Experiencing the Devotional Readings
To help you experience each day’s reading and devotion, it’s suggested that you read the Scripture passage and read it more slowly a second time. Then, read the devotion and reflect upon how God is speaking to you through the passage. Finally, take the time to pray, using the exhortation that closes each devotion.
Dec. 29, 2014 Psalm 148
“Praise the Lord from the heavens! Praise Him, all His angels! Praise Him, all the armies of Heaven!” (v. 1b-2 NLT). We can get a glimpse of this heavenly worship and praise of God in the Book of Revelation. John was called up to Heaven, as described in chapter 4, and he saw a throne, THE THRONE, on which sat One who “was as brilliant as gemstones” (4:3a NLT) – God almighty”! Four living beings were also there, and day after day they praised and worshipped and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God , the Almighty – the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come” (v. 8b NLT). The twenty-four elders who surrounded the Lord’s throne also worshipped Him whenever the four living beings gave glory, honor, and thanks to God, and they laid their crowns before the throne and said, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, honor, and power. For You created all things” (v. 11 NLT). In chapter 5, John sees “a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered” (5:6a NLT), but now He stood before the throne. This is the one about whom John the Baptist said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NIV). We’re told that the millions of angels, the living beings, and the elders in Heaven sang their praise, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered – to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12 NLT). John then hears everyone in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth sing, “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever” (Revelation 5:13b NLT). Let us pray – “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him” (Revelation 19:6b-7a NLT). In the name of the Lamb who was slain, but who lives forever and ever, Amen!
Dec. 30, 2014 Psalm 149
“Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands…” (v. 6 NLT). Doesn’t this verse catch your eye and your mind? Initially, it sounds like a dichotomy – praising God and brandishing a sword. This dichotomy existed in Old Testament Israel. God demanded obedience and desired the praise of His chosen people, but He also went into battle with them to destroy His enemies. Even when God called the exiles out of captivity and wanted to restore them, they had to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall with one hand and hold a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:15-18). God also promised judgment on those nations that mistreated the exiled captives and far exceeded His intended punishment for their disobedience (Jeremiah 10:25, Micah 5:15, Zechariah 1:14-15 & 12:9). This sharp sword could also refer to the spiritual battle we encounter under the New Covenant. The devil was defeated when Jesus rose again, but he still is trying to pull as many folks into Hell as he can. Paul writes that, as Christians, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV). Our “sword” is the “armor of God” – “the belt of truth”, ”the breastplate of righteousness”, “the gospel of peace”, “the shield of faith”, “the helmet of salvation”, and “prayer” (Ephesians 6:13-17 NIV). Dear Lord, may we praise You and worship You in spirit and in truth, and may we combat evil with Your armor. We thank You and give You honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Dec. 31, 2014 Psalm 150
Six verses and the word praise is used thirteen times! That really gets the point across. You know, when we praise God, we aren’t doing things that are spiritually harmful to us. When we praise the Lord, we aren’t focused on ourselves and our selfish wants and desires. When we praise God, we aren’t taking credit for things in our lives that God actually accomplished or made possible. When we praise the Lord, we don’t have time to gossip, get angry, be jealous of others, or give into temptation. When we praise our God, we don’t have time to worry, stress out, covet, or be impatient. When we praise the Lord, we aren’t boastful, arrogant, condescending, or deceitful. When we praise Almighty God, we ARE focusing on Him and His grace, mercy, compassion, and love for us. When we praise the Lord, we are acknowledging His guidance, wisdom, power, and majesty. When we praise God, we are drawing closer to Him, expressing our love to Him, reaching out to Him, and worshipping Him. Whether we praise Him with instruments, singing, upraised hands, dancing, clapping, or in prayer, we are honoring and glorifying Him over ourselves and anything else in the world that would normally steer us away from Him. When we praise Him, we are being obedient and are pleasing Him. Let’s praise the Lord for 200 years of ministry at Bethany Presbyterian Church, for blessing us to be a blessing, and for His guidance and inspiration in the future!