Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Steadfast isn't a word we use often. Its not a word we talk about or think about. What does it mean to you?
Steadfast is a word we often use with the word true. Something that endures. Is faithful. Never changes.
This hit me hard today. This evening for three hours our church will entertain mourners for a 22 year old young man. We will hold his wife's hand. Hold his parents hands. But God's steadfast love endures forever.
They are really being strong. Believing and trusting despite. But I know they question. Where was God. And yet, God steadfast love endures forever.
I hope wherever you are, whatever you are going through you can know and say and claim that God steadfast love endures forever.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Also in 116 it talks about the cup of salvation. We use that image at Revive when we offer the communion cup. We offer it as the "Cup of salvation." It was neat to see an OT scripture relate to it!
What did you see today?
Sunday, July 29, 2012
I wonder what Christ is thinking about us. I'm not sure that he's very proud. Are we fighting for real issues, or just fighting. This Psalm hit me today.
God is with everyone. God is with the poor and the needy. The rich. The foolish and the wise. The scorned and the scorner. God is with everyone--so why are we so worried about picking sides?
I want to be on God's side--with his people. Loving everyone.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
"The fear of the Lord is wisdom," the Psalmist writes, "all who practice it have good understanding."
But what does that mean? What does it mean to fear the Lord.
Sometiems, I fear that our understanding of God--my understanding of God--sometimes gets too friendly. I talk to God like a friend instead of like my Lord, my parent, my everything.
What would you be better able to understand if you feared the Lord? What would be different?
Friday, July 27, 2012
So, as I read these Psalms, these verses from Psalm 109, stuck out to me.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Well, too often, I have kept away from the Psalms to preach because they aren't exactly, "stories". They are beautiful, and helpful and great fodder for songs, but for me hard to preach from.
Psalm 107 can preach! Almost by itself. It talks of people hungry, thirsty, broken. It talks of people oppressed, depressed, and sick with sin. People like me. Like you! And it talks of a God who provides, protects, encourages, and loves.
That's a story that will preach. It preached to me today. Did it preach to you?
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
So, these two Psalms reminded me of them. 106 talked so much about Moses. I love that story. About the underdog who God used in mighty ways. He wasn't perfect, and God used him too! It reminds me that not only WILL God use me--but he will use even the people I count out! Who are you counting out? Who have you given up on? Who do you not believe in?
But, maybe my favorite story is Joseph! Joseph is the reason why Moses was in Egypt (well, maybe Joseph's brothers, but that's for another day!) I love the Andrew Lloyd Weber Musical! And our children's music program did a great musical about him last year! I love retelling that story! Do you remember it? Joseph was a dreamer whose Dad loved him more than his other brothers. The other brothers, being mad and jealous sold him into slavery. Ending up in Egypt, because he did the right thing and scorned his master's wife (when she tried to seduce him!), he was thrown in jail. When the Pharaoh found out about his connection to God and his ability to interpret dreams he was taken out of jail and became important in the Pharaoh's government! He helped keep Egypt from dying from a terrible famine! During the famine his brothers came to Egypt to beg for food, and he game them some! In the end he forgave his brothers, even though they did awful things to him!
I love the idea that God can use even our worst situations. That no matter what pit we are in--God can find us! I love the idea that forgiveness is possible, no matter what we've done! I love the idea that God works even in the worst of places with the worst of people!
What battles are you facing? Have you given up? God is working. Lets find ways to be patient, thankful, and wait to see the outcomes!
Love and Blessings!
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
So often, I ask Go for blessings--but here, we are asking that our soul blesses God. How do you bless God? How is it that what you do blesses God? What can you do this week to Bless God?
I remember this praise chorus as one of my most favorites. But I had to go through several others to get there....
Like this GREAT song from Matt Redman!
Or this one by Tye Tribbett
And finally I found it. Do you remember this one?
It is one that is ingrained in my soul. Its a song I sing when I am thinking or sad. One of the things that always seems to calm me is singing. Praise to God.
How are you doing with these Psalms?
Monday, July 23, 2012
But as I read these lines in Psalm 102:25-27, all I thought is, "This is why I'm Christian!
How is your day!
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I love Psalm 100. And not just because its short.
Yes! Too often I worship because I have to. Not with gladness. You being glad and thankful is worship in and of itself!!!
Yes! Come into his gates with thanks! And his courts with praise. Treat him like the King he is! We don't have kings. We have presidents who we can say mean things about. We have celebrities who we try to find dirt on. People we try to knock down. No one today is worthy of praise. No one but God!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
My question today is what do you see Heaven like? What does it look like? Feel like?
