It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home.

Author Unknown

Sunday, March 30, 2008

STUDY NOTES - PSALM 40

GRATITUDE AND PRAYER FOR HELP
For the leader. A psalm of David

I waited, waited for the Lord;
Who bent down and heard my cry,
Drew me out of the pit of descruction
Out of the muc of the swamp
Set my feet upon rock,
Steadied my steps,
And put a new song in my mouth
A hymn to our God
Many shall look on in awe
And they shall trust in the Lord

Happy those who trust is the Lord,
Who turn not to idolatry
Or to those who stray after falsehood
How numerous, O Lord, my God,
You have made your wondrous deeds
And in your plans for us
There is not equal to you
Shoud I wish to declare or tell them,
Too many are they to recount

….Though I am afflicted and poor,
The Lord keeps me in mind
You are my help and deliverer;
My God, do not delay

Psalm 40

The probability that Psalm 40 was once two independent psalms becomes evident as we prayerfully move through these words. In verses 2-12 the psalmist expresses deep gratitude for being personally rescued by Yahweh. The one praying the psalm rejoices in being given a new song to sing, a song that is not kept secret but prized and sung out so as to make others listen with amazement.

However in verses 13-18 that fresh new song turns to distress. The tone of the psalmist becomes a lament. The rescue team needs to be sent in again. God’s goodness has not been entirely forgotten though. There is a remembering of past kindnesses and a plea that God remember again and not hold back the Divine Presence.

I am aware of how much I identify with these inconsistent moods: gratitude and awe, distress and lament

I waited, waited for the Lord;
who bent down and heard my cry (v. 2)


The obedience of waiting is not something that is high on the list of our priorities, most likely, but it is healthy to learn to wait. Waiting for God is part of prayer. Whether we are asking for special needs, for protection, healing, or even if we are just yearning for holiness and wholeness, we simply must learn to wait—to just sit in our prayer and BE QUIET.

My heart is moved at the image of God stooping toward me in order to better hear my prayer
try to put on the mind of the psalmist. Have you ever been in a pit of destruction? Have you had to be drawn out of the swamp? Although these are rather harsh metaphors depicting places where we might, on occasion, hang out, I have to admit I know these places well. I have been rescued from these non-scenic abodes more than onc
e.

To put a face on these places,
—when I moan about my wounds rather than trying to discern their hidden blessing…
—when discouragement shows up at my door more often than hope…
—when I focus on the negative things surrounding me, totally missing the positive…
then I am in the pit of destruction and the muddy swamp. I need to be rescued.
Hopefully when we find ourselves in these unattractive places we will have enough vision to ask for assistance and to wait for God to lean down and hear our cry.

The psalmist proclaims that after a time of waiting, God hears the cry of the one in need and changes that cry of desperation into a song of praise and gratitude. Others hear the new song of the one who once lived in darkness. The song fills their hearts. They, too, begin to trust God more completely.

...ears open to obedience you gave me (v. 7).

What if we moved through our day with ears open to obedience? What then might happen to our despondent moods? What might change in our lives? To do your will is my delight;
my God, your law is within my heart!” (v. 9).
I would like to make this my daily prayer but I am so good at forgetting. Still, the desire is compelling. Let us practice remembering our good desires.


…my courage fails me (v. 13).

No matter how often we sing the joyful song of God’s presence and give praise for the divine assistance that has graciously fallen upon our woes, the day will probably return when we find ourselves saying, “…my courage fails me.”

Then we begin again.
"Lord, graciously rescue me! Come quickly to help me, Lord!" (v. 14).
That is a very good prayer and it can also serve as a pocket prayer, something small enough to carry around with you on the days of your greatest need.

The psalms are treasures offering you many such prayers. Prayers small enough to carry in your heart or our pocket!

I accidently found this study of Psalm 40 this past week while surfing
the net…It was in a newsletter from the Little Rock Bible Study. It touched my heart because it so defined my feelings. The ups and downs of life tend to do that to us. My theme for this month in my other journal is about God giving us hope. To me that is what this psalm is all about.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Friday, March 21, 2008

EASTER, MARCH 23RD, 2008

Easter Prayer
Jesus returned to Jerusalem on Thursday, to share the Last Supper with His apostles. He was subsequently arrested and tried. He was crucified at Calvary on Friday, outside the gates of Jerusalem. He was buried the same day, and arose three days later, on Easter Sunday.
All of this is done by our Lord for forgiveness of our sins, and for life everlasting with Him. God so loved us, that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us, so that our sins may be forgiven.


