As the year comes to a close, we want to share with you an opportunity to impact lives through this radio/podcast ministry. We need to raise $10,000 to meet our financial goals for this year.
Would you prayerfully consider a gift so we can continue to bring these truths to you and others as well?
Psalms: Relevance for Today
We are concluding our series, “Discovering the Psalms.” Isn’t it amazing that these verses were written thousands of years ago and they still resonate with us today? That is because the human heart remains the same. We need encouragement, we need to praise, and we need to know we are not alone in this journey. We’ve been looking at the layers in the Psalms and we have found that they are expertly written in a pattern. This week Chris will share how these Psalms relate to us as believers.
In our first episode Chris said that the pattern that was found in the Psalms was lament, thanksgiving, and praise. These patterns are what have kept believers coming back year after year. We’ll look into some of the Psalms that seem to resonate with believers the most.
If you missed the first three episodes of this series, click the links below to catch up.
Steve Conover: This is the Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is Chris Katulka. As the year comes to a close, we want to share with you an opportunity to impact lives through this radio broadcast. First, we would ask that you tell others about the teaching you hear through the Friends of Israel Today. If it's been a blessing to you, share that with your friends and help multiply this ministry. Secondly, prayerfully consider a gift so we can continue to bring these truths to you and others as well.
Chris Katulka: Steve, it's crazy that it's already the end of the year, just two months left until 2020, and that's why we're asking you to help us raise $10,000 to meet our financial goals for the end of the year. Your gift would help us reach people all around the globe with our message of truth to bless the Jewish people. If the Lord leads you and you believe Christians need to hear the truth about Israel and the Jewish people, help us reach our goal of $10,000 before the end of 2019. Any amount would be a blessing to our program and thank you for supporting the Friends of Israel today. To give to the Friends of Israel Today, simply go to foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. There, you'll find a donate link, and you can also call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. You can also write to us at FOI Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmwar, New Jersey 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Thank you so much for supporting the Friends of Israel Today.
Steve Conover: And today, we conclude our series in the Psalms. But first in the news, now in its 64th year, the Jerusalem March welcomed thousands of Israelis and supporters of the Jewish state from all over the world to march through Israel's capital. Visitors from dozens of countries marched through the city streets waving their national flags, among them: Ghana, Brazil, China, Bulgaria, and the Philippines. These pilgrims were in Jerusalem to celebrate the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.
Chris Katulka: Yes, Steve, there are a bunch of countries represented here and there's a reason for that. They're not just going to honor Israel and the Jewish people, all of these different supporters of Israel. They're there, actually, they're on a biblical mandate. The prophet Zechariah ends his prophecy in Zechariah 14, with the prophecy that in the coming kingdom, not right now, but in the coming kingdom, all of the nations will go and honor God. They will celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and honor God, and they'll honor him because of his provision and most importantly, his presence. So this is just a fantastic little snippet, a little view of what it will be like in the coming kingdom.
We're concluding our series on the Psalms. And the Psalms are literally a series of songs written by individuals that were intended for personal and communal worship. We've been going through it but this is four weeks now. And I love the way that Steven Lawson, who wrote in the Holman Bible Commentary, put it, because I think this is going to play perfectly with what we're talking about today. "No matter where a person is in the Christian life, whether up or down, soaring or struggling, there is a Psalm that speaks directly to the spiritual state of his heart. The Psalms were written to guide believers in the proper worship of God and, used rightly, are to be sung devotionally, prayed fervently, preached evangelistically, and taught expositionally. The primary purpose of the book of Psalms is found in its intensely God-centered focus, to direct our hearts toward him in every experience of life."
What a great quote. I've been saying every week just how astonishing it is, how relevant the Psalms are to us as believers 3000 years or so after they've been written. And to just think of how much has changed over the years and yet somehow the Psalms, they impact us when we read them today as modern readers of these ancient prayers. Even though technology changes, even though culture shifts, the point is is that the heart, the human heart has remained the same. We're looking, with what we've been doing over the past few weeks is looking at the layers of the Psalms. And let me explain to you what I mean by layers.
The Psalms as a whole have layers to them. In the beginning of the series, we looked at the first layer of the Psalms, how each one was written by an individual to lament a situation or to give thanks to God for a real circumstance in their life or simply to praise God for his character and his nature. That's the original layer. But over time, those individual Psalms were collected and ordered on purpose. The individual Psalms that were written by David and Solomon, Korah and Asaph, those Psalms took on a meaning beyond what the authors who penned them initially had for them. They became anthems, and prayers and worship music used for the temple. The Psalms became the hymnal and prayer book for the temple worship for Israel and the Jewish people. And they were organized for various events to aid in worship.