What is heaven to you?
Friday, July 20, 2012
Sing God's praises!
Do you like to sing? I have grown up loving music, and knowing I have no musical talent. I still remember playing my Michael English cassette tape, singing along and telling my mom how great I was. I told her I should sing it as a solo. She gave the sweetest non-committal, truthful answer ever. Something like, "Sure Emily, but I think that was written for a man, right?"
I wasn't exactly crestfallen, instead, I was sure I should show her that I could do it. Then proceeded to chicken out. I practice though. I love music. I listen to all kinds of music and love to sing along with it when I can! Thankfully, I try to spare you of my "talents"!
But I love to sing. Do you love to sing? Its something that we as a culture are losing. The only places we sing together are some concerts and church. I love the idea of raising our voices TOGETHER to God!
These two Psalms spoke to me at a basic level. Did you know that the areas for singing and for speaking are in two different hemispheres of our brain. When I worked with the elderly, I knew people who had lost the ability to speak. To remember their own names. But you would play amazing grace and they would sing. Or hum. They still remembered the songs, even when they forgot the words.
So SING! Sing a song! Sing it proud. And sing it to God!!
Have a great day!
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I love the images in 93:3-4 about the flood having voices. I feel like that sometimes. My to do list has voices. My demons have voices. My insecurities have voices. And they all crash. Sometimes they muffle God's voice! But God is mightier!
I think Psalm 94 is interesting. Maybe its my love of questions. I am intrigued by verse 20. "Can a wicked ruler be your ally; one who wreaks havoc by means of the law?"
I bet David felt like that! I feel like that sometimes with people who use God's Word or promises for evil. The pastors or holy people who proclaim God says things that I've never heard or understood.
What about you? What insights did you get from the questions?
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Verse 14, "God says, 'Because you are devoted to me, I'll rescue you! I'll protect you because you know my name!" Verse 15, "Whenever you cry out to me, I'll answer! I'll be with you in troubling times. I'll save you and glorify you. I'll fill you full with old age. I'll show you my salvation!"
Amen. I have nothing more than that!
Leaning on the promises today!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Psalm 89 was such a lovely story.
It began by proclaiming God's favor (1-2) and then talked about God's covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:4-17, Psalm 89:2-4.) It goes on in the next 14 verses to talk about the power and righteousness of God and the importance of our response.
Then comes more detail about the covenant. That God promises to sustain and support David and his line. Here to me in verses 19-37 the line between David and Jesus gets blurred. I love verse 33. The verses leading up to it talk about when Israel runs away and abandons God and how God may punish Israel. Then Verse 33, "But even then I won't take my loyal love away from him. I won't betray my faithfulness. I won't break my covenant. I won't renege on what crossed my lips!"
Oh how lovely! God won't break his promises!
Then the speaker changes again! It talks about when David let go of the covenant, and his feelings that God let him down (38-45). Then David's petitions to be let back in God's graces. Verse 48 might also refer to Jesus, "Who lives their life without seeing death? Who is ever rescued from the grip of the grave?"
And it ends with a Bless the Lord forever.
I love this Psalm. What did you think?
Monday, July 16, 2012
One of my favorite contemporary Christian artists is a worship leader named Chris Tomlin. He is based out of Atlanta, and leads worship at Passion City Church downtown. What I love most is that most of his songs come directly out of the Psalms.
Today's Psalm is the basis of one of our favorite new worship songs. It doesn't seem new to us, because Crossroads debuted it shortly after it was introduced at Passion 2010. But as far as worship music goes, its very new! We were amazed in Mississippi that the group from Texas had never heard it!
Here is some praise music--inspired by Psalm 87:7. All my fountains (springs!) are in God. I am thankful today for the ability to praise!
Sunday, July 15, 2012
"I'm sick of this school year".
"I'm sick of the heat of summer"
"I'm sick of my life"
We have mid-life crisises, we get frustrated half way through semesters, we just want to quit. We get fed up with our kids some days. We get the urge to find a new church. A new spouse. A new life. Its part of being human.
And in the middle of that we complain. Like the wandering Israelites. We groan and mumble and complain.
Then we get to beauty. In our Roadtrip at Revive we called them Landmarks. Graduation. A sunny, cooler day. Our spouse does something extra sweet and kind. Our kids come and snuggle before bed. Our pastor preaches a refreshing sermon, or the choir sings an anthem.
