In our worship, we ‘look to You, the Lord our God. We draw encouragement from Your Word: ‘The Lord is on our side’ – In Him we have the victory (Psalm 123:2; Psalm 124:1-5). Help us, Lord, to rejoice in Your blessing and to pray for others: ‘May they prosper who love You’ (Psalm 122:6).
The Lord is with us in our troubled times.
“I will be with him in his troubled times” (Psalm 91:15). We cannot avoid our troubled times – but we can know that the Lord is with us in our troubled times.
‘Those who trust in the Lord… cannot be moved… .’
When, Lord, we put our trust in You, we are like the ‘wise man who built his house on the rock’. His house ‘did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock’. When we don’t put our trust in You, we are like the’ foolish man who built his house on sand’. His house ‘fell with a great crash’. Help us never to forget that ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 125:1; Psalm 127:1; Matthew 7:24-27). Help us to remember that ‘Jesus Christ’ is the ‘sure Foundation’ upon which our faith is built. He is ‘the solid Rock’, our ‘mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment’ (1 Corinthians 3:11; 10:3-4). We thank You, Lord, that ‘Christ died for our sins… He was raised on the third day’. Help us to keep on rejoicing in Him: ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy’ (Psalm 126:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness through all generations’ (Psalm 89:1).
Lord, we read these words from so long ago. Many generations have come and gone since these words were written. The years come and go. The centuries run their course. One generation gives way to another generation. Time moves on relentlessly. None of us can halt the march of time. Many changes have taken place over the course of time. We thank You, Lord, that there is something that has never changed – Your great love for us. As we think of Your great love, may we say, in our hearts – The Lord is to be praised ‘for ever.’ He is to be praised ‘through all generations.’ Help us to look back and remember that Jesus Christ was crucified for us, that He has risen for us. We thank You, Lord, for the Good News which inspires our praise: ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love for ever… .’
In the darkest valley…
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
As we travel through life – we go through many times of darkness. Sometimes – the darkness is very dark. There’s a feeling that the light has gone out. These are the times when we need to remember that the Lord is with us. We should take time to remember times when we have been deeply aware of the Lord’s presence – times when we have praised the Lord and enjoyed his blessing. Think of the times when the love and the power of God have been very real to you. Think of these times – and give thanks to the Lord. Let the memory of these times fill your heart with thanksgiving. This will help you in the dark times. It will help you to keep on praising the Lord.
We thank You, Lord, that You are “the eternal God.” You are “our Refuge.” You hold us in Your “everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27).
This doesn’t mean that life will be easy for us – but it does mean that You will be with us – whatever happens, and You’ll never let us down. You’ll always be there for us. You are “for us” – whatever problems we may have to face, may we learn to say, with triumphant faith, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
“Sing aloud to God; shout for joy to the God of Jacob” (Psalm 81:1).
Teach us, Lord, to worship You with joy. You have blessed us in the past: “I am the Lord your God, who brings you out of the land of Egypt.” You will bless us in the future: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). Help us, Lord, to thank You for Your past blessings, and to trust You for Your future blessings.
The past is behind us. The future is calling us to move forward with faith.
We’ve been living through difficult times. Our faith has been sorely tested. Often, we have felt like giving upon praying to the Lord and praising him. As we move into the future, let us praise the Lord. Let us move forward with prayer to the Lord.
We praise you, Lord, for bringing us safely through many trying times. As we offer our prayer of thanksgiving, help us not to forget those who have reached the end of their earthly journey.
We pray to you, Lord, for the strength that we will need to rise above the trials that we will face in the days that lie ahead of us. As we bring our prayer for strength to you, help us to remember those who have lost loved ones.
When hard times come our way, help us, Lord, to keep on praying to you and praising you.
‘Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations… From everlasting to everlasting, You are God’ (Psalm 90:1-2).
Lord, we read the words, ‘In the beginning, God…’, and we know, in our hearts, that You are ‘the eternal God’. You are ‘the high and exalted One’. You are the God ‘who inhabits eternity’. You are the God ‘who lives for ever’. You have no beginning. You have no end. You are ‘the beginning and the end’. Our life on earth has a beginning. It has an end. We trust in You, ‘the eternal God.’ We rejoice in Your precious promises – ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’; ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’; ‘The free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Genesis 1:1; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 57:15; Revelation 21:6; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 6:23).