But then again, there's another layer because the Psalms, as you see them now in the Old Testament, were purposefully placed in order. Israelite history shines through those divinely inspired songs as they were ordered into five different books, and these books reveal in some way the history and the future of Israel. That's what we looked at last week.
And today, we're going to focus on the final layer. That's you. That's me. The Psalms come full circle, everybody. Because the heart and soul David and Solomon and the other writers put into their Psalms on an individual level, connect with you and your relationship with the Lord. And when you read certain Psalms, you identify with them right away because they are personal prayers. They become personal prayers, they become personal anthems. They become personal worship for you and me, just as it was for the original writers. That's what we're going to look at today. And if you didn't get a chance to listen to the last three episodes that I just discussed with you, the different layers, I want to encourage you to go to foiradio.org and there, you could find all of our previous episodes and even going way back to the very beginning. We have a full catalog of all the shows that we've been doing. That's foiradio.org.
Now, in my first episode on the Psalms, I repeated three types of Psalms that are very common throughout the book. Do you remember them, if you've listened before? Lament, thanksgiving, and praise. Lament, thanksgiving, and praise. Lament, thanksgiving, and praise, and I'm saying it over and over again so it sticks in your mind because the truth is this. These Psalms: lament, thanksgiving, and praise, these Psalms reflect the heart of believers throughout the ages. We lament, we give thanks, and we praise God. Even as believers, life can be painful. It's a part of living in a world that is tainted with sin. Honestly, this is one of the reasons I believe the Scriptures are real. The Scriptures don't gloss or paint over the pain and suffering of life. The Scriptures don't mask the reality that much of the life of a believer is navigating the heartache of doubt and loneliness and the feeling of emptiness that we have.
Yes, my friends, this is a real part of growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Much of our growth in the Lord stems from our suffering and pain and doubt and lamenting we deal with in our life. Yes, the Psalms have an original intent from each writer. Yes, the Psalms took on a form of worship for Israel and the temple. Yes, the Psalms were purposely organized. And yes, the Psalms matter to you today. The lament Psalms are a part of the tapestry of the Psalms. They are structural building blocks of the Psalms. And what I mean by that is they make up a large portion of what the Psalms are. And that's because, listen, lament is a part of life. In today's world, lamenting is seen as an obstacle to the good life. I hear this a lot from people, especially people who have older kids. They say things like, "Just as long as they're happy." I believe the Psalms challenge us to look at the Christian life a bit more holistically. There is a season.
Listen, there is a season for lamenting. Lamenting is a part of life. What the Psalms teach us is that lamenting is normal, and lamenting must always include God. Lament Psalms always have God at its core. Again, just listen to Psalm 13, a Psalm that connects to the moment of life when we feel overwhelmed, grief, when we feel lonely, when you feel like God's not listening. Listen to Psalm 13 Verse 1 and 2. It says this:
"How long, Lord, will you continue to ignore me? How long will you pay no attention to me?" Do you hear what the Psalmist is saying here? There's a cry to the Lord that they feel lonely, grief, pain. They feel alone and they're wondering, "God, are you even there? Hello? Do you hear me?" It goes on and says, "How long must I worry and suffer in broad daylight? How long will my enemy gloat over me?" Notice God doesn't get mad at these questions that are asked in the lament Psalm. The bigger thing to see here is that David includes God in his grief. He's directing his Psalm to God because he knows God is the only one who can answer his grief. Lamenting, mourning is a part of humanity. But what makes a Christian lament different is God's presence right in the center of it.
The Psalms also show us that a believer's life should be marked with thanksgiving. The writers of the Psalms made it a priority to give thanks to the Lord because he's the source of all things. The same God who walked with the believer through their grief and lament is the same God who delivers us. And for this reason, he deserves our thanks. Gratitude to God gives the Christian an alternative attitude in a world that tells us we deserve everything. Do you hear that? It gives us an alternative attitude. The Psalms show us theologically, biblically, that everything that we have comes from God, even our very own breath. Forget about the money. Forget about the house. Forget about the car. Forget about your kids' education or your education. Forget about that. Your very breath is something that comes from God, and for that reason, we give thanks, and by giving thanks, we acknowledge. Think about this, we acknowledge God's presence in our lives.
Psalm 136 says, "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his loyal love endures. Give thanks to the God of gods for his loyal love endures. Give thanks." That's a part of the Psalms. And what it means to us as a believer is so amazing.
