Psalm 62

Hello, my friend.  So the days, weeks and months fly by.   We reflect on these recent weeks and can surely say, with David the Psalmist in the beginning of our PSALM 62 for today, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”   Or as Eugene Peterson intriguingly puts it in his Bible version, The Message:  “ God, the one and only–I’ll wait as long as He says.  Everything I need comes from Him, so why not?  He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.”

That’s not a smug assumption, it is a strong assertion that God alone is enough.  David repeats these first verses again in the middle of the chapter, so valuable are the truths they contain. You’ll find in the NIV how he says, in vs. 1, “My soul finds rest in God alone;” and in vs. 5, having been reminded of the truth of that fact, he says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.”  In other words it’s one thing to believe that God alone can give us rest, and it’s quite another thing to act upon that belief.

I’ve reminded my students so often that belief is much more than assent to Biblical doctrine.  Faith is made up, indeed, of belief in revealed truth, but it also includes trust in a revealed God.  The first is intellectual, academic, an acquaintance with creeds.  And one can read them, and repeat them, and even study the Creeds and yet never genuinely be a truly committed Christian.  The first, belief, is the foundation of life.  And the second, trust, is the evidence of life.  You cannot have the second without the first, altho’ you can have the first without the second.  Belief is the premise of our faith, and trust is the proof of our faith.  We rejoice in both, the person who is justified by faith is truly alive. (Romans 1:16,17). 

And I love verse 8 in our Psalm for today, “Trust in him at all times, O People; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”   And he rejoices there in vs. 11, “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong and that you, O Lord are loving.”   The foundation of our faith is strong, as we believe in the Word of God.  And the fruit of our faith is love, as we share the Word of God. 

“Thank you, Lord, for the privilege we have of just brooding and pondering your word.  I am so thankful for friends who have encouraged me by sharing their thoughts and their loving encouragement on the journey.  Bless the one who at this moment is along on the journey of faith, with peace and love and joy.  And we pray for some in urgent need at this time.  You are indeed the One and Only.” 

Thank you, fellow-pilgrim, for bringing encouragement on the journey.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000. Copies are available for $10 and can be ordered here.

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Psalm 62

Psalm 61

Hello, my friend.    Many of you were raised in the period of church history when hymns were not only tolerated but loved.  I am amazed how much singing in our little country church in Gothenburg, Nebraska had to do with my early spiritual growth.  It was not fancy, accompanied only by a piano, and there was a very ordinary choir, or singing group, but we loved to sing and even spent some Sunday evenings at someone’s house just for an after-church ‘singspiration’.  One of the hymns I loved goes like this.  “O safe to the Rock that is higher than I, my soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly;  so sinful, so weary–Yours, Yours would I be.  O blest “Rock of Ages”, I’m hiding in Thee.  Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee, Thou blest “Rock of Ages”, I’m hiding in Thee.  In the calm of the noon-tide, in sorrow’s lone hour, in times when temptation casts o’er me its pow’r;  in the tempests of life, on its wide, heaving sea, Thou blest Rock of Ages, I’m hiding in Thee.”

And of course that hymn comes from our PSALM 61, for today.  David cries, vs.2, “from the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint;  lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”  And on and on this song of praise goes, a refreshing interlude in the midst of other songs laden with despair and discouragement.

There are times when even strong men feel weak and undone.  David admits his weakness–both physically and emotionally. He is probably referring to the Tabernacle, that splendid tent which by its very structure indicated the people were on a pilgrimage.  And times of extreme stress or pressure or difficulty often can be used of the Lord to drive us back to His presence, to a strong tower, protecting us from danger, and a strong refuge, protecting us from crumpling on the journey.

Many years ago, during a time of great trial and disappointment, I read Amy Carmichael’s great poem, called ‘Not in vain’ “Not in vain the tedious toil on an unresponsive soil, travail, tears in secret shed over hopes that lay as dead.  All in vain, your faint heart cries, not in vain, your Lord replies;  nothing is too good to be;  then believe, believe to see.  Did your labor turn to dust?  Suffering–did it eat like rust, till the blade that once was keen as a blunted tool is seen?  Dust and rust your life’s reward?  Slay the thought:  believe your Lord.  When your soul is in distress, think upon His faithfulness.”

