A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble...
The 46th Psalm was used by Martin Luther to write the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". This hymn describes the struggle between good and evil. In this hymn God is called a fortress, bulwark and helper. Martin Luther was one of the leaders of the Evangelical reform movements of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, usually called the Protestant Reformation. What is unique about the contributions of Luther is his continuing influence in church music, liturgy and theology for nearly five centuries.
The most popular and enduring arts-related activity in the United States is choral singing. Twenty-eight point five million people sing in one or more of about 250,000 choruses. There may be scientific reasons for this: Singing, particularly in groups, makes people happy.
Singing releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical of the brain—and choral singing has the greatest pleasurable effect. In one study, choral singers on average expressed greater happiness than the general public, even when those singers were carrying greater burdens than the average person not singing in choirs.
Another benefit of choral singing is based on the fact that it's a social activity, which gives a sense of belonging and combats loneliness. Singing is an essential part of any worship service.
The psalmist wrote:
By night may a song be on my lips, a prayer to the God of my life!
A Cry for Help
During the Winter months it is not unusual for us to become burdened with all the challenges of life which can wear us down spiritually and emotionally. When this happens to me I turn to Psalm 42:1-6.
Like a hind crying for water, my soul cries for you, O God; my soul thirsts for God, the living God; O when will I come to appear before my God? My tears have been my food day and night; I am ever taunted with, Where is your God? When I think of this, I pour out my soul, how I walked with the crowd, moved with them, the festive throng, to the House of God with joyous shouts of praise. Why so downcast, my soul, why disquieted within me? Have hope in God; I will yet praise Him for his saving presence.
The Speech of Children
"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength
because of thine enemies, that thou might still the enemy and the avenger."
— Psalm 8:2, King James version.
Children often speak more clearly, wisely, truly and directly than their elders.
Wouldn't it be nice if more elected national politicians could learn to speak wisely, clearly and directly to the needs of the poor in this country.
Prayer Promotes Personal Holiness
Go through your Bible and you will find it stated every spiritual blessing is obtained by prayer. In Psalm 139:23-24 God searches us and knows our hearts, tries us and knows our thoughts, brings to light the sin that is there in us and delivers us from it. Psalm 19:12-13 tells us prayer cleanse us from secret faults. Check out Second Corinthians 3:18: But we are all reflecting as a mirror the glory of God, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory.
How do you reflect God's glory in your life?
Christian marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and woman who are subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21) It is more than a contract. Covenant in contrast to contract involves giving of self unreservedly in love to the other. The couple encounters the risen Christ daily in their love for each other. They make a little family within the household of God, a little church in the body of Christ.
Ingratitude — Taking Divine Grace for Granted
Ingratitude is a grave offense against God, and the closer to God we think we are, the more we are inclined to take divine grace for granted. Jesus makes this point in Luke 17:11-19. The psalmist continues to develop the theme by pointing out the possible problem with giving thanks. (see Psalm 106: 1-3)
The problem is this: humanity does not have sufficient words to praise God's goodness. So if we are not sincere in the expression of thanksgiving in our prayers to God, our voices may sound like a noisy gong or loud cymbal.
The History Behind the Hymn I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
Timothy Dwight, a president of Yale, was an important scholar, hymn writer, and Congregational pastor in the early years of the United States. This hymn is an expression of love and dedication to the Church and it is based on Psalm 137:5-6.
It is among the earliest texts written in America which is still in general use. Dwight writes of his love for the church. But the Church he speaks of is only represented by the tangible elements here on earth. The church itself consists of the redeemed, who are saved by Christ's own blood sacrifice.
I Love thy kingdom, Lord. Amen.
Children Are A Gift
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb
is his reward.
We have a Preschool at Paoli United Methodist church. It is fun to watch these young children as they are taught new things. Yet not all children are as fortunate as the children who attend our preschool. It is hard to believe, but there are children in the United States who do not have enough to eat.
A society can be judged by how it takes care of those who are unable to take care of themselves, like children and the elderly. When families are not able to provide enough food for a growing child who should step in and help out? It is a tough question to answer.
Whatever actions we have taken and might take in the future will be remembered by future generations.
What did Jesus say about children and how they should be treated?