Do Good

I am blessed to serve a church that has an AMAZING Care Ministry. This large group of people sends out meals, cards, prayers, and love to folks in our congregation and community when they are sick, recovering from surgery, or simply in need. Every week, people receive a much-needed gesture of comfort from a team member who has volunteered to be a “do-gooder.”

Are you a do-gooder? Has God put a call on your life to serve him in the capacity of ministering to others when they are down? Good on ya! YOU are the Body of Christ.

Psalm 34 encourages us to do good. The psalmist begins by inviting us to “fear the Lord.” This is a common phrase in the Old Testament, but we shouldn’t translate this as “be afraid” of the Lord.

John J. Parsons explains it this way:

The word translated “fear” in many versions of the Bible comes from the Hebrew word yirah(יִרְאָה), which has a range of meaning in the Scriptures. Sometimes it refers to the fear we feel in anticipation of some danger or pain, but it can also can mean “awe” or “reverence.”  In this latter sense, yirah includes the idea of wonder, amazement, mystery, astonishment, gratitude, admiration, and even worship (like the feeling you get when gazing from the edge of the Grand Canyon). The “fear of the LORD” therefore includes an overwhelming sense of the glory, worth, and beauty of the One True God.

So let us come to the Lord in wonder, reverence, and amazement!

Psalm 34 (New International Version)

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Seeking the Lord with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength will result in lacking no good thing in your life. And that’s a good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.

Part of true reverence for God is committing to live by his commands, which includes “thou shalt not bear false witness.” This is how we demonstrate our commitment to the covenant…by keeping our tongues from evil and keeping our lips from telling lies. And we are to turn away from all evil and DO GOOD:

14 Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

Where is God calling you to be a do-gooder today? This isn’t one of those specialized calls…everyone can find some way to do something good for someone else. I bet you already have an idea! DO IT.

Astonishment by Kathy Schumacher

Taste and See

The Food Network has a show where celebrity chefs describe the best thing they ever ate. Could you name just one thing? I couldn’t..there is no way I could decide what one thing was the best. In fact, I would struggle to come up with a list that was limited to the ten best things….there are too many to name. My mother’s chocolate mayonnaise cake made with Hershey’s Cocoa Powder is one of the things at the top. My husband’s Chicken Tiki Masala is up there. And I can still taste the Truffle Aioli Fries with fresh Parmesan curls that I ate at Gordon Ramsey’s BURGR a few years ago. These were shared with friends from Georgia who we ran into quite by accident. Both the meal and the company were satisfying and yummy.

As you can see by these examples, I enjoy things that taste sweet as well as things that are savory. When salty and sweet meet in the same dish, it is pure heaven. Every year I make my staff a Christmas treat that contains peanuts, Chex, M & Ms, pretzels, and cheerios, all mixed together with melted white chocolate. Oh my, yum!

David tapped into our appreciation for things that taste good in the 34th psalm. What is especially interesting about this psalm is that is titled A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. Well, that is quite a story!

This happened when David was fleeing from Saul, who in his own madness was trying to kill David. David fled to the Philistine city of Gath, but of course he found no refuge there. He had to run from Abimelech after pretending to be crazy in order to escape. He found himself in a cave, safe for the moment, thanks to the intervention of God:

Psalm 34 (Common English Bible)

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be in my mouth.
I praise the Lord—
    let the suffering listen and rejoice.
Magnify the Lord with me!
    Together let us lift his name up high!
I sought the Lord and he answered me.
    He delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to God will shine;
    their faces are never ashamed.
This suffering person cried out:
    the Lord listened and saved him from every trouble.
On every side, the Lord’s messenger protects those who honor God; and he delivers them.

Taste and see how good the Lord is!
    The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy!

I like how David used his wits (by feigning being witless) in order to extricate himself from a precarious position. But you do have to question his decision to flee to a Philistine city. Anyone remember that little altercation with a Philistine giant named Goliath? Israelites and Philistines were not natural allies.

His psalm is one of pure joy, however. Having safely reached the other side, he gives God all the glory. His encouragement to us to find refuge in God comes from his own experience of having been in jeopardy and finding protection. He reminds us that God listens to our suffering and saves us from every kind of trouble.

What kind of trouble are you in? Are you struggling with something too personal to share with friends? David reminds us that you don’t have to “go it alone” when you are suffering. He sought the Lord, and the Lord answered him and delivered him from all his fears.

When we call upon God in the midst of a trial, God’s answer will be immediate and sweet. You are never alone.

Oh taste and see how good the Lord is!

Take Refuge by Wende Pritchard