“Help us realize, Lord, the need of retreating into your heart, your love, your refuge, when things seem just too much to bear.  Give us the wisdom of just saying no to the calls on us from every side, just to find rest in the refuge of your Tent.  Bless my friend with very special care and comfort, even as we also pray for some at this moment in severe physical and emotional need.  Let us, Lord, sensibly find refuge in you, to be safe in the Rock that is higher than I.  Thank you, Lord.” 

And thank you, my friend, for your prayers and encouragement.  God is able.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000. Copies are available for $10 each and can be ordered here.

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Psalm 61

Psalm 60

Hello, my friend. I am always greatly encouraged when I read in I Corinthians 12:28, speaking about the Body of Christ, “God has in fact arranged the parts of the body, everyone of them just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”  And in vs. 13, “God has combined the members of the body…if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”  I am encouraged because I know that God is in charge of the distribution of the various areas of ministry which partner with Him.

So how does this relate to our PSALM 60, for today?  David, as you may have read, is again distressed by the difficulties through which he was going, and he even states that because God seems angry with them, they often stagger as drunk men.  But then he says, in vs. 4, “But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against their weapons.”

And then he quotes God, in vs. 6, who speaks from the sanctuary.  God says, “In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine and Manasseh is mine;  Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter.”   In fact, all the arrangement of these twelve tribes of Israel was on God’s initiative and because of God’s authority.  And when I am keeping in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25), I can totally trust the Lord to exercise initiative in my life, since he has made me the way I am for His glory alone.  I need not, I should not waste my time wishing I were someone else, with someone else’s gifts.  God in triumph has determined my way, and I can only thankfully and loyally trust Him to continue to work in me that which will bring Him pleasure (Phil.2:13).   Why?  Because even as we read in our Psalm today, “Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine, Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter…” And He looks on you and He looks on me and says, in triumph, “You are mine!!”

What a huge blessing and privilege to belong to the Lord, in a very real, practical and sufficient way.  As David says in vs. 11, “Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless.  With God we will gain the victory…”   Thank God for people who do their best to help us, but in the final crunch, the help of man is worthless.  We are thankful for every bit of encouragement, but to God alone belongs the victory.  And as we develop this relationship with each other and with the Lord, we increasingly rest on Him above all others.

“Thank you, Lord, for this reminder of remembering where indeed is our ultimate resource of strength, renewal, protection and enabling.  We are workers together with You, and this makes the journey such a blessing, with You and with each other.   Bless my friend, who is on the Internet, with whatever need one may face.” 

And thank you, partner, for your fellowship.  I thank God for you.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 60

Too Much Drama…

Bull horn lute from Bible History Online.

“Too much drama,” my teenage niece said, regarding her peers. Sometimes I feel the same way. The highs and lows of someone else’s life are difficult to hear about or follow. That is how some people experience the book of Psalms. David, and other writers, pour out their joys and woes to their (our) covenant God. Through their invitation, we read how they process their personal guilt, political victory, and even how they curse their enemies. Their tone is so intimate that the book reads like a diary of a youth going through necessary, but painful, emotional self-awareness. 

However, the book of Psalms is so much more than the account of the author’s well-being. Its purpose is to reveal the character and actions of a faithful God no matter what the present looks like personally or for the nation of Israel. And the book of Psalms points us to the coming of God the Son as the Messiah. 

In his commentary on the book of Psalms, Matthew Henry writes, it is “one of the choicest parts of the Old Testament, wherein there is so much of Christ and his gospel, as well as of God and his law, that it has been called the summary of both Testaments.” And on the road to Emmaus, post-resurrection, Jesus said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

The book of Psalms points to Jesus and invites us to share our entire selves with God. For this reason, our Village Schools of the Bible blog regularly posts reflections on the Psalms written by our founder, Monty Sholund. As many can testify, Monty knew and taught God’s Word powerfully, and he was also a prolific writer.  

We hope you will incorporate Monty’s Musing on the Psalms as a regular part of your Bible Study and reflection. You can subscribe below or you can find the blogs on our Facebook page. We post a new Psalm each Tuesday and Friday.

There are also copies of Monty’s book still available to order from Village Schools of the Bible. Send an email to Trish (trish@villageschoolsofthebible.org) to request a copy. Cost $10 each including postage.

Too Much Drama…

Psalm 59

Hello, my friend.   Thanks for being along in PSALM 59, which at times seems to be  a wilderness journey of despair, anger, vindictiveness and severe judgment.  But this is the saga of a man, David, who by his nature was forthright and open in his emotions.  As we read this rather amazing Psalm, filled with cries of vengeance on David’s enemies, we rejoice living in a day when we are overshadowed by God’s grace.