Or we come to a verse like this,
"Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet. Righteousness and peace will kiss." (85:10)
And suddenly we see the beauty in the Psalms.
Or like this:
"You are my God, be gracious to me Lord! For all I do is cry to you all day long." (86:2b-3)
And suddenly I am convicted. To stop my complaining and open my eyes. To see the beauty that lies in the poetry. To hear God's voice again.
Where are you today? Are you arguing, complaining? Maybe read Psalm 85 and 86 and you'll find some hope. Maybe spend 10 minutes listing the good things. Maybe find some time to love on someone else who might feel forgotten. I bet it might change your tune!
Friday, July 13, 2012
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
he bestows favor and honor
What lovely words!!! One day with God. One day with love and peace and prosperity and joy is better than a thousand anywhere else! I think sometimes of those who don't have a relationship with God. I think about those who don't feel the love that God bestows on me. I can't imagine!
God is good!!! I am so thankful for all of you!
The Psalmist asks us to play songs and shout for joy! When was the last time you celebrated?
We celebrate birthdays and new births and each other. We celebrate new jobs and retirement and sometimes the end of someone's life. But do we celebrate the every day? Is our worship a time of celebrating God?
I had someone remind me this week of how celebratory worship can become. When it becomes rote. When we just do it to do it. Its one of the reasons I like to change things up. This week in worship when the congregation clapped with me to "I'll Fly Away", my heart soared! How did you celebrate God this week?
Thursday, July 12, 2012
These Psalms are starting to run together. They are all the same.....
I know that's not true, but it is starting to feel that way.
So today you get pieces. Thoughts. A couple things:
1) Psalm 79:11 would be a great prayer for someone in prison, especially on death row.
2) Psalm 79:8-9 make me very happy, and I would pray them a lot!
3) I love how Psalm 80 uses the names of the tribes of Israel
4) 80:4 makes me sad--God getting angry with my prayers! Although I'm sure I can be frustrating!
5) I probably could have written a lot about the vine. I like that metaphor!
Sorry for the choppiness, and the lateness!
Hope you all are great!
Love and blessings!
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Are you at the end of your rope? Are you scared and alone? Are you sitting in the consequences of your sin?
God is reaching out for you too! God reached out with every tool he had. Even his son. Himself. He gave up heaven for you. Read Psalm 78, and know you are loved. Complete. Worth saving.
People will tell you that God is hateful. That God hates you and others, but its not true. You are worth it. You are loved. Don't let someone else tell you differenly.
You are worth it. God is merciful. That's our story.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
From the heavens you uttered judgement;
Jesus--Forgive me of trying to do the things that are yours alone. Forgive me for trying to judge in your stead. Forgive me for the sideways glances, evil thoughts, and fake smiles. Fill me with your love so that I can see with your eyes. In your name we pray! Amen
Monday, July 9, 2012
I wonder how often I forget?
Here, let me remember.
Sunday, July 8, 2012
She said, "Don't forget David did have real enemies. Other nations, in his own family. When he is talking about arrows and being saved from armies, it may be metaphor to us, but its real to him!"
I started thinking that maybe we should have read some more Old Testament before we read these. Hear more of David's story. Maybe some blogs going forward I'll tell some more of those stories and give some scripture references.
Regardless, when I started to write for today, those words were fresh on my brain.
As I read Psalm 71, verse 3 jumped out at me. "Be my rock of refuge, where I can always escape." I always wonder why we want to escape this world. When we could stay and make a change. When we could make things better, why do we sing longing for heaven. I have always wondered.
But then I thought of David. He needed to escape from enemies on Earth. He wasn't being metaphorical. How privileged am I to have no one chasing me? There is no one at home abusing me. I'm not a soldier. I don't have bill collectors calling every minute or sending me letters. I don't have a landlord trying to evict me. I might disagree with what is going on politically, but no one is "out to get me". There is no need for me to escape.
But I bet there are people who need it. So I started to pray. Deeply, heavily. For those who need to escape. That God can be their rock and refuge. That in the middle of their storms they will find safety! That they will let God be their strength and song! Praying that this Psalm can help those in need today, and that I can get out of my own head and love on them!
(I also loved all the "lets" in Psalm 72:15-17)
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Friday, July 6, 2012
Regardless, in Psalms 67 and 68, I saw the beauty of the poetry!