Finally, the Psalms show us that a believer should have an attitude of praise. Praising God appears... Listen, this is fascinating. Because praising God appears in the lament psalms. Praising God appears in the thanksgiving Psalms. And then there's just praise Psalms that simply give praise for God in all that he is, all of his glory. Think about that, in the middle of grief, the Psalmist would praise. In the middle of giving thanks to God, the Psalmist would praise. And when there's nothing left to say, the Psalmist simply praises God. Psalm 145, "I will extol you, my God, oh, king, I will praise your name continually. Every day, I will praise you. I will praise your name continually." Lament, thanksgiving, praise. It's a part of who we are as believers. It's what drives us because we lament, we give thanks, and we praise. And when we return, I want to look at one particular Psalm, Psalm 51, a Psalm that speaks to all of us. So be sure to stick around.
Steve Conover: Today, we've been learning about the timeless nature of the Psalms and how the authors used the circumstances in their own lives to express their worship toward God. Chris, knowing the rich background and details in these writings deepens their meaning.
Chris Katulka: Yeah. That's why we have Dr. Charlie Dyer's book, 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms, that we want to offer you. This book will take you through the land of Israel and give you insights into the Psalmist point of reference and the writing styles to better appreciate this special book of the Bible. Some of the Psalms, they remain locked in a sense, containing references to places and objects modern readers, they've never seen them. Maybe they've never been to Israel. They didn't get a chance to see the deserts, and they didn't get a chance to see the springs and all these pictures that detail the Psalms. But see, Dr. Charlie Dyer's book will give better insight into the backgrounds of the Psalms, giving you the ability to better worship God.
Steve Conover: And you can order your copy of 30 Days in the Land of the Psalms by Charlie Dyer. Visit us at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org. Or you can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. Someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. To order in Canada, call (888) 664-2584. Again in Canada, call (888) 664-2584.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We've been talking about how meaningful the Psalms are to us as believers. These ancient prayers have maintained their relevance because the human heart never changes. Now there is one Psalm though that I believe connects uniquely to the heart of every believer who is seeking to walk with God and to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that Psalm is Psalm 51. I think we're drawn to Psalm 51 because we identify with David's failure. That's what it's... The whole Psalm is about David's failure and his desire for forgiveness. And the reason that we connect with this is because we know that we've all sinned. We can identify with David, we can identify with his failure, his sin. Maybe it's not his sin in particular but it's sin in general.
In Psalm 51, David opens up to God and he opens up to us, the reader. He lets us in on one of his darkest moments in his life. His honesty about his sin, from thousands of years ago, speaks to the heart of any believer who has fallen into the trap of sin. And David opens his Psalm of forgiveness by letting God know that he was aware of His love and mercy. David knew of God's love and mercy because David knew God's word. David recalled when God told Moses in the book of Exodus that out of His mercy, He would forgive the iniquity of many. So David knew God was capable of forgiving him for his sin. And this is such a great lesson for us as Christians, that our understanding of who God is can only be found in His word.
Look, if you're in God's Word, you're confident of His love for you, because it's more real than ever. But if you're trying to figure out who God is on your own, apart from the scriptures, you're only going to end up with a convoluted perspective of God and His character and His nature. Stay in God's Word. That's what the Psalm opens with. David knows God's character because it's in the word of God. David's Psalm is a reminder for us that even in our worst moments when we fail miserably and we feel like there's no way back to God, that we realize God's grace is greater than our sin. One of the most powerful verses to me in Psalm 51 is when David says, "Against You, above all, I have sinned. I've done what is evil in Your sight, so You are just when You confront me, You are right when You condemn me."
David's sin hurt many people. It hurt Uriah. He was, he was murdered. It hurt Bathsheba. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, but David knew ultimately that he had sinned against God, and God had every right to confront and condemn him. He's guilty. David deserved death. Sin that we've not dealt with can creep its way into every aspect of our lives, and it can be debilitating to our spiritual and physical well-being. David says in verse 7 of Psalm 51 that his sin made him feel dirty and stained because deep down, he knew his actions were wrong and the guilt that built up over what he had done led not only to his feeling of guilt, but also the very bones of his body felt like they were being crushed, that there was a physical state to the weight of his sin.
Listen, sin takes no prisoners. It only affects our relationship with God and our spiritual state of mind. It can take a physical toll on us as well. Sin can physically make us feel as though we're enduring a bone-crushing experience. For David to come out from under the pressure of his sin, by sharing with God his need to admit his brokenness, he knew he needed forgiveness. This is the most difficult part of forgiveness, but I think the most important. You need to admit to God that you were wrong, and admitting to God that you were wrong, you're actually saying to God that your ways are right, that you have a broken and contrite heart, and by doing that, you're telling God that you're right and I'm wrong. And that's the starting point of forgiveness and restoration. God's mercy, coupled with David's plead for his forgiveness, produces restoration. God doesn't want us to wallow in our sin. He wants us to be restored and changed. And asking God for forgiveness is the first step toward that restoration.