I have so often defined this precious word, GRACE, as “God’s measureless provision reaching me at the point of immeasurable need.”  With the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell you and me, we find resources that we never had in our unregenerate days.  I think today we have an awareness of resources that perhaps David wasn’t even aware of, the resource of God’s enabling Grace, His forgiving Grace, His restoring Grace, His “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once one was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.  ‘Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace my fears relieved; How precious did that Grace appear, the hour I first believed.  Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come;  ‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and Grace will lead me home.  When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun.”

And where is this fullness of Grace to be found?  Well, I’m sure you know that great first chapter of John’s Gospel, vs. 14, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of Grace and truth.”  Do you know that verse?  It is worth spending time pondering on His glory, the glory of the One and Only.

If only David had known this great gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, in fullness.  If only he would have been privileged to know the incarnate Christ, the One and Only!!  But of course he powerfully knew and loved God, for in vs.16, after describing so vividly his enemies who “return at evening, snarling like dogs, prowling about the city, wandering about for food and howl if not satisfied,” he shouts so powerfully, “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love, for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.  O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.”  This is the way to face our enemies, to face tough circumstances.  Recognize them, in all their evil, and then defeat them by praising God, who is our refuge in times of trouble.”

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming among us, to be in every way tested as we are, as Hebrews 4:15 so wonderfully tells us.  We marvel at the truth of that fact, and we rejoice in your fellowship in our sufferings.  Bless my dear friend who is along, whatever their case may be, and bless those who are in the problem of lingering illness and difficulties.  Help us trust you, Lord, all the way.” 

And thank you, my friend, for sharing these thoughts lovingly and prayerfully.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 59

Psalm 58

Hello, my friend.

We are in the middle of a whole series of Psalms which reflect David’s peril and anxiety, surrounded by circumstances all of which seem hopeless. And our Psalm 58 for today is one of the most difficult to discover any real blessing.  But, as we read through these imprecatory Psalms, we are reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16, which reminds us that all Scripture is inspired of God and is profitable for teaching.  So let’s jump in and dig.  There’s treasure here!

David immediately touches on a sensitive question.  Do I speak justly?  Do I judge uprightly among people?  Do I devise dishonesty in my dealing with others, with the government, with my employers?   David speaks with indignation against rulers who are dishonest, who lie while in high office, who are deceitful, as they twist the truth to their own benefit.  I was amazed to read just today that Clinton, in one deposition for the Paula Jones case, expressed memory-failure 267 times, saying I don’t remember 71 times, I don’t know 62 times, I’m not sure, I have no idea, I don’t recall, I’m not positive, etc.  It is this kind of furtive dishonesty that caused David to recoil with horror.  And one is startled by the level of judgment that David wanted God to strike these lying leaders with.  He doesn’t check his emotions here. He pronounces his verdict on these unjust leaders, using bold, vivid imagery.

Have you ever felt this level of indignation, of anger, of condemnation?  Fortunately the New Testament gives us an entirely different perspective.  We are to leave the judgment with God.  “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Hebrews 10:30.  And even in his wild imagery, David concludes by saying, “Surely the righteous are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”  This is the final tribunal.  Galatians 6:7 is a strong answer:  “Don’t be deceived; God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit from the spirit will reap abundant life.  Let’s not be weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up”.  What a challenge; what an encouragement.  It’s always too soon to quit, whatever the difficulties.

“Thank you, Lord, for this strong reminder that we can trust all our anguish, our disappointments, even all our bitterness into your hands, knowing that you are a God of justice, wisdom and mercy, and you will work things out.  Thank you for each one in whatever special need.  You are Lord!” 

Thank you, partner.  I’m thankful for your fellowship.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 58

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRITUAL?

Our culture can be confusing with its various gospels, theologies, movements and spiritualities. How do we begin to distinguish between the social justice movement, prosperity gospel, liberation theology, feminist theology, gay theology, Jewish spirituality, Hindu spirituality, Islamic spirituality, Buddhist spirituality, animist spirituality, the spirituality of poverty, the spirituality of social transformation and a variety of other philosophical, mystical and social movements, perspectives and experiences?

