A fourteen-year-old girl felt privileged when invited to play on her clarinet the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” for a high school baccalaureate service. The memory lingers in her mind decades later. The experience gave her a sense of the sacredness of God that was cultivated by her parents, who always dressed her in “Sunday” dresses and “Sunday” shoes to attend a little white country church.
Isaiah had the privilege of hearing such a hymn sung by flying seraphs. And he was awestruck. He realized that everything God was—holy, perfect, pure—Isaiah was not. Christians still praise God with those words of scripture.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
And while they, too, feel humbled by them, they realize that their relationship with God lies not in their own perfection. Their perfection lies in Christ, who died for their sins. Only Christ is “holy, holy, holy.” While Christians certainly strive to lead holy lives, they need a Savior. A holy Savior. An Advocate to plead for them in their imperfection. And He will.
Thought for Today: God’s holiness should inspire us to seek to live a holy life.
Quicklook: Isaiah 6:1–3
Pennsylvania’s Fort Halifax offered shelter to pack trains carrying goods along the Susquehanna River after the French and Indian War created tension between Native Americans and settlers. Four bastions that housed artillery projected from the log stockade, and a ten-foot-high bank of soil surrounded it. A ditch ten feet deep isolated the fortress.
But as rugged and sturdy as it was, Fort Halifax no longer exists. And nothing created can ever compare to the refuge and protection Christians find in their Creator. The psalmist realized this as he traveled to the temple in Jerusalem for an annual feast. He had to pass through hostile territory, yet he trusted God to watch over him.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:8).
Christians may not fear physical travel as the Israelites did, but evil still surrounds believers as they travel through life. They pass by dangerous temptations, frivolous distractions, and sometimes even deliberate attacks by evil people. We look to God for refuge because He protects His people.
Thought for Today: Trust nothing created as much as you trust the Creator.
Quicklook: Psalm 121:5–8
Scholars think David wrote this psalm as an old man, reflecting back over his life. He may have thought of his liaison with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. In Psalm 51, David lamented over his rebellion against God’s standards. He knew God’s mercy was the only basis for his forgiveness, and now he praised God for it.
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name (Psalm 103:1).
As an old man, David surely realized it was only by God’s mercy that he had survived. David might have died in battle or during the plague sent by the Lord after he unwisely took a census to count his fighting men (2 Samuel 24). He praised God for forgiving that prideful act and sparing his life.
David knew his Redeemer and enjoyed the richness of a relationship with God, cultivated from the hills where he watched sheep to the palace where he ruled in splendor. In fact, David probably felt like a young warrior in spite of his age. Praise gushed from his heart like the waters of a fountain.
Thought for Today: Praise God, for He continues to forgive sins, heal diseases, and redeem lives.
Quicklook: Psalm 103:1–5
Why do bad things happen to good people? Many wrestle with that question, because life on earth is far from perfect. Innocent children experience abuse and neglect. Governments enforce oppressive laws. Legal systems fail to protect the weak. Where is God? He is
on His throne.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed (Psalm 103:6).
In His time, He will act. The Israelites understood that. They had experienced oppression in Egypt for four hundred years before God sent Moses to lead them to freedom.
Like Moses, today’s Christians are called to work for righteousness and justice on God’s behalf. God’s people are called to advocate for the weakest among us.
As He pours His love into Christians, He expects that love to overflow to others. Christians show God’s love when they feed the hungry and visit the prisoner. Working hand in hand with God leads others to Him and blesses the Christian’s heart as well.
Thought for Today: God delivers righteousness and justice to the burdened and exploited, often through His followers.
Quicklook: Psalm 103:6–11
During a Christmas Eve service, a pastor called children to sit around him as he read a picture book telling the story of Christ’s birth. As he closed the book, he summed it up saying that was how Jesus was born. “Hallelujah!” shouted one of the children. Members of the congregation chuckled, and from here and there came echoes of the child’s heartfelt expression: “Yes!” “Christ is born!” “Hallelujah indeed!”
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise (Psalm 47:7).
Heartfelt worship need not be rehearsed. God doesn’t bless perfect four-part harmony more than the excited utterance of an enthusiastic child. It’s the object of the praise that is important, not the method.
Whether singing psalms, hymns, or choruses, the spirit of the worshiper carries to the Lord the voices of even those who cannot carry a tune. Even in adverse circumstances, worshipers can praise the One who is in control. And all praise is due Him who was born on Christmas Day. Hallelujah!
Thought for Today: The time and place is always right to exalt the majesty of a Triune God.
Quicklook: Psalm 47:5–9
What does the sky’s beauty reveal? What do eyes notice when staring toward the sun, moon, or stars? What is the view from a plane flying over a city, a mountain, or an ocean?
The planets and stars reveal wonder. When days are often full of technological interruptions and nonstop schedules, a glance at the beauty of the sky offers a reminder that we are small people in a large world created by a remarkable Artist.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
Psalm 19 begins by revealing David’s view of God. He initiates a poetic prayer by declaring truth. David opened the hymn with a reminder of the larger picture.
In today’s world people need to glance again at the wonder of the sky, not to worship the creation but to remember the Creator. Awareness of God’s creativity and power demands worship of the Creator.
It reminds the people that God is able, He is good, and He can do His job.
Prayer Suggestion: God, help me stop my hurry and become more aware of Your wonder.
Quicklook: Psalm 19:1–6