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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 147    

Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
   for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted,
   and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars;
   he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
    his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
   he casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
   make melody to our God on the lyre.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
   prepares rain for the earth,
   makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the animals their food,
   and to the young ravens when they cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
   in those who hope in his steadfast love.

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
   Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
   he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders;
   he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;
   he scatters frost like ashes.
He hurls down hail like crumbs—
   who can stand before his cold?
He sends out his word, and melts them;
   he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,
   his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
   they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

Sadly, I tend to worship a small, incapable, and unreal God. It is not because God is any of these things. Instead, it reflects my conception of God, one that is difficult to admit, but that I must admit if I am honest. My feeble prayer life is just one indication of the underlying weakness of my faith.

These bracing reflections of my soul come from the magic mirror of God’s Word. It reveals to me faith-areas that require attention. It reminds me of God’s greatness—God determines the number of the stars—and that the provision I have enjoyed every day of my life comes from God’s hand. The psalmist encourages me to celebrate and sing about this. Let’s take a moment to offer thanks for God’s gracious provision.

I also need to be reminded that God’s ideal profile for human beings, and the world’s profile, are very different. God does not delight in the mighty but in worshipers who put their hope in the Lord’s unfailing love. Though this fortifying hope in a glorious God whose love never fails is beyond my ability, it is not beyond God’s ability to grant it. And so I pray—weak though my prayer life is—that God might grant me this great spiritual gift and delight in me.

Great Provider, you are the source of all of our blessings, including hope, faith, and the knowledge of God. You have been revealed by scripture to be larger than any problem that confronts us and are worthy of all praise, glory, and honor. Reveal yourself to me to the degree that I am able to bear so that my vision of you is clearer, my hope and faith in you is stronger, and my love for you is undying. Amen.

Written by Tom Payne, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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