Syncretistic pluralism enters the church through exposure to these different forms of spirituality in our increasingly diverse, post-Christian culture. Some actually advocate the evolution of spirituality to something more plural, open and culturally diverse. Why not tie it to psychology, yoga, Wicca or eastern meditation? It’s progressive, edgy and chic! We are in danger of taking on board almost anything that falls under the label of “spirituality”. How serious is this problem?

According to a Gallup poll, most Americans (86%) believe in a personal God, which at face value sounds like a healthy statistic. However, individualism is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche that when asked to define “spirituality,” almost a third of Americans polled define it without reference to God or a higher authority: “a calmness in my life,” “something you really put your heart into,” or “living the life you feel is pleasing.” Many practice a “do-it-yourself” faith that takes pieces from various traditions to construct their own patchwork faith. For example, a fifth of people who describe themselves as “born again” also say they believe in reincarnation!

Perhaps this is one reason why a profound sense of unreality afflicts many churches. False teaching and heresy can intrude in subtle ways. We speak of ‘knowing’, ‘meeting with’ and ‘worshiping’ the living God, but it can feel superficial and inauthentic. Even the Lord’s Supper can be corrupted: Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:17 “I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.” Given high rates of Biblical illiteracy in most churches, people do not mature: sin goes unrecognized and uncontested, and relationships can be selfish and thoughtless. Could Paul’s admonition be true of our churches today, where the word ‘spiritual’ has degenerated into something so amorphous and pervasive that one can make it can mean whatever one wants it to mean?

Clearly, not all “spirituality” is spiritual.

These guidelines, based on an article by theologian and New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, can help us differentiate between authentic and inauthentic forms of spirituality.

  1. The priority of the gospel. The gospel must be rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administered. Spirituality must be thought of in connection with the gospel. The gospel is of first importance, as it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). It is by faith in God’s Son that we know the Father. It is by the cross and resurrection that we who were alienated from God have been reconciled to our Maker, Judge and Redeemer. Without the Good News of the gospel, people are left with nothing but religious legalism and false assurances. Bear in mind that the gospel is not just for non-Christians – it’s for Christians too: it doesn’t just ignite the Christian life, it is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day.
  2. The gospel must not be eclipsed. The Spirit works outward from the center. Although it is important to be concerned with issues like abortion, worship styles, church government, counseling techniques, sociological issues and marriage seminars, if these are detached from the core of Biblical theology, then the periphery is in danger of displacing the core. The gospel should not be simply assumed. It must not be concealed. It should be continually proclaimed. True spirituality must be clearly anchored in the objective gospel. Our direction is always deeper into the gospel, not beyond, apart from, or aside from it.
  3. Personal knowledge of God. Christianity is not just a creed, a system of thought, a culture or a worldview. As we see in Acts chapter 2 and in authentic revivals throughout history, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16) and regenerates people individually and corporately. The Holy Spirit lives in regenerated believers, leads them (Romans 8:9, 14) and produces the fruit of the Spirit. Only God gives life to natural men and women who otherwise would not understand and embrace the things of God.
  4. The necessity of Scripture. Our understanding of what is spiritual must be brought to the test of Scripture. God’s Word is paramount: it helps us live according to God’s revealed will, and keeps us free from wrong doctrine and conduct. Scripture keeps us united and pure.  “Sanctify them by the truth,” Jesus prayed, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). There will never be much sanctification apart from the Word of Truth. Scripture places such a heavy emphasis on understanding, absorbing, meditating on, proclaiming, memorizing, reading and hearing the Word of God, that we ignore it at our peril.
  5. Life change. Life-transforming knowledge of God lies at the focus of true spirituality, and this has gospel and moral implications. Those who are truly spiritual live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16), put to death the “acts of sinful nature” and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Moreover, the Spirit enables and empowers believers to testify about Jesus (John 15:26-27; Acts 4:8) and long for His return: “Come Lord Jesus” (Rev 22). True spirituality is an all-of-life transformation of every aspect of human existence, personal and corporate, in the knowledge that God’s regenerated people live as His people, in His presence, for His glory.

Lord Jesus, in the eternal gospel you pour out your love, you free us by your grace, and you invite us into your transforming story of redemption. Thank you for being the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). You make all things new (Rev 21:5): you have saved us, you are saving us and one day you will completely save us. What Good News! Following you is the greatest privilege and the purest delight imaginable. Help us learn from you, encourage one another, finish the race, and complete the task of testifying to the wonder and the beauty of the gospel of your grace (Acts 20:24). Amen.