We thank You, Lord, that we have Your wonderful promise – “The Lord your God is with you” – as well as Your clear command – “Be strong” (Joshua 1:9).
Without Your promise, the command is no use. Again and again, we fail to keep Your commands. Again and again, we need to be reassured. You are still with us. This is what we need to hear. This is where our strength comes from. It comes from Your promise. It comes from knowing that You never fail us. You have never failed us. You never will fail us.
More than just “turning over a new leaf”
“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Behind Paul’s words – there is his own personal testimony: ‘This is what the Lord has done for me.” This is not about Saul of Tarsus – changing the direction of his own life. A new creation – this is about what the Lord did for Saul of Tarsus (see Acts 9). A new creation – this is not something which we do for ourselves. A new creation – this is what the Lord does for us.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Here – David prays for a new creation. He’s saying to the Lord – “What I’m asking for can only come from you – Lord.”
What about us?
Are we trying to change ourselves – and it isn’t working?
Are we learning to bring our prayer to the Lord – “Change my heart – O God. Make it ever new” (Eddie Espinoza)?
Are we learning to believe that the Lord has answered our prayer – “I am a new creation – no more in condemnation. Here in the grace of God I stand” (Dave Bilbrough)?
Are we learning to praise to the Lord – “And I will praise You – Lord. Yes – I will praise You – Lord – and I will sing of all that You have done” (Dave Bilbrough)?
A new creation – this is more than ‘turning over a new leaf.’ It’s a whole new beginning. It’s new life. It begins when Christ comes to life in us: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
A new creation – it doesn’t depend on our feelings. It comes to us from the grace of God. Praise the Lord!
‘He brought His people out with joy’ (Psalm 105:43).
When things are going badly and we feel like giving up, help us, Lord, to remember Your Word: ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). You’re calling us to ‘rejoice in You always’. You do not leave us on our own when our time of testing comes. You are there for us in our time of need: ‘My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:4,19). When we are deeply conscious of our own weakness, You come to us with Your Word of strength: ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through Your Word, we receive strength. Your Word brings joy to us. May we sing ‘glad songs of victory’: ‘The Lord is my Strength, my Song, my Saviour’ (Psalm 118:14-15).
Lord, You have blessed us so much. Help us never to forget this.
We look at the world You have made for us – and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” We look at the Saviour You have sent to us – and we say, “Thank You, Lord.” Why must we keep on remembering You? – We “remember” so that we might learn to fear You (Joshua 4:23-24). We remember so that we may have hope for the future – “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19).
‘Exalt the Lord our God… Make a joyful noise to the Lord’ (Psalms 99:5,9; 98:4,6; 100:1).
We are to worship the Lord with joy. We are to glorify God. We are to enjoy Him. In our worship, we must never forget the holiness of God: ‘He is holy!… The Lord our God is holy!’ (Psalm 99:5,9). In our worship, we rejoice in the love of God: ‘His steadfast love endures for ever… He has done marvellous things!’ (Psalms 100:5; 98:1). The God of ‘awesome purity’ loves us with the most perfect love of all: ‘No earthly father loves like Thee…’ Let us worship Him with holy fear and heartfelt love: ‘O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears… with trembling hope and penitential tears! Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art, for Thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart’ (Church Hymnary, 356).
“Create in me, a clean heart, O God … Cast me not away from Thy presence … Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation” (Psalm 51:10-12).
Lord, these words come to us from the ancient past. They can become words that change our future – words for making a new beginning with You. We have sinned. We need to be forgiven. May Your love reach us. May Your power change us. May we know the truth and power of Jesus’ gracious and precious promise: “I will never turn away anyone who comes to Me” (John 6:37).
Lord, we celebrate Your love. We rejoice in Your salvation.
Your love is a dying love. We see Your love in the death of Jesus, our Saviour. It’s also an undying love. It’s the only love that never dies. It never comes to an end. It’s eternal love, shown to us in the sacrificial death of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
God shows us our sin so that we might appreciate His salvation.
“Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
Here, we read about our sin and God’s salvation. Once we have received God’s salvation, we must not forget about our sin. We have been saved by God’s grace – but we are always sinners. Our sin has been forgiven – but our sin is still there, trying to get the upper hand, trying to keep us from “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). How are we to grow in Christ? We rejoice in His gift of the forgiveness of our sins – but will we grow in Christ by forgetting that we are sinners? When we come to the Cross of Christ, two things are revealed to us – our sin and God’s salvation. The revelation of our sin does not end when we receive God’s gift of forgiveness. In love, the Lord keeps on showing us how far we have fallen short of His perfect holiness. He shows us our sin so that we might appreciate His salvation and learn to walk with Him on His “Highway of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8).
We thank You, Lord, that ‘Your love endures for ever’.
What a great message this is! It’s a message worth repeating – over and over again! Your love is an everlasting love – ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). Your love is an unfailing love – ‘My unfailing love for you will not be shaken’ (Isaiah 54:10). We ‘give thanks’ to You for Your love (Psalm 136:1-3,26). In Your love, You have provided for us ‘an everlasting salvation’. Your ‘salvation will last for ever’ (Isaiah 45:17; 51:6). Lord, Your Word tells us about those who refuse to love You – ‘Pharaoh… great kings… mighty kings …’ (Psalm 136:15,17-20). Your Word tells us that those who reject Your love will not receive ‘eternal life’. Their future will be very different – the ‘raging fire that will consume the enemies of God’ (John 3:16-18; Hebrews 10:26-27). Why, Lord, do You speak to us about Your righteous judgment? You’re speaking to us Your strong Word of warning. You’re leading us away from the way of unbelief and into the way of faith. You’re leading us to embrace Your precious promises, the promises which speak to us of Your eternal salvation. Help us, Lord, to listen and learn – as we hear Your Word, with its stern warnings and its wonderful promises. Help us to see our sin. Help us to bring it to our Saviour. Help us to receive His forgiveness.
‘Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is beyond understanding’.
We worship You, Lord – our great God: ‘I will exalt You, my God the King. I will praise Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:1-3). You, Lord, are the God whom we worship. You are so much greater than the worship we bring to You. Our worship is to be a ‘joyful celebration’. We celebrate Your great love: ‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love’. We rejoice in Your great faithfulness: ‘The Lord is faithful to all His promises’. Here on earth, we have only begun to worship You, our great God. Our worship will continue in Your ‘everlasting Kingdom’. There, we will ‘praise Your Name for ever and ever’ (Psalm 145:7-8,13,21).
“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14). Here – the emphasis is placed on our human response.
In Ephesians 2:1 & 4-5, the emphasis is on what God does for us: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
When God’s Word calls for our human response – we can become discouraged. We feel that this is too much for us. We cannot do this for ourselves.
When God’s Word directs our attention to what God does for us – we are encouraged. In ourselves – we are spiritually dead. What can be done about this? From our side – the answer is very sad. We can do nothing about this. From God’s side – there is a much better and brighter answer: God has done something about our sin: “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions.”
We need to hear about our human response. It gives us a good shake when we hear the words – “Wake up sleeper.” We try. We try. We try… We try – but we fail. Again and again – we fail.
We say – “We are sinners. How can the light of Christ shine on us?” The call for our human response can set us on the pathway of searching for Christ – but we will not find him until he finds us.
Are you searching for more than what New Year Resolutions can bring into your life? May God help you to look away from yourself. May God help you to look to Christ. He will give you more than New Year Resolutions can ever give to you. He will give you salvation – his eternal salvation.
‘I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’ (Psalm 146:2).
Praising You, the Lord our God: This is a lifelong commitment. We cannot maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We need Your help. Help us never to forget this: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). We thank You, Lord, that we are not expected to maintain this lifelong commitment in our own strength. We have Your help. May we always remember this: ‘Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 124:8). ‘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, the Lord who remains faithful for ever’ (Psalm 146:5-6).
God bless you all.