This Is The Day The Lord Has Made…

Greetings fellow sojourners! Keep memorizing/reading those songs of ascent! There will not be a new one added this week. Next week, the Lord willing, we shall proceed to Psalm 123. For now, let’s keep our focus right here…

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.” After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Matthew 26:26-30.

The psalms that were sung during and after the Passover meal were 113-118.

I have been particularly drawn to some verses in Psalm 118 that I will include here. I pray you find it encouraging that our Lord would have sung these knowing what was facing Him in the upcoming hours.

“Open the gates of righteousness for me; I will enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.  This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous will enter through it. I will give thanks to You because You have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the LORD; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” v19-45

As you stare face to face with the trials of your life can you sing along with the Blessed One, the Lord of Lord, and the King of Kings that “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it?” Let it be so!

Today, is His summons to freedom stronger than fear? Stronger than betrayal? Stronger than unforgiveness? Stronger than disappointment? Stronger than rejection? Stronger than……? Those participating in the Seder (The Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover) lived weeks prior in a state of expectancy, of preparation. What about you? Is your heart in a state of expectancy, of preparation for the return of the King? I have heard it said that “Man has conquered space, but not his own heart.” Is the heart such a force that we dare not tame it or have we just grown weary?

Toward the conclusion of the Seder, there is the ‘saying of grace’ which goes something like this:

A song of ascents:
When the Lord returned the exiled to Zion we were like dreamers. Then our mouths filled with laughter and our tongues with joyous song. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, we rejoiced. Lord, return our exiled like streams in the Negev. Those who sow with tears shall reap with joy. He who weeps while sowing will return rejoicing bearing sheaves.

When the Lord became your Salvation were you like a dreamer? Did your mouth then fill with laughter and your tongue with joyous song? Do you say among anyone who dares to listen, “The Lord has done great things for me!” Do you ask the Lord in prayer for the ‘exiled in heart’
to return home to the Lord? Let us sow the Word with tears expecting the harvest! Don’t grow weary sweet DIVA, though the harvest may tarry never stop expecting. Thank you Lord for the hope You alone have placed in our hearts. The hope that is stronger than defeat. The hope that rejoices in the midst of trials. The hope that does not disappoint.

Sweet DIVAs! Christie, Deanna, Linda, Janet, Tracy, Linda West, Pauline, and Alison (present in spirit! Hallelujah!) are preparing for the blessed Resurrection with fasting/prayer. If there is enough interest we shall meet at WOC for communion together Thursday at 2:00. Please indicate here by Wednesday morning if you would like to participate. If there are other interest besides the ones mentioned, just add your name! Praise God!

In His grace,
Amanda

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Reflections From The Third Step

Greetings fellow sojourners! May the Lord bless you and keep you! May He make His face to shine upon you! May He give you peace! As we are making our ascent towards the Lord, shall we pause and reflect and maybe wait as the rest of our traveling party catches up? Hallelujah! Remember, you can either memorize the indicated Psalms or read each one 15 times.

March 29th, next Sunday, is Palm Sunday and begins the 7 days before Resurrection Day (Easter). Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.    In the Old Testament, this was the same day that the passover lamb would have been selected.  I will offer a few suggestions if you would like to join me during this time to fast, pray, and repent.  John 2:13 tells us that “the Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem” ultimately to offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for you and for me.

Choose the method of fasting best suited to you
A complete fast of food
Fasting one meal a day
Fasting a favorite food item
Forgoing a favorite daily activity

Participate in the amount of days best suited to you
7 days Sunday – Saturday
Friday – Saturday

This week let’s take verses 6-9 of Psalm 122 and pray them over Israel. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you prosper; may there be peace within your walls, prosperity within your fortresses. Because of my brothers and friends, I will say, Peace be with you. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.” Amen!

As you prepare your heart for the upcoming week I would like to include the following ‘Spirituals’ poem. Spirituals, were composed anonymously by slaves and plantation workers to ease the burden of their work. They typically reflected deep faith and hope in the midst of tribulation. The Christian beliefs of these writers expressed an understanding that this world is not the end of life and are expressed in the writings by illuminating joy and anticipation even in the midst of their pain. Are you currently suffering tribulations or burdens?  During times of difficulty why not try singing proclamations in the midst and acknowledging to your soul that now is the time of your faith? Praise God!

Were You There?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?…

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when He rose up from the grave?

If you plan to join in a fast and prayer next week please indicate on this site in the comment line.  We will pray specifically for you.  Also, we may meet next week for communion depending on amount of interest.

In His grace,

Amanda

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The Third Step

Psalm 122

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”
Our feet are standing
within your gates, Jerusalem –
Jerusalem, built as a city should be,
solidly joined together,
where the tribes, Yahweh’s tribes,
go up
to give thanks to the name of Yahweh.
There, thrones for judgment are placed,
thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you prosper,
may there be peace within your walls,
prosperity within your fortresses.”
Because of my brothers and friends,
I will say, “Peace be with you.”
Because of the house of the LORD
our God,
I will seek your good.

Are you ready to progress up the third step DIVAs?!

