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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Is the Day the Lord Has Made

There are those Bible verses that are well known by a vast majority of Christians, but if pressed on chapter and verse (or even book or testament) it is from they could hardly tell you.  Today during my daily devotions (I use "Treasury of Daily Prayer" published by CPH.  If you are looking for a way to get into God's Word every day, I highly suggest it.) I came across one such verse, "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  For the record, it is Psalm 118:24.  Growing up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, this is one of those no brainier responses where we automatically, almost despite our own volition, fill in the second half of the verse whenever someone around us speaks the first half.  It wasn't until my devotions this morning that I really realized the fullness of what this verse speaks.  Context is everything!

In summary, Psalm 118 is a "general statement of thanksgiving for all the kindness God showers daily on all men, both good and evil." (From Luther's Commentary on Psalm 118).  The kindness, however, culminates in Christ, even within the psalm itself.  This was my big "epiphany" this morning as I read this verse in context.  The psalm starts out with a hearty, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!"  (Another well known, stand alone verse.)  The psalmist well establishes the people of God in this phrase by putting it on their lips and repeating it three times, "His steadfast love endures forever."  Once we are rooted in His love, the psalmist continues on to say no only can we take refuge in the Lord, but in the Lord we find victory!  He even goes as far as to say that it is ONLY in the Lord that we find victory.

Even when we seem all but overtaken, our victory is still in the Lord.  For, "The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation."  (Another, another great stand alone verse we all know.  Perhaps this speaks to just how rich this psalm is...even more so when you put these verses back where they belong.)  Then the psalmist breaks out into this song of salvation that comes from the Lord, climaxing in the claim, "I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord."  In the Lord, we have even overcome death itself!  God may punish us, or give us over to ourselves in sin, but as His children He does not give us over to death.  From this claim the psalmist begins to ask God that to give Him righteousness that he may give thanks, and that righteousness is nothing other than salvation.

This is where we get to our verse from the beginning, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  After asking for this righteousness, this salvation, the psalmist gets right to the heart of the matter:

    "The stone that the builders rejected
          has become the 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."

Our salvation is established in the stone that the builders rejected, the cornerstone of Christ.  This is the Lord's doing, this was His plan and purpose, that Christ as the stone that religious and political leaders rejected would be the rock, the cornerstone of our salvation.  This is a marvelous thing!  God used our own sinfulness and the devil's trickery to overcome our sin and bind the devil!  This is the day that God has established our salvation, let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Each day we live and breath is a day that God has made, a day that God has saved, a day that God comes to us in victory!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

The psalmist still isn't done, however.  He continues, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  We bless you from the house of the Lord!  The Lord is God, and He has made His light to shine upon us.  Bind the festival sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar!"  The psalm ends the same way it begins, with praise and thanksgiving and, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!"

Remember this today.  Remember this each day.  This is the day that God has covered you with his unending love!  This is the day that God has established you in His salvation forever!  This is the day that Christ has given you victory over sin, death, and the devil!  "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

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