Remember what David said, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. Oh God, you will not despise me." This to me is one of the most applicable Psalm because each and every believer could insert their name into this Psalm, because it speaks to our desire for God's mercy and forgiveness to cleanse us of our sin. Psalm 51, I hope you go and you read it today.
I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I did. The Psalms have so many beautiful layers of worship in history and even how it applies to you and me. Let's give thanks to God for preserving these ancient prayers that have connected us to our creator through the ages.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: In Isaiah chapter 1 verse 2, it is written. "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. At the bus stop recently, I noticed an old man who needed help boarding. I assisted him, sat next to him on the ride into Jerusalem. I asked him, 'Why are you going into town by yourself? Where are your children?'.
He answered, 'If I waited for my children to help me, I would never get there.'
'Do your children go to the synagogue?' I asked.
'Of course,' he replied. 'They're like me. Law-observing, sin-fearing people.'
I said, 'It is written in Exodus 20 and verse 12, "Honor your father and your mother."'
'Are they honoring you?' he replied. 'It is hard these days to find such children."
When we arrived in Jerusalem, I helped him off the bus and said, 'If your children were really following the Lord's commands, they would not leave you alone.'
He said, 'I am 94 years old. Every day, I want to die. I have no hope.'
I told him, 'Even in your old age, you can be fruitful for the Lord. As Psalm 92 verse 14 says, "They shall still bear fruit in old age."'
He commented, 'I know the entire book of Psalms by rote, but I never thought about that portion before.'
I responded, 'That is because you know the book by heart, but you do not have it in your heart.'
We spoke for a long time. And then he asked, 'Do you go to the synagogue often?'
'No,' I replied.
'Then how do you pray?' he asked.
I answered, 'From the depths of my heart. And the Lord hears and answers my prayers.' I continued, 'I have four adult children, and they respect my wife and me because they worship the living God rather than following false teachers.'
He really opened his heart and said, 'I have five children, and none of them bring me any satisfaction as a father.'
I told him, 'Our God will bestow his love and mercy on those who will receive him.' And I then read Isaiah 53, 5 and 10. "But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon him. And by his stripes, we are healed. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him. He has put him to grief." This man was so interested in what God has done for us and why he would do this. I took him step by step through the plan of salvation, using mostly Old Testament Scripture.
He asked, 'Why have I never studied Isaiah 53?'
I told him, 'Because your false leaders have discouraged you from doing so. You cannot be saved by killing a chicken, which the religious Jews do, and that they would torment.'
He asked, 'Then how can you be saved?'
I replied, 'Through the blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.'
And after several hours, I led him back to the bus stop and he said, 'I will never forget our time together. Thank you.' I pray the spirit of God will open his eyes and heart, and he would come to salvation while time remains.
Steve Conover: We're so glad you chose to join us today. Chris, we have a special guest next week. Why don't you tell our listeners what to expect?
Chris Katulka: Yeah. We actually have two special guests. We have Rabbi Goodman of Las Vegas, and Ty Perry, one of our representatives in Las Vegas. And they did something amazing. A Christian and a Jewish man went to Poland together to do the International March of the Living, which is to remember what happened during the Holocaust and they're going to share about that experience. I think it's going to be a great one for our listeners.
Steve Conover: We hope you'll join us then. The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry has been sharing the love of the Messiah and supporting Israel and the Jewish people since 1938. If you feel led to support our work or you simply want to reach out to us, visit foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org. In the United States, you can call our listener line at (888) 343-6940. Again, that's (888) 343-6940. You can write to us at FOI Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Once again, that's FOI Radio, P.O. Box 914, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Call our Canada office at (888) 664-2584. Again, that's (888) 664-2584, and please let us know where you're listening when you call or write. Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. And I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry, communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
30 Days in the Land of the Psalms
By CHARLES H. DYER
30 Days in the Land of the Psalms will take you through the land of Israel and give you insight into the psalmists’ points of reference and writing styles to better appreciate this special book of the Bible. Some of the psalms remain “locked” in a sense, containing references to places and objects modern readers have never seen and can’t picture. Charlie Dyer’s book will help give better insight into the backgrounds of the psalms, giving you the ability to better worship God!
Apples of Gold: Led Astray by False Teachers
Zvi notices an old man who needs help boarding at a bus stop. Upon finding out that the old man had no help from his children, and not much hope in general, Zvi takes the time to minister to this downtrodden soul and shares the hope we can have in the Lord.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.