View print-optimized version

Friday, January 20, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Psalm 118

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
   his steadfast love endures forever!

Let Israel say,
   “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
   “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
   “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
   the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
   What can mortals do to me?
The Lord is on my side to help me;
   I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
   than to put confidence in mortals.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
   than to put confidence in princes.

All nations surrounded me;
   in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
   in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees;
   they blazed like a fire of thorns;
   in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
   but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my might;
   he has become my salvation.

There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
   the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
   the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.”
I shall not die, but I shall live,
   and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has punished me severely,
   but he did not give me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness,
   that I may enter through them
   and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
   the righteous shall enter through it.

I thank you that you have answered me
   and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
   has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
   it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
   O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
   We bless you from the house of the Lord.
The Lord is God,
   and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
   up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
   you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures forever. (NRSV)

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

An article I once read challenged me to consider whether I celebrate the good things in my life as much as I complain about the bad. Sadly, I only needed a brief moment of introspection to confirm that, no, I don’t spend nearly as much time focused on the good things that happen to me as I do on the bad.

The psalmist urges the community of Israel to see all the ups and downs of its history and its daily life as simply a part of a story that reveals God’s eternal steadfast love. The concept of this love, God’s hessed, is a foundational characteristic of God in the Hebrew scriptures—a characteristic that our English language has trouble fully explaining. This hessed is such a fundamental part of who God is for Israel that there can be no fear or uncertainty in the face of difficulties or enemies. The hessed of God assures Israel that God will redeem all of the bad for good. It calls God’s people to constant positivity.

I am challenged by the call of the psalmist to “give thanks to the Lord” and to say, “God’s hessed endures forever.” I am called to see all the good, as well as the small amounts of bad, in my life in the larger context of God’s love for all creation.

God of steadfast love and faithfulness, help me to see and to celebrate all the good things that are in my life—to focus on these and to understand that they are a part of your care for me. And when I face difficulties, help me to know that all of my days, even the hard ones, are a part of the bigger story of your love for the world. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email