Lord,

Thank You for the gift of HOPE
You gave us on Easter morning.
Because of You we know that
No problem is too difficult
And even death does not have
Power over us.

Thank You for the gift of JOY
You gave us when You were resurrected
Because of You we know
That no matter how challenging life may be,
In the end we will rejoice again.

Thank You for the gift of LOVE
You gave us when you laid down Your life.
Because of You we know
That there is no sin too great to separate us
And we are incredibly valuable to you.

Thank You for the gift of LIFE
You gave us whe you left the tomb.
Because of Easter we know
This world is just the beginning
And we will spend forever in heaven with You

We celebrate You, Jesus,
With hearts full of praise and gratitude
For who You are and all You’ve done for us!

Amen.


DaySpring Blessings



A very Happy and Blessed Easter to you all !

‘On Ya’ - ma

Saturday, March 15, 2008

PALM SUNDAY





PALM SUNDAY OF THE LORD’S PASSION

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27: 46




The Passion narrative in Matthew paints a scene of humiliation. The great Jesus of Nazareth hung from a cross. He was abandoned by his closest followers, arrested alone, judged and executed in a swift manner. Yet, Jesus did not give up hope. He shares that hope with us for our darkest times

His earthly beginning was frightfully humble. And his earthly end would be no different. The wood of the manger prefigured the wood of the cross.

Jesus was not compelled to do it. He willingly lowered himself in his birth, in his ministry, in his death. No one took his life from him. He freely laid down his own life. Others did not have the chance to humble him; he humbled himself


From beginning to end, the details are humiliating. No room in the inn. Born amidst the stench of a stable. Hunted by Herod’s henchmen. Growing up in a far-flung province of the Roman Empire--Galilee, the land where the country accent is so thick, you can cut it with a knife

Jesus prepared to eat the Passover with his disciples on "the first day of Unleavened Bread" (Mt 26:17a). This was an agricultural feast that coincided with Passover, which commemorated the deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The meal probably took place on the evening before the first day of Passover.

During this time, Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' own disciples, agreed to betray Jesus for the petty sum of "thirty pieces of silver" (v 15), the compensation for a wounded slave (Ex 21:32). During the ritual action of the Passover Feast, Jesus gave his own body and blood to his disciples as food and drink.

Then singing songs of praise (the Hallel Psalms 113-118), Jesus set out to the "Mount of Olives" (Mt 26:30) where death lay ahead. Though Peter affirmed his undying loyalty, Jesus declared that he too would deny him three times before "before the cock crows" (v 34, the dawn). In the garden of Gethsemane, meaning "olive-press," Jesus prayed alone in agony to accept the suffering and death that awaited him. Jesus was arrested and his followers deserted him. In the morning, the religious leaders conferred against Jesus, and handed him over to be tried by Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.


Does the King of glory find a welcome entry in your home and heart? Jesus went to Jerusalem knowing full well what awaited him -- betrayal, rejection, and crucifixion. The people of Jerusalem, however, were ready to hail him as their Messianic King! Little did they know what it would cost this king to usher in his kingdom. Jesus' entry into Jerusalem astride a colt was a direct fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Zechariah (9:9): Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion. Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, and riding on an ass and upon a colt the foal of an ass. The colt was a sign of peace. Jesus enters Jerusalem in meekness and humility, as the Messianic King who offers victory and peace to his people. That victory and peace would be secured in the cross and resurrection which would soon take place at the time of Passover



When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, the crowds strew palms at his feet crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!" (21:9). Now the crowds shouted, "Let him be crucified!" (27:23).

Jesus was mocked, beaten and led away to be executed between two criminals on Golgotha ("Place of a Skull" or "Calvary" in English). On the cross, Jesus felt abandoned by all, even by God. When the Roman Centurion witnessed Jesus’ death, he could not deny that "this man was God's Son!" (27:54).

This Sunday we hold palm branches in our hands, and wave them to greet our Lord's entry into the city of our salvation. Last year's palms were burned to form the ashes that marked our foreheads to begin this Lenten journey. We can place these palm branches - perhaps from each member of the family - in a special place in our home (maybe cutting a small piece and putting it some place where I work).




Each day this week they can represent our celebration of his love for me. That symbol can say so many words - all that I am about to celebrate and accept as love for me, and all the entry into Jerusalem experiences in my life.