Psalm 67 sounded like a song we might sing today...."Let all the people Thank you God!" Finally an actual refrain!
And the metaphors in Psalm 68 all the metaphors. "Like smoke is driven away." "Like wax melting before fire" (v.2). Heaven pouring and showering abundant rain (v.8-9). The processions in vs. 24-27 and the wild animals in v.30. It was beautiful!
Where did you find beauty in these two Psalms? Have you found ways to find the beauty in the Psalms?
O God of Creation! Thank you for the beauty of your creation. The beauty of the world and of the creation of our minds. Thank you for your wonders! May we treat your creation with the care that you would! In your name we pray! Amen.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
I love the way Psalms 65 and 66 talk about the amazing things God has done for us. Calming the seas. Dressed in Raw Power. Providing us water.
But I'm struck in Psalm 66 by the Psalmist wanting to share the stories. 66:5 "Come and see God's deeds; his works for human beings are awesome." 66:16 "Come close and listen up, all who honor God; I will tell you what God has done for me!"
Who was the last person you shared your story with? The reasons why God is important to you? You story? Lets go out and tell the world. They will listen--but will we tell them?
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Psalm 63:1 "God, My God! Its you--I search for you! My whole being thirsts for you! My body desires you!"
I kept thinking of Thomas in that. When he sees the risen Christ and says, "My Lord, My God!" I know the idea of everything I am thirsting for God. Its when I'm dry and tired. I have cried my eyes out. I have worked myself to the bone. My enemies surround me (am I starting to write like the Psalmist! HA!). Those verses resonated with my soul today--especially with as hot as it has been!
Psalm 64 was fascinating to me. See, he talks again about God piercing and destroying the enemies, and then 64:9 says, "Then all people will honor God, will announce the act of God, will understand it was God's work." I wonder if bad things can be God's work. I have built a theology based on the idea that God doesn't cause or do evil. But the Psalmist clearly believes that God work could include death and destruction. How do you reconcile the two?
Hope you are having a great time with friends and family this holiday! Be safe!!!
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
"He cheated on his wife with his secretary and he was the pastor!"
"She lied about her age."
"He cheated me out of that money."
"She stole my identity"
Too often we do evil to others. Today's readings were Psalms 61 and 62, but I saw much parallel between Psalm 60 and Psalm 62.
60:11, "Give us help against the enemy, human help is worthless."
62:9, "Human beings are nothing but a breath. Human beings are nothing but lies. They don't even register on a scale, taken all together. They are lighter than a breath".
The problem is we are told to rely on others. To rely on ourselves. But we are imperfect, sinful, ugly. We need to work with others. We need to work for ourselves. But, our reliance can't be on others, but on God. The more we try to fix things ourselves, or let others fix them for us, the more they will let us down.
Its time we change our perspective. Start realizing that humans are fallible, and might disappoint us, but there is one who will never disappoint!
Lord--Let us put our expectations into perspective. Let us love you more than we can ever imagine. Let us forgive the fallible nature of ourselves and others. Let us remember, we are nothing compared to you! Amen!
Monday, July 2, 2012
I have been meaning to comment on something for several Psalms, and figured here in the middle of Psalms 58 and 59 would be a good time. The world Selah has been showing up in so many of our Psalms. Its also been a popular baby name lately. Have you noticed it?
The meaning is unclear. It probably meant something like, "Stop and listen!". Maybe signalling a musical interlude.
But that "stop and listen" is something we need! I need to stop and listen! I need to be still. What a great lesson today!
How are you being still and listening?
Sunday, July 1, 2012
On the mission trip, I kept referring to Psalm 55 as the Forrest Gump Psalm,
"I say to myself,
I wish I had wings like a dove!
I’d fly away and rest.
7 I’d run so far away!
I’d live in the desert."
All joking aside, I know those days. When you want to be anywhere but here. When you need to fly far, far away from here. Don't you?
Worse, it wasn't his enemy that was doing the evil, but his friend. I have seen, heard, felt that so often. That the people we love most often hurt us the deepest. When you start to be ignored. When you aren't invited somewhere. When they stab you in the back. When they cheat or lie or steal. It breaks my heart. But in times like that--we have a God who hears us. A God who is there to comfort and protect and love us. We are not alone, even when we feel alone. That's the comfort of these Psalms. That we can cry, and scream, and love, and be frustrated, and yet God is still there.
I will present thanksgiving offerings to you
13 because you have saved my life from death,
saved my feet from stumbling
so that I can walk before God in the light of life."