“God, here’s how it is…”

We come to the end of our 30-day journey with the Psalms today.  I hope you have enjoyed the diversity of emotion that we have experienced through these prayers of ordinary people.  

In the Psalms, we learn that we can bring whatever is on our hearts to the Lord, and He is faithful to listen.

I have a great exercise that I encourage you to try.  We have a good opportunity over this 3-day weekend to hopefully spend a little time in quiet reflection.  When you get that opportunity, consider writing your own Psalm.  DON’T FREAK OUT.   Just try it.  

It doesn’t have to be long, or eloquent.  Just put into words your feelings at that moment (whatever they are) and say, “God, here is how it is.”  It can be one sentence or a whole page.  It can be on a napkin or your IPad.  But find a way to keep it with you.  It is a good remembrance of your “God touch.”

I believe you will find it a liberating experience to express your thoughts to God in all honesty.  And it is a great foundation on which to build your prayer life. 

Be Blessed!

 

Psalm 63

A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
    They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10 They will die by the sword
    and become the food of jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God.
    All who trust in him will praise him,
    while liars will be silenced.

“Praying for our protectors…”

Friends,

Today we have a special prayer request from our staff.  As we are praying over the wildfires in California and the potential Syrian conflict, we ask that you join us in praying for those in harm’s way:  members of our armed forces, police officers and firefighters.  Please pray for the protection of those that serve to protect us on a daily basis.

 

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

“When I get to heaven…”

I love this psalm.  There is a great exercise that you can do with it that really speaks to your relationship with God.  I did it this morning and had a wonderful experience.

Give yourself 20 -30 minutes to get all the way through it, and please consider sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

 

First, get somewhere comfortable and clear your mind.  

Read the psalm slowly and take a couple of minutes to think about it.

Read it again, and focus on any words, images or phrases that speak to you.

Read it again a third time and pray to God that He would reveal to you what that experience would be like.

What will it be like for you to enter the gates of heaven?  What emotions will you feel? Who do you expect to see?   What will it be like to look Jesus Christ in the eyes?  

Ask yourself, “Am I ready today for this encounter?”  What is your response?  Pay close attention to your emotional response.  What is your body revealing to you?  Is there joy welling up in your soul, or is your stomach tied up in knots?  How is your breathing?  Is it calm or labored?

Our bodies can many times speak more loudly than our minds can.  Listen to what your body is telling you about your feelings regarding your own salvation and have that conversation with God.

 

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
    Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his.
    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
    go into his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
    His unfailing love continues forever,
    and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

“Then I realized that my heart was bitter…”

This Psalm is so complex.  It is filled with so many issues and emotions that speak directly to me.  We could probably spend a week dissecting it and continue to find new meanings.  

However, today it resonates deep within my heart concerning contentment – being happy with my life as it is today and not worrying about what I don’t have.  It certainly speaks about not being concerned with what my neighbor has and learning that I have all that matters: a gracious God that watches over me.

Several of our ladies are heading off to a conference tonight.  The lead speaker is Jen Hatmaker, author of Seven: An Experiment in a Mutiny Against Excess.  The Hatmaker family spent almost a year working to simplify their lives and rid themselves of excess and excessive wants.  

Can you imagine not wanting anything?  Just being happy because the Lord is walking with you and His presence is enough?  How much peace would that kind of attitude bring?  Sounds pretty good to me…

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

Truly God is good to Israel,
    to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
    My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
    when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
    their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
    they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
    and clothe themselves with cruelty.
These fat cats have everything
    their hearts could ever wish for!
They scoff and speak only evil;
    in their pride they seek to crush others.
They boast against the very heavens,
    and their words strut throughout the earth.
10 And so the people are dismayed and confused,
    drinking in all their words.
11 “What does God know?” they ask.
    “Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
12 Look at these wicked people—
    enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply.

13 Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
    Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
14 I get nothing but trouble all day long;
    every morning brings me pain.

15 If I had really spoken this way to others,
    I would have been a traitor to your people.
16 So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
    But what a difficult task it is!
17 Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
    and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
18 Truly, you put them on a slippery path
    and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
19 In an instant they are destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors.
20 When you arise, O Lord,
    you will laugh at their silly ideas
    as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.

21 Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
    and I was all torn up inside.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant—
    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
23 Yet I still belong to you;
    you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    leading me to a glorious destiny.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.

27 Those who desert him will perish,
    for you destroy those who abandon you.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
    and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

“I am missing the mark…”

I read this psalm today from a true man of God, seeking grace.  After making several terrible mistakes, he has turned to God in repentance, asking for forgiveness and a new start.  It speaks to me because I do this on almost a daily basis.  I am thankful that God’s grace toward me has no end.

As you read this today, I encourage you to consider the following question:  

What would happen if the church stopped focusing on having the best programs or the most appealing worship services; and, instead, focused on showing true grace to every person that walked through the doors?  And when I say, “the church” I mean us, the people inside the building.

What would happen if we were known as the place “where Jesus is handing out fresh starts” instead of that church with great children’s and youth programs?  Would it bring new people to the church, maybe some who had never considered it before?

As a program director, I sometimes forget our mission in the midst of getting the tasks done.  Shame on me for not being a better grace dispenser in this world.  Shame on me for not being the first in line to share the good news with people about the wonderful gift I am given each day.  

Lord, 

I am a child of Your unending grace.  Give me a heart and a passion for sharing that news freely with a lost and hurting world.

Amen

 

Psalm 51

A psalm of David

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
    and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    you have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from your presence,
    and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to you.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise you.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

“The Lord is close to all who call on Him…”

Verses 14-19 really speak to me today.  How is it that the Lord provides for these in need?  Is it by miraculous provision?  Does manna still fall from the sky?  Or does He use the body of Christ to meet the needs of the poor?  Are we to be the miracle workers in the kingdom today?  What is our calling saints of God?  When the needy call on God, are they not calling on the church?  How am i to respond?

 

Psalm 145

 

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
    let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
    I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
The Lord is good to everyone.
    He showers compassion on all his creation.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
    and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
    they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
    and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13 For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
    You rule throughout all generations.

The Lord always keeps his promises;
    he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
    you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
    you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
    he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
    yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
    but he destroys the wicked.

21 I will praise the Lord,
    and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
    forever and ever.

“Every good thing I have comes from You…”

I read this Psalm and it reminds me of our complete reliance on God for everything.  Too often, in this country especially, we fall into the deception of believing that it is we that have created all the good things in our lives.  

I quote one of my favorite authors, Henry Blackby, with this sentiment that I try to remind myself of, often:

“As long as we rely on our own resources, we will never place our full trust in Him.  Do not allow your wisdom, resources, talents, or abilities to prevent you from trusting Him completely and claiming the abundant life He has for you.”

 

Psalm 16

A psalm of David.

Keep me safe, O God,
    for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
    Every good thing I have comes from you.”
The godly people in the land
    are my true heroes!
    I take pleasure in them!
Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
    I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
    or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
    You guard all that is mine.
The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
    What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
    My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
    or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
    granting me the joy of your presence
    and the pleasures of living with you forever.