Written by Warwick Alcock, Director of Strategic Operations, Village Schools of the Bible (First posted July 26, 2019)

Acknowledgements

Carson, D.A. The Gagging of God. Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Zondervan, 2011.

Gallup, G. Americans’ Spiritual Searches Turn Inward. Gallup, February 11, 2003.

Grudem, W. Bible Doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. Zondervan, 1999.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRITUAL?

Psalm 57

Hello, my friend.    These are busy days, and for some, these are also stressful days, with new problems occurring again and again.  Whatever the situation, it is so important from time to time to listen to that word we read just the other day in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  He is our refuge and strength, as Psalm 46:1 reminds us, and David, in today’s PSALM 57 says, “In you my soul takes refuge, I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”

No matter how dark the cloud, there is always sunshine behind it.  It is, in fact, the existence of the sun that makes the cloud significant.  One must just be patient and steadfast and absolutely resting in the fact that God is there, our refuge in times of need.  It is interesting, as I Samuel 22 tells us, that David wrote this when he was hiding from Saul deep in a cave.  Saul, in fact had later come into the cave to sleep and David had quietly slipped up during the night and cut off a corner Saul’s robe, as evidence that he could have killed the king but God restrained him.  And David remembered, as he was hiding from this evil king, that God was a greater refuge.

When I am inclined to be spiteful, or get vengeance, or speak evil about someone who has done me wrong, then finding refuge in the Lord, will change my whole attitude.  In fact, I will be able to sing with David, as he does from verses 7 to 11.  He uses the phrase “Be exalted, O Lord, above the nations… above the heavens” in vss 5 and 11.  And what does this mean?  Simply that my love for the Lord, my thoughts of His presence and my commitment to His will, will be higher than all other concerns and difficulties.  And David shouts, glorifying God, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.  I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the people.  For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.  Let your glory be over all the earth.”   When I truly say that, then I will see to it that God’s glory is especially over all my own world, my own, unique busy world, wherever and whatever I may be doing.  When His presence is around me, then the glory of the Son will enable me to be thankful whatever the clouds of difficulty there may be!

I know these are easy words to say, especially to some of you whom I know so well and who are undergoing such severe testings.  But there is indeed power in praise, and this Psalm is a great resource for simply exalting the Lord over all of our lives.

“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Psalms such as these, which provoke our thinking, which bring strength in difficulties, and which encourage us to release our otherwise self-centered cares into your love.  Bless my friend who is alongside and everyone whom we know this day in joy or sadness, in need or great celebration. Thank you, Lord.” 

And thank you, my friend, for being along.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 57

Psalm 56

Hello, my friend. Welcome to this blog. Thank you all for praying for us during these busy, sometimes pressured times, when energy seems low and inspiration seems diminished. Ever felt like that?

Well, David certainly did.  And here again in this PSALM 56 he begins his familiar expression of fear, even of deep anxiety. There is, at times, a tone almost of desperation in what he says, and we may have known moments like this.  And sometimes the pressure seems relentless, akin to what David says, twice in vs. 2 and 2, “all day long they press their attack, my slanderers pursue me all day long.”

He was probably speaking of people, but there are many other kinds of pressures that seem relentless in their persistence.  But then, after a pause, he says so strongly, vs. 4, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid of what a mortal man can do to me”, and again in vs. 10, “In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  These are thoughts, phrases, even verses which one should underline and have for easy reference, when life becomes so difficult. 

And there is this remarkable little verse 8, where David says, and here I am reading in the King James Version, “Thou tellest my wandering: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”  Isn’t that something?  To know that God takes every tear as a precious evidence of my needs and keeps them in his bottle.  The child of God never suffers alone, for we have taken Christ’s yoke, we are learning of Him, and He is giving us peace (Matt.11:28)  And to whom is this great promise directed by the Lord?  It is to “all you who are weary and burdened”.  And he promises there in vs. 28, “I will give you rest.”    The NIV says every tear is listed on God’s scroll, in his record.  What a comfort to David, whose back was against the wall, as we read at the beginning of this Psalm, when the Philistines had seized him in Gath.   If it were me, writing down such a record would be the last thing I would do when my very life was hanging in the balance.  Not so with this sweet singer of Israel, he discovered such blessing in writing down his despair, his laments, his worries, for in so doing he could meaningfully reflect on the wonder of God’s love.

And he closes with vs. 13, a little word of praise and intention, “I am under vows to you, O God.”  His commitment to the Lord was strong and forever.  “You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.”  This, my friend, is the result of praising the Word of the living God.  

“Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful reminder of your goodness, in the midst of badness, your peace in the midst of pressure, your love in the midst of a world of evil.  Help us all, Lord, just to lean on you, in the moment of greatest need.  Thank you for my friend who is alongside, even as we pray for some in very urgent need.” 

Thank you, my partner.  We press on, together.  Cheerio!

These meditations on the Psalms were written by Village Schools of the Bible Founder, Monty Sholund and first published in book form as Monty’s Musings on the Psalms in 2000.

Psalm 56

Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus

Picture by Gin on Unsplash

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26).

The Resurrection was the greatest miracle in all history: Jesus Christ was alive! Over the 40-day period after his resurrection, He appeared to various groups of disciples, proving beyond doubt that He had been raised from the dead by the power of God. Because Jesus rose from the dead with an immortal, physical body, every Christian united with Him has the guarantee of his own bodily resurrection (Philippians 3:21). Here are examples from Scripture of Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances and ministry.

1. Jesus first appeared to women, including Mary Magdalene, on the Sunday three days after His crucifixion (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-10; Matthew 28:9-10). After initially mistaking Jesus for a gardner, Mary Magdalene told the other disciples the good news that Jesus was alive!

2.  Jesus appeared to two men on the Emmaus road (Mark 16: 12-13; Luke 24:13-32).  About four or five hours after Jesus’ Sunday resurrection, He appeared to two men traveling on the road to Emmaus.  Jesus joined in their conversation, and explained to them that the Scriptures were about Himself. 

3.  Jesus appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34).  When the Emmaus road men came back to Jerusalem on Resurrection Sunday evening, the disciples shared with them the news that Jesus had appeared to Peter earlier that day.  

4.  Jesus appeared to ten disciples, excluding Thomas  (Luke 24:37-49; John 20:19-24).  Also on Sunday evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, who were initially terrified, thinking He was a ghost.  He demonstrated that he was clearly not a disembodied spirit, showing his hands and feet, inviting them to touch Him, and eating a piece of fish in front of them. 

5.  Jesus appeared to eleven disciples including Thomas (Mark 16:14; John 20:24-29). Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the disciples including doubting Thomas. He invited Thomas to touch the wounds in his hands and side.  Thomas believed and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

6.  Jesus appeared to seven of His disciples on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-25).  Jesus appeared to disciples beside the Sea of Tiberias (a.k.a. the Sea of Galilee) after they had unsuccessfully fished all night.  Jesus told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat and they caught 153 fish. After eating breakfast together, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, and concluded with “Follow Me,” and “Feed My sheep”.

7. Jesus appeared in Galilee to commission His disciples (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:15-18).  A mountain on Galilee is where the risen Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

8.  Jesus appeared to over 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). Paul attested that Jesus  was seen not only by Peter, the twelve disciples, James and the apostles, but also by over 500 people at one time.

9.  Jesus appeared at the Ascension (Acts 1:1-11; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51).  Jesus blessed His apostles at Bethany on the Mount of Olives where they watched him ascend to heaven.  

10.  Jesus appeared to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:1-19; 18:9-10; 22:6-10; 23:11; 26:12-18).  Jesus appeared to Paul during Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus; in a vision in Corinth; in a trance while praying in the temple in Jerusalem; and Jesus appeared to Paul while Paul was under arrest after a riot in Jerusalem.

Conclusion

We learn from Jesus that the resurrection is not an event, it is a Person. Eternal life is not an abstract idea, it is a personal relationship. Victory over death is not a future expectation, it’s a present reality. Jesus does more than give life; He is life, and confers eternal life on those who believe in Him. 

Let’s share the Good News!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, your victory over death shows so clearly that you are the long-time promised and much longed for Christ, the Messiah, the fulfillment of all the covenant promises God has made. Knowing everything about you to be true, loosen our grip on earthly treasures and deepen our adoration of you. Thank you for being our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and is now caring for us, at the right hand of the Father, with persistent tenderness. What joy, what hope this brings us today! In you we have life eternal and peace that passes all understanding; and so it is with grateful hearts that we worship you. Amen.

Written by Warwick Alcock, Village Schools of the Bible

Acknowledgements

The Nelson Study Bible. Nelson, 1997.

Smith, S. Everyday Prayers. Baker, 2011.

Pre-Ascension Appearances and Ministry of the Risen Jesus