Hosanna to you, Son of David,



King of the ages,-hosanna to you,



victor over death and the powers of darkness.



You went up to Jerusalem to suffer



and so enter into your glory,



-lead your Church into the paschal feast of heaven.



You made your cross the tree of life,



- give its fruit to those reborn in baptism.



Savior of mankind, you came to save sinners,



- bring into your kingdom



all who have faith, hope, and love.






'On Ya' ma

Saturday, March 08, 2008

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT


Jesus wept.
John 11:35



What was so moving as to cause the King of the universe to weep? John seems to indicate that Jesus was moved by the sight of Mary and the other mourners (John 11:33). Is it possible Jesus wept because he saw a group of people over whom death seemed victorious? Here was a crowd consumed by the hopelessness and finality of death, while the Resurrection and the Life stood right in their midst!
Jesus came to offer the promise of resurrection to everyone who will believe and trust in him. Just as he wept before the tomb of Lazarus, he weeps over all those who are either unaware or unwilling to believe in the eternal life he offers

If you do believe, then know that you can entrust to Jesus every area of your life that is wounded, despairing, or sinful. He has the power to raise up and bring life to something that seems dead and decaying. Even in the most hopeless situations, the light of Christ can penetrate the darkness and bring deliverance


Sometimes we feel distant from God because we believe our prayers are not answered. Yet, we fail to realize God is answering his prayer in his time, and he is using that feeling of distance as a challenge to bring us closer to him.
This is the theme of the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus delayed to bring God glory and to cause others to believe in him.


I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live

John 11:25

John the Evangelist presented one of the most dramatic narratives of the Bible: the resurrection of Lazarus. Even in a time of loss, the passage encourages us to have hope, for we believe Jesus is the “resurrection and the life.”



Martha was the first person to whom Jesus announced the resurrection. Like Peter, Martha confessed her faith in Jesus as the "Messiah, the Son of God" (Mt 16:16). With a powerful command, Jesus raised Lazarus to life, a symbol of Christ's own resurrection and our dying and rising in Baptism. Ironically, it was this gift of life that would lead to Jesus' own death.

We are in our last week before Holy Week. It seems that there is so much left to do, to ask for, to be open to, to surrender, to change. Jesus assures us that he is the "resurrection and the life," that if we place our faith in him, we will never die.


Lent isn't an end in itself; its purpose is to make way in our hearts and our lives for the great events of Holy Week and Easter, and the full 50 days of Easter celebration afterward. This is a great story arc that begins with Ash Wednesday, peaks with the events upon which our faith rests - Jesus's passion, death, and resurrection - and eventually comes to rest at Pentecost



My Loving Lord, it's so hard to love the world sometimes and to love it the way Jesus did seems impossible. Help me to be inspired by his love and guided by his example. Most of all, I want to accept that I can't do it alone, and that trying is an arrogance of self-centeredness. I need you, dear God, to give me support in this journey. Show me how to unlock my heart so that I am less selfish. Let me be less fearful of the pain and darkness that will be transformed by you into Easter joy.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen
.

‘On Ya’ - ma

Saturday, March 01, 2008

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT


One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see

John 9:25

When Jesus met a man that was blind from birth he made a mixture of clay and salvia and put it on the blind man's eyes. Then he told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam, and when he did so, he was cured. The Pharisees were spiritually blind, and they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath Law by healing the man. But the man knew that his healing had come from God, and he fell at Jesus' feet and acknowledged him as "Lord."


The sense of sight is one we can easily take for granted, yet, is one we would really miss if it were taken from us. Imagine how a blind person must feel if he or she receives sight. That gift would only be second to the gift of faith

Through the cure of a person born blind, John's gospel presents sight in a metaphorical sense. Sometimes a person can look, but not see. Here, the blind man received not only the ability to use his eyes but the gift to see the truth.


When Jesus cured the blind man, he gave him a choice to change, to chance to trust in God. Jesus invited the man to faith. Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. We cannot obtain faith by our own efforts or merit. A faith in God comes from God; he initiates the faith relationship and every step in that relationship.

But faith always remains a choice we make. When we choose to trust in God and believe in what he reveals to us, we exercise our freedom. Our minds and wills freely cooperate with God's grace. Faith is not and can never be an act coerced by God or others

The man born blind gained true sight, simply because he was willing to be changed. Like the man born blind, we, too, must have open eyes and an open heart, a willingness to let God change us.


‘On Ya’ - ma