Some commentators mention that this Psalm has reference to a verse in Isaiah. The particular verse in Isaiah is prophetic because it mentions days in the future. I will include it here because the parallel is so interesting. It is a vision from Amoz, Isaiah’s son concerning Judah and Jerusalem. “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths. For instruction will go out of Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)

Here is an excerpt from the Holman commentary relating to the verse in Isaiah. “The mountain of the LORD’s house is a reference to Zion, where God made His presence known in a special way among His people. In actuality, Zion was not a physically imposing mountain – indeed, the nearby Mount of Olives was considerable taller – but in terms of spiritual importance, Zion stood above all the other mountains in the world. The vision anticipates a day when not only Israel but all the nations will stream toward this mountain that represents the presence of God on earth. God had promised Abraham that He would bless the nations through his descendants. Today the church is composed of people from many different nations who have aligned themselves with God, thus fulfilling this vision in at least a preliminary way.” Wow. As some of you are joining me in a study relating to offenses, you may be particularly in awe as I am. The mountain the Creator of all things choose, is not the tallest among its peers. God, the Most Magnificent, does not need to choose the most magnificent mount to have His temple built and to make His presence known to His people. As His children, we do not need to tower over others in an imposing way in order to have significant influence. The spiritual impact, coming from a place of humility is what translates to Glory! God magnified! God glorified! God lifted up!

In Psalm 122, the Psalmist is rejoicing at the reality of standing in Jerusalem (during one of the three pilgrimage feast, Passover, Firstfruits, and Tabernacles)

So, let’s start from the beginning….”I rejoiced with those who said to me, Let’s go to the house of the Lord. Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem.” Do you rejoice when someone says, “Let’s go to church and to worship?” Think about that the next time you have the opportunity. Do you rejoice? Verse 2 states “our feet are standing within your gates.” This is altogether lovely and means that we are entering the Lord’s presence.

Lord, may Your pilgrims be enriched and strengthened. May the same power which has been acknowledged in praise come as a flood in our lives! Rise up, LORD, come! May your priests be clothed with righteousness and may Your godly people shout for joy!

In His grace,
Amanda

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The Second Step

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.
The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day or the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life.
The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever.

We discern with our fleshly eyes the world around us. However, what do your believing eyes behold? While in the valley do you make every effort to lift your eyes or do you find it easier to keep your eyes at your feet? In our helplessness shall we despair of all other assistance in order to recognize our confidence is in God alone? If we build ourselves up to be strong, we are weak. If we recognize our powerlessness, divine power pours itself into us. Do we sense our lack? The coming of His help must first be heralded by our own acknowledgement of complete dependence.

This day, as we stand in the valley, there are two actions presented that we are to do. We WILL indeed lift our eyes upwards and we WILL say to our mind, heart, and soul, my help INDEED comes from the Lord! Now, take that next step.

Verse 3 identifies the Lord as the Protector. The Hebrew word is samar and it means to hedge about as with thorns, to keep, guard, observe, to have charge of. As you walk through the valley, what strength pours into you confirming your God is like a thorny hedge of protection around you to guard you and keep you? As you think about the Lord your God being your Protector, why then do we entrust our lives and well-being into the hands of mere creation? Could this be a source of our discontentment? Let’s carry this a step further and ask why then do we even entrust our lives into our own hands? The walls we build to protect ourselves from further hurts are the same walls that keep out the Healer. Let the wall we have constructed crumble at the heat of the burning fire of the love of God! Allow the thorny hedge of the Protector guard your heart, mind, and soul against what this world dishes out. He never slumbers or sleeps. You can trust Him.

There are two options as we go through these 15 songs of ascents. Either choose to memorize each one or read each one 15 times. Either way you choose, you will be blessed! Include your name if you feel challenged to ascend!

In His Grace,
Amanda

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The First Step

Greetings fellow sojourners! We are dedicating our time over the next several months to the Psalms labeled the songs of ascent. As you know, they were sung during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the seasonal feasts. These 15 psalms were also thought to be correlated to the 15 steps leading up to the temple. In both of these events there was rising up to the next level with God, which is our purpose as well! As you memorize Psalm 120 picture yourself taking your first step.  In John Calvin’s Commentary on the Book of Psalms, he saw life as a pilgrimage towards God. His aim was to bring the whole of life under divine guidance. Each day he thought we ought to increase in purity and knowledge. As purity and knowledge of God increased so would our love for Him and humanity. As a reward, the saints may see visions of God’s beauty and peace, and know in their hearts how calm and gracious he is towards us. Hallelujah!

Let’s continue memorizing Psalm 120 this week. As we do, let’s focus the lens on some of the verses. This psalm is considered by some scholars as an individual lament. As we begin our spiritual progression towards the Lord, using these psalms as guidance, let’s consider what we would speak to the Lord as our lament – knowing in advance He will deliver us! Verse 1 reads, “In my distress I called to the LORD, and He answered me.” This statement was made by the writer with full understanding that he had called on the Lord in the past and He had proved faithful; therefore, He would prove Himself to be no different now. We shall do the same! In whatever large or small distress you are suffering, call to the Lord and expect Him to come to your aid!! DO NOT expect anything else. The Lord has shown Himself faithful and He will continue to do so. This verse illuminates a complete dependence on the Lord during distressful times. Shall we do the same?

Verses 5-7 highlight the psalmist present living situation and the desire to be delivered from the unrest. Do you or someone you know have a similar lament? Be of good cheer! Like the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem for nothing less than an expected celebration, you too can step your feet on the path of this spiritual journey in anticipation of progression and offering a bounty of heartfelt praises to the Lord!

This psalm closes with a reminder to the Lord for deliverance from the long suffering that has been endured. Are you or someone you know in a difficult place and suffer the affliction of situations devoid of peace? Let’s join this psalmist and ask the Lord to establish His peace because we have no intention of spiritually staying here….we are on a pilgrimage! Heads up DIVAs!

During the week of Passover, we will be fasting and praying and will end with communion. You can fast in whatever way you are able but hopefully you will be determined to find something to sacrifice that week. More to come!

In His grace,
Amanda

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