Where do you go for a source of help? How do you decide how to live in this world? Where do you find hope and encouragement?
The Apostle Paul tells us this in Romans 15:4-6,
“4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let us notice that in Romans 15:4, what was written for our instruction is the Scripture. Specifically, Paul is talking about the Old Testament paving the way and pointing forward to the New Testament. The Bible is the source of our best help and encouragement!
I will be writing a three-part series beginning with this Pastor’s Corner to speak about having a daily reading plan for the Scriptures. There are many reading plans available to us, but the plan I will focus on is the one incorporated within the Book of Common Prayer known as the Daily Lectionary.
The Daily Lectionary is found in the front of our Book of Common Prayer. Readings for both Morning and Evening Prayer are planned out for each day of the year. The readings include selections from the Psalms, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. The readings are listed with reference to what day it is in the church year. Currently, we are in Trinity season. This past Sunday, August 16, was the 10th Sunday after Trinity. The readings for that week are listed on page xxxviii (Roman numerals).
This month I am focusing on the Psalms. Next month I will concentrate on the Old Testament, and in November, I will cover the New Testament. For each of these sections of Scriptures, I will be making preliminary remarks giving us an overview of the books.
The Psalms are songs and prayers often set to music which are used in both public worship services and the private devotions of the people of God. The Psalms are important because they express in divinely inspired language the innermost thoughts and fears of humanity. The Psalms express the wonder of God’s creation (Psalm 19:1-6). The Psalms also give us words for intense sorrow for sin, especially our own (Psalm 51). They profoundly express the horror of loneliness and alienation (Psalm 42 and 43). They give expression of our thanksgiving to God for His many blessings (Psalm 100 and 103:1-8). The Psalmist also cries out for God’s justice as he lives among wicked sinners (Psalm 52).
Thus, the Psalms express the full range of human emotion and experience within our world. No matter how deeply we are weighed down by suffering and difficulty, one finds similar feelings expressed in the Psalms, and more important, finds their emotions answered by the glorious message of God’s saving love.
Most important, the Psalms point forward toward the ultimate liberation of God’s people from sin, death and despair through Jesus Christ. It is only through Christ that we can understand the language of the Psalms. From the first to the last Psalm, these ancient writings tell us in the language of prophecy that God will intervene through His Messiah to deliver us from the plight brought on us by our sins. It is most striking that when the Lord Jesus hung on the Cross, He quoted from the Psalms (Psalm 22:1). Psalm 22 also describes the conditions in which our Lord suffered and died (Psalm 22:7,8,15-18).
The Daily Lectionary takes us through a wide selection of the Psalms throughout the year, covering all 150 of them and cycling through them every few months. If you would like to have an electronic version on your computer or smart phone, here is the web address in a pdf file:
If you would like to purchase our Book of Common Prayer, it is available at this web address:
If you would like to borrow our Book of Common Prayer until COVID-19 is over, you may call the church office to make those arrangements to come and pick up a copy.
May we find both hope and encouragement through God’s written Word.